Why won't my truck start?

825

Asked by Aug 02, 2014 at 08:36 AM about the 1995 Ford F-150 XL SB

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

My truck:  

1995 Ford F-150
4.9 liter, 6-cylinder
Manual transmission

My truck will not start. When I turn the key, it only clicks. It does not turn over.

This I know:

Battery: Checked at NAPA and WalMart. Both places said it has no bad cells, and is
strong.
Starter: replaced (I returned this part to have it inspected, but it was ok)
Solenoid: replaced
Battery cable: replaced
Ignition switch: replaced
Battery ground: not loose
Oil level: OK, and new
Radiator coolant: Level good
Fuses: All check out ok

Am I missing something? Do you know what could be causing this?

78 Answers

105,985

Click no start is typically a bad battery, bad starter, bad solenoid or loose dirty battery connections. But seems you have covered those items. Have you checked you negative battery cable where it attaches to the frame and motor? Use multi meter and check from positive of battery to the motor(block) for 12 volts. Also do this while turning key to start position. If voltage drops out when doing this double check battery voltage and all connections. If it does not drop then check the solenoid wire coming from ignition. When key in start position you should have a good twelve volts. If you you do then test the main leads hooked to solenoid for power. If solenoid wire from ignition has less than 12 volts double check connections at battery and also test the clutch pedal switch.

13 out of 13 people think this is helpful.
825

Thanks for your FAST response to my problem. Very appreciated! I replaced the positive battery cable, but not the negative cable. I guess what you're saying is that I should get a good solid 12 volts at all of the check points? Is it possible that the battery checks out ok on the bench, but still isn't strong enough to turn the flywheel? It is a Walmart battery. If that is the case, I could I convince them the battery is bad when it passes their test? What am I looking for when I look for a "clutch pedal switch?" That is a new one on me. Thanks!

7 out of 7 people think this is helpful.
105,985

Yes sometimes a battery will bench test good but still not have the amps to turn engine over. Look at your clutch pedal. Follow it up under the dash. You will find a switch under there that when pedal is depressed it makes the switch. How long since this truck has been started?

5 out of 5 people think this is helpful.
825

The truck was running within the past 24 hours. Then I was able to get it started by rolling down a hill and letting the clutch out. Last night I tried starting the truck with a jump cable, but it just clicked.

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.
105,985

Oh ok. I would check the solenoid wire from the ignition for 12 volts when key turned to start position. Doing this will greatly narrow down the possible issues you are having.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
825

Ok. I will get someone to help me. Sounds like a two-man job. Let's say I "...check the solenoid wire from the ignition..." and it reads 6 volts "...when key turned to start position." What would that tell me?

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
105,985

Check battery voltage, battery connections, ground connections and ignition relay.

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.
825

I had one person tell me to "hit the starter" (I guess with a mallet) when trying to start. He said sometimes newly installed starters need this to work. Have you heard of this?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
105,985

Not on a new starter I haven't. But you was having this same issue with your old starter correct? Now if the ignition wire on solenoid is showing 12 volts when key turned to start position then check the main (large)starter wire at the starter. With key turned to the start position you should get 12 volts on it also.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
825

Could the problem be the distributor cables?

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
105,985

If it is only clicking and not turning over at all then no. Now if it's turning over normally and not starting then yes.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
825

ok...thanks

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
825

This evening, I removed the battery ground, cleaned the terminals and tightened them back down. I then tried carefully tapping on the starter with a mallet. I still get a click when trying to start. My circuit tester was not working properly today, so I was not able to run my own test on the battery. I am getting closer and closer to having it towed to the Ford Dealership, but I am still hopeful I can do the repairs myself. Let me know if you think of anything else. The clicking is giving me a nervous twitch in my neck.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
105,985

Have you tried jumping the to large posts on the solenoid? (With screw driver) If you do this and starter turns over it will give us some more things to check.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
825

I jumped the two large posts on the solenoid. When I did, I could hear the starter click once each time I touched the posts. What does this say?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
105,985

Doing that and it only clicks is going to be one or more of the following. Bad starter, Loose/dirty connections or bad battery. Check all connections on battery, solenoid, starter, frame and motor ground. Pay close attention to the terminal ends. Look for frayed wire. Is battery terminals pinched all the way closed with no more room for tightening? If so replace them. If aftermarket terminals then remove wire from connector and clean/inspect wire.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
61,395

Has truck ran since you installed new starter?If it has not,then i think i would drop it,and see it spin,you have fire,at it.drop starter out,may be not lining up in spline of fly wheel ,click click,if you drop just ground it,you will probably find it to be that starter.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
61,395

Or bench test it your self.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
105,985

Good catch TST. Did not consider starter not lined up correctly?

