1994 F-150, 194K mi.
So, for the second time in 6 months, the truck won’t start. Gradually started turning over weaker and weaker, and now–solenoid click, and nothing.
What I’ve done:
- Checked battery volts–between 12.6 and 12.7V. Do not have means to load test, myself…and the nearest auto parts store is a 2mi walk, so… I DID do a check by shorting the “free” ends of a pair of jumper cables–copious sparking.
- No “battery charge” light when driving, and the volts gauge does what it always has (not that it’s terribly accurate–I get “O” volts (on the “NORMAL” scale) key on, engine off, and “M” volts engine running).
- I had previously replaced the positive terminal and wires 6 months’ ago, to fix a similar starting problem. I therefore did the same to the negative. Looked pretty gnarly, but made no difference.
- When operating key, battery volts drop less than 1/2V with attempted start. I’d love to get voltage at the starter, but that requires an assistant.
- When trying to “rig” up a positive lead from the starter terminal (for attempted hot-wire), I got a huge shower of sparks when my wrench bumped the frame rail. So, it seems like enough current is getting to the starter.
My inclination is to say that it must be the starter, but that’s over $100 for the part, so I’d prefer not to “throw parts” at it without being as sure as I can be. I’ve just always heard that starters fail by developing “dead spots”: it won’t work; whack it with a stick; now it might. Do starters fail by “just getting tired?” (I.E. high internal resistance).