old starter had two wires , new one needs 3?


Asked by Feb 08, 2014 at 07:15 PM about the 2000 Ford Ranger XL Standard Cab LB

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

2000 ranger 4 cylinder,2.5l manual 2wd. Starter went out, replaced with a new one by
autozone , the starter spins but will n8t engage. Bench tested on vehicle bendex does not
plunge. Took it to autozone watch them test it bendex plunged. They hookup the positive
to positve and ground to body of starter and a third wire to a small screw next to the
negative(I was told it is the relay tap) problem is I do not have a wire that went to the
small screw and was told if I bridge the negatives by a wire it should plunge.the old
starter didnt even have this new little screw next to the negative bolt. Side note the picture
shows the teo cables , neg and positve, the positve was broken taking it off and I replaced
with a new connector.that connector was like lighting bolt shape that went donw beyound
the bolt that held it. Is this a conector that grounds to the bolt AND to the bottom or the
top in the starter housing. Battery reads 12.9 volt and I get 12.9 volts at the starter.

30 Answers


We'll get to the bottom of it. First my circuit diagram for the Ranger shows that you are correct to only have the two wires. The original starter probably had more steel and the case provided the grounding connection. The new ones use more plastic and need an external wire. According to my circuit the starter will ground through the block. The two wires are hot. The larger gauge wire will be the supply from the battery (hot all the time) and the smaller one will be the crank signal from the starter relay. The small extra terminal will need to be grounded to the motor or starter. Here is the circuit '01 is the same as '00.

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Best Answer

Just need to figure out which is the battery supply on the new starter and which is the crank. The battery post should be larger.


First thank you for a timely reply, iv been at this for a week everyday and a couple others issue that I checked to find the end problem. First it started one night no click no starter. While banging around I noticed 4 out of five times if I banged on the idle air control it would fire up.replaced that 64$. Next day same thing, banged on the new idle air and it starts(me scratching my head) shouldnt have anything to do with it. From there onfor a couole days I started checking relays(all good) cleaned ignition switch, new bat terminals, any ground bolted to frame sanded and cleaned, tried to get to neutral start safety switch(relay clicks when engaged so im fairly certain it works), took dash apart to access ignition module,(84$ to replace, didnt replace seeing how I was getting power on key turns) final brokedown andbought new starter. Put it in, nothing, broke down bought a multireader, tested battery was getting 11.37 volts(I know not enough for starter) charged battery to 12.9 volts, checked the altinator (I replaced it 5 years ago) found a wire not seated fully in its plug(fixed that to solve low bat voltage) finaly put charged bat in I get the starter spinning but not engaging, took starter out checked flywheel, looks good no missing teeth or broken spots. Rotated flywheel for good measure, tried again , same result. Took starter back to autozone and repeat from my original question. So there is a ground strap from back of engine to firewall that I could tap or would it be easier to just bridge the two ground connections on the siliniod, there only like 1/8 in apart from each other (big ground bolt and small bolt , positive is on top then ground then next to ground small bolt) if so what gauge should be used.

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Old starter


From what you discribed initially it sounded like you had 3 inputs to the starter. After looking at the pic of the new starter it only has two inputs and one output, unless there is a terminal that I cannot see. The 12 volt + from the battery connects to the large post on the top. The ground is connected via the block. The crank input from the relay connects to the small bolt on the left. The bottom one is the 12 volt from the internal solenoid to the starter motor.

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You can test it with out installing. Operation. When the crank wire goes hot the solenoid/bendix is fired causing both the gear to move into position and power to be sent to the starter motor. A vise helps hold the starter. Connect booster cables to the positive nut (make sure it's tight to avoid arc damage to the threads) and the negative mounting bolt. Hold the starter down, stay clear of the nose and jump the positive nut to the crank nut. Starter should work. I'm thinking you had the positve hooked up right before but mistakinly connected the crank to the power lead output to the starter motor instead of the crank terminal. This would just spin the starter motor without the bendix engaging the gear!

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Sounds like either they sold you the wrong starter or the starter you got was boxed wrong. I work at NAPA and it does happen. See if Autozone has another starter, same part number, on the shelf. Compare what you have to what is in the other box. HTH. -Jim

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Ok I understand, so tomarrow I wil conect the top to 12v from bat , bottom one to bl8ck (via a new ground wire) and the relay to the left smaller one. I will post back tomarrow with picts and outcome. My first time reaching out to the net for help and so far you've given more answer's than 4 employes at autozone. Big thanks and keep up the good work.

