- Do It Yourself Auto Repair
DIY Starter Motor Repair Video Ford 7.3L Diesel Truck
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I provide you with a simple diagnosis/checklist as to whether it is indeed the starter on your truck that has stopped working.
2000 Ford F-350 Diesel Truck
Before you can diagnosis that the starter is indeed bad and in need of replacement, you must follow a checklist to make sure that the truck is getting everything that it needs and that all other systems are working correctly.
The simplest of all, check the fuses behind the plastic compartment at your left leg. Two screws at the top and two at the bottom will let this plastic piece fall to the floorboard. A standard flat head screwdriver will loosen them. Do not over-tighten because they are plastic.
Batteries. Plural. Because this truck takes two of them. It requires a high amount of amperage to turn such a big motor from a dead stop. Especially during the cold of winter.
This is a very good place to start in your diagnosis. Make sure that the battery are in good condition. You can check this with a voltmeter at the battery itself, or look at the bottom left-hand corner of your gauges mounted in your dash to see what the voltage is. You should have close to 15 volts of electricity. To test with a voltmeter, disconnect each battery out of the line by taking off the negative and positive cables. You must check the batteries independently to get a true reading. If a battery is low on volts or amperage, ask yourself why? Was a light or other device left on during the night before and drained them? Are your batteries becoming old and dated (as mine were) and will no longer hold the charge supplied to them by the alternator? If yes, then replace the battery (as I had to). If it is simply drained down, hook it to a battery charger and charge it until it is at a 100% capacity. This could take between 20 mins to several hours depending on the percentage that they are already at.
Again. Plural. Cables.
Check for cuts or cracking in the insulate of the cable that could otherwise lead to a premature grounding of the entire electrical system before the amperage has time to make it down to the starter. At any point that the cable touches something else, vibrations could occur and rub holes in the insulate. This could be a simple fix with some electrical, but if it is extensive then just replace the cable with a new one. Also inspect the cable that runs down into the starter, and that all nuts and bolts are fastened with the correct torque and are tight.
You should have 4 of these. Two neutral. Two positive.
To go along with the cables, make sure that all the terminals have the correct torque and are fastened securely to the top post of the battery. Check to see that the cables are fastened correctly to the terminal itself, and that there is ABSOLUTELY NO LOOSENESS. If multiple wires will not fit under one connection correctly, buy a Universal Terminal that I have given an example of so that they WILL! This is a very important step! Everything should be a solid, true connection, with no exceptions, to give the starter BOTH batteries worth of amperage to turn the starter, and thus the truck motor. A loose connection will make a night and day difference in the way that the truck will start.
I would also remove the terminals from their post and clean them with a battery post tool, and if you have a lot of acid build-up, spray the entire thing with baking soda and water mixed 50/50 before touching anything again.
This should be the last in the checklist. The key switch on the ignition is what tells everything to go. If this is still working as you have the vehicle in park, your foot on the brake, as you turn the switch, you should still hear the solenoid as it pops, trying to engage the starter by supplying power to it. If you hear this sound, your key switch and solenoid are still in good working order. If not, I would replace the switch first, although that should be a rarity.
You can replace just the solenoid, although I would advise that if your solenoid failed before the starter itself, your starter will soon be RIGHT behind it very soon. The new starters come with new solenoids attached to them, so if it was me who was under the truck working on it, I would just replace the entire assembly, personally.
If you checked your batteries, all connections and calbes, terminals and the key switch, all signs point to having a bad starter. These things happen, so it's okay. They give absolutely no warning when they will fail, much like a battery does. It just simply stops working and leaves you sitting. I got EXTREMELY lucky with mine and it left me in the driveway of my home instead of a parking lot or in the middle of nowhere.
The brushes give out, and semi-fuse together, and the entire thing locks up. Have no fear, it is a easy fix, although it will probably require you to get quite dirty. You have to pay a core charge if you buy one from your neighborhood auto-parts store, because they like to get them back to rebuild them.