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Stock 1991 - 1994 Explorers For questions related to the base Ford Explorer. Problem solving, maintenance, TSB, service bulletins, owner reviews, specifications. No modification questions.

Starter won't disengage

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Old 09-23-2010, 11:33 PM   #1
awood
Kaysville, utah
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Starter won't disengage

This previously intermittent problem is now here to stay. It began as a once a week issue that was resettable by cycling the key switch. What it was doing was staying engaged, even after returning the key to the "run" position. It gradually got worse. I changed the starter relay (on the fender), and after a week I thought it was good. Then it happened again. After studying the Haynes manual (no access to alldata), It seemed apparant that the solenoid on the starter may have been sticking. Before I could replace the starter, it stuck on, and I was unable to "reset" it this time. By the time I could find tools to get the battery cable off, it was "cranking" for several minutes. During this time I tried to cycle the key several times. With the key on, the engine would run with the starter still engaged. With the key off, the starter would constantly crank the engine. I replaced the starter tonight. The starter just spun... it didn't engage the flywheel. I thought maybe I'd gotten a bad part, so I exchanged it for another. Same thing, only this time it stuck in "crank" once again. So now the starter will spin freely without engaging the flywheel, and I can't shut it off without removing the battery cable. It's late now, and I've given up for the night. Any ideas would be appreciated. The only other parts in the system, as far as I can tell, is the key switch and cables/wires, and battery of course.
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Old 09-23-2010, 11:42 PM   #2
konstan
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I vote ignition switch, its in the steering column. Here is the troubleshooting page for 1993 explorer's starting system





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Old 09-23-2010, 11:50 PM   #3
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REMOVAL & INSTALLATION - IGNITION SWITCH - 1991-94 MODELS


1. Disconnect the negative battery cable.

2. Remove the steering wheel.

3. As necessary, remove all under dash panels in order to gain access to the ignition switch.

4. As necessary, lower the steering column to gain working clearance.

5. Disconnect the ignition switch electrical connectors.

6. Remove the ignition switch retaining screws from the studs. Disengage the ignition switch from switch rod. Remove the switch from the vehicle.



To install:

7. Position the lock cylinder in the LOCK position.

8. To set the switch, position a wire in the opening in the outer surface of the switch through its positions until the wire drops down into the slot.



The slot is in the bottom of the switch where the rod must be inserted to allow full movement through the switch positions.

9. Position the ignition switch on the column studs and over the actuating rod. Torque the retaining nuts to 40-64 inch lbs. (4.5-7.2 Nm).

10. Remove the wire from the slot in the housing. Continue the installation in the reverse order of the removal procedure.


REMOVAL & INSTALLATION - STEERING WHEEL - 1991-94 MODELS


1. Disconnect the negative battery cable.

2. Center the steering wheel to the straight ahead position.

3. From the underside of the steering wheel, remove the screws that hold the steering wheel pad to the steering wheel spokes.

4. Lift up the steering wheel pad and disconnect the horn wires from the steering wheel pad by pulling the spade terminal from the blade connectors.

5. Remove the steering wheel pad. Loosen the bolt 2 or 3 turns from the steering shaft.




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Old 09-24-2010, 05:50 PM   #4
awood
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Thanks for the reply. I think there are now two issues, the second problem caused by the first. I can jumper the small terminal on the starter motor directly to the battery + terminal (bypassing the relay), and the starter just spins without engaging the flywheel. With the relay stuck (or whatever caused the starter to stick "on"), I believe the starter ground off the teeth on the flywheel. I hope I'm wrong. I'll update after more troubleshooting. (Maybe the autoparts chain gave me two bad starters).
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Old 09-25-2010, 06:31 PM   #5
awood
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Okay, more weirdness going on. I appreciate the feedback on the start switch, but I don't think that's it for one reason...If the start switch was stuck, the neutral safety switch would have allowed it to disengage when I moved the selector out of "park" when I drove it, which didn't happen.