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I just looked up your starter on rockauto.com. The Delco remanufactured unit shows a pigtail coming off the starter solenoid. Other brands listed don't have the pigtail. Take a look. HTH. -Jim

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I did look at them at the store and the duracraft gold had a relay wire connected to the siliniod but this one and avalue something didnt. I asked what that wire was and they didnt know and it doesnt state on its description.there was only the three the system stated would work so I went sith the middle cost. I will test based on your answer tomorrow. Let you know


Whoa. The bottom one with the braided wire goes from the bendix to the starter, no other wires on this post. Your + wire from the battery goes to the top. And the crank wire from the relay in the fuse box goes to the smaller post on the left, should be the black one in your pic but you can trace it up to the fuse box if you want. It should show 12 volts when your key is in the crank postion. You don't need to attach ground anywhere. Re-read my 2nd last post there. You were discribing 3 inputs but according to the pic you posted there is only two so there is no need for the other wire I was refering to.


If you connect ground the the bottom post your going to have a spark show and melted wires.

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I should just return it if possible for the one with the relay attached,20$ difference life time warranty , this one 1 year warranty


Wont do that!


Gotch cha on the set up. I was triing to put it the way it was found until the third bolt was added to the new starter which threw me off.


Looking more closely at the wiring diagram posted above your engine is supposed to have a ground wire coming from the battery junction box. That's where the 3rd wire is. Not on the starter itself. HTH. -Jim


I think it was only a positive and just the relay wire attached to the starter Im assuming that its grounded based on it attached to the transmission body. The smaller wire is j6st taped black but the wire under the tape is white a something else , ill check in the morning


Jim. 12 volt + on the Left. 12 volt + while cranking on the right from the relay box. The starter and solenoid/bendix are grounded via engine block shown under the starter. The diagram sucks and they should have used the universal 3 bar symbol but that is the ground.


Getting ready to attack, I have the haynes book and its pretty much useless with diagrams and pictures, I figuered based on what it looked like that it was grounded via block with th12v from bat and the relay connections. I think now the only problem ill run into is the new connector I put on the relay may be to big to out in the small relay bolt and may touch the bot that has the pigtail. Gotta get it miunted first to cinnect the wires due to no room and the wires only come down a few 7nches from a thick metal mounting bracket that hold the wires away from block. Not plyable to release the wires due to it clamped so t7ght around the wires. I can barely get one hand in to do the bolt tightening and most time have to blind feel what 7m doing while laying on my back with shit falling in my face. Yiu said 12v left and relay right, im asuming your giing by the diagram. Going by the picture of new starter it would be 12v from bat on top and 12v relay on the bottom left small bolt and nothing in the pig tailed bolt correct?


One last question, the old starter had a red plastic cap over the bolts should try and cover connections once I get them connected and it turns over. Living in ct during the winter I get my underbody wash often from road salt and im just thinking if water hutting terminals a shorting it out, n8t while running but when I start the vehicke and there is some water that may or may not still be present , not to worried but jyst thinking ahead


Houston we have lift off! Big thanks to my man in space yetilikesbeer! Fired right up instantly. People like you are greatly appreciated and your time spent helping a total stranger with their problem will not go unoticed in life. Pat on your back and a cold beer to you my friend--click clink! Ps ill probably give you another heads up with other repairs soon to come. (rear brake drums next) --clink clink!

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Aftermath clean up


Time to go throw some snow


Ah, I see. Well glad you got it going!! -Jim


Yah perfect. Here is a tip. I have a water proof camera and I take pictures of stuff that I've never worked on before. That way if you hit a snag and it takes a few days before you get back to the project you can always look back at the pics. Example swaping the POS 3.0L in my brother inlaws solara. The wiring harness layed back on the new motor and was easy but the vacuum lines through me for a loop I had to look at my pics. P.S. Never work on a toyota car minivan with that motor wow.


OH drums. Nice. Suggestion for the first time. You can pull both drums off but only take one side apart at a time. That way you can look at the other side of you get lost puttin it back together. It's the same except for the e-brake brakets are mirrored. You can get away doing it with out the shoe retainer tool and the star adjusting wrench but they are handy. When re-installing I make sure both stars are spun all the way in and both brake cylinders are fully compressed. I throw both drums on and peek to see how much clearance I have then pull one drum off and adjust the star untill the Drum wont go on then turn back untill it just barely fits, count the turns. Put the drum on go to the other side and crank it the same turns and make small adjustments untill the drum fits. With new shoes and similar wear on the old drums they should be close. If needed you may have to back off the e-brake, re-adjust when done. Now with the drums on I slowly rotate the drum as I turn the star from the slot in the backing plate until it starts touching then back it off, for both sides. Then i throw the rear wheels on, spin them by hand while trying the brakes to see if the brakes engage and disengage without draging. It may take some fine tuning. Then do the e-brake adjustment.


Sounds fun, I think im going to let it warm up a bit and baby her for a while. Thinking of brand new drums in place as this truck has spent the better of 11 years in daytona beach on beachside. Lots of under rust and only get worse living up here. Bofy is great but the brackets throughout are sll rusting away. Thanks again ill keep in touch


need fuse box info.

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just because its getting 12.9 volts doesnt mean its getting cranking amps change wire not end

Heyy i have this same issue on my truck im a little confused as where im suppose to run the ground on the engine block ?

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