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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I'm having an electrical issue with a 2004 E250. I was on vacay for a few weeks so I un-connected the positive terminal (leaving the negative connected). When I returned the battery was 'dead' enough to not even light up any of the dash icons. I had it charged at AutoZone and this is when curious things started happening: I put in the key and the dash panel lit up, the gauges initialized but when I turned the key everything went off. It was as if the battery was dead. Taking the key out and trying to start it again was of no avail as it was if there was no battery. I checked the terminal connections again - taking them off then back on - and this time when I put the key in I turned it CCW to just turn on the radio. The radio turned on and I turned the key the other direction and the van now started! I chalked it up to something very weird, turned off the van, tried to restart it and it worked. Problem solved, or so I thought as a few hours later I went to start it and the original issue reappeared - the dash panel lighting up to then only go dead when I moved the key to the initiation phase. I've had the battery re-checked with the results coming up 'good' so I'm stumped? What could cause the problem of the battery seemingly going dead when I attempt to start the van? In addition, the problem is intermittent - sometimes it starts and other time it's click and power's gone.

So, one idea is the starter system, but would that shut off the battery?

Thanks for any ideas on my woes,
Scott
 

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Sounds like the starter. I’ve had them go bad after sitting. You turn the key and hear a single thud. It’s the starter solenoid, a nice technical tap with a rubber mallet should free it up for a bit but it will need to be replaced at some point.


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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Sounds like the starter. I’ve had them go bad after sitting. You turn the key and hear a single thud. It’s the starter solenoid, a nice technical tap with a rubber mallet should free it up for a bit but it will need to be replaced at some point.
Thanks for the reply. I'm inclined to believe the starter solenoid, I just have never experienced that causing the battery to effectively "shut off" (when the starter goes 'thud' the power goes off and the only way to get it back is by removing & re-seating the terminal connection). So, know it's time to look on YT and find some DIY videos (looks like getting the three bolts of the starter off are a real nightmare).
 

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Could be a bad bit on the starter , ignition switch worn ( try jiggling the key when fault there ) . Check ALL earths / grounds and wiring at starter , Also load test alternator and check charging rate
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Could be a bad bit on the starter , ignition switch worn ( try jiggling the key when fault there ) . Check ALL earths / grounds and wiring at starter , Also load test alternator and check charging rate
Those are all good things to check. Considering I have the issue of the battery cutting out which of those options; starter, ignition switch, ground wire, is most likely the culprit and the item to check first?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Sounds like the starter. I’ve had them go bad after sitting. You turn the key and hear a single thud. It’s the starter solenoid, a nice technical tap with a rubber mallet should free it up for a bit but it will need to be replaced at some point.
By solenoid, do mean the one attached to the starter or the upper relay on the firewall next to the battery?
 

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By solenoid, do mean the one attached to the starter or the upper relay on the firewall next to the battery?
If that’s the issue and needs to be replaced, I meant the solenoid on the starter itself. I’d start by checking the battery and inspecting the ignition switch visually before going through the trouble of changing the starter.


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I would check the positive battery lead especially under the covering and the ignition switch before getting involved with the starter . Also the upper relay you mention on the firewall which you could probably bridge / short out when fault is present to eliminate that .
 

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Hi all,

I'm having an electrical issue with a 2004 E250. I was on vacay for a few weeks so I un-connected the positive terminal (leaving the negative connected). When I returned the battery was 'dead' enough to not even light up any of the dash icons. I had it charged at AutoZone and this is when curious things started happening: I put in the key and the dash panel lit up, the gauges initialized but when I turned the key everything went off. It was as if the battery was dead. Taking the key out and trying to start it again was of no avail as it was if there was no battery. I checked the terminal connections again - taking them off then back on - and this time when I put the key in I turned it CCW to just turn on the radio. The radio turned on and I turned the key the other direction and the van now started! I chalked it up to something very weird, turned off the van, tried to restart it and it worked. Problem solved, or so I thought as a few hours later I went to start it and the original issue reappeared - the dash panel lighting up to then only go dead when I moved the key to the initiation phase. I've had the battery re-checked with the results coming up 'good' so I'm stumped? What could cause the problem of the battery seemingly going dead when I attempt to start the van? In addition, the problem is intermittent - sometimes it starts and other time it's click and power's gone.

So, one idea is the starter system, but would that shut off the battery?

Thanks for any ideas on my woes,
Scott
I'm not sure what this problem is but if you ever have the occasion again, it's the negative terminal of the battery you always disconnect first not the positive
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
If that’s the issue and needs to be replaced, I meant the solenoid on the starter itself. I’d start by checking the battery and inspecting the ignition switch visually before going through the trouble of changing the starter.
The ignition switch will be my next diagnostic avenue. I have a suspicion it may be the issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I would check the positive battery lead especially under the covering and the ignition switch before getting involved with the starter . Also the upper relay you mention on the firewall which you could probably bridge / short out when fault is present to eliminate that .
I'm liking the idea of the ignition switch. I'm working on that next. And, next time it acts up I'll have my long screwdriver ready for shorting the relay.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Well, I did some maintenance of my terminals and when tightening my positive bolt this happened to the lead. Doh! The van still has power but I reckon it's now time for some new terminals.

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