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1987 Ford Ranger hot start problem

When the temperature is about 80 F. or above, or when the truck has warmed up, my Ranger doesn’t want to start without help from starter fluid. The problem isn’t continuous, but very frequent. By the way, I’m in Columbia, SC, so the condition is fairly constant in the Summer. But in the early mornings, before about 10 a.m., when the the temp’s around 70 F., it starts OK.

Sometimes the starter fluid won’t do the job, though. It will sometimes start from a push or roll downhill when I don’t have starter fluid.

Once in a while, when trying to start it under hot conditions (either ambient temperature or the engine at normal operating temp), I hear a “click-click” coming from the right side of the engine compartment and then the Ranger starts. I can’t identify the source of the “click-click” sound, however.

The battery is fully charged, I installed a new coil, but the fuel filter and pumps have never been replaced. The serpentine belt is well overdue for replacement. A “hillbilly tune-up” that I did last year (regap the plugs, clean the contacts on the rotor and distributor cap) didn’t seem to have any effect.

The ignition module was replaced (for the second time) about 3 years ago, but there’s spark, so that’s not the problem.

The starter relay has given occasional trouble, sometimes sticking in a position that keeps the starter engaged (not a nice sound!) but stops its behavior when I give it a whack with a wrench. Is it possible that there’s an electrical connection from the recalcitrant relay to the electric fuel pumps that keeps fuel from being sent to the injectors?

There may be a problem with the fuel pump relay and its control circuit to the EEC. If you connect a test light(high impedance) to ground and probe the fuel pump relay tan-light green wire with the key on the relay should close and power up the fuel pumps. Pressure should be 42psi. There were intermittant starting problems with early EEC Fords when the computer sometimes failed to ground the control circuit on the fuel pump relay. If that appears to be the problem post back here.