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Alternator replaced, won't start

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Jan 26, 2008, 9:18 PM

Post #1 of 13 (1673 views)
Alternator replaced, won't start Sign In

I had a defective alternator; it wasn't producing any charge. I replaced it and now the engine will not start at all. There is a spark when jumping the solenoid on the frame and at the starter. It worked okay until changing the alternator- a task I have to do often, used about eight since I bought the truck in 94. 93 F150, 4.9l. Not sure what to look for know!Mad

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator

Jan 27, 2008, 6:26 AM

Post #2 of 13 (1667 views)
Re: Alternator replaced, won't start [In reply to] Sign In

Valucraft / Alternator
Warranty - 1 YR 7744 Price: $84.99 Core: $25.00 Total: $109.99 Note: 75 Amp If the harness connector is burned, loose-fitting or the retaining clips are missing, purchase replacement plug. Remanufactured unit

That pic and the notation from AutoZone. I bet the plug harness is the real source of the troubles all along. That plug end is sold aftermarket with nice self soldering connectors (with heat source) and shrink wrap to cover the splice.

What probably has happened is the battery(ies) over the years have taken a hit from discharging and charging too much which is very hard on them. I recall once that warranty was void if you didn't replace that plug!

Long retired now


Jan 27, 2008, 7:40 AM

Post #3 of 13 (1666 views)
Re: Alternator replaced, won't start [In reply to] Sign In

I believe you refer to the wire harness connecting to the alternator; it has been replaced twice that I know of. I could get another and see what happens.

I'm stumped-- the truck ran okay until Thursday evening, and even just before replacing the alternator the battery was strong enough to turn the starter some, not fully. I tried charging the battery and also jumping from another vehicle.

A wire harness connection will be cheaper than a starter! Joel Pirate

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator

Jan 27, 2008, 8:03 AM

Post #4 of 13 (1664 views)
Re: Alternator replaced, won't start [In reply to] Sign In

Ok: The plug alone may not be and probably is NOT the reason for not starting now. It probably left a path of destruction in the past and you MAY need a new starter now. What caught my eye is that you have replaced the alt eight times!

Know that an alternator and battery are like partners. They both need to be properly working together and either can take the other out or be hard on it. A weaker battery is plain hard on electric motors such as a starter which will suffer if asked to work with low amps all the time.

I just thought what started the whole problem perhaps a while ago was the plug to alternator which is a fairly common problem spot.

Now, with a known good power source (while being jumped with donor vehicle or fully tested known good battery) you can test out what the problem at hand is now. It could need the starter as you thought. I'm not sure what you meant by sparked with the first post??

Long retired now


Jan 27, 2008, 10:07 AM

Post #5 of 13 (1662 views)
Re: Alternator replaced, won't start [In reply to] Sign In

What I meant by sparked when crossing the terminals with a metal blade a few sparks were evidend; at least there was some juice. I got a new starter to put on, when I can locate my jack and stands!
Appreciate your responses. Joel


Jan 27, 2008, 11:45 AM

Post #6 of 13 (1661 views)
Re: Alternator replaced, won't start [In reply to] Sign In

Well, I got very cold and quite greasy while replacing the starter and the same situation exists. Turn the key and nothing. I walked to Advance Auto and was told they don't have the wire harness required for the alternator. If it not the plugs into the alternator, and if the battery is indeed charged I'm stuck two ways. No idea what the problem is, and no way to get to places I need to be such as work.

I thought it might even be the neutral safety switch, tried in neutral and park both.

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator

Jan 27, 2008, 12:52 PM

Post #7 of 13 (1659 views)
Re: Alternator replaced, won't start [In reply to] Sign In

Slow down a bit here. I'm sorry you replaced the starter without knowing better whether it was THE problem right now or not.

You trust the battery and I'll take your word for it. Now, clean up both battery cables at the battery, the pos end that goes to the solonoid and the neg eng that goes to the block. Also the pos that goes from solonoid to the starter which you were just at and that should be ok - right? Rule that out - it's just labor most of the time and no parts needed. If that doesn't make it work when you jump the solonoid than I'm going to blame the solonoid. I really don't find many of those bad but who knows. If you have good (most are junk) jumper cables just go from the battery right to the cable that goes to the starter and it would crank if you get a good connection.

