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1994 Ford Escort won't start - turn the key and get nothing

I turn the key and don’t even get a clicking sound. Just bought a new battery 10 days ago, and the starter and ignition were replaced within a year ago. Thought I got a bad battery, but O’Reilly tested it, and it’s fully charged. I don’t know what it could be, as I’m not a very good mechanic beyond basic maintenance.

check and double check that your battery cables are tight, clean, and corrosion free.

If the vehicle has an automatic transmission, try placing the transmission in neutral and then try starting the engine.

If the engine starts, there’s a problem with the park/neutral safety switch.

If the vehicle has a manual transmission, unplug the clutch pedal interlock safety switch and insert a jumper wire in the electrical plug for the switch.

Place the transmission in neutral and then try starting the engine.

If the engine starts, there’s a problem with the clutch pedal interlock safety switch.


Another possibility is that the fusible link in the positive cable has gone south.

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There are a couple of voltage measurements that would narrow it down. Do you have the expertise and equipment for that?

No, George. I have neither. Thank you for responding, though.

I am capable of only relatively minor maintenance tasks, where a car is concerned. It’s sad, but true.

I appreciate your response, but what you suggest is beyond me. I wouldn’t even know where to look for the clutch pedal

interlock safety switch, nor how to a jumper wire as you recommend.

I do appreciate the assistance. I have a friend who is a “car guy” who I am hoping will look at it for me, and I will forward your recommendation.

Thanks for responding.

A friend of mine suggested the fusible link, too. I just wouldn’t know where to find it, nor how to repair it.

Thanks for your response, though. I greatly appreciate it.

Look for a “fat” part of the cable, and there it is.
Because cables are fairly cheap, you just might want to go ahead and replace the cable if you don’t know how to test it.

I don’t normally suggest “throwing parts” at a problem, but because the cable is cheap and the car is so old, it certainly wouldn’t be a mistake to replace the positive battery cable.

Another possibility is that the alternator is bad and the new battery has run out of juice. Did they test the charging system when they installed the new battery?

Yes! There is a little plug coming off the battery cable that didn’t seem to go to anything. THAT turned out to be the fusible link. I removed it (it looks like a weird kind of fuse), blew it out a little with canned air, reconnected it, and the bloody thing started right up.

Thank you so much for you help. I may still replace the battery cable next payday, but this is a huge worry off my mind.

That would do it!
There are two wires coming from your + battery terminal, one thick and one thin. The link you’ve referenced is on the thin one. To start the car, the thick one is used to connect the battery directly to the starter motor. It’s thick to carry the high current needed for the starter to turn the engine over. Once the engine is started, the thinner wire with the fusible link is used to carry the current necessary to run the car, including recharging the battery. If the link is blown, or its connection is bad, there’ll be no circuit to charge the battery.

Nice work.
Sincere best.

I’ve never heard of a fusible link being fixed by blowing it off w/ compressed air , but I guess such a thing is possible. Usually if a fusible link is bad, it has to be replaced with a new one. I have a sense that this problem isn’t quite fixed yet. Hopefully OP got lucky, but if not, come back for some more ideas. It’s not an usual thing for a no-crank to be intermittent. Iffy connections inside the starter motor is one cause for that. Tommy one time jokingly suggested for a caller w/this problem to drill a hole in the firewall big enough to poke a broom handle through it so the driver could tap the starter motor case w/the end of the handle when it wouldn’t crank … lol …

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In the Ford factory service manual for your vehicle shows no fusible link in the starting circuit.

There is however a main fuse in the under hood fuse box.

80 amp for the 1.8 liter, 100 amp for the 1.9 liter.

Just like a fuse, when a fusible link burns, it never works again, and must be replaced.

I think problem lays elsewhere.


Maybe the fuse hanging off the battery cable was loosened when O’Reilly’s put the new battery in? I don’t know, but it works now. If it quits again, I’ll be back. lol

But since you had the new battery for 10 days, wouldn’t that mean that the fuse worked for 10 days w/o a problem, and then completely stopped working? And blowing compressed air on it got it working again? Such a thing is possible, I guess.

I don’t know. I’m no mechanic. The Force is not strong with this one…

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You’re absolutely right. However in the OP’s case, it sounds like he had a corroded or poorly connected connection to the link that was then cleaned and reconnected.