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Old 01-26-2013, 09:01 PM   #1
rivetc78
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Default Cold Weather Starting Issue

Hello everyone, well, with the cold weather upon us in Canada a weird condition has started occuring with my 2008 Ford Ranger XL 2.3 5spd.

At temperatures just below freezing, there is a slight 1 second delay between turning the key to start position and the starter rotating.

As the weather gets colder, instead of the delay, there is a loud click that happens 3 times, the dash lights flash and then the starter starts turning.

So far it's started every time but I'm worried the problem is going to get worst. Once the starter starts turning, it turns at a good speed; it's just that weird hesitation on cold days and the clicking on really cold days.

The truck has 55,000 miles on it and I still have the original battery and starter. I checked the battery connections and they were tight. When the weather is warm or the truck has warmed up to normal operating temperatures, the starter works perfect.

Any ideas?
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Old 01-26-2013, 09:05 PM   #2
kunar
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the battery is 5+ years old, i wouldnt be surprised if its on its way out. cold weather just makes it that much worse. ive never heard of the clicking/flashing stuff though.
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Old 01-27-2013, 11:46 AM   #3
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In older stuff, that could be either the solenoid or the starter drive. There is a mechanical action and stuff gets sticky in the cold. If it is the battery, it will get worse in a hurry.
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Old 01-27-2013, 02:10 PM   #4
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I would check or have the voltage checked on the battery, 12.5vDC and above is OK, below that means battery is on it's last legs.

When it is cold the chemical reaction that takes place in the battery that allows it to store and discharge power is slowed down, the colder the slower.
A battery that is older and already weaker will have an even slower reaction time.
When you turn the key to start position the power draw on the battery heats it slightly and chemical reaction will eventually provide enough power.

The click is the solenoid closing but there is not enough power to pass to the starter yet, multiple clicks is just the battery warming up.
A solenoid is a high amperage relay, you don't want to run 100+amps though the key switch, so the key in start position activates the solenoid to cause larger high amperage contacts to close and send battery power directly to the starter.

The lights should go off when key is in the start position, that is a function of ignition switch and relays.
Car/truck electrical systems disable accessory power when starter is engaged, this is done to provide all available battery power to the starter.
So the flickering lights would be a sign of the same lack of available power when starting in colder weather.

A load test on the battery would tell you more.
And as said above the hardware, i.e. starter, solenoid and cables can also create a resistance in the circuit in colder weather which could show the same symptoms.

But at 5 years old the battery would be my bet.

Last edited by RonD; 01-27-2013 at 02:17 PM.
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