2004 3.9L V6 Mustang will not start - Mustang Evolution

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Old 03-02-2013, 09:24 PM   #1
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2004 3.9L V6 Mustang will not start

I'm having a problem with my 2004 3.9L V6 Mustang. It will not start. I don't think it's the battery, because for a second after you turn the key, it'll try to start, but then it stops and there's a rapid clicking and if you hold the key long enough, the alarm will go off (despite it not even being armed). When you let off the key, all the electrics work fine (lights, headlights, A/C, etc) and at full power. For the weeks leading up to this, I was hearing a loud intermittent squeaking coming from the belt area. At first I thought it was the belt, but I now know it wasn't the belt itself because it looks almost brand new. I thought it was possibly the pulleys that needed to be lubricated, so I did that. In hindsight, now that I think about it, it could have been a bearing that was going. If I had to make a guess, I'd say it's either the starter or the alternator. However, I don't know a heck of a lot about cars, so I'm looking for some help. Any insight would be appreciated. Jason
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Old 03-03-2013, 09:37 AM   #2
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i'm gonna say starter is where i'd look first...take a broom handle or something like that and tap the starter with a hammer using it. see if it's just binding...if that's the case time to swap it out
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Old 03-03-2013, 09:43 AM   #3
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Yea I would definitely check the starter before taring Down anything else
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Old 03-03-2013, 09:50 AM   #4
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i'm gonna say starter is where i'd look first...take a broom handle or something like that and tap the starter with a hammer using it. see if it's just binding...if that's the case time to swap it out
sounds just like a starter problem. just need to free up a stuck solenoid. if not get back to us!
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Old 03-03-2013, 06:38 PM   #5
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Like I said, I don't know a heck of a lot about cars. Normally, I'd just take my car to the garage, but since it won't start, I can't. Where would the starter be located at on this engine?
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Old 03-03-2013, 06:57 PM   #6
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On the bottom of the engine near the oil pan
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Old 03-03-2013, 07:11 PM   #7
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Ugh, wonderful. Can it be reached without a floor jack? I haven't bought one yet. I'd been putting it off till I got my social security disability payment for this month. Ironically enough, it was one of the things I was going out for when I discovered my car wouldn't start.
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Old 03-03-2013, 07:13 PM   #8
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Nope.. You have to jack your car up in order to get to it... Unless your a stick then maybe but itd be safer with a floor jack and floor stands,..
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Old 03-03-2013, 07:16 PM   #9
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Well I have the stands, just not the floor jack. I got an Autozone within about 1/2 mile of my apartment. Maybe I can walk to it and buy it there.
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Old 03-03-2013, 07:31 PM   #10
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Old 03-04-2013, 08:42 AM   #11
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Ok, I have some more observations. Hopefully this will narrow it down. Part of me says the battery is bad. When I turn the key to the on position, all the doors will lock. The check engine light and the battery light remain on (not sure if they are supposed to or not). With everything off and the ignition in the on position, the Voltage Meter isn't in the red, but it's pretty low. It's normally halfway between L and H, but it's not even halfway to it's normal level of the midpoint between L and H. When you turn the A/C on full blast, the voltage drops into the red zone. When you turn it off, the voltage returns to where it was with no accessories on. I don't know if that means the battery is bad, or the alternator isn't charging it. I don't want to put a new battery on just to have it drained again. Oh, and that rapid clicking that follows the short attempted turnover of the engine will not stop until you release the key from the "Start" position.
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Old 03-04-2013, 10:47 AM   #12
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I'm still leaning towards the starter