Now I just found 2.7 ohms (basically a short) to ground from the terminal of the starter relay that has a direct connection to the positive batt terminal. I disconnected stuff from the relay and the short went away when I removed the ring terminal that supplies battery power to the main fuse panel under the hood. In other words, with both battery terminals disconnected, I'm showing low resistance (short) between the positive battery clamp to ground. The cable between the start relay and starter motor is disconnected at both ends. I'm afraid the problem is staring at me in the face, but I just don't see it.
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Old 09-25-2010, 07:21 PM   #6
ragajungle
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waaaay back in the day when I had my 92 Taurus I put a bad starter on it from AutoZone and it stayed in the "start" position. It didn't grind the flywheel thankfully, but it did pop a fuseable length in the harness. The only way we found it was to take the plastic tubing off the harnesses and start visually inspecting. Found the broken link and a short. PAI, but totally doable.

Also the ignition switch on the column was not the problem in my case, but changing it was also PAI

Goodluck!
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Old 09-26-2010, 12:16 AM   #7
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Some troubleshooting I would do..

Disconnect the switch wire from your starter solenoid (at fender) -connect your battery without keys in ignition.
-is starter engaging?
Yes - starter solenoid no good
No -connect switch wire.
- Is starter engaging?
Yes - starter switch with key is faulty, still sending switch power without key
No-put key in ignition and turn to "on"
Is starter engaging?
Yes - starter switch with key is faulty, still sending switch power with ignition on
No-try to start with key
Did it start and disengage?
No-Disconnect switch wire
Did it disengage?
Yes -starter switch at key is faulty, still sending switch power after key returned to on position (never heard of this happening) Check with multimeter to see if there is voltage there.
no - starter soldenoid faulty

I would ensure your starter solenoid wiring is all good, connections clean AND that it is grounding properly. I am pretty sure it grounds to the fender through the housing/bolts.
Early Explorers had issues with premature corrosion of the battery wiring, so check those as well by seeing if the wires still bend easily. Clean all contacts. Undo ground from battery to ground point and clean that contact point too, might as well.
If your solenoid is stuck on it is easy to check with a multimeter, you will need another one if this is the case.

Your starter should disengage if it is new simply by having the power taken away and you can see this when you have to disconnect your battery to stop it. I am not sure about the wierd starter behavior of possibly not coming on all the way, but I would use a fully charged battery while you troubleshoot.




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Old 09-30-2010, 10:35 PM   #8
awood
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Thanks again for the replies. I've finally got some time to get back to it tomorrow mornng. Just a little more info...I removed the starter, and the flywheel still looks pretty good. A neighbor told a story about his '94 ranger (same engine and tranny) where the center part of the flywheel was all busted up and that's why his starter wouldn't engage. But mine looked fine as far as I can tell.

With the starter now on the ground, I used a jumper cable to ground it to the block, hooked everything back up and hit the key switch (with my foot holding the starter secure, of course). The starter bendix moved the gear all the way out and the gear turned. But it stuck on. I had my friend cycle the switch several times, and move the shift lever out of Park to double check the neutral safety switch and rule out the key switch. The starter remained stuck on. I removed the small wire from the fender mounted starter relay. The starter remained on. I finally removed the battery cable and everything stopped. I then hooked up the battery cable again, and the starter remained off - everything reset. We cranked it again, with the exact same result.

I havent checked for a corroded cable, but I have checked for shorts to ground on all wires and cables. No trouble there. I'll see what I can find in the morning.
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Old 10-01-2010, 08:46 AM   #9
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It sounds like your starter relay is sticking on if it still spins the starter without the small wire connected. That small wire controls the whole circuit. It might pop open after a few minutes, or when it cools down a little, thus being confusing that you can disconnect the battery and everything re-sets, only to happen again.




