Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Truck Stalled, Wouldn't Turn Over

1987 Ford f150 5.0 302 automatic

I changed the oil and took the truck for about a 5 minute drive (let it idle for 10 minutes or so). A single rough buck, the “emissions” and ABS lights flashed for a moment, then it rolled to a completely dead stop in the driveway. I put it in park and tried to turn it over-absolutely nothing. No click, I switched on the interior light but it didn’t come on. I put the charger on the battery and still nothing. The battery tested at 12.48 volts. About 20-30 minutes passed and it fired up, so I drove it up the driveway and parked it.

Most of what I researched points towards the stupid ignition module on the distributor, but does it completely kill everything when it overheats? I haven’t found a definitive answer in my research

The ignition module was a common failure in my1989 Ford Tempo.Actually, it failed 4 times in the life of this car. The heat caused that module to go bad…car wouldn’t start unless it cooled for 1-2 hours. Sometimes it just quit on me while driving…a dangerous situation.Cost of that module was around $100 if I remember

I’ve read about how poor of a design it was (I’m learning how to work on vehicles) and the class action suit about it. This will be the 3rd one it’s had, that I know of. When it happened to yours, did it kill everything to the point where nothing worked, including lights, radio, wipers, etc?

Yep, nothing worked…car felt like it was dead.

Okay, thank you for replying. I’ve never had it quite happen like this before, so I panicked that something else was wrong. You’ve eased my worrying

If you remove the ignition module, put a nice thick coat of dielectric grease at the back of the module. That will prevent it from frying.

I don’t think this symptom would be caused by the ignition module.


@PvtPublic is correct. It may keep it from starting, but it would have still turned over/cranked.

Check the battery cables and terminals. Make sure they are free of corrosion and are tight.

Battery connections are the first place to begin when you have a “No Crank” situation. Even

if you have a new battery, if the connections are loose, dirty or corroded, you will not be

allowing the full flow of current to pass thru the connections. The connection may be

enough to turn on the lights, but not enough for the huge flow that is needed to operate the

starter. This is where many people say that they know the battery is good….”because the

lights come on”. This is no more a battery test than licking a 9volt battery. It only tells you that there is electricity…not how many volts or the amperage that flows from the battery.

Jump starting may have wiggled the terminal just enough to allow the current to pass and start the engine, but tomorrow you have the same problem.

First remove the cables from the battery and use a wire brush to remove any corrosion and dirt from the battery posts and the cable terminals. There is a tool with a round wire brush for this purpose, found at any auto parts store for less than $10

Before connecting the cables, apply a coating of di-electric grease to the battery posts this will keep oxygen away from the connection so that it will not corrode as fast.

It is just as important that the other end of the cables also have a clean connection. Remove the negative cable from the battery again so that you do not short anything out. Follow both cables to their far ends, remove this connection and wire brush the connection and the cable terminal clean and retighten these connections.

If there was work done recently, there may have been an “engine to body” ground that was not installed following the work. These grounds normally run from the rear of the engine to the firewall and are uninsulated and most are a braided wire. If any of these are found unattached…reattach them.

Remember….this is not a “Sherman Tank” don’t over tighten the connections.

Tight…tight………………too tight…broke!!!



1 Like

Seems unusual if a failed ignition module would prevent cranking, and even more, prevent turning an interior light bulb. But @COROLLAGUY1 says that he experienced the same thing. Maybe the ignition module is configured as grand central station on this engine configuration Non-functioning ignition module, nothing else works either, even interior light bulbs? Bizarre!

The TFI ignition module should not kill anything except the engine when it fails. You need to go over the battery cable connections and the terminals at the starter solenoid.

1 Like

The battery is corrosion free And the terminals were replaced, and also clean. Reading about ignition module problems, a few people insinuated that their vehicles died completely, but corrolaguy was the first to be explicitly clear about it. I tried to turn the interior light on just to see if there was any power. It eventually fired up fine. I’ll have to look for loose connections too

I got a TFI relocation kit I’m going to install, and I’ll go from there