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'02 Mercury Sable, no crank

I drove this car maybe 100’ and shut it off. Ten minutes later nothing happened when I turned the key to start. It had not exhibited any symptoms prior to this. There is no click, nothing. A couple of the idiot lights go out, so the ignition switch is making contact, but to what? Jiggling the shift selector and putting it into neutral made no difference. The cable and battery connections are clean. The battery tests good for voltage under load. (Sun VAT-60) All the fuses check good. I can hear the fuel pump hum when I turn the key. I hooked a “bump starter” the small wire going into the starter solenoid and the HOT cable coming down from the battery. The starter still would not engage. I think it should spin then, even if I have a VATS failure.

I’m thinking that the starter solenoid has just taken this time to decide to die. Am I missing anything?

Have you’ve banged on the starter with something like a bat and then try starting it?


I like a hammer to bang on the starter with. But to each his own. But Tester is right, do bang on the starter with something.
The solenoid is in the starter, I’m sure. If the solenoid is bad, the starter is replaced with it.
The starter connection for the positive wire may be crappy, as may be the negative wire’s body connection. The negative and positive terminals on your battery need to be more than clean, they must be tight as well.

Turn on the head lights and try to crank it. Have a friend stand outside and see if the headlights dim. If they don’t then I would suspect the positive lead to the starter motor. I live int he mid west and have had the cables corrode through on two of my cars.

Bonus: It’s a quick fix, just solder or crimp a new connector on the ned and presto fix-o!!

kizwiki and Tester were right. Thanks guys. Sorry I didn’t re-post earlier.

Whacking the starter was a good temporary cure. I suspect that whacking helps worn brushes to seat against the commutator. I installed a new brush set for 1/4 the cost of a “new” rebuilt starter. So far all is well.

My Dad’s 1939 Chevrolet came with an emergency hand crank. You first banged on the starter with the crank. If that didn’t work, you inserted the crank through the crank hole in the grille and manually cranked the engine over. All cars should have this advanced feature. I have seen my Dad start the car with the hand crank. However, the compression ratio was probably less than 6 to 1.