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Thread: Intermittent Starter Issue Question

  1. #1
    GMN Regular slack's Avatar
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    Question Intermittent Starter Issue Question

    My CV has been starting to have an issue while starting. I haven't had a chance to dig in and really take a look yet but I'm curious if it sounds like it's the solenoid on the fender or the starter itself.

    So, sometimes when I start the car, the starter just "clicks" and doesn't spin. It takes a few back and forths with the key before the starter kicks on fully and spins and the engine starts.

    Last night, the starter spun on the first try but didn't disengage. Even after turning the key off and taking it out, the car was still cranking until I shook some wires by the solenoid. I'm pretty sure that was the solenoid getting stuck.

    So, does it sound like both the starter itself is dead (was replaced in 2011-2012) and the solenoid (was replaced 2018) or just the solenoid?

    I'm hoping just the solenoid because cash is a bit tight these days.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    solenoid explains the not disengaging. Also could explain the not engaging. Trouble is, solenoids fail when starters begin to die and eat too much current. Throw a solenoid on it and see what you get. If it dies again, replace the solenoid and starter.

    86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
    5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

    91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

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  3. #3

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    I had the no start issue on my 87 mgm which was remidied by a new solenoid. Take Gadgets advice. Also if it doesn’t engage give it a technical tap or two and it should start working again.


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    The Brown Blob 87gtVIC's Avatar
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    I hate when this happens. Scared the crap out of me the first time it did.

    Ended up having to replace both starter and solenoid. But i would just start with the solenoid.
    ~David~

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    But, that's just coming from me, this site's biggest pessimist. Best of luck

  5. #5
    Wagon Addicted Tiggie's Avatar
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    Starter solenoids suck if they are cheap. Buy the best you can get from your parts source.
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  6. #6
    Beater gonna beat sly's Avatar
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    Sounds EXACTLY like how the starter died in the 88 I used to have. One day it just wouldn't engage at all. Had to tow it back to the house. Installed a starter for a 91. Better design and doesn't care about getting oil on it from the valve covers. Just looped the trigger wire to the battery lug and kept using the fender solenoid.

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  7. #7

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    Motorcraft solenoids are still available.

    My F150 has the failing starter problem, it welds the contacts on the solenoid every time I crank it. I don't drive it often, and the weather is crummy, and I don't have a garage to work in.
    My short-term solution is to pull the small start wire off the solenoid (so I don't accidentally start it with the key), turn the ignition to "run", and smack the terminals on the solenoid with a screwdriver.

    My original plan was to replace both the starter and solenoid with the newer style starter out of a 90s/2000s CV, F150 or Mustang (3.8 or 5.0, 91+, as mentioned above) with the solenoid-on-starter; but for now the sacrificial screwdriver is working fine for the 100 miles a month I drive it. And I say sacrificial screwdriver because the arc will chew it up pretty bad.

  8. #8
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    The late starter is a better design, but it needs a solenoid that functions to use it. Can use any cheap one tho, the current load for a modern starter is pretty nil. Whenever the starter packs up on the Towncar it will get changed. The starter on it was installed like a day before the first Scottfest in 2004? Relay got changed right around that time too. It was just a local parts store reman. I remember the core charge being more than the starter. I declined to pay the core charge, told dude at the store I'd be right back. He specifically said "you're not going outside and removing the starter from your car are you?". I wasn't, I had an extra at home that came from the Mark VII the HO came out of.

    but apparently people do yank starters in parking lots to avoid cores. He told me he had someone start his truck, yank the starter, and come into the store with it so he could take the new one home to install.

    86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
    5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

    91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

    1984 Lincoln Continental TurboDiesel - rolls coal

    Quote Originally Posted by phayzer5 View Post
    I drive a Lincoln. I can't be bothered to shift like the peasants and rabble rousers

  9. #9
    GMN Regular slack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gadget73 View Post
    He told me he had someone start his truck, yank the starter, and come into the store with it so he could take the new one home to install.
    Haha! That's awesome.

    Thanks for the info everyone. I'll see about picking up a new solenoid either today or tomorrow (it's raining out today so I probably wouldn't get to install today anyway).