The neutral safety switch is being bypassed when you jump 12v at the solonoid so for now that shouldn't be the issue. Don't just try that with a "blade" but get real alligator clip test wires. That and next time you are out get a test light and check out a multimeter (some around $10) as you should have them and already would have saved you some bucks.

Question: Exactly what happens when you try to start it by key. What lights do you see, with door open does interior light go out or dim hard, any noise at all? If you have a helper the little wire at the solonoid should light up when someone turns key to "start" - do that with it unplugged or it might just start and surprise you. Is that connection any good? It's just a push on - right? Those you can just squeeze a bit with pliers for a better connection if that happens to be the trouble.

I'm watching this hard so tell me anything that can help me help you. I'm trying and I hate seeing you tossing parts at it when this shouldn't be all that hard to pin point and you may be able to fake it just to get to work if you have some good jumpers,

Long retired now


Jan 27, 2008, 1:53 PM

Post #8 of 13 (1657 views)
Re: Alternator replaced, won't start [In reply to] Sign In

I open the driver's door and the buzzer sounds, the horn and lights work.

When turning the key to the run position the heater fan will work, the radio will play. The check engine light shows, the battery light shows. ( the check engine light shows up quite often ; the code I get is either a spurious signal or the transmission kickdown).

With the key turned to start the ABS light appears as does the seat belt light and the brake light. But there is no clicking as I would expect.

I see no wires loose. Jumping from the battery to the solenoid did nothing.

If wires got broken or loose in the alternator connections when changing them I could understand. Advance Auto didn't have them.

I did use a multimeter to check the solenoid on the frame- get a reading when going to ground. That is basically a switch correct? When the key is turned to start, current flows to make both terminals positive until the motor engages.

I'd make sure the battery is fully charged, bit I'm getting weary of taking it off the truck and putting it back- all my extension cords are in a storage shed about eleven miles away. Put there so I had room in my truck for hunting equipment!

There is another problem with the engine, but unrelated (I think). I have a water leak which I think is a bad head gasket. I see no antifreeze around the vehicle but need to add fluid very often- but that too is sporadic. Sometimes I add every day, and then it may be a few days in between. I guess if I has 222,000+ miles on me I'd have a few problems also.


Jan 27, 2008, 2:53 PM

Post #9 of 13 (1654 views)
Re: Alternator replaced, won't start [In reply to] Sign In

I just checked two connections I thought might be fuseable links, right next to the battery and solenoid. They were just connections, no replaceable links. I cleaned the battery again. I checked all fuses in inside and outside fuse panels, all seem okay. There are some relays in the one fuse panel I have no idea how to check if that is possible.

With my multimeter, I checked between the terminals on the solenoid/relay on the frame next to the battery. This is between the battery and starter. From the battery side terminal to ground there is some current, between the terminals there is current. and from the starter side to ground none-- this was all checked with key out of ignition.

I am of the opinion the alternator connections are to blame -not sure exactly why but they are the only things moved when removing the alternator. I of course removed the battery and fan belt first.

Neither Advance Auto or Auto Zone has these connections available. I received - and installed- a replacement connection the other year when exchanging alternators at Advance Auto.

I'd also like to know why so many alternators, could the fan belt be too tight and pulling against the shaft? I can depress the belt about 1/2".

I guess better look for another vehicle -- also need new rotors and brake pads i a few weeks!

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator

Jan 27, 2008, 3:30 PM

Post #10 of 13 (1654 views)
Re: Alternator replaced, won't start [In reply to] Sign In

I did use a multimeter to check the solenoid on the frame- get a reading when going to ground. That is basically a switch correct? When the key is turned to start, current flows to make both terminals positive until the motor engages.

Ok: The solonoid is a switch. It uses the smaller wire to trigger a plunger against a spring which makes a strong connection to the output large gauge wire which goes right to the starter. Again..... Bat pos cable to solonoid (stops current there) output is also a large wire should be doing nothing until the little wire get power then the battery is essentially hooked up right to the starter while key is held in start position.

Various dash lights are lit for bulb check mode and should go out when engine starts but if one dims or goes out completely a heavy gauge cable is trying to make the starter work thru a hair of a connection and can't do it. That can happen even when they all look good. Watching that with a test light can pin where it screws up.

More: With a multimeter set to 12 volts --- perhaps 0-50 range or whatever yours does it should read 12v at the battery or a smide over like 12.2. When starter is engaged you don't want to see it drop more than a couple volts. Low amperage available will drop the voltage below 9v or so and the solonoid would flutter like a machine gun - you've heard that before I'm sure. That helps to save the starter motor as the low voltage heats it up without turning the engine and that's not good for motors in general.