I would grab a friend have them try and start it while you tap on it with a hammer and get back to us.
The battery will get drained quickly if you are constantly trying to start it with out it turning over...
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Old 03-04-2013, 11:27 AM   #13
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Well, I'm going to attempt a jump with one of my neighbors later this afternoon. If it's the starter, it shouldn't start at all. But if it's the battery, it'll start. The clicking sounds don't sound like they are coming from the area where the starter is located. It sounds more in the area of the alternator. It's just me right now, so I couldn't get a really good listen. And I wasn't starting it a bunch of times. I tried it a few times on Saturday night, then let it be and made my OP. Let it sit all day/night Sunday and just tried it a few times before. One other thing to note. I live in FL and it was pretty cold this past weekend (for FL, anyways). It was below freezing both these past overnight hours. It may have been the last straw for the battery if it was already weak.
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Old 03-04-2013, 01:41 PM   #14
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The clicking noise you hear is coming from your solenoid. It clicks when it is not getting enough power to fully engage. I would start by having a buddy jump start your car. Take it to a local auto parts store. (With your buddy following, you may need a jump again) most APS will test your batterie and alternator for free. If they turn out to be ok then more than likely its your starter. Judging by you comets about the squeaky belt. My best guess is your alternator is bad, it's not charging your battery enough to start. Also if you have a dead battery and it gets below freezing you can freeze your battery. Look to se if one of the sides of it is bulging out or out of square. You may have to replace both. Good luck and keep us posted.
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Old 03-04-2013, 01:53 PM   #15
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Luckily thats easy..i changed out both my alternator and battery at advance in the parking lot last may.
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Old 03-04-2013, 02:50 PM   #16
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The clicking noise you hear is coming from your solenoid. It clicks when it is not getting enough power to fully engage. I would start by having a buddy jump start your car. Take it to a local auto parts store. (With your buddy following, you may need a jump again) most APS will test your batterie and alternator for free. If they turn out to be ok then more than likely its your starter. Judging by you comets about the squeaky belt. My best guess is your alternator is bad, it's not charging your battery enough to start. Also if you have a dead battery and it gets below freezing you can freeze your battery. Look to se if one of the sides of it is bulging out or out of square. You may have to replace both. Good luck and keep us posted.
I'll take a look, but I have an Optima battery. It's case isn't rectangular, so it may be a bit hard to see a bulge.
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Old 03-04-2013, 03:20 PM   #17
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you won't have that issue then in an optima..those coiled cells wont bulge like a standard flood cell battery
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Old 03-04-2013, 04:19 PM   #18
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Last summer in my grandpas f150 with a 302 in it the battery would constantly die and we would have to jump it in order for it to start and so me and my uncle were going somewhere and of course he shuts it off and we didnt have another person to back it up so my dad came with his f250 and was going to jump it well he hooked it up and i tried to turn it over and it wouldnt turn over so my dad got under the truck with a hammer and was pounding on the starter and it turned over... It was the starter that was bad...
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Old 03-04-2013, 04:44 PM   #19
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Luckily thats easy..i changed out both my alternator and battery at advance in the parking lot last may.
Yeah alternator was cake. Longest part of the install was waiting in line at the auto parts store ha. I probably didnt even need to do the battery but oh well she fires right up now.
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Old 03-04-2013, 06:11 PM   #20
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Mine made a rapid clicking noise when the battery was almost dead.
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Old 03-04-2013, 06:54 PM   #21
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Ok, here's an update. I got a neighbor to give me a jump and it worked. I went to Advance Auto Parts. I removed my alternator in the parking lot and the battery and they tested both of them. The alternator passed but the employee said he was still suspicious of it. He said the battery only pulled 500 CCA when it's rated for 660 CCA, but that could be because it wasn't fully charged. He seems to think the alternator is only charging the battery when idling. I'm assuming this rules out the starter since it, you know, started.
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Old 03-04-2013, 11:04 PM   #22
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the testers we use now at Advance are pretty accurate...if he suspected a ripple he should have done a hand held test after you reinstalled the alternator and battery. at least thats how i have my staff do it. In fact the hand held would of also tested the starter so i don't know why he didn't lol.

as for the starter...still could be the starter if it's just a solenoid issue. as long as the bendix is free it's still up in the air :/ you could always bite the bullet and replace the alternator...your old one is up in years anyways so it couldn't hurt
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Old 03-05-2013, 05:35 AM   #23
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Yeah, I'm going to replace the alternator because I'm pretty sure the bearings are going on it. We traced the squeaking noise to the alternator. If I remember right, the Optima battery I bought was supposed to last 6 years, so I don't think it would be bad yet. In the meantime, when I stop someplace, I'm just going to wait 5 minutes in the car before turning it off to give the alternator time to charge the battery in idle.
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Old 03-05-2013, 05:46 AM   #24
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the testers we use now at Advance are pretty accurate...if he suspected a ripple he should have done a hand held test after you reinstalled the alternator and battery. at least thats how i have my staff do it. In fact the hand held would of also tested the starter so i don't know why he didn't lol.

