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  #1  
Old 08-27-2013, 11:28 AM
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HELP: can't get Aerostar to start

the problem started with me leaving the parking lights on, battery was discharged overnight;

jump started it, drove it around to charge the battery, ran fine for two days.

now when I switch Ignition Switch to start I hear a sort of mechanical "clack" and I lose all electrical power, nothing, nada.

removed and took the battery to check it and charge it, tested good and is now fully charged.

reinstalled battery, same symptom, a "clack" when I try to start it, then dead, all electrical power dissapears unless I rock the steering wheel up and down, rock the shifter through the gears, etc.

it's been raining in Florida daily, I wonder if water is to blame.

Start Lock Relay?? Ignition Switch??

thanks for any help.
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1997 Ford Aerostar 4.0L RWD (purchased May 2012)
1992 Ford Aerostar 3.0L RWD (sold March 2012)
1986 Ford Aerostar 3.0L RWD (traded in '99 for the '92)

1984 Jaguar XJ-6 4.2L RWD (owned since 1990)
1965 Jaguar S type 3.8L RWD (owned since 2004)
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  #2  
Old 08-27-2013, 01:47 PM
xlt4wd90 xlt4wd90 is offline
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Sounds like bad a connection between the battery terminals and cable terminals. This usually happens if they've been disturbed, as you almost never put them back into the exact same position as they were before, and the new position puts a lot of corrosion between the terminals. The remaining contact points may survive one or two starts, but will burn out, leaving the car dead. You should pull apart the terminals and clean the contact surfaces with those wire scrubbers made for battery terminals. Then apply some kind of rust inhibitor between them, and re-install. That usually helps.
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Old 08-27-2013, 04:04 PM
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I know exactly what you are saying, but it is not it, the terminals and the poles were cleaned shiny and tightened good. I did go and checked them again just to make sure, but same thing.

I'm starting to suspect it's the starter or the start solenoid.
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1997 Ford Aerostar 4.0L RWD (purchased May 2012)
1992 Ford Aerostar 3.0L RWD (sold March 2012)
1986 Ford Aerostar 3.0L RWD (traded in '99 for the '92)

1984 Jaguar XJ-6 4.2L RWD (owned since 1990)
1965 Jaguar S type 3.8L RWD (owned since 2004)
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  #4  
Old 08-27-2013, 05:59 PM
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If it was the starter relay, it would not cause the loss of power inside. It sounds like there is some issue in the wiring harness/ignition switch. That is all located in the column that you have been shaking.

Also leaving the parking lights might have fried some wires too, know how well the headlight switch wires like to burn out. It is worth a shot to check those out to.
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  #5  
Old 08-27-2013, 06:39 PM
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aha! ignition or headlights switch; fortunately it was only the parking lights that I left ON one rainy day, (not at night).

today I removed half of the steering wheel column cover, (the bottom half) and noticed there is a brown plastic half-moon thingy that has come loose from the ignition switch housing, it has a brass contact and mounts to the ignition switch on the side. I put it back but the same thing happens again.

I'm starting to think it's the Starter, since I remembered a couple of weeks back it was making a clanking noise on startup.
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1997 Ford Aerostar 4.0L RWD (purchased May 2012)
1992 Ford Aerostar 3.0L RWD (sold March 2012)
1986 Ford Aerostar 3.0L RWD (traded in '99 for the '92)

1984 Jaguar XJ-6 4.2L RWD (owned since 1990)
1965 Jaguar S type 3.8L RWD (owned since 2004)
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  #6  
Old 08-27-2013, 08:25 PM
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Turn on the headlights, in a place where you can see them shining on something while you're turning the key.

Turn the key to START. Do the headlights go out when you hear the clack? If so, your choices are really simple:
  • Your battery is bad, despite the result of your test; or
  • You have a wiring fault very close to the battery.

The headlights should only dim when cranking, not get anywhere near to darkening.

I say to look "close to the battery" because the HL feed is pretty close (electrically) to the battery, and it has nothing to do with the Ignition switch at all. If the lights go out when key is in START, forget looking at the Ignition switch and related wiring. Look at the battery terminals, battery ground (the other end of the negative cable), the connections of the fusible links at the firewall starter relay. In the pic below, see the yellow wire? Pull on every wire that's bolted to that terminal. You might find one that's "stretchy".

