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Mike S.
Mike S., ASE Certified Technician
Category: Ford
Satisfied Customers: 6777
Experience:  ASE Certified Master Technician
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2003 Ford Explorer XLT won't start.

Customer Question

2003 Ford Explorer XLT, Automatic, Flex Fuel, won't start. Battery is good, no corrosion on terminals. When I turn the key all of the electrical systems work but the starter does not engage at all, no clicking, no thud.

I also checked all of the fuses in the engine compartment. I looked at the fuses in the passenger compartment but from the manual I don't see which ones might be applicable,

Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Ford
Expert:  Mike S. replied 1 year ago.
You know of course on Ford's there is usually a starter relay, did you check it? If you want me to look up any fuses, I need to know what engine came in this.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

4.0L Flex Fuel SOHC 6cyl

In my manual the fuse for Starter relay and ignition relay is #12, 50A and I check ed it.

The starter relay is #56 and ignition relay is #58. Other than visual inspection how can I check them?

Expert:  Mike S. replied 1 year ago.
There are also fuses #23 in the battery junction box and fuse #29 in the central junction box. Check those first.
Expert:  Mike S. replied 1 year ago.
Here is the diagram, click here.
Expert:  Mike S. replied 1 year ago.
Once you test that them fuses are ok, have someone turn the key to start while you feel if that relay clicks.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for the diagram. My manual says there is a starter relay 56 and an ignition relay #58 but your diagram only has the starter relay.

Should I check both 56 and 58?

I checked them all and they all felt like they clicked when the key was turned.

Expert:  Mike S. replied 1 year ago.

I was out.

I assume the problem you had was not cranking.

If the starter relay did click, then the relay must be bad.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I put my finger on each relay while the key was turned and it felt to me as if they all clicked when the key was turned.

I swapped relay 56 (starter) and relay 55 (blower motor) and there was no difference.

Expert:  Mike S. replied 1 year ago.
I think what you are going to have to do is use a voltmeter or 12 volt test light and check those fuses for voltage. Just looking to see if they are blown obviously isn't good enough. Then remove that starter relay and test the pins in the socket for voltage. One should be hot all the time and then another hot when the key is turned to start.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I pulled the Starter Relay and none of the contacts were hot with the key off. I put 12V across the 2 smaller contacts, I heard the click, and there was continuity across the larger contacts. I had my son turn the key and there was 12 volts at one of the large receptacles (#85 in the diagram that you sent). So this would leave me to believe that the DTR sensor and the Ignition switch are ok since the are in series with the Starter Relay on that line.

It seems that it would be Fuse 12 or a wire in that circuit if I am not getting any voltage at the starter relay small contact points. I will see if I have 12V at the Fuse 12 location.

What is S115 on the diagram, between Fues 12 and Starter Relay?

Expert:  Mike S. replied 1 year ago.
You are correct, and so are too the fuses 23 and 29. That leaves me to ask, why did you jump ahead to testing the relay when you should have just started with testing those fuses with the voltmeter that you obviously have. No need to check 23 and 29, but you should confirm that fuse 12 has voltage on both sides all the time. You are thinking correctly, cause now that I continue to read what you typed, you are on the correct track. Anything in diagrams beginning with an S is a splice. So, S115 is splice S115.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I was editing my reply when you were answering so I could not save the changes.

I went back and double-checked all the contacts at the relay, one is hot all the time and 1 is hot when the key is turned.

I pulled fuse 12 and on side is hot and the other is not.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

From this I assume you can test the fuse while it is in place, I'm not sure how to do that but I will try.

Expert:  Mike S. replied 1 year ago.
yes, you should be able to.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I don't see where to make contact with the multi-meter to test the voltage across the fuse. I checked it for continuity and that passed.

Expert:  Mike S. replied 1 year ago.
How did you test for continuity? Did you remove the fuse and test with an ohmmeter? If so, just pull the fuse again and check both prongs for voltage, one should be hot.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Yes, I removed the fuse and checked with the ohmmeter and yes, one of the prongs in the battery junction box was hot and the other was not.

Expert:  Mike S. replied 1 year ago.
Then the wire is open from the fuse to that relay.
Expert:  Mike S. replied 1 year ago.
You should test again at that splice S115. Let me know if this is a rwd, awd or 4wd and I'll see if I can locate that splice.
Expert:  Mike S. replied 1 year ago.
S115 is in the dash panel to engine harness, near breakout to joint connector No. 1
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I don't suppose you have a diagram for that location anywhere?Laughing

Expert:  Mike S. replied 1 year ago.
No, I looked in all 3 manuals.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Did you get my message about the PATS system?

Expert:  Mike S. replied 1 year ago.
No. When did you send it? What is it?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

The security system indicator light flashes once every 2 seconds when the key is off or out. When I turn the key it flashes rapidly. I have read some information that this indicates some fault or activation of the PATS system so I called the dealer service department and they said that if this is the case you should still be able to crank the engine, it just won't start.

Expert:  Mike S. replied 1 year ago.
Did that light come on just now while doing all of this testing? If so, I would worry about getting it to crank over first, then clear the codes, reset the security or whatever in order to get it to start, if it's not starting. I thought this was just a case of not cranking.
If you cannot find that splice or don't even want to, just run a new wire.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I don't know whether it was doing that from the beginning of the starting problem or not, I just keep looking for possible explanations.

Just for fun I check the continuity from the YEL/LT BLU wire at the starter motor to the terminal in the battery junction box starter relay receptacle, it passed.

I would be happy to check the splice but really have no idea where to look for it. I don't mind running a new wire but I don't know where/how to attach it to the battery junction box.

Expert:  Mike S. replied 1 year ago.
That would probably include removing the battery junction box and finding that wire and replacing it there.
Other than that just run and thick gauge wire that can handle the 50 amps straight from the battery positive post and stick a 50a inline fuse in the wire and run it right to the starter relay pin 30.
Expert:  Mike S. replied 1 year ago.
I would assume that splice has got to be somewhere near that battery junction box, since both the fuse and relay are in that same box.