Starter keeps cranking while engine starts and even after turned off



I’ve got a 1993 Ford Aerostar XLT. Was running great until yesterday, when I turned the ignition and got nothing but a click every time the key was turned. Checked the battery (had power), bridged the relay (just got clicks but didn’t turn over)…so I concluded the starter was bad.

I installed a new starter motor/starter Selinoid today. The van started right up, but next start the engine kept cranking (even while van was running and after shutting off)…I had to disconnect the battery cable for it to stop. As you can imagine this really freaked me out. Next start the problem didn’t persist…but the time after that it happened again.

Any thoughts as to what is going on, or where to start in tackling this problem? Your help is greatly appreciated!


When it wont stop cranking and you shift to reverse or drive does it stop?

The slip fit wire on the starter relay should have 12 volts on it only when you turn the key to start and the trans is in Park or neutral


Sounds like the solenoid is sticking. I’d try another one.


If the solenoid is incorporated into the starter, time for a return, hope it was not hard to replace.


87 Ranger - I’ll check and get back to ya.

Regarding the other comments, the Selinoid is incorporated into the starter…located right above and not in the easiest location to replace (took me a few hours yesterday)…but do-able if necessary. It’s brand new…but I suppose it could have been faulty from the store.

Any chance it could be the starter relay? That’s cheap and easy to replace…but I don’t want to do so if that’s not the source of the problem. Anyone know if there’s a way to check whether the problem lies in the starter selinoid or starter relay?


Swap the starter relay with a relay with the same part number.



It could be in the relay, the ignition switch or the solenoid, but since it happened whenyou replaced the starter, it is most likely the starter. You cannot have miswired the starter because if you did it would do that every time.


I had that happen once only when a new starter was put in and after driving about 700 miles. It only ran for about 30 seconds and then shut off and it never happened after that. So it was pretty definitely the starter sticking but the mechanic said if it didn’t happen again it should be OK. So yeah if it keeps doing it, I think you’re going to have to return that starter if it’s not the relay.


Since what you replaced was only the starter, and the problem begin happening at that point, most likely this is a problem with the replacement starter. I’ve had bad aftermarket starters right out of the box before. If not the part itself, next up would be a problem with the install. Suggest to make sure you have the wires that connect to the starter connected in the correct location, and that they are not shorting to something nearby. If the connections look ok, remove the starter and ask the parts store that sold it to you to test it. Most parts stores have jigs on hand to test starter motors – for exactly this reason.

In the meantime be aware that this presents a serious fire hazard. If you forget to disconnect the battery, or think you did, but didn’t, the starter motor may catch on fire. So carry a fire extinguisher in the truck, and don’t park the car in a garage or near any buildings.

Due to problems I’ve experienced like this, I’ve stopped purchasing aftermarket starters. When they fail I’ve been taking my broken oem starters to the local auto-electric shop where they fix them up nicely for a relatively small fee. Nary a single problem since.


Appears the starter pinion does not retract once the engine starts. I had a similar problem a few weeks back on my car. Replaced the starter and all was well. You can whack it with a hammer, but it’s not a solution and dangerous to be under the car while the engine runs.


Thanks for the comments! Sounds like the consensus is that it is likely a bad starter.
I ordered a relay yesterday that I’ll probably hook up today to isolate the problem to the starter. If so, I’ll take the starter out and get it tested…and hopefully get a new one. I’ll keep you updated, thanks!


What could be happening is the Starter gears get stuck on the fly-wheel. But its the same fix - replace starter.


That could happen if the starter was installed a little cockeyed. Not flush to the mounting spot for some reason. Doesn’t seem likely, but if you end up removing the starter good idea to check that the mounting is properly aligned at that time.


Your van seems to have 2 starter solenoids and this one

is prone to sticking in the ON position


If the starter requires shims then it’s a more likely to happen.


I replaced the Solonoid switch (the part Rod_Knox points out above) yesterday and problem persists.

I removed the starter and will be taking it back to be tested and get a new one under warranty on Saturday. There were no shims when I took the original out, so I assume none are needed for the replacement. However, I would agree that either the flywheel is getting stuck or the solonoid is signaling it to be continuously on. Possible but seemingly unlikely it was cockeyed so I’ll be sure to tighten the new one evenly. Thanks for your help and I’ll keep you posted.


When you removed the starter did you inspect the teeth of the starter and flywheel? Look for chips or undue wear.


The Starter teeth looked good. Couldn’t get an angle to see into the flywheel, but reached my hand in and the teeth weren’t noticeably worn at least from touch


Make sure the plastic ignition switch at the base of the steering column hasn’t cracked.



If you shifted to drive or reverse OR removed the Red/blue stripe wire from the starter RELAY and it stopped cranking theres about a 99% chance that there’s a short to battery in the ignition switch. You need to do this simple little test to help isolate which part of the ciircuit is the trouble maker

The red/blue stripe is a slip fit rubber boot and pulls right off

The starter RELAY controls the voltage going to the starter solenoid. I wish places like Autozone would stop calling the relay a solenoid.

The solenoid shoves the starter gear into the flywheel