Truck won't start


My husband has a 1992 Ford F150 XLT. Has 160,000 miles, been extremely well maintained, mechanically & otherwise. We’re 2nd owners (bought 3 yrs ago) and have ALL maint receipts from previous owner. Other than this one new problem, it’s always run perfect & it’s only our spare vehicle so we put less than 5,000 miles annually on it (we always run it 1-2 times weekly to keep it charged)…

Tried starting truck last week…nothing, not even a click. Battery cables not corroded, gave it a jump and it started it & drove to buy a brand new (excellent)battery just in case that’s what it was. It started up. Only had to try to start it one more time w/problem. Drove to place and they test alternator, it was fine but they said the battery was reading too low, almost drained. (what???). Gre days later we try to start truck. Nothing. Won’t turn over & not even a grind or anything. Battery cables may have been loose connection so I had a shop take care of, they charged me $12. for nothing, added to my oil change bill.

Next day (today), nothing once again. Won’t start, make even so much as a grinding or whining noise trying to start. Something is draining the brand new battery and probably was the cause of draining the other one we just replaced. DOES ANYONE KNOW WHAT THE LIKELY CAUSE OF THIS PROBLEM COULD BE? Help! My husband is NOT a mechanic so unless it’s something a lady can do (sorry ladies, I know some of you can work on vehicles), I prefer my hubby not mess with it. Any advice???


Well, it sounds like a bad alternator. Now, let’s assume that the alternator is as fine as they say it is. In that case, maybe it’s not hooked up to the battery. In any case, I’d take it to a second shop, because if the battery is not charging, the alternator is bad. That’s just all there is to it.


When turning the vehicle off, walk around and make sure all lights are off, especially the brake lights, (could be staying due to a bad switch). Check to see if it has a light under the hood, if so, remove the bulb to see if problme goes away. Interior lights should be checked too. Some vehicles have the system that they will turn off automatically and these do fail form time to time.


Thanks a bunch kkelley for the advice. The place that tested our alternator said it was fine. Battery connection looks fine, but I had put a little baking soda and water on it just in case, very little fizz and it looks really clean for the most part. When truck is running, IF we can by some miracle shake stuff up under the hood and get it to start, the brand new battery will then recharge. Problem is when it sits overnight it’s drained again. One person said could be battery conncetions but guy at shop changing oil says connection is fine and even tightened them up some. One person said it could be the starter. By the way, this is a blonde lady question: Is the starter / starter solenoid the same thing? Just curious… Another person said it could be the alternator. If it were either of those, why did we get lucky 2 times during the week and somehow get it to start when battery was not drained? I’m baffled. IF we can get it started when my husband gets off work today, we’ll definitly take it to another place to have the alternator tested to see if they say anything different. Thanks.


Thanks for the information wizard.


It sounds like an alternator to me.

These alternators are pretty simple to diagnose and check. While driving does the voltage guage act strange or have you noticed the headlights dimming? If so, it’s probably the voltage regulator and brushes. It’s a pretty simple fix. You can buy one for about $30 at most parts stores. Take the battery loose and then remove the wires from the regulator. Tape them up while you are changing the regulator. You’ll unscrew a few screws and it will pop out. You start the new one in, remove the pin holding the brushes and push it all the way in. Then reinstall the screws and put the wires on one at a time. Be careful not to ground your wrench against anything. There’s a capacitor that can bite you. It won’t hurt, but it’ll screw up the new regulator.

If it’s not the regulator, then it’s probably the diodes. These are on a plate inside the alternator. You’ll need to remove the alternator, take it to an alternator/starter shop and have them rebuild it. Usually this costs about $70 plus the brushes/regulator.

Buying an alternator at a parts shop to change it will cost you $200 or more. The one you buy will not be new, but rather rebuilt. Advance or which ever parts store has a core charge on all alternators they sell. You bring them your old one in the box they sold you the new one in. They then take it to an alternator/starter shop and have it rebuilt and put it back on the shelf marking up the rebuild over $100. I’ve had mine rebuilt for years, and never had problems with it. The parts stores have the rebuild shop clean the case in a tumbler and paint the case, you save money by not doing that and it doesn’t hurt anything as long as the rest of it is ok. Occasionally you’ll have one that the armature or windings go bad, in that case, it’s not feasable to rebuild it.