95 Thunderbird Starter just clicks. Battery shows full charge



My fianc? has a 1995 Ford Thunderbird LX (4.6L V8) with an unknown, but high, number of miles.

It won’t start. I tried yesterday and the starter made a noise as if it were going to start and then did nothing. After that, all I can get it to do by turning the key is to make a relay clicking sound in the lower right hand side of the engine compartment.

The battery terminals were badly corroded. I cleaned them and tried again to no avail.

The ignition fuse is good.

I used a multimeter at the battery and the voltage was fine. It didn’t drop when the key was turned.

The radio works fine. The alarm system (with ignition kill) is not armed.

Do I need a new starter? Do I need a new starter solenoid? Is there any solution that will get the car running for one more week without having to shell out hundreds of dollars?

I just need to get it to a dealership to use as a ($100?) trade-in towards a better vehicle. The power seats, new front suspension, and recently rebuilt engine have to be worth something to somebody. Heck, the suspension and engine have cost us over $4k in the last year.


Well, guess what? Lightning struck twice. Now my Jeep’s doing the same thing. I wonder if the auto parts store has a two for one special.

It’s a 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee with the 4.0 I6. The starter made a nasty grinding noise then cut out. I waited a while and tried again. I got the same clicking as in the Thunderbird. I did get the Jeep to start once, but I don’t want to drive it anywhere and get stranded. Cars are fun, aren’t they?


If you’re absolutely certain the battery cable ends are good and clean then the problem is more than likely the starter.
If the starter engages your multimeter should show a voltage drop from about 12.6 to 10+ volts at a minimum, depending on battery conditon of course.

One comment. The fact you’ve got a bunch of money tied up in the car in the last year will not make it worth more.
A dealer is simply going to look at it as a high mileage, 13 year old car and they’re going to wholesale it more than likely, assuming you’re talking about trading on a new car.
Do not expect to get back anywhere near what you’ve invested.
My advice would be to replace the starter and keep the car. JMHO anyway.


It sounds to me that in both cases proper battery voltage is not getting to the starter motors. Use your meter to check each connection down the line to the starter while trying to start it. The place where you find no voltage is where the problem is.


We’re not expecting to recover any of the money we’ve put into it. I’m just hoping that the fact that it has some reasonably new parts on it will entice the dealer into taking it at all. My fear is having to pay someone to take it away. I once had to junk a car and the towing fees were about $10 short of the purchase price.

We’ve replaced the starter, and will be keeping the car long enough to feel we’ve recovered the investment. The car has so many other problems that I just want to get rid of it before something major fails.


That was exactly the problem with the Jeep. I have a battery cut-off knob from when I only used it in Minnesota winters. The knob loosened a bit and was giving an intermittent connection.

The Thunderbird, however, had a bad starter.


The most likely cause of the corrosion on the battery cables is an over-charging alternator. To clean battery cables, they have to be DISCONNECTED and cleaned with sandpaper, or files, or a knife, or a wire brush. There can be an insulating, TRANSPARENT layer in the cable loops and on the battery posts. Coca Cola, or, baking soda, won’t remove it. The end of the battery cable which attaches to the starter, and/or the ignition key wire to the starter solenoid could be poor connections, also. Loosen and re-tighten their (starter/solenoid) attaching nuts.