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
825

> I checked the battery connections. They are new and they are tight. There is no corrosion on the posts. There are no frayed wires. > I did the same for the starter with the same results. > Not sure what you mean when you say "Are battery terminals pinched all the way closed with no more room for tightening? If so, replace them." The battery cables are new. I have then on the posts very tight. I suppose I could tighten them even more if I needed to, but they are on securely. > The truck has run since the starter was replaced. I got it running by letting the clutch out on an incline. Jumping the batter would not start the truck. I think it is possible the gear of the starter is not hitting the flywheel such that it spins it. I'm guessing that is why somebody suggested I tap the starter with a mallet. I did that, but really did not know what I was doing and was afraid to hit it too hard. When you say "drop it," are you saying to un-bolt the starter, but leave it wired to see if it spins when turning the key to start? I do not know how to "bench test it." Here's my dilemma. Let's say the problem here is either the starter or the battery. I took the battery to Walmart (where it was purchased) and to NAPA to be tested. It was determined by both places that the two year-old battery was ok with no bad cells. Also, I returned the starter I bought to NAPA to be tested. They took it in the back. When they returned, they said it was ok. Either way, if I return either the battery or the starter, how do I get a replacement? Both places said their products are ok. I would need someway to convince them besides my good word.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
105,985

Have you tried jump starting the truck? Put positive jumper cable on battery and the negative one on metal of the motor. If it then starts. Bad battery, bad connections or loose ground connection to motor.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
105,985

Did old starter have shims between it and the mounting surface? If so did you put them back in?

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
825

When I tried jump-starting the truck, all I got was a click. I went positive to positive and negative to negative. I did not find a ground on the truck for the truck-side negative. Would that make a difference? Also, I did not try for long. After a few clicks I gave up.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
825

I do not remember there being any "shims" between the old starter and the mounting surface. Interesting question. Are you talking about a gasket-like part?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
105,985

Yes. They hold it farther off the flywheel for better alignment. Put negative of jumper cables on metal of motor and try again. Doing this will insure starter is grounded.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
825

OK, I will try that again and get back with you. Many thanks!

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
825

What is a good or common surface to ground the negative terminal to?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
105,985

Anything metal. Alternator bracket, ac bracket or any part that has bare metal with no paint on it.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
825

ok. I will let you know what happens.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
825

Here's the latest. I had a friend come over to help. He has a 2004 Ford F- 150. I took the battery from my truck and put in his. My battery started his truck. I then tried to start my truck (the one that won't start) with his battery. It would not start. This time, however, instead of one click I got multiple clicks. We then loosened the starter, wiggled it around and then tightened it back on, but not as tight. We tried starting again and it clicked. You mentioned before something about a shim for the starter. There was none when we replaced the starter, but I wonder if the previous time the starter was replace the shim was left off. Do you think that is worth a try?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
105,985

Did you try to jump start with negative jumper on metal of motor? Did you remove starter with wires attached and hold starter metal mounting frame tightly against the motor as some one turned the key to start position?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
825

Yes, I attached the jumper cable properly as you suggested. The grounding cable was secured to a bare metal mounting bracket. I did not try removing the starter as you described, but I can try that in the morning.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
105,985

The click you hearing is it coming from the solenoid or the starter itself?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
825

That's a good question. I definitely heard the starter click multiple times with my friend's battery in the car. Now that you say it, I wonder if (with my batter) if I was just hearing the solenoid when trying with my battery. My battery may be weak since we've been trying the start the car. It was strong enough to start his truck, though.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
105,985

If it started his it should start yours. The reason I ask is that if it's the starter clicking it could be trying to engage but not able to due to possible shim issue.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
825

I understand. Is a shim something I can get at NAPA? I wonder why the new starter didn't come with a shim automatically. Do you think that little thickness of a shim could possibly make a difference? I mean, we couldn't be talking about anything thicker than maybe an 1/8 of an inch, right?

105,985

Yes but on some starters it allows the gears to freely engage the flywheel. Where as without it the gears could be getting in a bind before fully engaging the flywheel.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
825

ok

105,985

Please use extreme caution if you try what my removed posts stated.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
105,985

Something else to try. If you have a multi meter check the voltage on the two large posts on the solenoid. With key off -- one should have 12 volts and the other have 0 volts. With key in the start position both should have 12 volts or some where close to that.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
825

Oh, don't worry. I will be so careful, I might not even attempt that one. How about a "neutral safety switch?" Could that be the problem? Thanks for the multi-meter tip. My multimeter registers nothing on the screen...may need another one.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
105,985

If they both have 12 volts when key is in start position it's either bad starter, starter gears binding, connection issue on either starter or large solenoid post, bad cable between starter and solenoid or bad negative battery connection or cable between battery and motor.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
105,985