    If it still acts up, it sounds like I should swap to the newer starter style.

    From the rock auto images, it looks like the solenoid is on the starter on the newer style. I have a ton of crap on mine on the fender, how would the wiring change with the different version?

  10. #10
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    The existing fat cable moves to the crowded side of the relay. A new, smaller wire runs from the empty side of the relay down to the small terminal on the new starter.


    Thats it.

    86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
    5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

    91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

    1984 Lincoln Continental TurboDiesel - rolls coal

    Quote Originally Posted by phayzer5 View Post
    I drive a Lincoln. I can't be bothered to shift like the peasants and rabble rousers

  11. #11
    The Brown Blob 87gtVIC's Avatar
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    It is easy and worth it. Sly mentioned the work around (looping a wire from post to post) but doing it the way the factory does it is not hard. Like Thain said, add one wire and move one wire. Done.
    ~David~

    My 1987 Crown Victoria Coupe: The Brown Blob
    My 2004 Mercedes Benz E320:The Benz

    Quote Originally Posted by DerekTheGreat View Post
    But, that's just coming from me, this site's biggest pessimist. Best of luck

  12. #12
    Beater gonna beat sly's Avatar
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    Yeah... the easy fix that is actually in the directions for the starter is to use the trigger wire on the starter and loop it to the large wire on the starter. Then you keep using the solenoid on the fender. Then if the fender solenoid dies, run the trigger wire down to the starter and disconnect the loop at the starter to connect the solenoid proper and move the starter cable to the battery side of the solenoid (or just replace the solenoid with a battery cable post).

    Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. -- Albert Einstein
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    Quote Originally Posted by gadget73
    ... and it should all work like magic and unicorns and stuff.
    Quote Originally Posted by dmccaig
    Overhead, some poor bastards are flying in airplanes.

  13. #13

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    My plan was to do this with the 3G upgrade; replace the fender mounted solenoid with a large fuse block, and extend the trigger wire to the new solenoid-on-starter. A marine-style bolt-in fuse block with large terminals isn't that big or expensive, and I've got a handful of 175A fuses. The cable to the starter would be on the battery side of the block; the rest would be after the fuse.

  14. #14
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    not sure how much current the on-starter solenoid pulls but if its considerably more than the old fender relay you might want to stick a Bosch-type relay somewhere in between. Ignition switch might not suffer the abuse. I've never measured it personally but it would be worth doing that.

    86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
    5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

    91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

    1984 Lincoln Continental TurboDiesel - rolls coal

    Quote Originally Posted by phayzer5 View Post
    I drive a Lincoln. I can't be bothered to shift like the peasants and rabble rousers

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by gadget73 View Post
    not sure how much current the on-starter solenoid pulls but if its considerably more than the old fender relay you might want to stick a Bosch-type relay somewhere in between. Ignition switch might not suffer the abuse. I've never measured it personally but it would be worth doing that.
    Good thinking. I'd just figured that since the Mustang and F-series used the same switch with the new starter, it would be okay; but I'm not 100% positive those DON'T have a starter relay; and even my 1998 Mustang had to have a new starter switch fairly early in its life--1980s-1990s Ford switches aren't the most robust (but they're inexpensive and easy to replace and relays usually fix the issues).

    If I get around to the swap, I'll drag out an ammeter and compare the fender solenoid to the on-starter solenoid for activation current. Maybe this summer, or maybe in a decade, lol.

  16. #16
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    When they changed in ~1990 the old fender relay stuck around but that was probably more about not having to re-design the power distribution than actually needing such a big-ass relay to kick the solenoid over.

    86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
    5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

    91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

    1984 Lincoln Continental TurboDiesel - rolls coal

    Quote Originally Posted by phayzer5 View Post
    I drive a Lincoln. I can't be bothered to shift like the peasants and rabble rousers

  17. #17
    GMN Regular slack's Avatar
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    Thanks all for the info about swapping out to the newer starter style. If/when I replace the starter I'll most likely go that route.

    I finally got around to replacing the solenoid this past weekend (not really driving much with quarantine and all...). New solenoid seemed to do the trick. I'll keep an eye on it but so far so good.

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