2000 Expedition - electrical problem

Have a problem with the starter/charging system. Expy is a 5.4 gas with 236k. Started as intermittent starting problem. Thought it was hot starter problems. Replaced starter. Then battery checked bad. New battery. Then alternator because battery checked bad 2 weeks later. Starter solenoid was replaced when starter was done. Now the battery’s checking bad again. What am I missing?

what is an “expy”?

“the battery’s checking bad again” ? how did your determine that?

When you totally discharge a battery, it suffers damage. Do it a few times, and the battery is dead.

I guess you cleaned all the electrical connections when you replaced the battery, starter, and alternator? What about the frame side of the battery ground? The starter solenoid is often part of the starter when replaced. Is this the original solenoid you replaced? All this supposes that the items you replaced are in working order. I replaced a battery twice in 2 months before I got one that actually worked on one of my cars.

A little more info about the “starting problem” would help. When it won’t start, does it still crank ok, but just doesn’t catch and run? Or does it refuse to crank? Or cranks very slowly?

Whatever the starting problem is, it’s all but impossible to diagnose the cause until you fix the battery & charging system problem. Suggest to take it to a shop and have a simple battery/charging system test done. Sometimes retail big box auto parts stores will do this for free, in hope you’ll buy a battery from them if it fails.

Note: It’s possible the battery is discharging b/c something is staying turned on when it should be turned off when the key is off. Not a bad alternator in other words. Shops can do a simple test to detect a phantom discharge condition.

One other thing to think about… what are your driving habits?
Cranking that big motor up just to drive to the corner store a few times a week will not be enough to keep the battery charged.

When the truck won’t start, I turn the key and just get a clunk on the firewall. The starter doesn’t turn. Think the clunk is the solenoid I replaced. I try the key again and it generally cranks the next time, but sometimes it takes a few turns of the key.
And the battery always acts fresh, but it failed a load test on the truck. Think it’d be a good idea to remove it from the truch and load test it that way?

THe cables may have high resistance. Did the battery ends get corroded. My be corrosion under the insulation. Also, the battery grounds may need cleaning and tightening. Should be one for the engine and a few on the chasis.

A common cause is a parasitic drain, a light in the trunk or dash that does not shut off or something similar. Look to see nothing stays on after you turn off the car. One car I remember the brake switch was bad so the brake lights stayed on and drained the battery even after it was turned off. If you want to track it down yourself here is a helpful link. I am not sure if there is a fusible link, a wire that acts like a fuse in your charging system, but that might be a possibility also.

Take a look at the negative battery cable. Ford used to ground it to the fender well on the way to the engine block. Sometimes that one lug gets rusted pretty bad and needs a scraping. That bad ground can also keep the battery from charging fully.

“What am I missing?”

The battery voltage, with (should be over 13V) and without (over 12.5V) the engine running; the parasitic drain (under 50-100 milliamps).
Should have measured these before replacing any parts.

OP … have you been able to verify the condition of the battery and charging system yet?

It seems to me that you might have two problems going on. Since you are hearing a loud ‘clunk’ from the solenoid it means the solenoid is working but the starter isn’t getting power to it. You already replaced the solenoid so the internal contacts should be okay (after about 10 years the contacts can ware out and cause this kind of thing) but you most likely have a internal wire corrosion problem at the battery clamp end of the cable. The high current needed by the starter can’t get to it due to the excessive resistance in the cable. The other possible issue you may have is a bad connection between the alternator and the battery, which would cause a low charge on the battery and make it seem the battery is bad. Hopefully proper trouble shooting methods are being used but from your posts it seems that parts are being replaced before really proving they are bad.