94 F250 7.3 IDI Is it the starter or just the solenoid? - Diesel Forum - TheDieselStop.com
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Old 03-29-2011, 03:18 PM   #1 (permalink)
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94 F250 7.3 IDI Is it the starter or just the solenoid?

1994 F250 7.3l IDI Starter/Solenoid Question
First symptom was the solenoid (I think) clicking. It had cranked but not started, so I hit the gp's again (bypassed to dash) and when I tried to start it just clicked. I waited a few minutes, hit the gp's again and it cranked fine. This happened randomly a few times in the next few weeks when it was still pretty cold (Colorado) where I'd get the clicking, but always after having cranked without starting, and I was always able to start it after a short wait.
More recently, it started cranking really slow. I was sure it was a bad battery.. but when I'd put it on the charger, it showed the batteries at 100%; also, when I'd go to start it, it would still start, even on the really slow crank. Once I even jumped it cause I thought the batteries were down and didn't want to drain them, and the crank was just as slow with the jump.
I had it on the charger again two days ago, and went to start it at noon today (50 degrees out).. didn't think it was going to start it was cranking so slow.. but it did.
Shorted across the relay on the fender thinking that was the solenoid, and it didn't change the crank speed. Battery cables are clean and tight. Started looking at starters and saw that the solenoid sits on top and is MUCH cheaper than the whole assembly.
Question: How can I determine whether I need only the solenoid, or the whole starter/solenoid assembly?.. or is there something else I may have missed that I can check.

Thanks.. I got through the glow plug and return line change-out w/ flying colors with the help I got here last summer.
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Old 03-29-2011, 03:28 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Putting on a charger and seeing 12VDC is not a good check for the batteries. You need to "load test" them seperately and disconnected from the truck. I have seen plenty of batteries show 12 volts but not have enough amps left in them to light a flshlight bulb. If one proves to be bad replace in pairs.

Also if you take the starter out and take it to the A/P store to be tested, they won't test it under load. They just apply 12 VDC and if it spins it's okay. You should find an auto electric shop that can properly test starters and rebuild them.
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Old 03-29-2011, 03:35 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Your point on the charger is well taken, and it had been my plan to take the batteries in and get them tested.
However, because my gp's are bypassed to the dash I always watch the meter when starting and it looks very strong; also, the crank speed didn't change when I jumped it; that kind of convinced me that it isn't batteries.
But considering the time and expense, it make sense to check them. I'll charge them tonight and get them tested tomorrow, but I really think the problem is elsewhere.
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Old 03-29-2011, 03:44 PM   #4 (permalink)
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It could very well be the starter, but if you put a new/rebuilt starter in and the batteries don't have enough cranking amps, you run the risk of ruining a fresh starter. Thats why my FIRST check is the batteries. Make sure the store LOAD tests them. I have a 500 amp carbon pile load tester so I know the store should be able to do the same test.
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Old 03-30-2011, 09:02 AM   #5 (permalink)
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FWIW 12 volts is considered discharged. 12.6 is a full battery. Your vehicle may well start below 12V; automakers long ago figured out people were killing starters and started specifying them at lower voltages. But if you walk up to a battery that hasn't been charged lately and it says 12.0 you should put a charger on it...
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Old 03-31-2011, 11:24 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Charging Batteries Before Using Newly Installed Starter

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Originally Posted by drinkypoo View Post
FWIW 12 volts is considered discharged. 12.6 is a full battery. Your vehicle may well start below 12V; automakers long ago figured out people were killing starters and started specifying them at lower voltages. But if you walk up to a battery that hasn't been charged lately and it says 12.0 you should put a charger on it...
That's a good call drinkypoo...I learned a long time ago...on my diesel trucks especially...and this may be overkill...but I always pull the batteries...charge em up...top em off with distilled water if needed...and load test em with a pile...If satisfactory I re-install batteries, clean everything, and then and only then try the starter...WHY? I ruined a new starter once with weak batteries...

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Old 03-31-2011, 11:35 PM   #7 (permalink)
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U can get a load tester at harbor frieght for like 20-30 bucks mine works great
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Old 04-01-2011, 06:03 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Starter brushes may be stuck, get someone to turn the key and smack the starter with a hammer........if it cranks over and starts great!!!! If it will only start after smacking the starter in future get a new one.

