Own a 1997 F-150, 4.6 L, 4 x 4. I know it's old but it's in very good body shape, has been undercoated for years. I've only had it for a year. This summer it began to not start (intermittently). The dash lights all come on but the starter will not engage. Brought to my local garage, he changed the starter and the ground cable from the battery. Was ok for a few months and now it's beginning to do the same thing.
Brought it back to him, can't find anything. He did say that the battery is a bit weak, the terminals are spotless (I keep them spotless, coat them with white grease).
I measured the voltage with the engine stopped and with it running. Stopped, the voltage is 11.94, running it is 14.87. This clearly shows that the battery is weak.
My question is would this cause the starter to not engage after 4 or 5 turns of the key and then on the 6th try, the starter turns over? I don't want to spend more money ($ 450) the last time and have the same result. If it's possible it's the battery, I'll replace it no problem.
Thanks if someone can help me or even for reading the thread.
Have you considered the start relay?
If your in a winter climate, better replace the battery before it lets you stranded.
It could the battery has an internal cell strap that is broken and keeps rewelding it'self. This shows up as no interor lights during cranking attempts.
When you say "cranking attempts", yes, the lights do go out when I turn the key to engage the starter and it doesn't turn. Are the dash lights supposed to stay lit normally when the starter is turning? I never noticed.
We tried jumping the two large terminals on the fender in the summer when this all started and no, the starter would not engage then. Haven't tried lately though.
Thanks for helping.
You have either a bad cable or post connection or the battery has an internal cell connector problem.
When you attempt to crank the motor the starter attempts to take so much current the voltage drop accross the bad circuit part leaves nothing left for any lights, relays or other actions.
Replace the battery just on it's condition.
An 11.94 it too low on stand by and 14.87 is to high for normal running chargeing .
This indicates the alternator can never fully charge the battery due to it's condition and keeps the charge rate at elevated levels in an attempt to do so.
This will also cause the battery to use a lot of water due to the excess charge rate as well as extra wear on the alternator brushes and extra load on the motor that take more gas to run.
Makes perfect sense. Just to increase my knowledge, are the dash indicating lights supposed to stay lit while the starter is turning the flywheel? Is this the rule of thumb in all vehicles, providing the battery is in good state of course. And yes, I do live in a northern climate.
I'm going to slip in my battery that I removed from my Doral boat a few weeks ago and give it a shot in the truck, just to see how it behaves, and check the dash lights. It's testing 12.25 volts on the bench.
Last edited by crunchie; 11-26-2011 at 11:29 AM.
Reason: Added boat battery comment
Well I thought the dash lights went out when trying to crank but the lights stay on. Nonetheless, I slipped in the boat battery anyway. It started 5 times in a row, cross my fingers. It's not my primary vehicle, I'll keep trying every day for a week and see what happens, keep you all posted.
I got a 97 F-150 also that just started doing this, battery is 6 months old, both terminals clean and tight, the terminals on the starter seem to be fine aswell, mine will crank fine 4-5 times then you turn it over it 'Clicks' cut the key off turn it back over and starts fine,,,, any ideas?
I haven't, but every time it turns over it turns over fine not the least bit sluggish, last night outta curriosty i started turning the key on then back off then turn it over to crank it and outta the 6-7 times i did that it didnt click the first time...
also I dont see cold temps being the culprate here since Im in Eastern NC and yesterday morning at 4am wasn't but 42 and most the day yesterday was around 60ish
With over 1500 posts to your credit, I feel a little under qualified to help you, lol. I find it strange too that when the starter does kick in, the engine turns over fine. You'd think if the battery was weak (which mine is, 11.94 volt), the engine would not turn so fast.
the post come from the Offroad section on here i hang in there a good bit, but when i stepped to the 97 it threw my knowledge for a loop with all the computer crap, i like the 77 i have aint to many things to check when it dont turn over... lol
I bought a new battery, same problem but now I changed the starter relay
I bought a brand new battery just to eliminate that variable but after installing it, on the first try, it would not turn over, just the dreaded click sound. Then I put a screwdriver across the two bolts on the starter relay and it started. I knew then that my battery was not the reason it would not start. Now, will the dept. store take back a 2 day old battery. Yes they did, gave me a complete refund. I was utterly surprised, and a very satisfied customer.
After re-installing my original battery, the truck started. Waited a few hours, tried it again, click, click. I put a test light on the left side of the relay (facing the firewall, which is where the power is supposed to transfer to when you turn the key) and it would not light with the key in start position. I could even feel the clicking sound coming from the relay but there was no voltage on the bolt. I bought a new relay today and the truck started 3 times in a row.
I'm now thinking that I may have had two problems at the same time. The neg. cable from the battery was deteriorated and the relay was intermittently failing. Time will tell.
I'll try and keep you posted, hoping that it is the relay contacts that were shot.
The starter solonoid on the start is probably bad. take a hammer and tap the starter several times ont he side of it, doesnt need to be hard. Then try to start it. 90% of the time it will start after that.
If that works that means the starter is going bad. And if that doesnt work, the starter can still be going bad. Ha.
My money is on the starter being bad if the battery is new with clean cables. The click sound is the solonoid closing up on the firewal, but the solonoid on the starter is not.
Tks BTF for your help. Perhaps you didn't read the whole thread, if you did, sorry. The starter was changed in august this summer. Seemed ok for awhile but this is my second vehicle so it doesn't get much use. The same clicking sound started again, same as prior to changing the starter. Tested the relay on the firewall and no power was going across it when trying to start but it would start by jumping it. So I figured it's most likely the relay on the firewall. If the "new" starter/solenoid was also faulty, would that cause the relay to not transfer voltage across it?
I think I'm confused now but it wouldn't be the first time, lol.