99 Ford E-350 SuperDuty 5.4l Hospital bus/van

Please help: Local hospital donated a little used bus /van with wheelchair lift etc to an organization which transports needy who can not afford cabs etc to get to appointments or hospital. Van sat unused for 3 years. Asked me (retired 71 yo surgeon) to help get it going. Ugh. New battery, would not turn over, AC compressor frozen, changed, still no turn over etc, etc. Finally had to pull engine, tearing up oil cooler, etc. Found bent pusher rod as well as intake manifold filled with coolant. Engine repaired, back into vehicle etc. Now when turn on key, totally dead electrically. Starter rebuilt etc. If we by pass starter relay, then all electric systems go, meaning lights go on, starter turns, dash lites on etc. Tried on line Mitchels, but no step by step instructions for trouble shooting. Who can help???

Thank You and God Bless

Is the starter relay on the fenderwell (Ford did it this way years ago, don’t know if that’s still the case)? It sounds like someone has the main power leads switched.

I would look at swapping the little wires on the starter solenoid relay if they use one which is sometimes mounted on the wheel well. Only if the wires are the same size (if there are two of them). Sometimes people move things. Replacing the relay might be the answer too. One more thing: One of the wires needed to bring electricity may be on the wrong side of the relay. Only the big wire to the starter goes on its side of the relay. All other wires used to go on the battery side of it. If there are some wires on the starter side, they will only get electricity when the starter is turning. They won’t, actually, because the starter would eat up all the current. I figured this out from what you wrote and from wiring one up wrong some years ago. You said, when we bypass the starter relay… NYBo said it with fewer words.

NYBo: Yes the starter relay is on the passenger fenderwell just under the battery case. When we took the engine out , we did not disturb the wiring to the relay, only disconnecting the harness as it connected to the engine itself. If we jumper the small leadin wire to the power in, then we get power to the entire vehicle, otherwise it is dead. Is there a command override somewhere originating from tne ignition switch?

Thank You

Okay… there are 3 terminals on this relay, correct? Two larger terminals, one smaller terminal.

Tell me if this is correct: the battery positive, starter power, and vehicle power all connect to one terminal. A small push-on connector attaches to the smaller terminal, and a third wire leading to the starter connects to the other large terminal.

Ford has two starter designs: the first has no solenoid on the starter, it just makes use of a solenoid on the fenderwell. In this setup, there is only one cable going to the starter, and it is only hot when the ignition switch is in the start position. With this configuration, you have battery positive and vehicle power on one large terminal of the solenoid, and starter power on the the other large terminal.

The other design has a solenoid on the starter AND uses the fenderwell relay. It’s wired as I described in the first paragraph, with one (large) cable that is always hot going to the starter, and then a smaller cable coming from the switched side of the fenderwell relay and leading to the starter solenoid. I’m guessing that your rig is supposed to be wired in this configuration, because Ford started switching to it [from the other method] in the early/mid '90s.

Hope that helps!

Mr. Josh: Thank you again for your response. To begin, yes, there are three terminals to this relay, 2 large and one small with the push on wire. Technically it is a Motocraft F8U6-14088-AA and the Ford dealer calls it a : Acessory safety relay with Auxuillary Battery. As best we can tell:
a. One post connects to battery +, starter + (heavy red wire), ? vehicle power.
b. Small push on wire (can not identify its source on wiring diagram or function, purplish color with ?)
c. 2nd. large post connects to large black wire, I assume it is a ground. Not really sure it connects to starter as you mention above.

With the key in the ignition, the power to the entire vehicle is dead, but upon jumpering from one large post to the other, all vehicle power is on such as instrument lights etc. Turning the key to the starter position will activate the starter, etc. This will occur with or without the small wire attached to the smaller post.

Now, this vehicle is equipped with a second battery up under the rear body (auxullary battery). Very difficult to get to but finally attained and it is ?original equipt and is dead. We wonder if this is draining the amps when we attempt to turn on the key or go to start postion?

Oh, we tried to switch the large wires to the opposite post, but no change effected. Also made sure that the relay attached to the wheel well was clean and not corroded to inssure good ground if it required body to body contact.

This has been such an enjoyable experience for this shade tree mechanic, but I do sincerly appreciate your input and suggestions.

Thank You again.

You need to check those short heavy lengths of wire that are connected to the starter solenoid. Those are fusible links and provide all electrical power to the vehicle except for the starter motor itself. This will need to be checked with a test light because appearance may not mean anything.

I would also be very concerned about this engine. Sitting for 3 years, bent pushrod, and full of coolant does not sound good at all.

I would try, first, disconnecting the auxiliary battery and isolating its terminals (wrap them in rags or something).

The dual battery issue complicates things slightly, as I haven’t seen a modern Ford dual-battery setup (the last one I saw was on my '77 F-350, a little bit different an animal.)

IF I had to guess (and I do because I don’t have a wiring diagram), I would say that the heavy black wire that you describe leads to the second battery. When you turn the ignition to the Start position, the small, push-on wire on the relay energizes the relay and it puts continuity between the two large terminals.

I assume that the second battery is wired in parallel with the first, so that black terminal probably goes under the truck and at some point meets up with the positive battery cable from the auxiliary battery. From there, who knows?

You know, I hate to bounce you from forum to forum, but you really should try asking this on http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums

Those guys really know their stuff, and there are forums specifically for each model of truck. They’ll probably be able to answer you question.

I think this “cure” applies: Ford has put out a Technical Service Bulletin TSB 06-19-14, dated 10/02/2006 No Crank / Starter Terminal Fatigue. “A new starter terminal wiring pigtail kit is released eliminating the need to replace the entire harness for the terminal connection.”
You could ask your Ford dealer about the TSB and the repair kit.

To clarify why the Ford Technical Service Bulletin was brought out, the TSB says, “Issue: some vehicles may exhibit a no-crank condition due to an open circuit in the starter relay to starter motor circuit at the starter motor connection”. The “pig tail” repair is a section of wiring to place into the existing wiring to make the circuit complete. Alternatively, someone may be able to “splice and dice” sections of wiring to accomplish the same thing.
I viewed the Ford TSB through my public library’s Web site connection to ARRC (Automotive Repair Research Center). Ask a liberryian.

I would get a repair manuel that covers this van that has wiring schmatics. Then I would test all the fuseable link wires that feed power from the battery to the interior. It sounds to me like you’ve got a blown fusable link wire.

All it takes is someone who tried to jump start the van and connected the jumper cables up wrong to blow these fuses.

Do as the above posters said also.