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1987 - 1996 F150 & Larger F-Series Trucks 1987 - 1996 Ford F-150, F-250, F-350 and larger pickups - including the 1997 heavy-duty F250/F350+ trucks

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  #1  
Old 06-30-2013, 05:18 PM
andreasgarrett andreasgarrett is offline
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Starter/solenoid diagram and advice

Hey Y'all,
I think my solenoid or starter is broken on my 1997 F250 diesel. The batteries are ok but it won't make a noise when I turn the key. If I keep the key "on" then you can hear a clicking. If the lights are on they then begin to flicker-the Auto Zone guy told me to try that.

I've looked at a bunch of different sites and while some of them have engine diagrams-including a really good one elsewhere on this site-none of them show clearly where the starter and solenoid are under the hood, nor really what they look like while in place.

So does anyone have such a diagram? Preferably on a real engine not a drawing, just because those are easier for the uninitiated to figure out. AND do you think that a non-mechanic can replace such a thing? And truthfully I guess I really mean someone with very limited skills in any mechanical endeavor!

Thank you very much for any assistance.

Regards,
Andrea
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Old 06-30-2013, 10:22 PM
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zombie_killer zombie_killer is offline
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On my 95 5.0 the starter solenoid is under the hood mounted up high on the passenger side fender, real easy to spot. here is a generic picture of the solenoid.

Willing to bet yours is in the same place. Real easy to diagnose, turn your key to the run position, make sure tranny is NOT in gear, and short the two large terminals on the solenoid together. If your truck starts up, then your starter is fine and you likely need a new solenoid.
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Old 07-01-2013, 09:08 AM
andreasgarrett andreasgarrett is offline
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Haha! Zombie_killer you have *way* over estimated my mechanical skills re: the test. I really appreciate the pic-finally I see which "doololly" is the solenoid/starter.

How hard are they to replace? If it is a matter of "unscrew this and screw the new one in" I can do that. Relistically if it involves clipping wires and twisting them back together correctly, I probably shouldn't try.

Thank you so much for your response and the picture.

Regards,
Andrea
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Old 07-01-2013, 09:40 AM
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It sounds to me like your battery cables may need a good cleaning, make sure the cables are tight and check where the ground bolts to the block.. That will be easy to find just follow the (-) cable from the battery..
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Old 07-01-2013, 01:03 PM
andreasgarrett andreasgarrett is offline
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I will definately look at the battery cables. But the headlights and the interior lights work so I'd sort of decided that wasn't it.

Can you change the solenoid without changing the whole starter?
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Old 07-01-2013, 02:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andreasgarrett View Post
Hey Y'all,
I think my solenoid or starter is broken on my 1997 F250 diesel. The batteries are ok but it won't make a noise when I turn the key. If I keep the key "on" then you can hear a clicking. If the lights are on they then begin to flicker-the Auto Zone guy told me to try that.

I've looked at a bunch of different sites and while some of them have engine diagrams-including a really good one elsewhere on this site-none of them show clearly where the starter and solenoid are under the hood, nor really what they look like while in place.

So does anyone have such a diagram? Preferably on a real engine not a drawing, just because those are easier for the uninitiated to figure out. AND do you think that a non-mechanic can replace such a thing? And truthfully I guess I really mean someone with very limited skills in any mechanical endeavor!

Thank you very much for any assistance.

Regards,
Andrea

The flickering part is why I suggested cleaning the battery cables and checking ground connections.

Quote:
Originally Posted by andreasgarrett View Post
I will definately look at the battery cables. But the headlights and the interior lights work so I'd sort of decided that wasn't it.

Can you change the solenoid without changing the whole starter?
Then you're saying they don't flicker anymore?

I'm not saying it IS the cables, but it one of the best places to start.....
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Old 07-01-2013, 02:25 PM
andreasgarrett andreasgarrett is offline
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Hey,

I'm sorry! I wasn't clear-remember I am *ignorant*! I meant, when I tried to start the truck the lights flickered, but when I didn't turn the starter they seemed ok. So what you're saying is that since the batteries were good that could mean the connections were bad, or faulty, and that makes the flicker-I never thought of that!

That would be a good solution! And now that I think of it there are 1/2 eaten pecans all under the hood so I guess that could mean that rats were under there and I did have a friend whose wiring was damaged by rats.

I will check that as soon as I get home-thank you!

Andrea
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Old 07-01-2013, 03:54 PM
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welcome to FTE.
if the lights flickered when you tried to start it, my money is on bad connections or discharged batteries.
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Old 07-02-2013, 05:04 PM
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I found I had a bad ground to the starter, ended up running new cables to the frame, then from the frame right to the starter itself.

Using a pair of jumper cables, I ran one cable from the case of the starter to the battery ground. With the key on and being ready for it to start, I connected the other jumper cable lead from battery hot FIRST then reached under the truck and connected the other end directly to the starter power stub. Be prepared for it to spark AND for the starter to spin up starting the truck. Pull the power jumper cable off of the starter power stub to disengage the starter. First, you want the spark as far away from the battery as possible. Second, keep all body parts away from stuff that will move and make sure the truck itself won't move after it starts up. I don't recommend this for the faint of heart.

This bypasses both solenoid and cable problems, so you'll still have to diagnose which one is the real problem.

On the old truck the ignition switch wore out so I had a special screwdriver to short the power line to the solenoid stub in order to start the thing. I impressed the heck out of an old geezer that some young schlub knew how to start his truck with a screwdriver. I moved on to hanging one of those remote starter switches out the front of the truck. This way I could turn on the ignition, then walk around to the front and squeeze the remote starter to get the thing running without opening the hood. I eventually fixed the switch.

You may notice a common thread of "turn the ignition switch on first." This step is fairly important.

Now that I've written this all up, I recommend you don't do any of it, LOL! Posted here for search purposes.

Diagnosing this problem is one of the advantages of having the solenoid up where you have easy access to it instead of next to the starter buried under the truck like other manufacturers.
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Old 07-02-2013, 07:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zombie_killer View Post
On my 95 5.0 the starter solenoid is under the hood mounted up high on the passenger side fender, real easy to spot. here is a generic picture of the solenoid.

Willing to bet yours is in the same place. Real easy to diagnose, turn your key to the run position, make sure tranny is NOT in gear, and short the two large terminals on the solenoid together. If your truck starts up, then your starter is fine and you likely need a new solenoid.
Just don't let the shower of spark scare you. It's normal when you do that.

use a screw driver to make a metal to metal connection between the two posts.

If it starts - as zombie says- that means the solenoid is probably junk.

When you swap it out - be very careful about matching all the wires to the right posts on the new one.

You'd be wise to disconnect your battery when you do it too - to avoid more sparks when you're not expecting them...


Side note - solenoids often go bad because you don't have good batter cables - or connections are bad. it draws more current through the solenoid, and they burn out inside much faster. So always worth checking them too.
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Old 07-02-2013, 07:48 PM
 
 
 
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