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Old 12-19-2019, 06:39 PM   #1
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Van won't start

So I went on vacation for a week and came back to start up the van. No dice, heard the clicking but my battery was almost dead. I don't think I left anything on but I had left my wireless OBDII tool plugged in which probably draws some power but not much. No big deal, it's time to replace the battery anyways and it has been getting colder.

Picked up a fresh battery and go about taking out the old one, lo and behold its the original Motocraft battery from Ford. No surprise here since the tires were 12 years old when I got the van.

Removed the old battery put in the new one, she started up fine. Turned her off and began securing the the new battery and tightening down the terminals.

Tried to start it again, nothing, no clicking, volts read fine. Popped the hood, terminals are secure, nothing is loose. I should point out it was raining heavily when I swapped the battery (probably not the best idea in hindsight but I don't have covered parking) and I had the hood opened for about 30 minutes since one of the terminals was being stubborn and it took a while to get it off the old battery.

The last time this happened was in the summer, I did a somewhat deep water crossing that reached up to the top of my 33inch tire back in the summer.

When I shut the engine off it would not start again despite showing good voltage. I had to bypass my starter using a pair of jumper cables and a screw driver while someone was fully turning the key. I was going to take it to the dealer to get it addressed, I suspect it was some sort of wiring issue that got exposed to the water but I didn't get around to it. A week later I decided to start the van and it started no problem and I haven't had an issue until now.

At the time my mechanic friend who showed my how to bypass the started stated its likely that there is no power going to the signal wire at the starter.

Thoughts?
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Old 12-19-2019, 07:48 PM   #2
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Sounds a lot like the starter solenoid, which is mounted on the passenger side fender under the hood (separate from the starter itself). Very simple and cheap to replace. When mine went it had very similar symptoms, and it’s not uncommon on Ford vans of a “certain age.” I think the may be a thread on here that I started about this some years ago when mine went.
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Old 12-19-2019, 08:05 PM   #3
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X2.

Try tapping it with a screwdriver handle first. It that doesn't work, jumper the two posts with needle-nose pliers. Be careful not to touch pliers to the body while doing this, and MAKE SURE THE VAN IS IN PARK. Jumping the relay bypasses the safeties.

FWIW - I've had to replace mine (both Motorcraft and Napa Echlin) almost every 100,000 miles on the clock.
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Old 12-19-2019, 11:00 PM   #4
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Had to get something from the van so I tried it again, it started up fine. I will look into what it takes to replace the solenoid to see if it resolves the issue.
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Old 12-20-2019, 05:45 AM   #5
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The solenoid issue can be intermittent. Mine would work after leaving it sit for a bit, then not. A jump-start worked because it threw extra power into the system to force it to connect. I thought it was my battery at first. Happened to me in northern New Hampshire and I drove it all the way home to Pennsylvania without shutting it off. A challenge since I was by myself and it’s a 10-hour drive. Made stopping for food and bathroom breaks interesting!
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Old 12-20-2019, 09:28 AM   #6
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Quote:
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The solenoid issue can be intermittent. Mine would work after leaving it sit for a bit, then not. A jump-start worked because it threw extra power into the system to force it to connect. I thought it was my battery at first. Happened to me in northern New Hampshire and I drove it all the way home to Pennsylvania without shutting it off. A challenge since I was by myself and it’s a 10-hour drive. Made stopping for food and bathroom breaks interesting!
Haha that sure does sound interesting.

I'm heading out of the country on another trip and I won't have the time to address this before I leave unless I take it to the dealer which I may opt to do.

I only have street parking, my concern is if my neighbor needs to the move the van and it won't start I don't want them to have to deal with a tow/getting it operational while I'm away.
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Old 12-20-2019, 11:12 AM   #7
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Pretty much any shop can change it for you, it shouldn't take more than about 30 minutes unless there is a lot of corrosion, but certainly not more than an hour. You could easily do it your self too. I'd say to bring it by, but you probably don't have time for that.
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Old 12-20-2019, 12:52 PM   #8
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Pretty much any shop can change it for you, it shouldn't take more than about 30 minutes unless there is a lot of corrosion, but certainly not more than an hour. You could easily do it your self too. I'd say to bring it by, but you probably don't have time for that.
Love to Jeff but I fly out to Chile end of next week. Honeymoon and all, don't think the missus will appreciate me tinkering with the van otherwise I will permanently doing the van life haha.
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Old 12-27-2019, 09:35 AM   #9
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I had a very similar issue with my 2003 7.3
Intermittent start, no start.
Was on a long trip Burbank, Ca to Montana.
I would park and did not know if it would start......stopped in Salt Lake city.
Ford dealer said it would be several days before they could look at. He asked where I was going and he gave me number for Butt Montana Ford dealer.
I called and made a appointment. Went in the next morning and they took it right in.
Of course it started every time. Computer showed no issues...of course that would happen.
Then the technician came out and said we found it. He told me that when all the technology does not show any issues you revert to good old common sense.
The old reliable "SHAKE TEST". You start shaking all associated wires. BINGO there is a solenoid behind my engine battery (not visible). One of the wires came lose and was shorting out. I had no idea there was a $35 Ford part in existence....LOL
It was a great experience.....van was repaired and I learned about the shake test.
The rest of the trip was lovely....no issues.
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Old 12-28-2019, 09:44 AM   #10
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I installed a new starter 4 months ago after it finally quit turning the motor over. It had seemed like it was sounding strange for a while. New one was $260 from Ford dealer, which didn't seem to bad. It's been 40 years since I had installed one, but it didn't seem like much had changed since the last one I worked on. Except my old back laying in the driveway. If I could have gotten it to start, I would have let Ford do it. Ha, ha.
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