My question is why do you guys insist on using a manual GP switch on perfectly good solid state system. The older 6.9s have the gp system that requires the push button to eliminate sticking controllers that burn up GPs.
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Old 04-01-2011, 10:01 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Is there anything preventing installation of the new system on the old engine? Seems like there's plenty of toasted 7.3s out there.
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Old 04-01-2011, 01:23 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Hello cdnarguy and drinkypoo...

cdnarguy...you are right about the older 6.9's...I have one and I installed a manual simply because I already had all the parts I needed to install one and I have replaced the older controller in the past just to have it ruin my glow plugs again after a few months here in Washington State. Maybe it's the rain...anyway I didn't want to pay for the "new" Ford replacement...so I went manual...

drinkypoo...Ford recognized the prob with the older "candlestick" 6.9L controllers and came out with a newer solid state electronically controlled one to upgrade those old ones. They are not inexpensive in my thinking so I went manual like everyone else. I haven't had a provlem with the manual in years. And besides...at my age...I am used to a manual system as that was all there was "back in the day"...cdnsarguy probably knows what I am talking about...LOL

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Old 04-01-2011, 07:53 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Wasn't the batteries

Wasn't able to pull the batteries and have them tested until this afternoon. Both tested very good.. they're only about a year old, and I had replaced both at the same time.

I cleaned everything for reassembly; did note that the pos. terminal on the passenger side battery isn't in great condition; may have to replace the whole cable assembly, but I'm confident that it's making good contact now.

After reassembly, I started it, and it started up right away.. so I didn't get a chance to listen to how it cranked... I should have just let it crank w/o activating the gp's.. so I shut it off right away, waited a few minutes, and when I tried to crank it again, all I got was clicking at the relay. I tried several times, with the same result. So I guess I pull the starter/solenoid tomorrow and see what I can find there. Checker/O'reilly said they could probably get me a rebuild kit for the solenoid.. if it's cheap, I'll try that first.. I'll try the hammer trick too.. if that works, I'll take the started apart and clean up the contacts and motor brushes.

Oh, as to the question on why I bypassed the controller to the dash.. the control box had failed but the relay was fine.. was the cheapest solution.

The first time, I wired it to show the wait to start light on the dash; about a year later, I went to start it and it wouldn't. In the process of checking it out, I found that I had constant power at the downstream terminal of the gp relay even with the key off.. and every gp was burned up. Somehow the connections remaining to activate the wts light must have shorted in the controller box and activated the relay. Replaced the gps and return lines, and rewired it to just the relay and eliminate the controller box entirely. I just watch the dash meter instead (volts..right?). I'm not a motorhead.. I just do the best I can to get by.

If I have to replace the positive cable that comes across from the driver's side battery, and ties in to the relay and the starter, does anyone know where I can find one for the best price?

Last edited by farmtruck250; 04-01-2011 at 08:01 PM.
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Old 04-02-2011, 05:57 PM   #12 (permalink)
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All's well that ends well.

Just thought I'd close this out.

As I'd said above, the batteries had checked out good, as I'd expected, but whereas it would start before with just intermittent not starting, now it wasn't starting at all over a day and a half of trying.. just the clicking at the relay.

I disconnected the negative terminals, and cleaned all the contacts and connections at the relay on the passenger side fender. Reconnected the battery and tried to start it, but got nothing more than clicking at the relay.

Disconnected the battery again and pulled the wiring connections at the starter.. they looked very clean. I removed the starter; just used a long extension to get the top bolt.. had to work out a combination that would clear the end of the starter.. which wasn't too difficult (bolts are 1/2").

I took the started down and had it spin-tested. I know everyone says to have it load tested, but that was close and easy, and I figured it would give me a baseline idea of whether it was in real bad shape or not. Also, though I may be incorrect in this thought, I figured that it couldn't be the solenoid if it spin-tested. In any case, it spin tested fine.

Thought about replacing the relay (only $13), but decided I'd wait til I'd put it back together since electrical parts aren't returnable. Took it back home and disassembled the solenoid from the starter body (had to use an impact breaker on the two phillips head screws and even then it was quite a bit of work to get them to loosen (don't know why they don't use hex heads). I also disassembled the started, blew out the armiture.. there was a lot of carbon dust in the casing.

I put it all back together, reinstalled it, cleaning the contacts before reattaching them.. and it cranked and started fine.. back to it's old self.

So I don't really know what the problem was for sure.. none of the contacts were loose, none were corroded, nothing was seized. I wonder if all the times I smacked the top of the solenoid with the impact breaker had anything to do with it. Something changed in the process of taking it apart and putting it back together.

For as easy as it was to remove the starter.. it was worth going through all of it and being able to finish up with a working starter for zero cost, except for my time.

Thanks for everyone's comments and help.

Last edited by farmtruck250; 04-02-2011 at 06:00 PM.
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Old 04-02-2011, 06:05 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Glad to hear it's up and running
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