If when you have the key in start mode you should see voltage all the way to the starter itself. If that heavy gauge wire and the stud it attaches to is lit then the starter should make some noise - perhaps just a single click. If it all lights up and still nothing happens the starter is suspect but the second one now is VERY unlikely. Starter must ground and does by attaching it to the engine. It's highly unlikely that you just had it off and back on and that is the problem. If suspect use the test light with power to the pig tail and it will light up when it hits ground.

NOTE: Grounds are equally as important as the power to an item. You can tell the amp drain with putting on the headlights too. I don't want you to kill this battery as you said you can't do much if it's dead or low right now. With key in "start mode".... If lights dim the juice is going somewhere. If they go out it disconnected somewhere. If they just stay exactly as bright and no extra voltage drop is noticed the 12v power isn't getting to the starter or thru it. That's about all I can say??

Know that: The starter is the way out front #1 draw on battery power. Lights and things use far less.

Damn - I hope I haven't missed something here! There's a "sticky" post in electricl problems that says "IF MY CAR DOESN'T START" or something with list of checks if you click on it that I'd put here right now but I can't as doing that erases this already long post I just wrote.

Check away - let me know if I'm screwing you up and don't be afraid to just start a new thread on this as when they get long others may skip reading where it's at right now.

The alternator wiring is not the immediate problem. It would crank as long as the power properly gets to the starter and the whole rest of the engine could be missing!

Good luck. I may be off line for several hours but be back later,

Long retired now

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator

Jan 27, 2008, 3:37 PM

Post #11 of 13 (1653 views)
Re: Alternator replaced, won't start [In reply to] Sign In

I took so long with the post that I didn't see your second one. It should say it all. You can wiggle and check the alt plug connections. You can make your own plug as a temp if you had all the stuff but sure you don't. I really don't think that's the cause at the moment. Belt tension can be hard on any bearing. Generally I will tighten adjustable ones such that you can't turn the alternator cooling fins by hand. Deflection is tricky as it depends on the length of the span you check. That's not the problem right now,

Long retired now

(This post was edited by Tom Greenleaf on Jan 27, 2008, 3:39 PM)


Jan 28, 2008, 7:34 PM

Post #12 of 13 (1644 views)
Re: Alternator replaced, won't start [In reply to] Sign In

Might just be the battery after all! I thought of the battery but kind of discarded it as the culprit since it showed power everywhere but starting. Some people at work who do work on cars suggested the battery. It makes sense.

So I came home with my borrowed cart, jumped the batteries and my truck started, it showed fully charging. I let it run a while, then took the battery out and went to Advance Auto to get it checked. It showed "good battery" fully charged. Great! Came home and reinstalled it- nothing! So, either the battery is intermittently bad, there is a bad connection at the battery, or the gremlins are overworking themselves.

By the way, my expenses for the starter and alternator were minimal. The alternator was under warranty so it was replaced free, The starter was $109.99 plus 40.00 core charge, with tax $158.99/ I took the old started back and received credit for $42.40/ That left $116,59. I just received a type of bonus from the employer for $109.00 so I am only out $7.59 my pocket money---so far.

It may be a bad connection, or the battery is just low enough to keep from starting. Aggravation time!

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator

Jan 29, 2008, 3:14 AM

Post #13 of 13 (1638 views)
Re: Alternator replaced, won't start [In reply to] Sign In

Long read already!

Battery: A known good battery is obviously primal or all other observations get flawed. If over 3 years old just toss it! I don't give much stock in testing them except for how they actually behave in the vehicle. You can just watch voltage drop and guess at the "staying" power of them.

They absolutely can be intermittent. The plates must be close but never touch AND be emersed in electrolite unseen in many now. As they charge and discharge they flake like dandruff and the pile accumulates at the bottom and when that pile of junk touches the bottom of the plates the battery can dead short right that second or just take out a cell.

In dinosaur days you could remove the top of a battery, dump out the junk, replace just one cell if needed and refill with new acid/electrolite and be on your way. Hitting bumps in the road, just plain mishandling a battery can destroy them. Don't - but just turn a good one upside down and see what happens!

Gel Cell batteries take a lot of the trauma headaches out of the traditional battery problems and they cost more to be made that way,

Long retired now

Alternator replaced, won't start

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