On the evening of March 15 2001 I bought a used 1993 Ford Aerostart XL extended van (4.0L, rear-wheel drive) from an extablished car dealership (Chrysler, not Ford) in Northern Virginia. The van seemed in good condition and had only 45,500 miles on it. I drove it home thinking I had a good deal. Not So.
The next time I tried to drive the van was Saturday March 17th. The dashboard lights came on, but there was not enough power to start the vehicle. I called AAA, got a jump-start and made sure to drive the van on the highway for about an hour to charge up the battery. I just thought that the battery was low because it had been on the used car dealer lot for a while....
The next time I tried to start the van was Saturday March 24th. This time, none of the dashboard lights worked and the battery was totally dead. No turnover, no clicking, no interior lights on when the door was opened - NOTHING. I called AAA to get a jump - no dice - the battery would not charge enough to start the van. I had the van towed to the dealership where I had bought the van. No weekend service hours, so I left the the key in the nightbox and got a ride home with a friend. The morning of Monday 26th I authorized the dealership mechanic to check all the electrical systems and to put a good battery in the van. That evening the van had a new Interstate MegaAmp battery and the mechanic said he had check the electrical and could not find any type of drain on the battery or any type of problem with the alternator. I drove the van home.
The next time I tried to start the van was the evening of Wednesday March 28th. AGAIN, none of the dashboard lights worked and the battery was totally dead. No turnover, no clicking, no interior lights on when the door was opened - NOTHING.
On the morning of Thursday March 29th I called AAA to get a jump - the new battery took the jump immediately and I was able to drive the van to the dealership. Again the dealership mechanic found nothing. I told him to let the van sit a day and try to start the car again. On Friday March 30th he was able to start the van with no problem. I told him to let the van sit over the weekend and try to start it again on Monday April 2nd. With my luck it will start fine for him, and stop working as soon as I get it home...
I've been very careful to make sure I turn off anything that might be a possible drain on the battery. I make sure that all the doors are closed tightly and not causing the interior car lights to stay on and drain the battery. I make sure that the headlights are completely off.
Am I not doing something I should be doing? Is the mechanic missing something? Has anyone else had this type of problem?
Yikes! I feel for you, my Aerostar collegue! The only symptoms like you describe I have seen is in Fords that have A) had an alarm system installed in which caused the battery to drain. B) had an aftermarket stereo system installed that was not properly wired. C) had a problem in the cruise control system that was causing the battery to drain, somehow the cruise was "engaged" even though the vehicle was parked and shut off completely. Lastly, if the dealer cannot fix this problem for you (you should be able to park the van for a month, with a good battery, and experience little more than an extra amount of cranking time, in which the van should easily start) I would suggest you take the van to an automotive electrical system specialist and they should easily be able to find the problem. Of course, the dealer should foot the bill for the diagnosis and repair. Lastly, it doesn't take much to start a modern Aerostar, the fuel system is highly pressurized, a spark with a hairpin shot of gasoline is all it takes, light years more efficient than carbuerator vehicles. Just my opinion and 2 cents. Good luck, and let us know what happens...ED
You may file my problems under 'stupid human tricks'.
I'm my defense, the used Aerostar did not come with a owners manual, and I have been driving a foreign car (Honda) for the past ten years. That having been said...
I was turning the Aerostar off the wrong way. I first turned off the radio, air conditioning, and lights. Then I turned the key as far as I could counter-clockwise and removed the key, thinking I had totally turned everything off. NOT SO. In my '93 Aerostar, that position means 'engine off, accessories ON'. The Aerostar allows a person to remove the key and still run the air conditioner and radio. It also keeps the electrical connection open and will cause the battery to run down.
It it the second-to-last position when turning the key counter-clockwise that turns the car totally off with accessories off. I had to have the mechanic watch me turn off the car to find that out. I felt like a drooling idiot.
If I'd left the radio on, perhaps I would have gotten a clue, but there is no indication in the instrumentation of the 'engine off, accessories on' condition. The gas indicator and the volts indicator do not work in the 'engine off, accessories on' position, and looks exactly like the 'engine off, accessories off' position. Personally, I would have designed the Aerostar to continue to show battery voltage when the ignition was in the 'engine off, accessories on' position, since that position allows the driver to run down the battery. But, hey, what do I know, I'm just a girl....
My Honda was different - the second-to-last position was for engine off, accessories on, and the key had to remain in the ignition. It is opposite with the Aerostar, and you can remove the key and still run the accessories.
I have purchased an owners manual off of Ebay, but it hasn't arrived yet. Hopefully, if it comes I can learn my Aerostar's other eccentricities without making a fool of myself in front of my mechanic.
At least I got a new battery - the old one was underpowered. The new battery is an Interstate MegaTron MT-65.
The same thing happened to us. It was like the battery was dead but we had it tested and it was fine. Sometimes it worked and other times it wouldn't do a thing. It turned out to be the starter relay switch, a $16.00 part (at a car part store), easy to change (5 min.). If you are facing the engine it is located to your right attached to the side panel of body.
I had a similar problem on my 1988 Aerostar where it would charge the battery when running but a brand new battery was dead after 2 days. I hooked up an ammeter in series with the positive lead on the battery and there was a 2 amp drain, much higher than the clock or radio takes. I then started to pull fuses to find the source but it made no difference. Finally I pulled the connection to the alternator and the current went down. It turned out to be a short inside the alternator. New alternator and no more problems 1 year later. Just make sure you don't try to pull major amps through the meter when its in series since it may exceed its rating. It really surprising how few mechanics Know how to test with these, they can help pin point a lot of electrical problems.
Hi, Upon reading your message about where you were pulling you key out when it was turned to the last position with the accessories on I went and tried my 93 Aerostar to see if I could do it on mine and I couldnt, the key would not come out when turned to the last position, so you may have another problem as well, like a worn out ignition switch. I dont have the same one that came with my Aerostar it was replaced when they had the recall. That may be something you need to look into because they recalled them because they were shorting out and catching fire I think, but it is still something that needs to be looked at, but then again this is just what I think
Hmmmm - interesting. It's good to know that the ignition is not suppose to work that way.
I used the Recalls/TSBs link on this site to check for recalls. Upon finding out about the electrical wiring recall, I called Ford Customer Service. I found out that my vehicle had been brought into a Ford dealership and the wiring problems had been fixed.
For the moment my Aerostar is working, but I'll check with Ford and my mechanic to see what should be done, and how much it will cost. I purchased a service plan, but I'll have to see if it covers the ignition.
I love the internet, and I love this site. It's a wonderful way for people to share information.
(who finally got the owners manual purchased by auction off of ebay!)
sounds like your ky or lock is wore out. On my old van one of my keys are wore out [thats the one we always used] and you could pull the key out of the ignition switch in any position. the other keys that still look almost like new and will only come out in the locked position.
Oh yeah, I think the recall does not replace the lock. Either they replace the electrical switch or they take all the electrical load off the switch and put it through a relay. After I had the recall done the key still comes out without being locked.
New alternator & new battery. There's a 4 amp drain on a wire to a connector on the right sidewall. I brought a repair manual on Half.com.
I will trace the schematics to find the source. A battery kill switch would be my last resort. Thanks for the tips.
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