when trying to crank 2003 explorer xlt batt drops from 12 volts to 8 and positive cable heats up everything else works
Battery should have 13.2 volts no loads and should drop no more than 9.2 volts, so have the battery retested and recharged fully, none of this surface charging. As far as the cable getting hot there could be high resistance in it, I would say run a voltage drop test but your battery needs to be fully charged for that too happen.
did that when trying to crank starter starts to smoke could there be a short somewhere i havent found
If the starter is smoking then it is no good, sometimes it takes two or three to get a good one.
If you can afford it, stay away from rebuilt starters. Got three at one time trying to replace my in-laws Cadillac.
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