1990 Ford F250 Starting Trouble


Old 12-05-04, 03:31 PM
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1990 Ford F250 Starting Trouble

Hello to all,

I'm having some difficulty getting my truck started (F250, 302, auto) and thought I'd fix the problem myself, rather than getting it towed to a shop. The problem is, the trouble has outstripped my (very!) basic knowledge of engines and how they work! I'll summerize my work and the problems and if I seem to be going into too much detail, please forgive me. Sometimes, I have found, the telling clue is hidden in some seemingly inconsequential detail.

It all began with the engine cranking, but not catching. Fine, thinks I, this has happened to me before and the tow truck guy cleaned the points (at least I think thats the name for the metal bits in the distributer?) and off it went. Unfortunately, my truck has been sitting for 28 days while I was at sea with Coast Guard and all the cranking drained my battery right down. Out it came and on the charger overnight. Next morning the battery had a full charge (checked with a hydrometer) and so was reconnected. The engine caught, but would only run with a healthy dose of gas pedal. When I got off the gas, it died, no idle at all. Solinoid, wonders I? Just to be sure, I disconnected all the leads from the battery and gave everything a thourough cleaning with a wire brush. Reconnect, turn the key and was rewarded with the sound of a loud click! Every time I turned the key, click! Starter, thinks I? So unbolt and disconnect the starter and try again. Same loud click from the engine bay (unfortunately, I'm here alone and can't tell exactly where in the engine the click is coming from). Does this make sense? I would have expected a different result when the key was turned with the starter disconnected. Or is this the normal sound made when it the power can't complete a circuit through the starter? Or is the problem somewhere before the power reaches the starter? I've rechecked (numerous times!) that all leads to and from the battery have been reconnected properly, and still the same damnable click!

Anyway, its at this point that the problem goes beyond my limited mechanical knowledge. I'd be forever indebted for help in what the problem might be.
Thanks in advance!
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Old 12-05-04, 03:53 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: So Cal
Posts: 248
You may have a bad starter, BUT before you go that route you need to make sure you have good battery. You didn't say how old the battery is or if it drains quite often while you're gone and has to be recharged on your return.

Just because it's fully(?) charged as indicated by the hydrometer, doesn't necessarily mean it has enough cranking amps available to do the job.

You can either get your truck in for a proper charging system check, which includes a starting/cranking test or get a new battery and go from there.


Old 12-06-04, 09:29 AM
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Thanks for the come back, Smogtek. The battery is fairly new (just over a year which is not bad in our mild wet coast climate) and while it sits idle for 28 days every other month, it has never given me any problems. It only ran down because (I'm embarassed to say) I cranked the heck out of the engine when I first had trouble starting it (it was pouring rain, and I kept thinking "It'll catch next time I turn the key..."). With the battery hooked up, everything else works at full power (lights, stereo, buzzers and beepers). Also the click emanating from the engine bay is loud and positive, not the sort of wheezy, half hearted cranking my truck has made when the battery has died.
So that loud click isn't a red flag for what the problem is? Its obviously something trying to work, but not doing its job.
Any other ideas?
Old 12-06-04, 02:16 PM
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Pittsburgh,Pa
Posts: 2,417
Sounds like a starter problem to me but I would take a ratchet and socket and see if I could turn the engine over by hand first to make sure it isn't locked up.The loud click you hear is the starter solenoid on the inner fender.
Old 12-06-04, 06:47 PM
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Thank you for your help, guys, the beast lives!
Changed out the battery and starter and fired first try.
$230.00 CDN for the bits, but the last time I had a starter replaced it ran me $400 and a few with taxes. I may never drag that machine to the shop again! Well, until the transmission goes.
Thanks again!

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