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  #1  
Old 09-01-2016, 09:54 AM
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Default Intermittent No Crank

Last fall I had a couple of instances where my car wouldn't crank at all after driving it. If I let it sit for a bit, eventually it would crank and off I'd go. The car has always been very slow to crank when warm, I chalked this up to a bad battery. In fact, when I put it away last fall, I had to jump start it to get to the gas station to top off the tank.

Spring came and I replaced the battery (verified as bad by the auto parts store) and things seemed Ok for a short time. But, now I have more and more instances of no cranking at all, whether the car is hot or cold. Turn the key, nothing. Again, nothing. After 5 or 6 times it'll suddenly crank and start. It seems to crank pretty slowly as well, more slowly than I remember.

Reading some starter related threads here, the first thing I want to check is the neutral safety switch. I need to pull up on the sifter or put it in neutral and give that a try. I remember my grandfather always having to do that to start it until he had it adjusted. It was probably adjusted 25+ years ago, so it may have moved again by now.

If that doesn't help, I'm thinking that I've got a starter going bad, what does everybody else think?
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Old 09-01-2016, 10:22 AM
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The first test I would do when this happens is to blow the horn. Does it sound weak or loud and strong as it should??? That will give us a clue as to the problem.
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Old 09-01-2016, 01:24 PM
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So figuring your charging system is good, sounds like you might be right about the starter, good news is it's an easy fix. I took mine to a local guy to rebuild, its was cheaper than getting a new or rebuild and you know what you're starting with. The amount of carbon and crap that builds up inside the starter is nuts, sometimes all it takes is to take it off, clean it and do a really thorough job on the armature.
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Old 09-01-2016, 01:33 PM
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It's easy to check. Just put a test light on the starter side of the solenoid. If it lights but there's no crank when you turn the key then it's your starter. If it doesn't light then play with the shift lever. If you haven't replaced the detent plate then most likely you will have to hold the lever up to get it to crank.

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Old 09-01-2016, 03:37 PM
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On top of Joe's test, another would be to carry a pretty heavy guage small jumper wire, and when the car won't start, take the jumper and hook it to the positive terminal of the battery and the "S" terminal on the starter relay. If the starter cranks over, you have resistance in the starter circuit (ign switch, safety neutral switch, connectors). If the starter doesn't crank, and you know the battery is good it is either the starter solenoid or starter itself.
Nyles
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Old 09-01-2016, 04:20 PM
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Yep - once the horn blows loudly we assume the battery is near fully charged and (another quick assumption) the battery cables are clean enough for high amperage loads. Now its time to jump across the relay and narrow down the causes.
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Old 09-01-2016, 09:20 PM
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Thanks for all the good suggestions. I'm moving this weekend and up to my eyeballs in that, so trying things will have to wait until the dust settles there.
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Old 09-01-2016, 10:19 PM
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The heavy-gauge positive wire running down to the starter may be corroded and not letting enough juice to the starter. This happened to me a couple summers ago. The bad part was under some heat-shrink material on the end and it was hard to spot at first.
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Old 09-01-2016, 11:44 PM
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I've used a battery jumper cable and gone directly from the battery positive to the starter terminal. If it didn't crank then I figured it was time for a battery or starter. That takes everything else out of the system. I kind of use a process of elimination to determine where the problem really is.
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Old 01-21-2017, 01:30 PM
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I realized that I never came back to this.

After the dust settled on our move, I decided to take the T'bird out to get the fuel topped off before winter. Against my better judgement, I shut her down at the gas station. Sure enough, it wouldn't crank. I tried moving the shift lever with no luck. At every turn of the key I'd get a slight clunk, but that's it. After sitting for some time and trying it occasionally, with nothing, I dug up the road side assistance number and called for a tow. Another hour or so and a flatbed showed up and took us home.

While I was waiting, a gentleman who said that he was familiar with old Fords showed up and tried to help me get it going. We hit the solenoid and the starter with the tire iron to no avail. We rocked the car to try to free the starter, no dice. His opinion was it was the starter, since none of those things had any effect.

Any opinions on his diagnosis? Also, anyone buy a starter from Rockauto? The rebuilt units from the T'bird vendors are $119-$140 with core charges of $35-$75. At Rockauto it's about $30 plus a $15 core charge or a new one for $95.
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