1997 F250 Light Duty eating starters?

I have one of the 1997 F250 light duties with the 7 lug rims. For all purposes this is a heavy duty F150.

I seem to be changing starters as often as I get gas in the thing for the past couple years. It was that bad for a while but I probably went close to a year before the latest starter failed.

The failures are intermittent at first, then it just refuses to start no matter what. Being a manual helps because you can park on a hill and roll start it.

Either way, this is really annoying. I have tested everything and even run jumper cables right to the starter to test that without anything else in the mix. I get a very small spark when I “jump” the starter by crossing the main positive to the solenoid and that is it. There are no clicks or anything like that. Voltage is right on the money. The only noise I hear is the firewall mounted solenoid hitting.

Is there ANYTHING that could be wrong with the truck or something I am doing that is causing these repeated starter failures? I bought a Duralast Gold with lifetime warranty from Autozone. Are these starters junk or is something else going on here?

The first time I replaced the starter, it was as old as the truck with 300,000 hard miles so I didn’t think much. The new AZ starter fired with so much more gusto like I had just replaced a dead battery with a fresh one. They all start with this gusto until they don’t.

I have come to 3 possibilities.

  1. There is something wrong with this truck that is frying the starters.
  2. I am doing something during install to harm these things.
  3. I am getting a bad run of AutoZone starters. Should I get another one and see what happens or get a Motorcraft?

I have had to warranty out more starters and alt from AZ than I can recall… Being in the business for well over 30 years and having to deal with warranty’s, I refuse to use AZ for anything electrical related or suspension related due to the amount of come backs I have seen… I’ve even had inner tie rod ends separate the next day… I have had the best luck with either Carquest better line and Napa new starter line, not Bosch either…
Or someplace that sells dealer parts (normally for commercial use, Ken Smith Auto Parts is one I’ve used for a lot of years)

We used to call them heavy 1/2 tons…

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Auto Zone is selling low quality rebuilds. They warranty them for as long as you own the truck but they are betting you’ll buy a new truck before they fail. If they fail, you get another crappy part and the fun of installing it. They are counting on you getting fed up with this and selling the truck or buying another brand of crappy starter from, say, Pep Boys hoping to get a decent one.

Buy the Motorcraft.


I got a rear brake hose from AZ and now the brakes are so squishy that I can’t lock up the brakes anymore no matter how hard I push!

The inner tie rod end story is scary. I got one from them.

Yep, just because a part is cheap and has a warranty on it doesn’t mean it is a good part…

I call the Parts store Reman (and some new) A/C compressors the 13 month compressors cause they go out right after the 12 month warranty is up… Napa has a New one that I have had great luck with as an example… Or I go through A/C specialty parts houses…

Most all parts store has there “cheap line” and for the most part are junk, CARQUEST for example had A Red and Blue line of parts, the cheaper one I had problems with, the other one not as much…
Most parts house chains have 2 levels of part line, I almost always go with the better line…

All your stories are scary. Mostly due to the incompetence shown.


I splurged for the top level Duralast Gold starter so didn’t buy the “valuecraft” or whatever the garbage brand they sell there is. I told them I wanted the best they had. I like the lifetime warranty but not changing starters more often than the oil!

It is funny that the AZ starter and Motorcraft both cost exactly the same price. It looks like all the Motorcrafts are reman but I don’t care as long as they are up to new spec after the rework.

Stop getting these junk rebuilds and get a new starter from a Ford dealer.


I buy lots of Duralast plain jane as well the top of their line Gold products. That being said, I did buy a Gold starter 12 years ago that was DOA. Solenoid clicked, starter didn’t spin but solenoid wouldn’t release. Cables got red hot and I thought it might burn down my garage before I managed to cut one of the wires…

You might be better off with an OEM starter from an auto recycler. If it fails, take it to an auto electric ship for diagnosis and repair. You might even have them test it and do any needed repairs before you install it.

