Why Does My Ford Ranger Not Start (SOLUTIONS)

It can be very frustrating when your vehicle suddenly develops an intermittent starting problem that you can’t seem to solve. Or even worse, it fails to start unexpectedly without prior warning, leaving you stranded. An intermittent problem can be tricky to simulate so in that instance we need to go through the process of elimination to narrow it down. What are some of the common components that can cause your Ford Ranger to not start?

If your Ford Ranger fails to start it can be any of the below components:

  • Blown Fuse (Dead)
  • Bad Relay (No Audible clicks inside the cabin)
  • Bad Starter (No swing, No Click)
  • Dead Battery (1 click/rapid clicking/Dead)
  • Weak Earth Ground (Rapid Clicks)
  • Failed Solenoid (No clicks)
  • Bad Ignition Switch (1 click)
  • No Fuel Supply (Clicks & Turns but no Start)
  • Electrical Gremlin (Intermittent Starting/Stalling)
  • PCM (Power Control Module)
  • Crank Angle Sensor

So now we know which components can be the possible culprit, we need to narrow it down by doing a series of tests to determine what the possible cause is. Last thing you want to do is run out and buy a new starter only to find out later it was a simple Relay or blown fuse.

The rest of this article will cover what to inspect when there are no clicks, 1 click and rapid clicks since these all signify different faults and point to different components.

Why Does My Ford Ranger 3.2 Not Start?

If you have a 3.2 Ranger and it refuses to start, you need to read this section.

Owners have reported the vehicle starting without any problem, only to stall later when stopping at a traffic light. Sometimes refusing to restart.

Other symptoms reported are:

  • Erratic idle
  • Low on power
  • Stalling intermittently

If your vehicle is under warranty, the first thing to do is report it to your Ford dealership immediately before you troubleshoot anything.

So what could be possible causes of this erratic behavior?

We need to first understand how and what the engine needs to be able to start.

3 things are:

  1. Spark
  2. Fuel
  3. Air

So when your Ranger swings/cranks but refuses to start, it means 1 or more of the 3 requirements are not being met. On a diesel engine, you need compression, which ignites the fuel. No spark plugs. Common problems to look out for are ignition coils/switch, bad fuel supply or clogged filters.

If on the other hand the vehicle is completely dead when attempting to start you could have any of the following faulty or bad components:

  1. Bad Starter
  2. Low/Dead battery
  3. Broken connection between Battery and Starter

No lights on the dashboard when you turn the key is another dead giveaway that the battery is dead. In the instance where you have the engine swinging strongly at first, but slowly gets weaker and weaker with every swing until it just clicks, means any of the following components could be bad.

  1. Bad Starter
  2. Dead battery

If the starter lacks enough cranking power from the batter to turn the engine, it will fail to start. A faulty or worn starter will cause similar behavior. Obviously, poor connection or corrosion at the battery terminals or bad battery cables can also cause these symptoms

On the sophisticated 3.2 Diesel engines you will also want to check all electrical components and sensors like: 

  1. Crank position sensor.
  2. Electric Connector Plug Under the ECU

In the instance when you are driving and suddenly the engine stalls and all lights on the dash dies and suddenly light up again, and the vehicle drives as if nothing happened, you definitely have an electrical short or faulty connection somewhere. Contact your agent for a diagnostic test and limit your driving, since this is a serious safety risk.

In the meantime you can check all electrical connections and spray with a dielectric spray. Make sure to inspect the connector plug situated under the ECU in the engine compartment. If it’s not making proper contact, it will behave erratically like this.

Why Does My Ford Ranger Not Start (No Clicks)

If you have a weak battery, a dead giveaway is weak interior lights, no hooter and weak/dim headlights. You can also check the strength of your battery by switching on your windscreen wipers and electric windows. If they are lethargic, you have a weak battery.

If you manage to jumpstart the vehicle and it can idle, another component you can check is your alternator. The alternator should charge your battery when the engine is running, however if lights come on but slowly begin fading you have a faulty alternator. Your red battery signal will usually light up on the dashboard, signaling no or weak charge. If you give a few revs and the lights glow and dip with each rev, your charging system is not 100%. Check your alternator and battery life.

Why Does My Ford Ranger Not Start (Rapid Clicks)

When your starter emits rapid clicking when attempting to crank the engine it’s a sign the battery is low since it cannot hold the starter spindle long enough to crank the engine. It means the stored energy in the battery is too low and doesn’t have enough cranking power.  The clicking sound is caused by the solenoid and starter motor gear(s) continuously trying, and failing to make a connection with the corresponding gears on the engine.

Ford Ranger Not Starting intermittently (1 click)

Intermittent starting problems can be a real pain to resolve, especially on these high-tech diesel engines with all the electrical sensors, plugs and other components.

If you are experiencing a situation where your Ranger swings perfectly fine one time and then next time it does not even crank at all – completely dead, only a single click coming from the glove box area, this section is for you.

Let’s assume you have a new battery, ignition switch is 100%, you checked and sprayed all the electrical plugs with a dielectric spray and made sure all battery terminals are clean and corrosion free. Let’s also rule out the earth ground connection and for the sake of this argument assume that is secure.

In this instance it more that often turns out to be the starter motor that has given up the ghost or glow plugs are on the way out.

If your problem is intermittent but becoming progressively worse until it refuses to start, investigate the glow plugs and glow plug relay. 

  1. Glow Plugs
  2. Glow plugs relay
  3. Battery Earth connection

A good way to check is to do a quick DIY troubleshooting by running a wire from the positive battery terminal to the solenoid on the diesel pump on the engine side. This will bypass the relay and you’ll know who the culprit is.

Intermittent starting problems can also be caused by a bad earth connection to the engine. The engine and body is connected via a thick earth strap. If this strap works its way loose or becomes partially severed somehow, your starting will be intermittent.

A quick DIY test is to use a really thick cable like a jumper lead and earth the battery directly onto the engine block. If she starts fine, Hooray!!! You’ve found your culprit.

Know your Clicks

No Click1 ClickRapid Clicks
Blown FuseLow BatteryWeak Earth
Bad RelayIgnition Switch 
StarterClicks and swings but no start 
Battery  
Bad Solenoid  

Ford Ranger Automatic Transmission Won’t Start

If you own an automatic transmission Ford Ranger which occasionally refuses to start once you’ve parked and placed the shifter into P, you might want to investigate the column Shifter.

If the column shifter feels loos and sloppy with a lot of play, you need to read this section.

Fortunately this is a very easy fix and requires no high-tech or specialized tools. All you need is some thread locker and a size 30 torx screwdriver to solve this problem.

No Crank is a common issue with Ford Column shifters as they get loose and don’t go fully into Park

Resources

Auto No Start: https://youtu.be/LKqiDy_Po2M

Ignition Switch problem –  https://youtu.be/_8OXT8U1oXQ

Conclusion

With todays sophisticated fully electronic diesel engines there can be a whole variety of reasons why your Ford Ranger refuses to start. Usually, the 3 most common causes are a dead battery, an alternator problem, or bad starter. Other electrical gremlins will cause intermittent starting or stalling without warning. Ford Column shifters are a common problem on the pre-2013 model Rangers. If it’s an electrical gremlin you can’t self-diagnose, rather take it to your dealership to have a full diagnostic test done.

Some other things to check

  • Coded key
  • Perished diesel pipe resulting in a drop in diesel pump pressure…
  • Leaking filter housing.

Jade C.

4-Wheel drives and off-road driving techniques has been my passion for over 20 years. Here we strive to provide the most accurate, up-to-date, information about the functionality, common faults and latest technology built into most 4 Wheel Drives.

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