By checking the solenoid as I mentioned above if you have 12 volts on both large posts when key in start position the safety switch is ok.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
130

My battery was low one time on my 1992 F-150 and Itried tojumpstart it. It would crank over but would not start or even fire. Checked all the usual places, replaces the solinoid, ignition switch, key set, nothing worked. Then a guy at the junk yard suggested I check the coil wire coming in from the ignition switch. No voltage from switch to coil when I turned on the ignition and cranked it over. He suggested I may have fried something and said to run a wire directly from the battery to the coil to see if it would work. I did just that and crank the engine over and it started right up. So now I have a wire running from my battery to a on/off switch on my dash board and the wire from the switch goes directly to the coil. I just put the switch in the on position before I use the key to crank it over and it starts fine. And the switch acts as a cut off switch so no one can steal the truck. don't know why the wire from the battery won't make it thru the ignition switch. But it runs now. Check the Battery side of your coil to see if you are getting voltage when you turn the ignition on. No voltage = no spark.

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.
825

I tested the battery with the multimeter. It has 12.74 volts I tested the solenoid with the multimeter. With the key off, it has 12.45 on the right post, and 0 on the left. With the key on, it has the same (12.45 on the right post, and 0 on the left.) But here's the deal. Right before I did this test, I noticed the right post of the solenoid had three wires attached. The left had one. In a video on a 1995 Ford F-150, I notice the post nearest the battery had three wires attached, so I thought I would try. After I moved them, I get nothing when I turn the key. No bounce in the gauges, no click...nothing. So, I am sure that is wrong. Also, so you know, I bought three shims. I thought I would put one on the starter to see if that makes a difference, but I have not done that yet. I am beginning to lose faith, but I do not want the expense of a tow truck and a visit to Ford if I can avoid it.

825

I have no idea where the "coil" might be.

130

If all you get is a click and you have tried everything...Check the oil. If you have no oil, pehaps you have seized up the engine. This happened to me one time when I went to an oil change place and the took out the oil, changed the filter and then they took it out to test drive after also replacing a ball joint. The guy didn't put oil back in the engine. Van went about a mile before it quit. He call back to the station saying it just quit. I wen over and pulled the dip stick. Not a drop of oil. and all the started would do is Click. Because the engine had seized up. They had to replace my engine.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
825

I thought about a locked engine, but it is ok. I can turn it manually...just had the oil changed and the level is good...also, I can start the engine by letting the clutch out on an incline, so no worries there.

130

Coil is right next to the Distributor, it has a plug with 2 wires coming out of it.

825

Is there a coil on an engine stamped with: Electronic Fuel Injection ??

130

If you don't know what it looks like, go to an auto parts store and ask then to show you a new one.....take a photo of it and go back and find it on the top of your engine.

130

The center Distributor wire usually goes directly to the coil.

130

Did you replace the solenoid? perhaps its not engaging when energized.

130

Well if it started by poping the clutch then it's getting 12 volts thru the ignition switch. does the starter turn over alright when you take it out of its mount & turn on the ignition?

825

Yes, the solenoid was replaced. It is new equipment. When I first had trouble, I removed it and had the new starter bench-tested just to be sure. I have a new ignition switch, new solenoid, battery is new and strong, new battery cables. I have not replaced the clutch switch. And I have not replaced the key mechanism. I purchased shims for the starter, but have not tried that yet.

825

I took the starter back to NAPA and they bench tested it. It turns.

825

From this angle, the battery is on the left.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
825

Does the hookup of my starter solenoid look ok?

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
825

I cannot find shims for my solenoid. Anyone have any idea what I can do to get my truck started?

825

Not my solenoid...sorry. I meant to say my "starter."

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
825

What can I check with my voltage meter?

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
105,985

Have someone turn the key to the start position(trying to crank it) (not just the on position) and hold it there while you check the solenoid. If both posts have 12 volts or better its the starter or negative ground cable going to the motor.

825

OK. Sounds dangerous, but I will. :)

825

Can I drop the solenoid to do this, or does it have to be attached to the truck?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
105,985

No leave it attached. Not dangerous just make sure you have a good ground with multi meter. It only takes a second to check both.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
5

Me I have the same problem with my truck. I went through all the hoops to.i even took the battery harness all the way out and inspected them, well I did that I had the starter out so before I put th harness and starte back ONI hooked the harness back up to the battery and celenoid and hooked up to the starter and turned the key to see it would work and it did spin the starter.so I thought I was good but when I put starter back in it the same thing it just clicked at the celenoid. So I'm still stumped on what it can be.

if you get click at the starter thats the bendix moving into position that means that the starter is misaligned it is either crooked or needs shims most early 90's ford 5.0l's had them also check your ring gear for damage

