Tapping Starter Motor ~ Click, click, click | Ford Explorer - Ford Ranger Forums - Serious Explorations
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Tapping Starter Motor ~ Click, click, click


New Member
November 26, 2005
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City, State
Northern New England
Year, Model & Trim Level
1993 Explorer
1993 Explorer XLT. Manual Transmission.

Loud click when turn key on to start.

Lightly tapped connectors on starter motor. It starts right up.

Then will start for a day or two. Then same. Tap again. Then start.

Original starter motor.

What is wrong? What is the fix?

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It could be a loose wire connection or the starter it self or the wires, that have a bad habit of corroding on the inside. I would check all wires for signs of blisters indicating corrosion on the inside then tighten all of the connections. Then if it still persists, go to AutoZone and have them test the starter.

I had the same issue, only its only happened 3 times since ive owned it, and seems to have gone away in the last few months (Im sure it will be back now that i said that). You should check the wire connections, especially at the starter. Thats my plan for next spring/next time this happens.

The clicking btw is the starter relay, which is mounted on the passenger side fender. From what Ive read this problem can also be caused by coroded battery terminals, so several months ago i cleaned up the terminals, and cables. and washed the battery down.

starter motor problems

from what you have said it sounds like you starter is at the end of it life. A starter is a D/C motor witch has two permanent magnets and uses carbon brushes as contacts , as the brushes wear out over the life of the starter some times a air gap will form on one of the brushes an you will get an open circiut on the starter , when your starter will not turn tap the starter lightly near the rear end cap and if it starts more than likely you will need to change your starter. good luck.

Keep in mind to keep the battery posts and terminals sanded/brushed. I have to do it about every oil change because of the corrosion (got me almost stranded several times).

Just change the starter....you are in new england. It will leave you on a cold night when you gotta get some where.....guaranteed

Is the clicking coming from the starter or the passenger side fender where the solonoid is? It might just be your cables. They will corrode on the inside and this problem will result. The starter is about 150 bucks down here so it a little on the spendy side. If you are mechanicaly inclined, then you can also take the starter out, take it apart and clean it and put it back together. I have done that to. Another problem I had was the possitive poll on the solonoid stripped and you could wiggle the cable on the starter causing a bad connection.

Its the infamous ford PMGR starter solenoid issue. It's time to replace your starter cause it will only get worse and eventually leave you stuck.

Get under your Ex and look at the back of your starter where the connections go to the solenoid. There will be your heavy battery wire and a smaller solenoid activation wire. If your solenoid wire is connected via a small spade terminal then that is definitely your problem. Go to Autozone or Advance and get a new starter with the updated connection (ford changed from a spade to a post connection with a 5mm nut).

Huh didnt know that. Well if the starter motor is OK you can buy the solonoid separately for about 40 bucks. I bought one separate a while back but didnt use it. I found a brand new one in the junk yard for 13 bucks. I also have another for ready spare.

I have been going through the same problem. Yet I replaced the starter and relay already.
I get voltage to the starter from the battery and when the ignition switch is turned, voltage is supplied to the starter when applicable.
I thought the first starter I replaced was bad (being the voltage was being supplied when needed with only a relay click) After installing a second starter, it started( so I thought I had fixed the problem). I have started it several times since the second starter was installed. But this morning, the same relay click and no start. I had someone hit turn the ignition switch while I wiggled the wires around( thinking it was a wire issue) I noticed the wires going to the starter were starting to smoke right at the starter.
Did anyone have a similar problem like mine? I am out of clues. PLease help....Thanks!

Make sure the possitive cable to the starter is not touching anything. Since there is nothing to insulate the lug on the end, it can ground out on other parts near by. If your battery cables are old, the replace them. They can corrode on the inside. Also, pull the starter and set it on the front of the truck and use some jumper cables and make sure the starter turns over hard and fast. My starter would almost jump out of my hands when you hit it with the battery.

check for 12v+ at the solenoid. Often due to problems in the ingition switch, cables, or terminals you may not be getting a full 12v which you need to reliably throw the solenoid.

Thank you both for the great info! I will check it out Sunday and will let you know what I find. Thanks again!

Dont forget, you can still have the voltage, but its the current that does all the work. That can sometimes through you off. Thats why most people will look at/replace the cables first, plus its cheap.

When searching the older threads here, I recalled reading something that if the check engine light does not turn on.....a relay was at fault?
I tried going back and re-reading and was unable to find that thread.
My check engine light does not turn on....so I am thinking it has something to do with this relay. Does this sound like a (I think it was) EEC relay problem?
My positive battery cable is pretty toasted-I am going to replace this when the store is open tomorrow. Might as well replace the negative wire as well.
Also.....I pulled off the wires going to the starter relay and I do not recall how they went back on. I have the twin wire (one piece) connector with a large and small red wire. I have a wire that comes from the fuse panel. and wire that goes down to the engine compartment. Can anyone tell me which wire goes where?
I saw a picture here but there are different type wires connected. Thank you all.

I want to thank you guys for the help! I found a bad battery ground cable. I was able to jump the ground by using a jumper cable attached from the battery to the frame and moved it in the driveway so I can work on it when I have time.
If I go to the Ford dealership, will I need to give a wire harness ID number....Or would just stating battery positive and ground wires be sufficient?

Go to a local parts shop and get it. The dealership will probably want some stupid price for it. Get heavey guage wire. Measure both cables and get something around that same size. The stuff I have is as big as your thumb dam near. Below is a shot of what I use. The Thumb next to it is attached to a 300 pound Hawaiian just for a little perspective. :eek:

How hard is it to replace both cables? It doesn't look too hard....But yet it looks as if it can give ya a run for your money.

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The possitive just gets routed under the engine to the starter. The negative I believe goes to the front of the motor under the Alt. You should also have a grounding strap that connects the motor to the body or frame. My truck had a grounding strap that went from the back of the motor to the firewall.