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2004 Ford Ranger won't start

My 2004 Ford Ranger decided not to start this morning. I have never had a problem with this vehicle before. When I try to start it it does 1 of 2 things. #1 Everything is normal when I turn the key to accessory, but then when I try to start it, there is 1 click from under the hood, and that’s it. #2 When I turn the key to accessory, the little start-up dings sound muted or seem out of synch, and then when I turn the key to start, the truck starts making lots of clicks from behind the dashboard. The clicks sound like an electrical relay or something. If I have the door open the clicks will sometimes continue even after I pull the key out of the ignition and then stop when I shut the door.

I’ve checked all the fuses, both in the cab and under the hood. I even got under the truck and tapped on the starter with a hammer while my son turned the key.


Any suggestions?

It sounds like a poor connection at one of the battery cables.

Or your battery is so dead that it will not even start to turn the engine over.


I just checked the voltage. 12 volts at the battery terminals and 12 volts on the leads off of the terminals.

I also tested the electricity input to the solenoid. My multimeter registers 12V DC at the solenoid. So I know power is getting to the solenoid. However, I don’t know how to test any of the switches in between like the Neutral Safety Switch etc. I’m worried that an electrical switch is shorting somewhere. Can anybody help with this?

The twelve volts at the solenoid doesn’t tell the whole story. You need to find out how much the voltage drops when you attempt to crank the engine. I’ll bet that there isn’t enough amperage and the voltage will drop down to maybe 7 or 8 volts. I would bet that the battery needs to be replaced.

Try Jumper cables if it starts it is a battery in need of replacement.

I attached jmumper cables to the starter, no dice. With the jumpers attached, all I got was a big metallic click. Does the starter need replacing?

What do you mean by “I attched jumper cables to the starter, no dice”. Did you actually attach one end of the jumper cables to a battery in another car and attch the other end of the jumper cables to your truck? If you didn’t do this, then give this a try. If you did do this, then there are a couple of possibilities:

  1. your battery is completely gone and won’t accept a jaumper charge

  2. your starter is defective

  3. you have bad connections between your battery and your starter.

Yes, I attached one end of the jumper cables to another car and attached the other end to my truck. I tested the battery with my multimeter. It has 12V DC. I tested the charge at the starter, and it reads 12V DC there as well. That is when I decided to try hooking the jumper cables to the starter directly. I put the positive jumper to the positive side of the starter, and I touched the negative jumper to the “S” bolt on the starter. Nothing happened until I turned the truck key to the on position. Then I repeated the procedure. That is when the starter began making the big metallic click. Whenever I touched the negative jumper to the starter S bolt, the starter made the big metallic click.

So it sounds like I have a bad starter?

Anybody have any suggestions for this one? I’m heading to the parts store in a couple of hours to buy a starter.

I’m not convinced that it is the starter, but it is a possibility. If you think it is the starter, remove the starter and have theauot parts store test it. I still wonder about the battery, because a really defective battery acts like a sponge and absorbs the power. Again, twelve volts doesn’t mean the battery is good. It is the current, measured in amperes, that is critical. A battery can measure 12 volts and still not produce enough amperage to start the truck. My suggestion would be to take the battery to the parts store first and have it tested. It is easier to remove than the starter. If the battery is o.k., then go after the starter.

The reason I suspect the battery is your statement: “When I turn the key to accessory, the little start up dings sound muted . . .”. A defective starter wouldn’t cause this problem.

How many amps should a battery produce?

A starter will allow over 100 amps to flow through itself; but, voltage is important too during that time. Why not take the battery and starter to the auto parts store for testing?

Turn the headlights on. See how bright they are. Try to start the engine with the lights still on. If they go out without the starter turning you need a BATTERY.

I’m betting that this is the original 5+ year old battery, and it’s just failed from old age.

I’m taking the battery to an auto parts store this morning. It’s not the starter…I established that last night…unfortunately.

It was the battery. Thanks to all of you who helped me out with this.