cranks but won"t start, service engine soon light on, but if it even flickers car will start

Asked by Aug 22, 2014 at 06:36 PM about the 1997 Ford Thunderbird LX

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

4 Answers


First thing to do is get a code reader on it to find out the code to fix it. If you don't have one available, go to Auto Zone, O'Riley or such to get it tested..


I have been chasing the same issue on a 1997 T-Bird for a friend. The symptoms sound very similar to yours. The car will crank just fine. The fuel pressure is spot on to what it should be. When you turn the key from "off" to "run", the fan will run, and then stop after a period of time - anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. At that time, the MIL (check engine or service engine soon light) will blink. The car will start immediately after that if you crank it. If you plug a code reader into the car, there will be NO stored code, and the MIL will extinguish immediately after engine start. If you attempt to communicate with the PCM before the MIL blinks and the fan turns off, you will not be able to. It is my belief that the PCM has not begun to function correctly. It controls the fan through the CCRM (constant control relay module) and the cooling system is designed with a failsafe that runs the fan at it's lower speed UNLESS the PCM turns it off. The key here is the PCM has to turn the fan off. If it is not functioning correctly, it cannot do that. That is why I believe that the PCM is the issue. A bit more background on this issue - I now also own a 1997 T-Bird, and it starts immediately when you turn the key to the "start" position. The fan will not come on in "normal" circumstances - I suspect that if the engine were excessively warm that it would.


I think 97TBirdOwner might have hit it. It is possible that the PCM could be your whole problem.


I have replaced the PCM and the 1997 Thunderbird starts perfectly. As I mentioned, the PCM controls the fans by way of the CCRM. If the PCM does not boot properly, and become "ready" to start the engine, it will not start. The fans will continue to run on low speed. During this time, I was not able to communicate to the PCM by way of the OBDII connector. Once the MIL blinks and the fans turn off, you could communicate with the PCM, and the car would start. I went to NAPA and purchased a rebuilt PCM. Information you will need to provide them: Make, model, year, VIN, and calibration code printed on a sticker on the driver's door jam. Look to the other post regarding a crank but no start issue with a 1997 Thunderbird. I have posted extensively there.

Your Answer:


Looking for a Used Thunderbird in your area?

CarGurus has 1,090 nationwide Thunderbird listings starting at $6,498.


Ford Thunderbird Experts

  • #1
    Larry Sturgis
  • #2
    Tom Demyan
  • #3
View All

Related Models For Sale

Used Ford Mustang
256 Great Deals out of 38,497 listings starting at $1,350
Used Chevrolet Corvette
90 Great Deals out of 15,066 listings starting at $3,620
Used Chevrolet Camaro
240 Great Deals out of 27,310 listings starting at $2,077
Used Ford F-150
2,415 Great Deals out of 207,420 listings starting at $1,300
Used Pontiac Firebird
5 Great Deals out of 679 listings starting at $4,700
Used Chevrolet Impala
431 Great Deals out of 25,967 listings starting at $950
Used Mercedes-Benz SL-Class
46 Great Deals out of 3,023 listings starting at $4,930
Used Jaguar XK-Series
26 Great Deals out of 617 listings starting at $4,950
Used Jeep Wrangler
245 Great Deals out of 16,436 listings starting at $3,000
Used Mazda MX-5 Miata
46 Great Deals out of 4,629 listings starting at $1,900
Used Volkswagen Beetle
107 Great Deals out of 7,168 listings starting at $1,750

Used Cars For Sale

Content submitted by Users is not endorsed by CarGurus, does not express the opinions of CarGurus, and should not be considered reviewed, screened, or approved by CarGurus. Please refer to CarGurus Terms of Use.