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Old 10-01-2010, 01:05 PM   #10
awood
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Okay, one of two problems fixed. The starter now spins up normally, and shuts off every time the key is released from crank position. The fix was replacing the + battery cable down to the starter solenoid. I couldn't prove that it was faulty, but with all the comments about old cables on the forums, I figured I'd just throw one at it anyway.

Now I have a mechanical issue, which was probably caused by the stuck starter. The starter will crank normally, but it won't engage the flywheel. (Two new starters did the same thing). The flywheel looks okay through the hole where the starter goes, but you can't see much through there. Time to remove the starter yet one more time and investigate....
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Old 10-01-2010, 09:51 PM   #11
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I feel for ya. I have the same issue with my F250 that I haven't figured out yet.




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Old 10-01-2010, 11:05 PM   #12
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LoL you can't win.

I suppose it would be a long shot to think you got a bum replacement. I went through starter problems before and got a bad re-build so it does happen, I am guessing your old one was brought in for core replacement?
When I got mine it had a warranty and was easily returnable but reading back this would be a second return? what are the odds?
If you put a big ratchet on your big pully bolt on the front of the engine you can spin it and see all the teeth on your flywheel through the hole if you want. Maybe lube the gear on the starter when you look at it again? Maybe it just wants to come out and back in one more time before it will work?




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Old 10-02-2010, 11:58 AM   #13
awood
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Problems resolved...

First problem was either a shorted or corroded cable from the + terminal of the battery to the starter. I was too lazy to tear the engine compartment half apart to get to it, so I ran a new cable along the old one using ty-wraps.

Second problem was the #$@% parts store giving me a starter for a manual tranny rather than for an automatic. The part number on the label was correct, but the part itself was wrong.

All is good now.
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Old 12-13-2012, 07:27 PM   #14
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Question Need help mine is starting - but not disengaging






So If I touch the "disconnected" wire to the starter relay on the sidewall, the new starter, installed because the bendix bearings sounded bad, tested bad, won't disengage.

As is, it now starts and runs ok - a few surges, etc. but if I touch the other wire it grinds...

Any suggestions? I ran a new dedicated ground to replace the "woven" copper wire, and I can't see any breaks or touches between the positive terminal and the starter nor starter relay. Thanks
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Old 12-13-2012, 07:28 PM   #15
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http://www.flickr.com/photos/wxsport...in/photostream

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/wxsport...in/photostream

Last edited by Yerba1; 12-13-2012 at 07:30 PM. Reason: all links in one post
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Old 12-13-2012, 07:32 PM   #16
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and if the starter relay in the pics looks new, it's because it is new. $30 from NAPA.
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Old 12-14-2012, 06:39 PM   #17
awood
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I've done some "learning" in the past few months. I would have saved myself a lot of grief if I'd done this...
Check for voltage drop on the positive battery cable. I'm not much of a wire guy but here's what I'd do.(somebody correct me if I'm wrong here). First use a volt meter and measure your battery drop during cranking. With the meter probes on the battery terminals during cranking, it should at least be greater than 10.5 volts. Note what it really is and write it down. Then, with the negative meter lead on a good ground (preferably on the negative battery terminal), and the positive meter lead on the bolt where the red cable attaches to the starter, measure this voltage during cranking (be very careful under the car while cranking!!!) If the voltage level is less than what you measured directly on the battery, then you have a problem somewhere on the cable. Simple as that.

Here's the deal. For reasons too long to explain here, a simple resistance check on the wire (like what I did) is inadequate for checking a circuit, particularly this one where there is a thick cable with many strands of wire. All but one of those strands could be cut (or corroded, or shorted), and the resistance check would show it still good due to that one strand of wire.




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Old 02-22-2013, 02:32 PM   #18
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so I figured out that my loose wires all went on the same post. the old starter and the "click" were probably bad cable (ground). At least it has a new starter and solid cables now. Next up a ball joint on the passenger side. F.O.R.D.
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