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My Ford Explorer had been sitting idle for a few weeks, went to try to start it one day, engine cranked, would not turn over (interior lights became very dim, typical low batter issue). Was able to jump the vehicle, let it run for quite a while, drove it around, re-parked it and was able to turn off and restart the vehicle with no issue. Sat idle again for a few days, needed another jump, but was able to jump and drive. A few days later, the battery completely drained as no more lights at all, no electric locks, etc. Purchased a new battery and installed it, full power to the system, but turn the key and just hear a single "click", starter does not seem to be engaging at all.

I have done a lot of research, and many people state it sounds like a typical bad starter. However, I am hesitant to believe that coincidentally when I replaced the low battery that I was able to jump the vehicle from that the starter just happened to die at the same time. I did try to jump the vehicle with the new batter in case there was something wrong with the battery, but same result, one single click (from the starter relay) but no crank.

I followed a lot of advice through many different forums, and this is what I have tried thus far:

Cleaned all battery terminals and contacts - No change
Traced all ground wires, ensure clean and secure - No Change
Tested different starter relays - No change
Key in ignition, turn to run/off 8 times to hear door locks, hit button on key fob, (attempting to reprogram keys), - No Change
Disconnect battery for 15 minutes, reconnect - No change

The theft light IS NOT blinking fast, seems to be normal operation. Key fobs work fine.

I came across TSB 04-14-02, cannot guarantee that is the problem as I do not have a code diagnostic machine, and a non driveable vehicle that I do not want to have to get towed to a dealership (especially since I was not planning on putting any more money into this vehicle except some simple things like a new battery, oil change, etc, it's pretty much on its last legs)

Is there anything else any of you can think of that I might be able to try before going down the route of replacing the starter? I just cannot fathom that it coincidentally decided to kick the bucket right when I changed the battery, there must be something else I am missing!

Thank you all.

Jeff
 

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Do you know, or only assume the new battery has a full charge? I am not clear on whether you left the new battery in and tried to jump start from a known good, running vehicle or what you used to try to jump it then?

Typical way to isolate starter is use a multimeter, and a helper to turn key to (try to) crank engine, and you measure voltage at the starter. If it is getting power and not drooping much below 12.6V, then starter is bad. if it is drooping bad, measure again at battery terminal. You can also use jumper cables to run direct from battery to starter as a test, using a bolt in the cable claw if you can't get it on the terminal. Some people also hit a starter with a hammer while trying to crank, in case it has a bad spot and is hanging.

Some auto parts stores like autozone will test a starter. That may not tell you it's 100% working enough to crank an engine but will determine if the basics are right which handles most cases. Except for the time of year and possibility of bad weather in your area, I think I would just pull the starter and have it tested to get that out of the way, and if it is the starter then you're halfway to replacing it.
 

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Do you know, or only assume the new battery has a full charge? I am not clear on whether you left the new battery in and tried to jump start from a known good, running vehicle or what you used to try to jump it then?

Typical way to isolate starter is use a multimeter, and a helper to turn key to (try to) crank engine, and you measure voltage at the starter. If it is getting power and not drooping much below 12.6V, then starter is bad. if it is drooping bad, measure again at battery terminal. You can also use jumper cables to run direct from battery to starter as a test, using a bolt in the cable claw if you can't get it on the terminal. Some people also hit a starter with a hammer while trying to crank, in case it has a bad spot and is hanging.

Some auto parts stores like autozone will test a starter. That may not tell you it's 100% working enough to crank an engine but will determine if the basics are right which handles most cases. Except for the time of year and possibility of bad weather in your area, I think I would just pull the starter and have it tested to get that out of the way, and if it is the starter then you're halfway to replacing it.
Thank you J_C for your reply. To answer your question, I did try to jump it as well with a known working vehicle with same result. However, in attempting to follow your steps, I do think I found the root cause but unfortunately am unable to fix it myself. The starter solenoid seems to be working fine as if I direct connect it, the solenoid on top of the starter motor clicks once. In looking around there further, it appears that the large cable that connects the starter solenoid to the starter motor has become corroded and broken, so there does not seem to be a connection anymore between the starter solenoid and the motor itself.

The bad news - I decided that I obviously wanted the started checked and most likely replaced, so began the process of removing the two bolts that hold the starter onto the vehicle. There is so little working room in there, I cannot get leverage to loosen the upper bolt! I tried for over an hour in that little space doing everything I could think of to get that bolt to looses, but it's just too stuck on there, ugh! Looks like this thing may need to go to the shop after all :(
 

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Try spraying it in PB blaster (any rust penetrant), then soaking it again for a few hours... but yeah sometimes it's all about having the right wrench/swivel/extension/socket/luck combination.

Other times you also need to take off passenger wheel and wheel well liner or something else. Going in through the wheel well might help on this if you haven't tried that.
 

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Update - Success!

Wanted to update those who posted in this forum and assisted me with this. I tried multiple times and just could not get the bolt to loosen and basically gave up. Warm weather permitted last weekend and I decided to give it another go, and using a hollow copper tube to gain leverage, I finally loosened that bolt! When I removed the starter, that cable connecting the solenoid to the motor was virtually non-existent. Ordered a new starter for only $60 shipped, received it today, installed it in about 20 mins (way faster to install then to remove since I now knew what I was doing) and success! Started right up and sounds perfect! Thanks to all of you for your help!

Jeff
 
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