Click HERE for larger
Click the image to open in full size.

Completely discharging a lead-acid battery is like killing off 10% of its life. Unless your battery was tested using a real, old-fashioned load tester (carbon pile, or the cheaper "toaster-oven" variety), it may still be bad. Modern testers use witchcraft to load test, not a real load.

Still, a bad connection at that terminal I show above could also give you the "no power when key in START" symptom.

[later]
CliCK HERE for larger
Click the image to open in full size.

Click HERE for larger
Click the image to open in full size.
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1997 XLT, extended, 4.0l AWD, 148k miles (Feb13)
1993 XL, extended, 3.0l, 204k (sold to a friend)
1989 XLT shorty, 3.0l, 232k miles (sold)
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  #7  
Old 08-27-2013, 08:45 PM
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Asavage, that does not explain why power comes back after shaking the steering wheel that Jose explained in the first post. Unless the shaking of the Steering wheel shaft is causing enough vibration to affect those wires.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jose A. View Post

I reinstalled battery, same symptom, a "clack" when I try to start it, then dead, all electrical power dissapears unless I rock the steering wheel up and down, rock the shifter through the gears, etc.
Quote:
(the bottom half) and noticed there is a brown plastic half-moon thingy that has come loose from the ignition switch housing, it has a brass contact and mounts to the ignition switch on the side. I put it back but the same thing happens again.
I don't have my manual in front of me, but I vaguely remember something like that for the key chime control. but don't quote me on that. Are you talking near the key switch, or the actual electrical switch?
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'97 Ford Aerostar AWD 4.0L v6 AT 96k mi
'07 Ford Taurus SE 3.0 Vulcan ATX 52k mi,
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  #8  
Old 08-27-2013, 08:50 PM
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NightHawk: that's why the HL test: eliminate the steering column connections and gadgets, or do further testing. If the HLs stay on when he hears the clack, I'd look hard at column switch(es) and connectors, but if the HLs go out when he's over in START, the problem ain't in the column. Sometimes one can get all excited about something that may be only tangentially related to the problem. It's called a Red Herring

I've updated the post above with an excerpt from the FSM starting circuit, and a likely place to look for trouble under the hood, if the HLs go out during START.
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Regards,
Al S.
1997 XLT, extended, 4.0l AWD, 148k miles (Feb13)
1993 XL, extended, 3.0l, 204k (sold to a friend)
1989 XLT shorty, 3.0l, 232k miles (sold)
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  #9  
Old 08-27-2013, 09:16 PM
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If you run a battery dead and then force the woefully inadequate stock alternator to recharge it, it can and often does, kill the alternator. You can also have a bad ground, acid can sometimes get inside the wires and will eat it away, resulting in a bad connection.

Also, just because a battery took a charge does not mean its good, you should have the battery load tested.

And yes, it can be the starter. Starters especially don't like being undervoltaged, trying to start on a weak or dead battery can stress a weak starter.
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  #10  
Old 08-27-2013, 09:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 93nighthawk View Post
I don't have my manual in front of me, but I vaguely remember something like that for the key chime control.
Good memory!

Click HERE for larger
Click the image to open in full size.

Click HERE for larger
Click the image to open in full size.

Yup, that's the key minder.
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Regards,
Al S.
1997 XLT, extended, 4.0l AWD, 148k miles (Feb13)
1993 XL, extended, 3.0l, 204k (sold to a friend)
1989 XLT shorty, 3.0l, 232k miles (sold)
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  #11  
Old 08-27-2013, 09:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asavage View Post
NightHawk: that's why the HL test: eliminate the steering column connections and gadgets, or do further testing. If the HLs stay on when he hears the clack, I'd look hard at column switch(es) and connectors, but if the HLs go out when he's over in START, the problem ain't in the column. Sometimes one can get all excited about something that may be only tangentially related to the problem. It's called a Red Herring

I've updated the post above with an excerpt from the FSM starting circuit, and a likely place to look for trouble under the hood, if the HLs go out during START.

