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Brian, Auto Service Technician
Category: Ford
Satisfied Customers: 1227
Experience:  5 years Ford Technical Hotline/Service Engineer. 2005 Ford Master Cert. Automotive Technology degree
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How can you tell if your starter solenoid is bad A couple

Customer Question

How can you tell if your starter solenoid is bad? A couple of symptoms I am having. 1989
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Ford
Expert:  Brian replied 9 years ago.
Can you rotate the engine with a breaker bar and socket on the crank pulley? The cable getting hot suggests the starter is either stuck or unable to turn the engine because the engine is stuck. You could also try pulling out the spark plugs to make it easier to crank the engine over, and to check for water or gasoline in any of the cylinders which would hydro-lock the engine.

If the solenoid was bad, no current or reduced current would flow through it. You could use jumper cable to jump the two large studs on the solenoid together, which should make the starter crank the engine, assuming the engine can rotate freely. If jumping the solenoid works, then the solenoid is probably bad or the little red/blue trigger on the solenoid's small stud is not getting powered when the key goes to the start position. You can disconnect the red/blue wire and then connect a test light to it to see if it is powering up when you turn the key to start. This wire comes from the transmission neutral safety switch on the driver side of the automatic trans or the clutch pedal switch (if manual). The ignition switch on the steering column sends "hot-in-start" power down to the neutral safety switch, and it can only get through the switch in park or neutral. If the park contacts are bad, it may only work in neutral, so try starting it in neutral to test the switch.