10

Just read this entire thread. I'm almost positive you have a bad ignition relay out. This is notorious for late 80's early 90's Ford products. Also check your vin# for any recalls. A lot of ignition coil are bad with low miles.Also I've made the mistake of thinking my negative wires were ok and found out later the smallest amount of corrosion or kink can throw your AMPs way off and your starter can not crank enough to start your car. Replace both your wires from your negative (battery & sylnoid) you may be shocked when your engine cranks over!!!!! Just a few things I've learned over the years with older ford products. A lot of the time it's involved with their over complex wire systems weather it be from your harness or your main charge system. If you ran a separate wire to your ignition and it worked, that should be a temporary fix, find the bad wire or even relay that goes to your ignition. You can find a lead from your starter sylnoid or your voltage regular. A lot of older fords have external voltage regulators (series2) but early 90's and on mainly have built in regulators. Also check your harness connectors to make sure they have not corroded or more commonly melted.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

No answer here. but thanks for all the help with suggestions because i am having the same issues with my 1992 ford f150- and it is under 100,000 miles. I hope us troubled one find our fix. again thanks for the help.

10

I had this very same problem being only 17 I'm no mechanic by any means but I was in need of a start I went under the truck were the starter was and I touch a thick wire connected to it to a bold on it and it spun the starter while my friend turned the key as soon as he heard the started turn ...like I said I'm no mechanic so sorry for these amutre names of parts but I just used a screw driver to touch the metals together and she fired right up ....befor discovering this I tried jump start I tried re doing the battery cables and some body just told me to try it and sher as shit it worked

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
10

Have a 150 van two batteries, replaced both battiers, Both selionods and clean all post connection cables. Ok will start with screw driver jump from passanger selionod. but will not start just by key. Tired of ford but would like to keep trying anyone have an idea

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
45

I need help too..... over 12v to the battery.... if I jump with screw driver it starts, if I put a jumper to the S post on the solenoid it starts.... turn the key and NOTHING happens 2001 F150 5.4 4x4 auto also I am getting 7volts from the wire that goes to the S post not 12v thanks for any help

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
160

yea its either relay, a fuse, ignition switch, or the one a lot of people forget about is the switch inside the steering column.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

try manual turning the engine over , so that the fly wheel is in a different position. sound like the fly wheel is binding the bendex up. if it is clicking the rest of the electrical should be good, exdept for a amp drop but if you just started it and then it wont start now. try to move the flywheel to a new position.

40

Here is this Guy Paul posting 20 times issues with his starter .. and Dandyoun being so courteous to offer solutions .. and you would think that This Guy Paul would at Least say what the Ultimate Solution was to His Problem !!

Yes I so totally agree with you! My boyfriend and his friend like just now got done installing an engine in a Ford and it wouldn't start so I Googled put hey motor in a Ford and now it won't start and I saw Paul's posting and I have sat here and read all of it actually found it kind of fascinating. I'm a woman I don't know a lot about cars and sorry but I don't generally like Fords but you know I am a little bit pissed cuz I don't know the outcome. It's like watching an entire movie and then skipping the last 10 or 15 minutes. Anyway learned a lot from all of this so thank you and Paul if you see this the public would love to know what worked

10

Stves. Bv. well im going to make this short hopfully. Sweet i had the same issue i suffered the natoriouse ckuk clickclick and i also trialed and errered ..Wat got my attention was the fact i run my ac a few days before and i heard this loud metal to metal. And.after my bout with checking everythings i started to thinkabout the ac noise wen i tore into it sure.renuff the ac clutch was frose up tight. long story shrt.. I went to orillys got a kit desined to elimenate the ac unit i couldnt afford a new or used one and the ac elimation kit was realy cheap so i hope this helps later

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
20

Hi, my F-150XL 2000 (recent purchase and lots of rot underneath). Starter was giving me the click response. I popped the hood and shorted the starter relay . Click I looked at Battery and both connections were strong, I went into the cab and turned on headlights, good and bright, turned off lights. found a way to see the solenoid (starter topper) by turning the wheels to the left... With my head in the wheel-well ad a good flashlight, I was able to see that the main power wire had broken off at the connector , the connector itself was on good and strong (broke the copper bolt while trying to remove) *use heat in cold weather, nut shrinks onto the copper bolt*. Anyways, the main power cable is attached to the frame (tight), and any heavy motor tossing or frame twist (so easy on old rotting truck), pulls and tears away at the weakest point, >where the wire goes into the connector< . So even if connector seems good, the power might be cut off due to internal breakage of the wire at this point... Installing new connector, looser wire tied down and new Starter on Monday... Check the integrity of the main power to starter... break at the connector clamping area

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