!996 Crown Victoria Won't Start

While out on pizza deliveries with my car, I returned to the shop for another set of orders to deliver. When I went to restart the engine, all that I got were the lights on the instrument cluster coming on to tell me they were working.

I had the car towed home and checked all the usual stuff (starter, neutral safety switch, ignition switch, etc). Everything seemed to be working, but I replaced the ignition switch (to rule it out) and the car still won’t turn over.

Have I missed something and, what do I need to do next?

Thank you.

Mark B Handler

The engine will not even crank (turn over), right? Do you hear the starter solenoid clicking when you turn the key to the “start” position? The solenoid is usually mounted on the right inner fender on Vics…

What is the PATS light doing when you try to start it? (It’s the red light on the top of the dashboard that points up at the windshield.)
There’s no need to throw parts at this. There are simple electrical tests that can be done to determine where the problem is.

Please re-read what I said about the car. I checked EVERYTHING. The starter does operate when I cross the terminals on the solenoid (which is a part of the starter on this car). I know about the firewal or fender mounted solenoids (or relays) on the older Ford cars. This doesn’t have that item, as the car doesn’t have the old style starter with the moveable pole piece in it.

Sounds like there is no “start” voltage getting to the starter when you turn the key to “start”…Is there battery voltage getting to the ignition switch? Perhaps it’s time to drop the starter and have it tested off the car…

Yes, and it could be the PATS system that is preventing the voltage to the starter. That’s why I asked about the light.

This car does not have the PATS system on it. I do know what it is and how it works. My other car (a 2000 Ford Focus) has the PATS system.

Sorry, I knew it was added sometime between 94 and 99.
You say you have checked everything, but you don’t say where the signal to the starter stops at. Apparently, you thought it was the ignition switch. Check everything again. This time do it the right way, using a voltmeter. There aren’t that many things that it could be.

This shouldn’t be too tough to track down.

With a voltmeter/testlamp check the small ‘S’ terminal on the starter solenoid while someone turns the key to the start position.

If your are getting 12 Volts at that terminal then the problem lies in the solenoid.
You say the starter does operate when you short the solenoid terminals, this would indicate a solenoid fault.

The solenoid on pre-engaged starters works just the same way as you shorting those 2 terminals. A 12 volt feed at the ‘S’ terminal fires the electro magnetic core down the solenoid cylinder, at the end of core is a copper ring that completes the circuit between those terminals inside the solenoid - simple eh ? The core is returned to the rest position by a spring when you release the key and the electro magnetic field collapses.

I know AC Delco have a terminal replacement kit for that starter, the terminals apparently suffer from vibration and corrosion fatigue. The solenoid is also available as a separate assembly, but I’d guess you really should just replace the complete starter and be done with it.

If you are not getting 12 Volts then you have no start trigger voltage, you’ll need to work back up the circuit with a voltmeter and circuit diagram to chase the problem down - I believe that starter ‘S’ feed is fused.

I’ve been able to get the starter motor to crank the engine by crossing the terminals on the starter (itself). The solenoid appears to be working as does the rest of the starter. I also found the right terminals (on the ignition switch wiring harness) to make the starter crank as it should.

I did use a voltmeter. The problem appears to be somewhere else. I also checked the neutral safety switch and it appears to be intact & working.

Yes I know that from your earlier post.

Do you get 12v at the solenoid ‘S’ terminal with the ignition key in the start position ?

I want to make sure we are following your correctly. You can make the starter go by shorting at the starter itself and you can make the starter go by shorting wires at the ignition switch. The starter does not crank when the switch is turned to the start position when it is connected to those wires. That indicates a faulty switch, but a new switch seems to be the same as the old one.

Is that correct?

Are you sure that you crossed the CORRECT wires at the ignition switch? The W/H/PK wire is the ?output?. There is more than one power feed. The correct one, Y, gets power from the 30 A fuse (#2) in the battery junction box. The other ones for example LG gets its power from a 50A fuse (#9)). Did you check the starter motor relay in the high current relay center? The power flows in this direction, fuse 2, yellow wire, ignition switch, WH/PK wire, DTR, RD/LB wire, starter motor relay coil.

The starter motor relay coil switched contacts also gets its power from fuse 2 (yellow wire). From the switched contacts, a YE/LB wire feeds the solenoid.

Check those two circuits and report back one way or another.

With an ex police car, unfortunately, anything is possible. When they are decommissioned and sold to the public, the wiring is often very butchered. They could have installed something in the starting circuit, like a starter disable switch. Have you checked under the floor mats?

BTW, 1999 Crown Vic police cars do not have PATS, but the rest of them do. Ford deletes PATS from the PI vehicles. It is probably so they can be keyed to use the same keys of a small set of keys for all the cars. Furthermore, I believe that PATS disables the fuel pump, not the starter.

Did you check the 30 amp starter/alternator fuse located in the engine compartment fuse box?


The pies are getting cold…

I took your advice on checking the 2 fuses you mentioned. Actually, I went in and checked them all. One was blown, but it wasn’t either of the ones you mentioned. It was a 15 amp fuse and when I temporarily stuck a paper clip in there, I tried the key and this time the engine started noramlly. I did replace that fuse, as my paper clip was only a test. So far, everything seems okay, but I will be keeping an eye on things and will check that circuit out to see why I blew that fuse. Will have to check further (in the Ford Manual) for what circuit that fuse protects and fix the overload that caused the fuse to blow out.

Yes, this car is a retired police (sheriff’s) car.

I was going to suggest that you first check ALL of the fuses, but scratched that advice. I guess I should not have!

Actually, I did check all the fuses, but missed the blown one (the first time around). I also discovered the reason that the fuse blew out. There should’ve been a 30 amp fuse in there. Instead, there was a 15 amp fuse. This I discovered when I went to the factory manual to see if I could trace the circuit back from the underhood fuse panel and noticed the diagram of that fuse panle. So, that is when I discovered the wrong fuse was in there. I replaced it with the proper fuse and there should be no more trouble (in that area).