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Chris
Chris, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Ford
Satisfied Customers: 294
Experience:  I am a Master Certified ASE technician. ASE Certs A1-A9 & L1. I have been a general auto repair tech for over 18 years.
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Trying to troubleshoot a no crank no start on a 1997 Ford

Customer Question

Trying to troubleshoot a no crank no start on a 1997 Ford Mustang 3.8 v6. Here is what has been done so far... New battery, New Starter, New Negative cable to the starter, Cleaned and repaired Pos cable, New Neutral Safety Switch, New ignition switch,
checked all fuses. Battery volts read 12.68 and more than 11 when attempt to start.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Ford
Expert:  Chris replied 1 year ago.

Hello, Are you hearing any type of noise (like the starter clicking) while attempting to crank it?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No, nothing but the starter relay when the key is turned.
Expert:  Chris replied 1 year ago.

Ok do you have a volt meter?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Expert:  Chris replied 1 year ago.

I would suggest doing a voltage drop test on the starter circuit. HERE is a video of how to do that. A couple quick things to check... the starter relay. You did not say that you replaced that. Also make sure that the engine is free and will spin by hand.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Good video, I've done several test like this but not like this if you know what i mean. I'll try it like in the video and get back to you.
Expert:  Chris replied 1 year ago.

Sounds good. Just let me know how it turns out.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sorry, I hadn't had the other hands i need for this test, i'll be doing this tonight and i'll get back to you.
Expert:  Chris replied 1 year ago.

No problem, take your time.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Checked the starter circuit for a voltage drop and we are not getting a voltage drop, it's 12.27 before attempted start and with start attempt it drops to 12.01. The engine is free as i turned it by hand. How can i test the started relay?
Expert:  Chris replied 1 year ago.

Ok so I understand right you have on terminal of the volt meter on the battery positive. At what point does it read 12 volts while trying to start?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Put the terminal of the volt meter on the battery positive and the other on the positive on the starter it reads 12.27 and drops to 12.01 when trying to start.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No clicking on the starter or anything, but i should have plenty of battery to start.
Expert:  Chris replied 1 year ago.

Ok so you have a 12.01 volt drop between the the battery and the starter. That is not good. It should only be about. 02v. Move us to to the next connection at the relay. When you hit that low volt drop then you have found the problem.

Expert:  Chris replied 1 year ago.

You want 0 volts when measured that way.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I dont believe that's a 12.01 volt drop i think it's a .26 volt when trying to start. According to the video 12.01 is still enough to start the car. According to the video i'm looking for a bad connection between the positive post and the positive connection on the starter and there doesnt seem to be.I have also verified the S signal which i think is where you want it to read 0. Probe the S terminal of the starter motor solenoid and a ground (in my case i ground on the negative on the battery to be sure). When i try and start in this scenario i get 0 and i think this is the test that rules out the starter. http://troubleshootmyvehicle.com/ford/3.0L-3.8L/how-to-test-the-starter-motor-1
Expert:  Chris replied 1 year ago.

Ok I even Re read what you did. When you are on bother ends of the positive cable (battery and starter) and not trying to start the car there should be no voltage at all. It should be just like holding the 2 leads together. The voltages you described sounds like regular battery voltage. The link you sent also has a voltage drop test and also says that it should be near 0 volts. As far as the small wire s terminal there should be 0 volts then battery voltage when trying to start. If you have no voltage on the s wire then that is a problem. If you feel comfortable doing it you can temporarily jump the 2 starter terminals and the starter should work.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
what's the problem, you think the starter is bad? I guess that's always possible even though it's new, since i bought the cheap one year warranty starter.
Expert:  Chris replied 1 year ago.

You said that there is no power on the small wire when trying to crank. Is that correct? If you jump the 2 terminal also that will tell you if the starter is good.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Let me check the pos to pos again, i think i was pos to neg.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok, i was on the neg from pos on the battery by mistake. When on the pos battery and pos starter it read 0 and 0 when trying to crank. That would indicate we do not have a vol drop. When on the S post and a ground we get 0 and 0 when trying to crank. According to the test i listed... CASE 2: If your multimeter DID NOT register 10 to 12 Volts: This result let's you know that the starter motor on your Ford car, or pick-up, or mini-van is not the cause of the problem. This rules out the starter right?
Expert:  Chris replied 1 year ago.

