Starter continues to crank..

Asked by Aug 06, 2012 at 09:00 PM about the 1987 Ford F-150

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I have a 1987 Ford F-150 351 engine.  A few days ago it wouldn't start, so I replaced the solenoid. Two days later, after starting it, it continued to try to turn over, even though it started.  I checked the connections, all were fine, I took the solenoid back and it checked out fine.  I took the starter in and it tested bad, so I bought a new one and put it on.  It started right up after putting on the starter.  This afternoon, I started it, but just as it did after replacing the solenoid, it continues to crank, even though it has started up.  Any suggestions on what to do do next?

18 Answers


Possibly a defective ignition/starter switch in which the circuit providing current to the starter solenoid winding coil does not "open" as it should when the key is released and thus be allowed to return to the "run" position..

20 people found this helpful.

Answer/Question: I've had the same issue: Starter keeps running after engine starts and key is switched off and clutch released. I checked the ignition switch and the clutch interlock switch, and both were ok. Plus, they're in series to the starter relay control, so unlikely both would fail together. I replaced the starter relay (Napa Echlin ST404), and the same thing happened, this time burning out both the relay and the starter. I've now replaced both. Works for the moment, but no confidence it will last. My guess is that the starter relay is under rating and eventually welds itself shut when cranking, which then keeps the starter engaged and running. In 1987 and earlier, the charging current goes through the relay. In later years (~1992) the battery is connected directly to the starter, and the starter relay only supplies the much lower control current to the built-in starter solenoid. So maybe they have cut down the capacity of the starter relays, but are still selling them as replacements for the earlier models, which is why (and that they're made in China) they burn up (and burn up the starter and/or run the battery flat, whichever happens first). I can find no current capacity spec for the ST404, but am thinking of getting a heavy duty solenoid to replace it. 80-100Amp continual?

12 people found this helpful.

i drive an 87 f150 with a 4.9. i had a starter not want to crank. so i had a local garage replace the starter for me. a few days later, the starter suddenly wouldn't cut off. a completely different problem! i pulled and replaced the solenoid 4 times. and thought it was defective parts. however... after i removed the starter, it became apparent to me that it was not shimmed properly. the starter bolt was, very slightly too long to tighten and seat without more shims. so remove your starter bolts and see if they have the right length of bolt.. add shims if needed. here is how it breaks down. as the starter engages, it grabs cockeyed and can't let go of the flywheel... this overloads the solenoid starter then possibly the battery.

7 people found this helpful.

it's a loose starter bolt. a loose starter bolt will pull on the flywheel crooked and not let the throw out bearing release the flywheel. probably didn't add enough shims(or washers). it's more likely that the person changing the starter didn't know why the bolt had a thick washer called a shim, or the more likely, 4 or five washers. add shims to the starter and make sure the bolt is not too long to completely tighten the starter. when the starter does this, it commonly damages the starter, battery, solenoid and voltage regulator.

12 people found this helpful.

What the heck does the throw out bearing have to do with the starter? The throw out bearing slides on the front shaft of the transmission, which is centered by the pilot bearing which is located in the center of the rear of the crank, which is guided through the rear of the engine by way of main journal bearings which are held in place by either a 2 or a 4 bolt main journal cap, which is bolted to the engine block, the reason the crank can protrude through the rear of the engine and not leak oil is due to the rear main seal which is in the form of a fiber and graphite rope or two independent seals that are joined when the upper half is placed in the groove that is provided above the journal and the lower half is placed on the rear of the oil pan that will eventually be tightened to join both halves to form the rear main seal! So you see that the throw out bearing has NOTHING to do with the starter and most definitely NEVER RELEASES the flywheel!!! The purpose of the throw out bearing is to depress the fingers on the pressure plate which in turn allows the clutch disc to rotate with the front splines of the transmission shaft spoken of earlier. The flywheel is always turning as the engine is running! Strictly educational, No Sarcasm intended! I hope this helps someone!

3 people found this helpful.

I think they meant the Bendix drive which allows the pinion gear of the starter motor to engage or disengage the flywheel of the engine automatically when the starter is powered or when the engine fires, respectively. And did not mean to say the throw out bearing.

9 people found this helpful.

I have a 1990 ford f 150 with a 302 engine, for the past month every now and then when I start it the started starters stays engaged, I get out open the hood tap the solenoid and it quits , I ran an aux ground wire to make sure it had a good ground, still no I went and put a new solenoid on it,,, well it did the same thing , so I went and bought the old style ford starter solenoid thinking it was better because it stands more straight up, funny thing is this, I went into a store and came out and with the keys in my hand the started was cranking over,,, I opened the hood and tapped the solonoid and it quit,, what the hell is going on???

22 people found this helpful.

There are two bolts that hold the steering column to the dash. Remove those and the column drops to access the starter push rod from the switch ( for lack of better terminology), lubricate the rod. Might stop the "stuck" push rod. 87 model f150.

9 people found this helpful.

Fuel pump is not putting out enough pressure. Newer vehicles will crank for 15 seconds or so on their own when the computer thinks fuel pressure is low. This cycle probably wore out your starter. Check fuel pressure and probably replace fuel pump.

3 people found this helpful.

87 is old, how about oil leak? My car is 80 Mercedes and does the same thing. At first I thought it was a defective rebuilt starter solenoid, but after a new one, the problem persisted. After looking closely, though the ignition switch and the wires can not be completely ruled out, I suspect the oil leak is the culprit because impure oil can still conduct, esp oil that leaks out from an old engine(it probably contains some specks of metal dust).


I am dealing with the same problem on a 1986 F150 4.9 (carb). I have replaced the starter and solenoid, as well as the ingnition switch. I have been told by a couple of people that it sounds like a wiring issue? I was told that installing a push button start may take care of the problem?

1 people found this helpful.

i have a 1984 f250 have same problem changed every thing but the wiring , but after removing last starter the installer showed me the bushing in the nose of the starter was slightly chewed up which made the gear aliment to float slightly ! it ran fine for past year after the change out of the starter now its doing it again , so im starting to think starter shims are more likely the answer to this fix if not old wiring would be my next guess i like the idea of installing push button with a relay also very easy to install


Well I had a Ford, Taurus and a Oldsmobile, intrigue and on both my cars end starter stated acting up and in both cases it was a oil leak oil that messed up the starters. I don't know much about cars so all I can say there old both are 2000. Hope that helps someone. Any misspellings please excuse cause I can't really see what I'm typing. Have a great 1.

1 people found this helpful.

a bad computer could cause the same issue or a weak fuel pump as the computer controls every thing from 1987 and up.if a weak fuel pump is detected the computer thinks it did not start and continues to try and start.have it tested for weak pump or bad computer every thing goes out after a long time of not keeping a good eye on it.

My 86 does it and tapping on the solenoid with a hammer stops the starter..


my 1988 ford f250 3006 starter sticks and stays turning after it starts .....changed switch , starter and solenoid still doing it......

2 people found this helpful.

i have a 1962 thunderbird 390 and changed the starter solenoid because when i turned the key i got nothing just the red lights at the ignition but now i put the new solenoid in and after hooking up all the wires the last wire is the neg. lead to the batery and the engine just continualy turns over,with out turning the key on

i have a 1962 thunderbird and when i turned the key i was getting nothing, so i changed the starter solenoid with a new one and now after hooking all the wires back up the last wire is the neg. cable to the batery and the engine now just continuosly turning over,with out the key on i dont get it unless the solenoid is stuck and making a consistent conection

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