I called the local Ford dealer (that I trust) and they only have remans for like $250. Oreilly does as well. Any reason not to buy this? If I buy I will have to eat the cost of the core because I get $200 back from AutoZone upon returning the latest bad unit. The core was $50 or $75 (I forgot).

This is getting frustrating so I am willing to pay to do this right. I thought buying a NEW so called “premium” starter from AutoZone would surely work but I guess not. These are not remans I am going through faster than a tank of gas at times. I bought the most expensive one with the best warranty. They are made in China but what isn’t these days?

At this time I am ready to pay the price and get whatever it takes to make sure this works.

The $250 remans are more than the factory new at AutoZone. I guess this is saying something about the desirability of authentic parts rebuilt properly even if the warranty is only 2 years vs. lifetime.

The Carquest store I use sells remanufactured OEM parts.

You don’t need to go the dealer

Just find a parts store that sells quality products.


Oreilly has them.

I can get them a tad cheaper online but would rather have a local place I could swap one at if this happens again.

I have been going through these faster than a tank of gas in the truck at times. Again, I wasn’t trying to be cheap and buy junk. I bought the best AZ had the offer… or so I thought. https://www.autozone.com/batteries-starting-and-charging/starter/p/duralast-gold-starter-dlg585s/540783_0_0

Also, is this a good one or not? It is a lot less but seems to be the same reman Motorcraft as elsewhere. Avoid or buy? Amazon.com

I don’t buy stuff from Amazon.

I once purchased two electrical components from them, and both were junk.


What happened again last time you tried to save money on a stater??? Just saying… lol

You can order O’Reilly’s online and pick it up in store and a lot of times they have a online coupon you can use… Advance normally has better online coupons btw… Most also have curbside pick up or ship to your house next day (depending on your location) and IF you have a problem with the part you can take it back to the store, so no hassle of mailing back to them and waiting for a new one…

The parts labelled NEW-LIFETIME WARRANTY sold at all the discount chain stores seem to be the worst possible choice. After a few really costly disasters with various parts including a starter I eliminated those parts. The better quality rebuilts from the chains have been reasonably reliable but when the dealers part is competitively priced I take that option.

OK, what do you think about this reman? It is the only Motorcraft I can get locally and the most expensive starter I priced out but not by too much. https://www.oreillyauto.com/detail/c/motorcraft/alternators---starters/starter/dad3c6651e74/motorcraft-starter-remanufactured/mot0/sa789rm/v/a/5319/automotive-truck-1997-ford-f-250?q=starter&pos=3

I do like the idea of getting it local. We only have AutoZone, NAPA, and Oreilly in town. Oreilly is the only one with this starter as an option. I always thought NAPA was OK but the price isn’t much different. For all I know is could be the same crap made for AutoZone. NAPA has NAPA, Bosch, and Denso for my truck by the way.

I didn’t think spending $200 on a store brand starter would be that bad of an idea. Another friend indicated that he doesn’t like AutoZone ANYTHING except for fluids that are the same as anywhere else. One of my issues is that I have a credit card that gives reward points. These can be cashed in with a bonus added for AutoZone purchases but that doesn’t apply to any of the other big chain parts stores unfortunately.

There is a Ford dealer in town and one about 20 miles away. I don’t trust the one in town one bit from all the horror stories I have heard but the one 20 miles away always gets rave reviews. Is there any reason to buy from an actual Ford dealer vs. a parts store selling what seems to be the same thing? Maybe it isn’t.

Yeah, I don’t trust Amazon for a lot of things but that one was listed as “Sold and shipped by Amazon”, not some third party selling junk. I try to avoid unknown third party sellers on Amazon as a general rule.

I knew the guy that was over for a while the Napa brand starters and alt, and they have much better QC than a lot of other places… Things may have changed since he left (field rep when I knew him) but I very rarely had any issues out of their Napa New line… If I knew your engine sizr I would give you the part number that I have used in the past…