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Can someone please help me solve this car issue before I rip my hair out?

Happy hour starts in 5 minutes

Nobody

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Army


I have a 2003 Mercury Sable with a 24 valve DOHC engine. Last week, I started having some weird electrical issue, and since I know nothing about the electronics in cars, I had a guy come out and run a test on it.

After testing, he informed me the starter solenoid was shot and needed to be replaced, so I ordered one online.

This morning, I spent over 2 hours taking off the old one and putting on the new one, because on a Mercury, the solenoid is mounted on top of the starter :tantrum:

So I get it all apart, and put it all back together. All I had left to do was connect the battery. So I hook up the hot side, then the negative. When I went to connect the negative battery cable, it sparked and sounded like the starter motor was running full bore, so I immediately disconnected the battery.

For anyone who has changed a solenoid before, you know crossing the wires isn't possible, so that's not even an option. My question is, does anyone know what it could be?

Before someone insists on telling me it's crossed wires like they did on Yahoo, it's set up like this.....the solenoid has 3 terminals. One small, two large. The solenoid only fits in one way. When you put it in, there is a very short grounding wire from the starter to the large terminal on the solenoid. That is the only terminal that it can reach, so you can't get that one wrong. Then there is a small wire that goes to a small terminal, and a large cable that goes to the remaining large terminal. I just want to know how I possibly screwed this up.
 

Lanky Livingston

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Sounds like your doohickey is plugged into the thingamajig backwards (I don't know anything about cars).

EDIT: I will say, my (very basic) knowledge of electronics tells me you must have crossed wires.
 

Nobody

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Army

Sounds like your doohickey is plugged into the thingamajig backwards (I don't know anything about cars).

EDIT: I will say, my (very basic) knowledge of electronics tells me you must have crossed wires.
I hope you're being a smartass :beadyeyes:

I already explained why there is no way to cross the wires, it is absolutely not possible, even if you don't know what you're doing. To cross wires doing this job, you would have to splice wires, extend wires, shrink terminals and move terminals. It can't be done. Not one wire can possibly be out of place.
 

Lanky Livingston

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It can't be done. Not one wire can possibly be out of place.
Famous last words?

LOL - I suppose there's a chance the solenoid itself is bad. Very unusual, but it happens. I would just wait for Pete to chime in, he's the resident gear head.
 

Nobody

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Famous last words?

LOL - I suppose there's a chance the solenoid itself is bad. Very unusual, but it happens. I would just wait for Pete to chime in, he's the resident gear head.
I know people say it's not possible all the time, but in this case, it really isn't possible.

If you're looking at the solenoid head on, there are three terminals. There is a small (10mm) terminal on the top, and two larger (1/2 Inch) posts side by side on the bottom. There are also three wires. One is so small, you couldn't even force it on either of the two larger terminals, so it's obvious that one can only go on the small top terminal. That leaves two large terminals with two large wires. One wire is a large red wire that goes to the positive side of the battery. The other wire is mounted to the starter body itself. That wire is an unsheathed braided cable literally 3/4 of an inch long. Since the solenoid can only be mounted one way, and because of the setup it isn't possible to put it in upside down, that braided cable only reaches the large terminal on the right side. It isn't long enough to reach any of the other three terminals, so again it isn't possible to hook that to the wrong side either. That leaves one terminal and one wire, so by default that goes together since there are no options left.

The things is, I don't know if there's a short somewhere, or how to find it if there is.

I suppose the ignition wire can be making contact somewhere along the line with a battery cable, but I don't know if the ignition wire for the starter is what that small wire is, and whether it would be making contact with the red or black battery cable. That's if a cross contact in those wires is even the problem, which I don't know.

I just hate working on cars when it's something that involves electronics, it's the only part of a car I have no knowledge of, and it aggravates me to no end.
 

riggins44

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Let me check on this in the morning. For life of me can't remember the last time saw a defective starter solenoid on a Ford. Normally it is the starter.

What was the original problem?
 

Nobody

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The original problem was all sorts of crazy electrical things happening - lights flickering, car starting some days, not on other days, the radio going off at random. Then when I first tried to check out all the electrical stuff, I noticed the top wire on the solenoid was loose, and the terminal it was connected to was so loose it was about to fall out.
 

riggins44

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Loose wire on solenoid needed to be repaired. However, the solenoid and or starter wouldn't cause lights flickering and random radio. Not sure if lights and radio on same circuit or not with your car. If they are it could be a bad relay. If memory serves me correct there is a big combo relay box up near the radiator support.

Let me see what I can find out for you.
 

SkinnedAussie

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I would have replaced the whole starter/solenoid as a unit rather than swap out solenoids. With most starters, once the electrics have been disconnected, it's just three bolts out, take out starter, put in new starter, three bolts (plus earth strap) in and tensioned, reconnect electrics, job done.
 

Miles Monroe

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Loose wire on solenoid needed to be repaired. However, the solenoid and or starter wouldn't cause lights flickering and random radio. Not sure if lights and radio on same circuit or not with your car. If they are it could be a bad relay. If memory serves me correct there is a big combo relay box up near the radiator support.

Let me see what I can find out for you.
It sounds like the intermittent contact has caused a power spike damaging a body module.
 

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