as for the starter...still could be the starter if it's just a solenoid issue. as long as the bendix is free it's still up in the air :/ you could always bite the bullet and replace the alternator...your old one is up in years anyways so it couldn't hurt
He did a handheld test first, which is why he wanted me to pull the alternator off and test it on the machine (which it passed). That's why he had a suspicion of it only charging at idle. Out of curiosity, WHY do you think it still could be the starter. It started up with no problem after a jump and the test confirmed the battery was drained (either from the alternator not charging properly or the battery going bad. Granted, I don't know a hell of a lot about cars, but that would seem to eliminate the starter as the issue.
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Old 03-05-2013, 07:42 AM   #25
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There are cases where if the bearings are bad in your starter it will require more amps to start your car. This will cause your battery to drain rapidly and thus your alternator might not fully charge your battery before you kill the engine.

Was the sound you heard squeaking or squealing ?

Squealing may have meant a belt. Even though they look fine sometimes they are not. You might
not see the bad part.

Squeaking would mean you might have a bad bearing in the alternator.

Seems to me that if you are not charging at cruising speed, and are at idle, that the belt is slipping. Might be slipping on just the alternator meaning obviously, bad alternator. May be slipping everywhere. Are you having any other issues. Power steering, loss of HP. Higher engine temp, AC not working as well.
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Old 03-05-2013, 08:00 AM   #26
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At first it was an intermittent squealing, but like I said, the belt looks to be in good condition (no cracking or splitting that I can see). Now it's a constant, repeating squeaking that is coming from the alternator, which is why I was going to look for a replacement alternator regardless, since It's getting to the end of it's operational life anyways. Does Advance Auto Parts or Autozone have a way to test the starter while it's still on the car?
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Old 03-05-2013, 08:21 AM   #27
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Yes...that handheld testing unit can. Im leaning more alternator now...but cant rule starter out till alternator is swapped.
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Old 03-05-2013, 08:24 AM   #28
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At first it was an intermittent squealing, but like I said, the belt looks to be in good condition (no cracking or splitting that I can see). Now it's a constant, repeating squeaking that is coming from the alternator, which is why I was going to look for a replacement alternator regardless, since It's getting to the end of it's operational life anyways. Does Advance Auto Parts or Autozone have a way to test the starter while it's still on the car?
Hello,
I'm not certain if Advanced or Auto Zone can do a test on the starter while in the vehicle or not. As for your battery, due to its age I agree that it should still be good; it's probably just low from you trying to start as well as from running the ax and other accessories, as they require alot of power and if you have been trying to start the car multiple times and had the ac and fan on and such. The check engine light and other war I g lights coming on and staying on while the key is turned is normal. Due to its age, as well as the info from advanced tests, I would still switch out your alternator; my guess there is that it's only part of your problem though. Your bearings are probably starting to go, but the charging only while idling issue leads me to believe that you have belt slippage on the alt, if not other aces as well. Just cause you don't see any cracks doesn't mean the belt isn't bad. Does the flat side of the belt seem kind of shiny? If so, that's another indication that its time to switch it out. Either way, if I were goi g to replace my alternator I would put on a new belt at the same time. How old (approximately) is the belt/about how many miles have you put on the car since it was replaced last? Also, I would make certain to have the starter properly tested, even if you replace the alternator and belt, as you may still have an issue there with the solenoid, which, actually, from reading everything you have posted, I believe you do; though, of course, I could definitely be wrong. Let me know how it turns out for you please. Best of luck!
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Old 03-05-2013, 08:24 AM   #29
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I am leaning alternator as well. Belts are cheep throw one on too and keep the old for a spare.
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Old 03-05-2013, 08:50 AM   #30
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The belt hasn't been changed since I bought the car in July 2008. For all I know it's the original belt from when it was new. When I bought the car it had 51,000 miles on it and right now it's got just under 80,000. It is a little shiny on the top, but the printed markings on it are still perfectly visible. Since the belt is cheap I'll replace it too. I need to wait to do it until I have someone else with me, because I can't pull the tensioner up and replace the belt by myself. The AAP employee helped me yesterday by pulling up on the tensioner while I replaced the belt. I REALLY don't want to replace the starter unless I absolutely HAVE to, just because of it's location. Would a auto repair garage be able to test it while on the vehicle? Also, would a failing starter throw out any error codes on the ECM computer? I have an electronic code reader and it's wasn't throwing any codes out even when the car wouldn't start.