OK.... yes there is no voltage drop and as far as we know the starter is good at this point. The problem is that we are not getting power from the ignition switch to the starter. Is this an automatic or a manual transmission? If automatic try moving the shifter to neutral and trying again.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It is automatic, tried moving to neutral and back and all that... i replaced the neutral safety switch in fact as well as the ignition switch.
Expert:  Chris replied 1 year ago.

HERE is a wiring diagram to follow. Does the car have anti-theft?

Expert:  Chris replied 1 year ago.

Did you say that you can hear the starter relay clicking? I would start there to make sure you are getting power to it.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
hahaha, had a feeling you would be asking this next...i thought it might be anti-theft but the anti-theft light is not blinking.
Expert:  Chris replied 1 year ago.

Yea you never know what Anti-theft disables but it is in the wiring diagram for the starter.

The light not flashing usually indicates that it is fine but I guess that the module could be bad also.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Is there a way to test it?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Let me try and give you a little back ground into what happened or at least i think. The freeze plug went out and i replaced it with a rubber one, while doing that i unplugged this wire (see pic) to get to it. Once the freeze plug was installed i added coolant and tried to start and got nothing. Then realized i forget to plug this back in, so i plugged it back in and it wouldn't start. Could this be related?
Expert:  Chris replied 1 year ago.

I am not really sure what that is. I just can't see it to well. I doubt that it would cause this problem. Have you checked for any codes? Usually if the anti theft is active there is a code for it. You need to trace the power coming from the ignition switch to see where it stops.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Well, I guess maybe the next step would be to check the relay if you have some guidance on that or think there is something else i should check. I'm not getting any codes except the check engine light that was related to the freeze plug going out. Its like those have not cleared because the car hasnt started yet.
Expert:  Chris replied 1 year ago.

Yes start at the relay. One terminal should have power all the time, one have ground all the time, one have power when the key is in the start position and the last goes to the starter.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
i pull the starter relay off, i believe there is 4 plugs to test. I'm getting one with power all the time, one that i get power when key turns to the start, and 0 on the other 2.
Expert:  Chris replied 1 year ago.

Thats good so far and means that the anti theft is ok. The other 2 should have continuity to ground on 1 and to the starter on the other.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
What do i try next?
Expert:  Chris replied 1 year ago.

You need to check the other 2. 1 should have ground and if that is there the relay should trip sending power down the other one to the starter. If it is all good then the relay might be bad. My guess is something happen to the wire to the starter. So to sum it up of the 2 that had no power one should have ground and the other should have continuity to the small starter wire.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
how can i test this? I assume i put volt meter black on one and red on the other and that should give me a 12.27 or so reading right?
Expert:  Chris replied 1 year ago.

Put your meter on ohms. Put one lead on the negative battery and the other to one of the two terminals left. One of them should show a low ohm reading say 0-5 ohms maybe. Once you find that one then go to the other terminal and the other lead off the battery and to the starter. You should get the same reading there also.

Expert:  Chris replied 1 year ago.

Were you able to do the other test yet?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Not yet, i'm gonna try and get to it tonight. Getting to that starter is not an easy task...I'll get back to you, sorry for the delay.
Expert:  Chris replied 1 year ago.

Ok no problem. I was just checking in.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
ok, on the relay with the volt meter on volts (trying to located the other 2) i get 12.05 volts on one and am getting 0 on all 3 of the others when i turn the start key. I swear i got power on start before?
Expert:  Chris replied 1 year ago.

Ok you will have to use the wiring diagram and check at the ignition switch, neutral switch and anti theft to see where the power is lost at.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
this is driving me crazy... how can i test those? i have replaced the ignition switch and neutral switch...
Expert:  Chris replied 1 year ago.

Using the wiring diagram it gives you the wire color and some have the pin location that is usually printed on the connector. It could be the wire side or the connection side. Not saying that a component is bad but it could be a wire problem. Somewhere along the line the power is being stopped and this is what needs to be done to fine out where it stops. start with the switch to make sure you have power getting to it, then out of it when in the crank position. If that it good then move on. Someplace you will not have the power where you should.