2008 Ford Explorer cranks/starts after 90 minutes

Vehicle will not crank or start. After waiting 90 minutes it cranks and starts.

Can you elaborate a bit more… What precedes the no start? Is it out of nowhere or after you shut it off after a long drive?

Is there any noise at all when you turn the key? Do you hear a click? Does your dash light up properly, key warning, door chime…

I was going to shoot for 20 questions but I will wait for you to respond instead

Thanks for your response, Honda Blackbird. Within the last week or so, the following has happened: Vehicle had been starting and driving fine, but one afternoon after driving 50 highway miles and parking in my driveway, it refused to start. No sound whatsoever
& no unusual dash lights or chimes. Jiggling the key didn’t help. Thinking I had a battery problem, I put it on a charger for 90 minutes or so. It then started normally, and I drove it to my mechanic. They checked the battery and said it was fine (it
is almost new), and asked that I leave it for them to diagnose. They found that the starter was fine, and told me to try to bring it back in the failed state if the problem recurred. It did fail in the next few days …two times after a 5-10 mile drive
on surface streets in 60-70 degree weather (no apparent overheating) , but both times started while I waited for a tow truck. Same quiet no crank occurrence followed after ninety minutes by a completely normal, unassisted start. So, I left it with my mechanic
for five days. They tell me they drove it, shut it off and restarted it numerous times. They induced the failure once, but it started normally while they were trying to track down the problem. They said they “moved” the starter relay while diagnosing, but
otherwise did no repair work. When I picked it up today, they told me that since the problem seems to be an inability to get power to the starter, one or more of three repairs should remedy it: 1) new starter switch ($431), 2) new neutral safety switch ($180),
new PCM mdule ($1050). I have used this shop for repairs several times before and have found them to be honest. They are not “parts changers”, and they charged me nothing for the diagnostic work described above. I told them I will just drive it and have
it towed in if it fails again.

So, I’m searching for help and would greatly appreciate any you can provide! Howard in Phoenix, AZ

It might the BCM that’s the problem.

And not the PCM.



There’s two power inputs to the starter, labeled S, and B. B is normally connected directly to the battery positive, so I presume the problem is that S isn’t getting at least 10.5 volts with the key in “start”. These voltages should be measured between the terminal and starter case btw, otherwise a ground connection problem might not be noticed. Given the engine compartment heat-related nature of the problem, I’d guess it is the starter relay. On Fords there’s often a big honkin’ relay in the engine compartment that connects the battery power to the starter S terminal with the key in “start” and the transmission in either P or N. It’s very easy for a shop to verify the relay is the problem or not btw, provided they are able to get it to fail when they want to test it. I wouldn’t be inclined myself to replace the starter relay unless that test confirmed the relay is actually the problem. Not so much b/c replacing the relay is expensive (it isn’t), but b/c it could fool you into thinking the problem was solved, then a few weeks later, no crank again. And this time it might be night, raining, and not be a very good neighborhood for that to happen.


Thanks for pointing out the distinction. I’ll check with the mechanic to make sure I heard the diagnosis correctly; it wasn’t written.



Thanks for the input. You’re right–the difficulty in diagnosing the problem seems to revolve around the issue of replicating the failure in the shop. Also, they haven’t suggested replacing the relay, only that their “moving” it while searching for a root
cause may have solved (masked?) the problem to some extent.

I appreciate it!


I have a Ford truck, ancient compared to yours, but I had a problem with that relay one time. Fails to crank was the result, and intermittent. I discovered that relay has to be grounded by physical contact to the metal on the truck for it to work, and over time the screws had worked loose and rust got in between the relay and the metal chassis. Cleaning and tightening that metal to metal connection fixed the problem. Your relay of course could be differently configured.

That’s encouraging. Tightening and cleaning may have been what they did to the relay. I hope so. Thanks, again!