---------- Post added at 09:50 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:46 AM ----------

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Hello,
I'm not certain if Advanced or Auto Zone can do a test on the starter while in the vehicle or not. As for your battery, due to its age I agree that it should still be good; it's probably just low from you trying to start as well as from running the ax and other accessories, as they require alot of power and if you have been trying to start the car multiple times and had the ac and fan on and such. The check engine light and other war I g lights coming on and staying on while the key is turned is normal. Due to its age, as well as the info from advanced tests, I would still switch out your alternator; my guess there is that it's only part of your problem though. Your bearings are probably starting to go, but the charging only while idling issue leads me to believe that you have belt slippage on the alt, if not other aces as well. Just cause you don't see any cracks doesn't mean the belt isn't bad. Does the flat side of the belt seem kind of shiny? If so, that's another indication that its time to switch it out. Either way, if I were goi g to replace my alternator I would put on a new belt at the same time. How old (approximately) is the belt/about how many miles have you put on the car since it was replaced last? Also, I would make certain to have the starter properly tested, even if you replace the alternator and belt, as you may still have an issue there with the solenoid, which, actually, from reading everything you have posted, I believe you do; though, of course, I could definitely be wrong. Let me know how it turns out for you please. Best of luck!
If the bearings on the alternator were bad, could the intermittent squealing be the bearings on the alternator intermittently seizing and causing the belt to slide over the pulley until it frees itself? Also, is it possible to only replace the bearing on the alternator? And would doing that require a shop press to insert the bearing? When I had the alternator off, I spun the pulley to see if it moved freely. While it did spin freely, you could hear it contacting something inside. When under the tension of the drive belt, the contact could be exacerbated.
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Old 03-05-2013, 08:56 AM   #31
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An auto garage should be able to test the starter for you. I wouldn't replace it unless I was certain it was bad but, as I said before, you may have a solenoid issue there, so I would at least have it checked if I were you. If your belts that old I would definitely replace it; there pretty cheap anyways. Like Skulls98GT said, you can always keep the old one in your trunk or something as an emergency spare. As far as any error codes, I have not personally ever ran into that with something like this, but I can see how the charging problem could cause some codes to pop up. You can have that tested at Advanced or a similar auto parts store for free, and they can tell you which codes are coming up as well as what they mean.
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Old 03-05-2013, 09:05 AM   #32
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Yes, if your alternators bearings are going bad and intermittently seizing, it could cause the belt to move, and probably break some of the ribbing on the belt to break or crack as well, especially with its age. I'm really not certain about replacing the alt bearings...anyways, if your bearings are going bad and the alt is old, as you have said, it's probably not going to be long until other internal parts, such as the brushes, go as well. I'd just replace the whole thing if I were you. That way you know you'll not have any other issues with it in the near future. And anyways, it'd probably be more hassle than its worth to repl the bearings, and if I were to do it I would certainly rebuild the whole thing.
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Old 07-23-2013, 10:33 AM   #33
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I think I discovered the main problem after all this time. The battery will not hold a charge for a long amount of time. I've had to jump it with my portable jump pack several times. If the car sits for more than 4 days, it will need to be jumped. But once I jump it, I can run around and do my errands that need to be done without a problem. But the alternator will need to be replaced eventually anyways. The bearings are going in it.
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Old 07-23-2013, 05:49 PM   #34
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I think I discovered the main problem after all this time. The battery will not hold a charge for a long amount of time. I've had to jump it with my portable jump pack several times. If the car sits for more than 4 days, it will need to be jumped. But once I jump it, I can run around and do my errands that need to be done without a problem. But the alternator will need to be replaced eventually anyways. The bearings are going in it.
My battery has the same problem. It sucks. I need to replace it ASAP. Glad to hear you got the problem under control though!
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Old 07-23-2013, 07:31 PM   #35
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Yeah, it kind of pissed me off because I spent a lot to get a high quality battery. It's an Optima red top battery. It's supposed to last longer, but it hasn't lasted any longer than my other batteries I've bought.
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