True, quick test to rule that out, electrical issues are the most fun issues.
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'07 Ford Taurus SE 3.0 Vulcan ATX 52k mi,
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  #12  
Old 08-27-2013, 09:49 PM
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ok gentlemen, I just came back from doing Al's test:

first: I went in the van, had no electrical power, zero, after rocking the steering wheel like crazy up and down and sideways, the shifter too, nothing, no electrical, zero.

second: went near the battery, started gently pulling on cables at C111, nothing;
pulled on battery cables, nothing.

then I pulled a black ground cable which is connected from the battery Ground Terminal to somewhere, (runs near the right of the master cylinder), which has what looks like a fuse-holder but is larger-than a normal fuse-holder, and is black plastic. I pulled on it, and like magic electrical power came back and I heard the chimes inside chimming.
(what is THAT wire and "fuse-holder"?, must be a ground, but is there a "fuse" in there? I could not separate the two plastic parts, I'll do it tomorrow morning)

Went back inside, turned the headlights ON, tried to start, but nothing, no cranking,
BUT the headlights did not go OFF. This time no "clack" but no start either.

93nighthawk:
The electrical "thingy" I'm referring to, mounts on the side of the ignition switch housing, it has a tiny brass leg that goes into the ignition switch, has a black wire, I don't know if it is for the chimes, all I know is that it may prevent the starter / engine from cranking if it is not in situ.

gentlemen, Thank you very much for your help! Looks like the problem is that cable from the battery Ground Terminal to somewhere under the cowl/chassis.


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1997 Ford Aerostar 4.0L RWD (purchased May 2012)
1992 Ford Aerostar 3.0L RWD (sold March 2012)
1986 Ford Aerostar 3.0L RWD (traded in '99 for the '92)

1984 Jaguar XJ-6 4.2L RWD (owned since 1990)
1965 Jaguar S type 3.8L RWD (owned since 2004)
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  #13  
Old 08-27-2013, 10:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jose A. View Post
then I pulled a black ground cable which is connected from the battery Ground Terminal to somewhere, (runs near the right of the master cylinder), which has what looks like a fuse-holder but is larger-than a normal fuse-holder, and is black plastic. I pulled on it, and like magic electrical power came back and I heard the chimes inside chimming.
(what is THAT wire and "fuse-holder"?, must be a ground, but is there a "fuse" in there? I could not separate the two plastic parts, I'll do it tomorrow morning)

Went back inside, turned the headlights ON, tried to start, but nothing, no cranking,
BUT the headlights did not go OFF. This time no "clack" but no start either.


It is too dark to take a look at my Aero, but it sounds like a ground wire to the block if we are on the same page. Looking at the catalog diagram, the positive and negative both run down to the starter. The negative bolts to the block above the starter. (they are showing a diagram of the 3.0L, not 4.0L so I am not positive on the difference.)


Quote:
93nighthawk:
Quote:
The electrical "thingy" I'm referring to, mounts on the side of the ignition switch housing, it has a tiny brass leg that goes into the ignition switch, has a black wire, I don't know if it is for the chimes, all I know is that it may prevent the starter / engine from cranking if it is not in situ.

Asavage posted a pic of it, it is your door chime wire/sensor. Not related to your no-start/electrical issue. sorry.
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'07 Ford Taurus SE 3.0 Vulcan ATX 52k mi,
My Car Domain --- The Possum Aero-Van!
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Old 08-27-2013, 10:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jose A. View Post
then I pulled a black ground cable which is connected from the battery Ground Terminal to somewhere, (runs near the right of the master cylinder), which has what looks like a fuse-holder but is larger-than a normal fuse-holder, and is black plastic.
I get up at 3:45am, so I'm off to bed, but is the fuse holder thing you refer to the same as the one on the left side of this pic:
Click the image to open in full size.
If so, maybe NightHawk can look it up, I'm done for now
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Regards,
Al S.
1997 XLT, extended, 4.0l AWD, 148k miles (Feb13)
1993 XL, extended, 3.0l, 204k (sold to a friend)
1989 XLT shorty, 3.0l, 232k miles (sold)
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Old 08-27-2013, 10:39 PM
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The wires going to that black relay box is part of the main engine wire harness. F79Z 12A581-AG There is no separate listing of the wires, and of coarse, they are NR.

I need to get some sleep too, I will take a look tomorrow and post in the evening when I get a better idea of what you are looking at.
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Old 08-27-2013, 10:39 PM
 
 
 
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