Symptoms of a Bad Starter on a Ford Truck

by Allen Moore
itstillruns article image
Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

The Ford truck starter is a fairly durable part containing a motor and gear that engage the flywheel and turn the engine over on start up. While Ford starters are not commonly known to fail, it can happen. If you suspect the starter has failed, troubleshoot the problem before replacing it.


When the ignition key is turned to the start position and nothing occurs except a rather loud and heavy-sounding click noise, the starter may be seized up. In some cases, a few well-placed, but not overly heavy-handed, hammer blows to the starter body can free up a seized starter. While this tends to work more on AC Delco starters, it is worth trying on a Ford starter that has apparently seized. Have one person hammer on the starter body while another turns the key to start in order to free a seized starter motor. This is only a temporary stop gap, and the starter should be replaced as soon as possible.

Motor Without Engine

The gear in the nose of a starter is known as a bendix. The job of the bendix is to eject forward from the starter nose, engage the flywheel and translate the torque from the starter motor to the flywheel. Once the ignition key is turned back to run from the start position, the bendix retracts into the starter. In some cases, the bendix can fail to eject, which prevents the starter from engaging the flywheel. When the ignition key is turned, the starter can be heard, but the engine will not turn over. This will require replacement of the starter.

Grind Aftershock

In certain instances of starter failure, the bendix will fail to retract fully, and the tip will grind against the teeth on the flywheel for a few seconds as the engine runs. Usually, this results in the flywheel knocking the bendix back into the starter body. If a grinding noise is heard directly after start up, the bendix may not be retracting properly, and the starter will need to be replaced. In certain instances, the bendix will remain partially ejected, and the grinding noise will be continuous as long as the engine is running. Continuing to drive with this issue can lead to flywheel damage, which is far more costly than just replacing a starter.

Lock Up

In extreme cases, the bendix will fail to retract at all after start up. In these instances, as soon as the starter motor is turned off, the bendix will stop turning and lock the engine up, causing the truck to stall. This is definitely a situation where the starter should be replaced immediately.

More Articles

article divider