The next time you encounter the no start situation… Turn the key and put it in neutral and then try the starter again. See what happens… If nothing again…put it back in park and then back into neutral…try again… Then return shifter to park …and try it again. This is akin to the key jiggle but this is a “jiggle test” for the neutral safety switch instead. One more way to encourage starter engagement is to quickly go from the key on…to the spring loaded starter section of your key turn…rapidly bounce into the starter section of the ignition instead of just venturing into the spring loaded section only one time…do it multiple times and fairly quickly. This is another test on its own and its directed at the starter relay… But if its the neutral safety switch causing this…the start relay will remain unpowered up and out of the loop on purpose to prevent starter engagement…on purpose. So you are testing quite a few things here with these tests and you can literally do both of them simultaneously.

As mentioned above, you also have the starter relay in your fuse box under the hood of your vehicle… take a look at it yourself…You will need your owners manual fuse diagram section which will guide you to each relay and its location and purpose…use this guide, it is your friend. You will also notice other relays that are identical to the starter relay but are being employed for another system and in another slot or position… You can swap one for the other…Say the horn relay for the starter relay…as long as they are the same…and there will be or should be several that will be able to do the swap for you…try to employ another relay in the starter relays place. Pay attention to which you swap so you can return it back if no change has been accomplished. A piece of masking tape is handy here…apply one small piece onto one relay and two small pieces on the other…so you know who’s who by sight…

Between these two tests you can prove out quite a few things for us as well as yourself. They are easy to do… Let us know. The more you handle/learn on your own…the more money you get to keep in your pocket.

I did try starting in neutral when I was stuck, but I didn’t try toggling back and forth between neutral and park. I’ll keep that in mind for future reference. I’ll also familiarize myself with the location of the relays for a potential swap of the starter
relay with the horn relay. Thanks, again!

The reference of swapping the horn with the starter relay specifically was just a for instance… The horn and starter relays may not be the same type… So…I’m not sure which other subsystem will be the same relay… it could be the Popcorn maker for all I know… just so long as they are the same type you will be able to swap them. So please keep that in mind.

I’ll keep that advice in mind and exchange same for same. Thanks!

This is what the starter relay looks like on my truck.


Those wings at the top must be firmly connected to chassis ground.

Thanks. I tried clicking the link and copying & pasting it but received 404 file not found each time. Tried to guess at an edit but still couldn’t open it.

That is NOT what you are looking for… That is a starter Solenoid… Not a starter relay. Your item will be a small black or gray square mixed in among the fuses…under the hood in the engine bay fuse panel.

I’m sure I can find you a picture of it online… Just type a search for your vehicle as if you needed to buy the new part…

Link works for me. If it still doesn’t work for you, surf over to cjponyparts.com and search for “starter solenoid”. I’m guessing HB above is correct though, that part isn’t found on your Ford. Classic Fords a starter motor with only one input, the B input. They had no S input. So the entire starter current – which is a lot – had to be switched during cranking through that relay, which is why the one my truck uses is so big. Your Explorer almost certainly has a starter that uses two inputs, B and S, so a huge starter relay isn’t required.

Right. I’ve searched online and I know what the relay looks like & where it’s located under the hood. Haven’t examined it yet, but I know a replacement will be inexpensive, if needed. Have driven the vehicle today with three uneventful re-starts & plan to
do more test re-starts tomorrow. Thanks again!

We try to help when and where we can… Study up because we are going to ask you for root cause soon. Right now we seem to be in a friendly contest between the Neutral Safety switch and or the Starter Relay…and the items that come right after the relay…starter solenoid and starter etc… Unless other clues arise that steer this joy ride somewhere else you seem to be on a good course.

I know that battery cable cleanliness and tightness has been mentioned prior…do not overlook this as it is quite important… The negative cable goes from the battery to the frame or engine block… pay attention to both ends of both the Pos and Neg cables… They are nothing less than crucial for all of this to work properly. Clean and tight, clean and tight…but not too tight we don’t want you to break anything.

I’ve been thinking about this. I’m glad we’ve moved away from any module replacement, and we don’t seem to be discussing the new starter switch either, for now. I’m prepared to resolve the contest between the neutral safety switch and the starter relay by
replacing both. The switch would be $180 installed & it appears the relay would be about $20 plus installation. I’d be happy with that if it gave me a reasonable degree of confidence in the repair. What do you think? The cables, btw, look fine.