Starting issue 1985 Ford F-250


Asked by Jul 06, 2016 at 05:21 PM about the 1985 Ford F-250 XL Standard Cab 4WD LB

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

So my truck wouldn't start and I had narrowed it down to
being between the starter firewall relay solonoid and the
key. Dropped steering column and adjusted the ignition
switch. Started up once then nothing so I replaced the
switch. Started right up 5 times in a row so I bolted
everything back together. Now it doesn't start. So I drop
steering column again and try to start it. With a few wiggles
it starts but then starter stays engaged grindin away with
keys out of ignition. Pulled battery cable to get it to stop. So
then my battery won't show any voltage with a multimeter.
Randomly it shows voltage again and I get this far in my
diagnostics. Pulled small red/blue wire from side of relay
and put a test light on it. With steering column dropped it
lights up only in start position. With steering column held
up in position it lights up with key in start position but stays
lit (dimly) with key out of ignition. Multimeter shows its still
drawing 0.32 volts. Could this be a main grounding issue or
do I have a faulty wire causing a short circuit between the
ignition wire and another? And if so how can I narrow it
down to which wire. Obviously the steering column
changing position is causing something to happen.

9 Answers


Those can be a little tricky. First of all, The Ignition switch has to be properly timed with the key lock cylinder. The lock cylinder and switch should be in the "Run" position when you tighten the Switch nuts on the column. Many of these ignition switches break and allow all kinds of funky, unintended operation. Second, The "Start Signal" wire travels from the Ignition Switch through the Neutral Safety Switch on the side of the transmission - then to the Starter Solenoid. It sounds as though the switch or it's adjustment is out of whack (technical term). Especially if adjusting the tilt effects it.

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That's good to know. So I decided to tackle the ground wires on engine block for fun. They seemed to be good but upon disconnecting the positive battery terminal, there was a smaller power wire holding on by a single wire. It goes to a small relay box then to another and from what I can tell was for the aftermarket trailer brakes. Also, tracing this same group of 3 wires, I noticed that same group of wires was spliced into a green wire running up my steering column I'm assuming for power to the tekonsha (spelling) brake switch under the dash. Not sure but I left that wire dangling by a thread off the battery and now no issues as of yet. I know there was a 2nd wire spliced into one of those little relay boxes that recently fell off so I'm wondering if that was causing a short circuit somewhere. Upon doing this, I was testing voltage trying to find the position in which the dead ignition line became hot on the column. As I lifted the column up, the gear shifter would tilt slightly causing voltage.. if I held shifter up or shifters through the gears it wouldn't read voltage but when the steering column was mounted and that shift mechanism barely shifted, it would cause voltage. Could there have been a wire inside there getting pinched possibly or could that be a neutral safety switch issue as well


The Neutral Safety Switch is mounted on the Transmission. It's likely that the modified wiring is causing your problem.


Everything was working so I put everything back together. Ugh nothing again. Got power at the wire under the dash and traced it to neutral safety switch. Well let's just say those wires made contact with the exhaust at one time. But why the sudden issue? If those wires were the issue seems like I would have had problems soon after they had melted. Are you saying the neutral safety switch itself might be bad? Waiting for the woman to get home to turn the key over so I can test for power coming in and going out of neutral safety switch. Tore everything back down and can't get it to start but when I hold the key in the start position and jiggle the shift lever my rpm guage jumps around. Wonder if that's from those wires that were melted together or if there's a faulty wire in the steering column. My guess is that all these issues are steering towards the neutral safety switch though. Multimeter and a key turner will give me the answer


Have you replaced the starter solenoid? That may be your problem


Yeah that was first swap. Just got a neutral safety switch with the full wiring harness I said was melted so hopefully that does the trick


If that doesn't do the trick one mistake I made while replacing all the ignition components was an easy mistake to make but it had me stumped for a day. After I replaced everything I connected to battery terminals and as soon as I did that the engine started turning over so then I pulled the cables of to stop it. Then I found that when I replaced the solenoid, I accidentally hooked up the two small wires that attach to the front part of the solined on the wrong sides which caused the engine to continually get current and crank over. So I switched them around back to normal and she runs great now.


Thanks everybody for the advice. I ended up switching out solonoid which didn't do the trick and the ignition switch which worked to varying degrees (frustrating), and what ended up fixing the issue was replacing the neutral safety switch. Obviously an issue with the muffler fused wires. Just odd it took so long to present such an issue. Amazingly, swapping that guy out also makes my driver side window work again. Haha confused on that one but again all good answers and all helpful information. Thanks guys


You're welcome! Glad you solved it.

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