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A 2002 Ford Escape Won't Start

by Zyon Silket

If you get into your SUV and turn on the ignition but all you hear is a clicking sound, it is likely that your 2002 Ford Escape won't start until you complete troubleshooting on the ignition system. The ignition system is the most common ailment that causes a clicking sound when you turn on the key. The system comprises several components such as the battery, ignition switch, starter motor and starter solenoid. Once you determine which part of the ignition system failed, you can replace it and get your Ford Escape back onto the road.

Clean the Battery

Step 1

Remove the negative and positive battery cable connectors with an adjustable wrench.

Step 2

Clean each connector and each battery terminal with a 50/50 mix of water and baking soda and a toothbrush. This cleans the battery connectors and removes corrosion and battery acid buildup. A poor battery connection prevents power from reaching the starter motor. This could cause the solenoid to fail when trying to push the starter gear into the engine.

Step 3

Reconnect the battery cable connectors using the adjustable wrench.

Attempt to start the Ford Escape. If the Escape starts, the battery suffered from a poor battery connection. If the Escape does not start, move to inspecting for a defective battery.

Inspect for Defective Battery

Step 1

Place the red lead of your multimeter onto the positive battery terminal and place the black lead of the multimeter onto the negative battery terminal. The multimeter should indicate a reading of 12 volts or higher.

Step 2

Connect the battery to a battery charger if the multimeter indicated less than 12 volts. Charge the battery until the charger indicates the battery has a full charge.

Step 3

Check the battery voltage output with the mutlimeter to confirm the battery charged to no less than 12 volts.

Attempt to start the Ford Escape. If the vehicle starts, the battery charge was too low and charging it corrected the issue. If the Ford still fails to start, move to troubleshooting the ignition switch.

Troubleshooting the Ignition Switch

Step 1

Turn on the headlights.

Step 2

Turn off all other accessories like the radio, heat or air conditioning to minimize the draw on the battery.

Step 3

Turn the ignition key to the "on" position as you would when starting the Escape.

Watch the headlight. If the headlights do not dim when you turn on the ignition switch, the issue is a defective switch. If the headlights do dim, this indicates the ignition switch sent power to the starter solenoid. If so, move to troubleshooting the starter motor and starter solenoid.

Troubleshoot Starter Motor and Starter Solenoid

Step 1

Locate the starter motor under the engine on the driver's side. It is between the transmission housing and the transmission cross member. The starter solenoid bolts on top of the starter motor.

Step 2

Locate the two metal contacts on the back of the starter. The one on the left has a wire that extends upward into the engine bay. The right side has a small jumper wire that extends down to the starter motor.

Step 3

Place an insulated screwdriver over both of the contacts. This removes the starter solenoid from the ignition system by shorting it out. This gives the starter motor a direct connection to the ignition switch.

Tell the helper to turn the ignition key. If the starter motor makes a humming sound, the starter solenoid is defective. If the starter motor does not turn on or it sounds very choppy, the starter motor is defective.

Items you will need

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Water
  • Baking soda
  • Toothbrush
  • Multimeter
  • Battery charger (optional)
  • Screwdriver
  • Assistant/helper

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