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Glenn, Technician/Trainer
Category: Ford
Satisfied Customers: 606
Experience:  28 years experience, Interprovincially Licenced Motor Vehicle Mechanic and Instructor
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The van wont start but the lights, radio and all..clicks..towed

Resolved Question:

This has happened about 3 tmes, The van wont start but the lights, radio and all that work. It just clicks. We had it towed to the same place twice, and they said it might be a computer problem. We have no idea where to take it to, or how much that would cost. I'm just sick of it working for a while after we get fixed and then happening again, please help??
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Ford
Expert:  Glenn replied 8 years ago.

Hello , my name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd like to try to help you with your problem.


Do you have another key? Have you tried it when this happens? Your vehicle is equipped with an antitheft system and this might be an issue.


What is the security light doing when this happens ?


There are some other tests I can suggest . Get back to me with the results of this test and I'll try to help identify what is happening.



Customer: replied 8 years ago.

My wife was the one who first wrote this post. The clicking sound is faint and is definately not coming from the starter. Just wanted to throw that out there. The Security light blinks every 3 seconds and then when I turn the ignition it turns on for 3 seconds and then turns off and doesn't blink again. I've tried pressing the reset button behind the jack (if it is indeed the reset button). I've tried that with the ignition off and on. I'm not too good at car mechanics and these cars with computers are way beyond me. I am a generator mechanic with the Air Force so I know a little about engines but that's about it.



Expert:  Glenn replied 8 years ago.

Re noise not coming from starter... sounding more and more like an antitheft problem.


Eric, how good are you with a voltmeter ? Feel like trying some tests on the starter circuit? A little tougher to get at connections on this stuff than on generators, but it's not too different. I can send you some schematics, images and instructions to try to pinpoint this to a specific area. We can do several tests with a voltmeter and a testlight that will narrow things down.


Let me know.


By the way, the reset button you're talking about is the INERTIA SWITCH. It's a vibration sensitive circuit breaker. If the car gets hit, it breaks the feed to the fuel pump. It wouldn't affect the starter.



Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I use a volt meter daily. I can usually struggle my way through a wiring schematic and if I'm pointed in the right direction it makes it a bit easier. As for a test light I'm not entirely sure if I know what that is. I found that "reset switch" Inertia switch from a Ford forum, and I knew it didn't seem right but thought I'd try it out. My Fluke has volts/amps/ohms/diode So I should be able to do what is needed. And thanks for helping out.
Expert:  Glenn replied 8 years ago.

Ok, I'm going to get some schematics together.


Here's a pic of a testlight. I just checked google and looked for a good picture. Any parts store can sell you one of these. The longer the lead the better. No electronic ones, please. A simple 12 v bulb style will do.


It's getting late here... if it's alright with you we'll pick this up tomorrow, ok ?


Expert:  Glenn replied 8 years ago.

Good morning Eric


I had a little trouble uploading this post this morning. Sorry for the delay.


I have taken the available information and tried to provide you with an answer on how to determine what the cause of your no start condtion is. This test will help confirm if the antitheft system is keeping the car from starting


Here's the schematic for the starter circuit.




I'll want to do some of these tests with a testlight.




The field coil in the starter relay needs about 0.25 amp minimum to be able to "pull down" the contact to allow power to come from pin 30 to pin 87 . Using a voltmeter to test the circuit can be misleading because it may show voltage where current is not available. Because we're testing the circuit "unloaded" (with the relay out), the testlight is a better bet.


In the first part of the following test, the clip on the testlight needs to be connected to the BAT - terminal. When you hook it up, momentarily touch the other battery terminal with the end of the testlight and make sure it glows brightly. It should glow that brightly when you do the tests below. Tell me if it is dim during the test. ( Later on, I'm going to get you to move the clip on the testlight lead to the BAT + )


Ok... pull the starter relay out of the underhood relay box (Ford calls this relay box the BUSSED ELECTRICAL CENTER, OR BEC for short. )







For the first test I want to have the key in the RUN position. Do not crank the engine.
Look on the underside of the relay if you have trouble figuring which pin is which. The relay pins are numbered but the box most likely isn't.


In the next tests, make sure to note is the testlight lights up as bright as it did when you tried it on the battery.


You should have power at pin 30 ... do you?
Is it the only live pin ? Check the others and tell me if any others are live.


Good, now you'll need to check pin 85. With the shifter in park, try turning the key to the start position and see if power shows up at pin 85. If it lights up, go to next step. If it doesn't light up... STOP and get back to me. You've just found a problem.






With the testlight connected to BAT + , touch it to pin 87 ... does it light up ? Yes? GOOD. No, BAD.


Last test. With the testlight still connected to BAT + , touch pin 86 and get a helper to turn the key to the start position.. Does it light up while the key is in the start position ? Yes? Good. No ? Probable antitheft function, read on to next step.

Ok, if the light didn't come on in the last test, we have confirmed a problem in the circuit to the powertrain control module. It may be a broken wire, but it most likely is a starter disable caused by the antitheft system.


Last test.


You'll need a short jumper wire. You will have to strip the insulation off your jumper wire. A piece of lampcord with the ends twisted would be fine.



Ok, I want you to leave the relay out.


Make sure everything is out of the way, the engine may start. Make sure the shifter is firmly in park and set the parking brake or block the wheels.


Get someone inside the car ready to shut the engine off if it starts.




Jump pin 30 to 87 with your jumper. The starter should start cranking the engine.


What happens? Did the engine start? Did it stay running ? If the antitheft is active it won't stay running ( if it starts at all) .


I'll be around today. Let me know how you make out.




Glenn and other Ford Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Glenn replied 8 years ago.



Just wondering how you made out with the instructions I sent you yesterday?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner. My was gone all day yesterday and she used her email for this justanswer thing.


Ok, I tried to start the car yesterday and it still wouldn't start. It rained all day yesterday. Today was sunny and when my wife came home from the State Fair I decided to try back on the car before I got onto justanswer. It fired right up. It seems that the car only dies when it is raining, it also happens to be on Fridays. Now that the car the is running I'm not sure if those tests you prescribed will work. Maybe I'll have to wait until next time and then get back a hold of you. I don't have a problem paying you the $9 that my wife first agreed to pay. I'm sure you've given us more than $9 worth of information so far