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Old 11-11-2006, 11:42   #1 (permalink)
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Weird starter solenoid problem

1987 F150 4x4 with 302V8

It's always the simple things. I replace my positive battery cable and don't ya know I snapped the positive bolt on the starter solenoid. OK, easy enough, get a new solenoid.

So I replaced it with an aftermarket part, the engine started up, but the starter kept spinning. I shut off the ignition and pulled the key out and it kept running. I had to pull the positive cable off the battery to kill the engine.

So, I figured they sold me a bad part. I got the starter solenoid off my neighbor's 1992 F-150 and put that on my truck. It started it up with no problem.

So, I took that off, and went and bought another solenoid, different manufacturer and the same problem happened again.

The original solenoid had two large posts and one small post that another wire clipped onto. The same with my neighbor's solenoid.

The aftermarket solenoid looked exactly the same but it had two large posts and two small posts. I installed it as per the instructions and sure enough, the starter kept spinning.

So now it's Saturday and all the Ford Dealer parts stores are closed.

Any ideas?
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Old 11-11-2006, 19:06   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Weird starter solenoid problem

Still sounds like the solenoid to me. Try a different parts store. If it didn't do this before replacement, and your neighbors worked, then it's probably just bad parts.
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Old 11-12-2006, 09:06   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Weird starter solenoid problem

thanks for the reply TheFonz. I'm thinking the same thing. I spoke with a friend of mine who has 2 Ford Box trucks and a 1987 Econoline van, all with high milage. He told me that he's had a lot of trouble with aftermarket solenoids lately. Last week he replaced one and after a trip of about an hour the engine wouldn't shut off.

I just find it kind of remarkable that some of the replacement parts out on the market are so cheezy.

I'll be heading out the local Ford Dealer's parts department first thing Monday morning.
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Old 11-13-2006, 07:48   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Weird starter solenoid problem

Thanks for the replies.

I just wanted to follow up. I got a solenoid from Ford and it worked fine. It cost $40 with tax compared to $11 but the cheap one caused me all kinds of grief, lost work time, and possibly a damaged starter.

My rule of thumb has always been to buy the highest quality tools and I didn't apply that philosophy to parts.

Lesson learned.

btw - if this problem happens to you, make sure you get the solonoid with 3 posts, not the one with 4 posts.
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Old 11-13-2006, 15:19   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Weird starter solenoid problem

Glad you got it fixed! Sometimes we learn the hard way.
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Old 12-27-2006, 18:46   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Weird starter solenoid problem

The likelyhood of getting two brand new solenoids with the exact same problem is almost zero. I would guess it was an issue with the wiring because you switched from a three wire to a four wire.

On the four wire, one of the wires feeds 12 volts to the coil, bypassing the drop down resistor when the vehicle has one. My guess is that somehow you got voltage going into the actuating lead. That would cause it to stick "on."

To anyone with the same problem, try removing a battery lead while the starter is stuck on. Immediately replace that battery lead. If the starter stops spinning, it is what I speculated above. If the starter keeps spinning, the that isn't it.

If that happens, remove the wires from the small lead. If that stops the starter, there is voltage on that lead when there shouldn't be. If it keeps spinning with those wires removed, the solenoid is stuck on and it is what is defective.

Probably too much to test since it fixes it to replace the solenoid with a three wire one. This info is just for those who really want to know what caused the problem. Not at all practical, I just want to know for sure.
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Old 05-30-2007, 06:29   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Weird starter solenoid problem

I just wanted to add my experience with these cheap solenoids. My 1987 F150 truck just produced a loud single "clunk" from the old original solenoid when I tried starting it. No big deal, I bought a new $10.00 solenoid from "Advantage Auto" and installed it. When I attempted to start the truck, the truck just kept starting and would not shut off with the key and I had to pull the battery cable to stop it. Thinking I installed it wrong I put the old solenoid back in and it started a couple more times before finally giving out again. I took back the new solenoid and got a replacment but broke one of the terminals installing it. So I bought a new $8.00 solenoid from a different store "Fleet Farm" and installed it. This one was a 4 terminal solenoid. It started the truck about 4 or 5 times and then did nothing but produce the single loud "clunk" at the solenoid. I went ahead and replaced the starter but still got the same results. I rapped the solenoid a couple of times with my 1/2" open end wrench and tried to start the truck again. This time it kept starting again where it would not shut off with the key. I went to "Napa" and bought another new $22.00 solenoid that was "Made in USA". The truck starts wonderful like brand new.
3 brand new different solenoids from 3 different stores and the first 2 were junk. The first 2 also had no markings of where they were made. Always try and buy "Made in USA". The quality will always be there.
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