You twist the ignition key to start the engine of your Ford Ranger, and instead of a cranking starter, you hear a click or a series of clicks.
The engine that started every day for a long time doesn’t start today… just as you’ve got something important to do. That clicking noise could be caused by several things like a weak or dead battery, faulty starter solenoid, and alternator issues among other things.
If your Ford Ranger won’t start and just clicks, what is causing the problem? That’s exactly what this article is all about. Keep on reading to find out more!
Common Causes of Ford Ranger Not Starting, Just Clicks
If your Ford Ranger won’t start, just clicks, then here are the most common causes you should be aware of:
Weak or Dead Battery
If you’ve got a weak or dead battery, the clicking and the reason your engine isn’t starting can be traced to the battery. Nine out of 10, the battery is to blame. The starter motor of your Ford Ranger is getting no juice from a dead battery.
Your starter motor may crank slowly without the engine starting, which may also indicate that you have a faulty starter. Sometimes your Ford Ranger may start and then die immediately instead of idling. If this is the case, then the charge from the battery was just enough to turn on the engine. But it died shortly after, disrupting electrical signals sent to the ECM.
Corroded or Loose Battery Terminals
Heavily corroded terminals reduce the effectiveness of the electrical connection between battery posts and terminals. Corrosion could also attack wires that are insulated, reducing their current-carrying capacity. The same goes with loose battery terminals. Corroded or loose battery terminals are likely to prevent the starter motor from starting.
Faulty Starter Solenoid
One of the common signs that you’ve got a faulty starter solenoid is a clicking noise when you attempt to start your ford ranger. The click you hear is the plunger moving to the battery contacts.
The plunger is usually held into contact by a magnetic field, which will maintain its hold until the ignition switch is no longer in the start position. A stronger magnetic field is required to move the plunger to complete the circuit of the starter motor. The operation of the solenoid would be interrupted if the current flow is reduced.
A solitary click without the motor starting, therefore, may indicate that the starter solenoid is defective. Any loud grinding noise when you attempt to engage the starter motor, on the other hand, may indicate that your one-way clutch is defective.
A Bad Alternator
This is the part of your Ford Ranger that converts mechanical energy produced from driving your vehicle to electrical energy. This is the energy that is used to power electronics in your truck.
Unlike your house, your car uses direct current or DC. With direct current, the electrons only flow in one direction, which is the type of electricity you get from a vehicle battery. The alternator, therefore, converts alternating current or AC into DC. It does this through a rectifier.
The speed of your vehicle determines the alternator’s output voltage. When you start your ford ranger, the battery is supposed to deliver a large current to the starter motor. When the engine is operational, the alternator is supposed to charge the battery. This will ensure the battery has sufficient energy to start the engine the next time you insert the ignition key.
So, if you have a bad alternator or any other alternator issues that may prevent the battery from being charged, then you have either a weak or dead battery that will not be able to start the starter motor.
The negative terminal of your vehicle is connected to the chassis by the ground. It simply completes the circuit between the source of electricity and the truck’s electrical system. If the earth or ground is bad or weak, you are likely to experience a series of events.
A bad ground will most certainly lead to a dead battery, ignition coil failure, ECU malfunction, rough or no start, bad transmission cables, and a faulty fuel pump. A loose ground, for example, may result in alternator issues, leaving you with either a weak or dead battery that cannot start your engine.
Fuel Pump Failure
Your engine will not start if you have a failing fuel pump. This is so because the pump is responsible for delivering the ideal amount of fuel to the injection system.
Know Your Clicks
There’s usually an easier way to narrow down the problems your Ford Ranger is having when it fails to start but clicks.
You will not hear any click if you have a bad solenoid, bad battery, faulty starter, bad relay, or a blown fuse. But you will hear one click in the event of ignition switch problems and low battery, and rapid clicks if you’ve got a weak earth.
How to Inspect a Ford Ranger That Won’t Start, Just Clicks
If your Ford Ranger won’t start, just clicks, then inspect it to know what the problem is and find the appropriate solution.
First Things First!
A clicking sound of a short period when you start a cold engine of a Ford Ranger with hydraulic lifters is usually normal.
This is so because the oil in some of the lifters may leak while the vehicle is idle. Hydraulic lifters are normally held under pressure by the valves in the open position.
So, the time it takes to create the lifter oil pressure varies with oil viscosity and temperature. In this case, you will hear a distinct click that is usually caused by lash in the valvetrain.
You shouldn’t be worried about this as long as the click stops.
Deal With the Weak or Dead Battery
If it’s a series of clicks, the cause is normally bad connections or a weak battery. Unless the battery of your truck is completely dead, you should be able to jump-start the battery. You can do this with the help of another truck’s battery, provided that the truck’s electrical system uses the same voltage as yours.
The jump start process isn’t difficult. The most important thing is to have the appropriate jumper cables with you. Start by parking the support vehicle nose to nose with your Ford Ranger, approximately 18 inches apart. Make sure the support vehicle, as well as yours, are in Park and their emergency brakes are on, and their engines off.
The next important step is to locate the positive terminals on the support vehicle and your ford ranger. Clamp the red end of the jumper cable to the positive terminal of the dead battery and the other end of the red cable to the positive terminal of the functioning vehicle’s battery.
Connect one end of the black cable to the negative terminal of the functioning vehicle. Then connect the other end of the black cable to the ground of your ford ranger (which is usually an exposed nut).
Start the functioning vehicle and let it run for about two minutes while slightly revving the engine. Then try starting your ford ranger, which may take a couple of attempts. Once your truck is running, disconnect the cables in the reverse order you connected them and make sure the clumps don’t come into contact. Then drive your ford range to charge the battery to full capacity.
Take Care of the Cables
You might discard your battery, thinking that it is completely dead, but the problem may be the cables. Remove your battery cables from the battery posts, always starting with the ground.
Look for black or gray deposits around the battery posts and terminals. Deposits insulate the cables from the posts, blocking current flow and causing engine starting problems.
Use a wire brush tool to clean cables, terminals, and posts. Flex each cable back and forth over the entire length, looking for brittleness and cracks in the insulation. Make sure you replace cables that look damaged. At the grounded end of the ground cable, ensure the ground connection is tight and clean.
At the starter motor and/or starter relay, check to confirm that the cable connections are clean and tight. Then reconnect cables to your vehicle’s battery tightly, starting with the hot cable.
Also, know how to troubleshoot if a Jeep Wrangler won’t start but has power.
The Bottom Line
If your engine cranks slowly after the battery is charged or if the battery won’t charge enough, you will need a replacement.
If the clicking continues after the battery is charged, then the solenoid is bad and needs to be replaced. If the cables are clean and tight and the battery is fully charged but you still experience the same issues, the problem is probably a bad solenoid or starter.
You can determine which one is bad by bypassing the starter solenoid. You will know that the solenoid is bad if the starter works. If it doesn’t, then the starter is bad.