You’ve been happily driving your sturdy Ford 150 until one day, it refuses to start, but the lights on the dashboard flash. You try many times to start your car but to no avail. What could be causing this to happen? To help you solve your problem, we've researched this issue to bring you the following answers.
There are several reasons your vehicle will not start but the lights on the dashboard flash, including:
- Low battery charge
- Faulty starter
- Damaged ignition
- Bad alternator
Read on to find out why you can’t start your car yet the lights on your dashboard are flashing. We'll also include steps you can take to fix these issues as well as the price range you may need to pay for repairs.
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Reasons Your Ford 150 Can’t Start But The Lights Flash
If you have driven for a while now, you must have noticed that your car experiences problems when you least expect it. These problems can be challenging, but by working through them you learn more about how your truck works and how to keep it running for years to come.
So, what could be wrong when your vehicle refuses to start, but you can see lights flashing on your dashboard? Below are the most common reasons:
Low Battery Charge
The battery in your car plays a vital role in starting the engine. It powers the starter and other electrical accessories such as the radio or air conditioner. The starter draws power from the battery so that it can start the engine.
When the battery is failing or does not have enough charge, the most you can do is turn the key in the ignition. Your car will refuse to start.
Your battery may not discharge enough power due to the reasons below:
- Leaving Headlights On
Have you ever forgotten to switch off the lights in your vehicle for a few hours or even overnight? This can drain the battery, making it impossible to start the truck again.
This problem is more typical with older models. Fortunately, newer models of the Ford 150 have a feature to switch the lights off automatically after a few minutes.
This feature is installed in most cars and trucks today. It allows you to set the number of minutes the headlights can stay on after parking before they automatically go off.
The solution to this problem is to jump-start the engine and to try and remember to switch off the headlights. But, if you still cannot remember, set the switch to automatic.
- Loose Or Rusted Connections
The terminals connected to the battery can loosen over time. As a result, there's interference with the transmission of electric power to the starter.
The buildup of rust on the terminals can also prevent the delivery of power from the battery to the rest of the vehicle, causing it not to start.
Car experts recommend inspecting the battery terminals for signs of rust whenever you cannot start your car. White or bluish powder around the positive and negative terminals is a sign of rust.
- Extreme Hot Or Cold Weather
Extreme weather can affect the function of your batteries. Newer batteries, though, can withstand these extremes. Older batteries are more likely to die due to either too much heat or freezing temperatures.
- Malfunctioned Alternator
The alternator helps your battery stay charged while your vehicle runs. Once damaged or faulty, it will not charge your battery as required, making it hard to start your car.
So, if you rule out the above two reasons, check the alternator. It could be causing the problem.
- Old Battery
Batteries, just like other parts of your car, eventually wear out. When your battery keeps dying even after jump-starting it, it probably has reached the end of its life and needs to be replaced.
Powered by the battery, the starter is a small motor that starts the engine of your car. The starter relay is equally important.
The relay is a gadget that completes the electrical circuit between the battery and the starter. When the relay receives the electrical current, it passes it on to the starter to get your engine running.
There are numerous reasons you may have a faulty starter. One of them is due to normal wear and tear. Or, the bolts connecting the starter to the engine may be loose.
A starter relay can also become faulty due to wear and tear over time. When it is defective, no current can pass through it.
If this happens, no matter how many times you turn your key in the ignition, you will only hear a clicking sound. The engine will not run.
When you turn the key in the ignition, the starter is engaged to start the engine. The ignition is also subject to wear and tear, particularly its internal parts, such as springs.
The springs or coils draw power from the battery and then send it to the spark plugs to start the engine. Thus, when these parts are faulty or the switch itself is damaged, it will not be able to pass on the electrical current.
As earlier mentioned, the alternator keeps the battery charged as you drive. When it starts to fail, it will not be able to draw power from the battery, and you may not start your car. And, if you keep stalling, the spark plugs may not be receiving enough power from the alternator.
How To Fix Your Vehicle That Won’t Start
It is easier to fix your car after knowing what is causing it not to start. Some of the solutions include:
Tighten The Battery Connections
You can check if the battery terminal connections are loose. Lift the hood and gently attempt to lift the battery terminals from the posts. If one or both are loose, tighten them using a wrench.
But, if the battery clamp diameter is larger than the posts, creating a loose connection, you can install a cotter pin between the clamp and the battery post. Learn more from the video:
Clean The Battery Connections
You can clean your terminals by mixing one-part baking soda and four parts hot water or using a commercial battery terminal cleaner spray.
Start by turning off your car and saving the memory in your car's computer. Next, disconnect the negative terminal first, to prevent an electrical short.
Go ahead and remove as much of the rust as possible by using a wire brush. Afterward, spray the cleaner, let it foam, and then wipe it off with a cloth or wash it off with water.
Next, use a battery terminal cleaner like the one shown above. To prevent further corrosion, you can apply Vaseline or dielectric grease on the terminals.
Watch the video below, which explains how to clean your car battery connections:
Jump Start Your Car
When your car can’t start due to extreme weather, you can jumpstart it. Therefore, having a jump starter kit in your car, like the one shown above, can come in handy.
Watch the video below that shows you how to jumpstart a Ford 150:
Replace The Alternator
After establishing your alternator cannot function anymore, you can replace it with a new one. If you are not confident enough you can call a mechanic to replace it.
Check out the video below that explains step-by-step how to replace the alternator in your Ford 150:
Replace The Starter
Just like the alternator, if the starter is no longer working, replace it. Also, install a new starter relay if it is faulty.
Check out the video below explaining step-by-step how to replace the starter in a Ford 150:
Install A New Ignition Switch
A damaged or broken ignition switch needs to be replaced. It may look like a simple job, but to access it, you have to remove the steering wheel, which can be involved.
Change The Battery
If the battery is old and has lost its capacity to charge the electrical system in your car, the solution is to replace it.
Remember to wear eyewear and gloves. For your safety, keep away open flames, including lighted cigarettes away as you work on your car.
Watch the video below that shows you how to carefully replace a battery:
Cost Of Fixing Your Car When It Won’t Start
Generally, the price of an alternator for a Ford 150 ranges from $453 and $493. On top of that, you can pay a technician $87 and $110 to install it for you in your car.
On average, the starter for a Ford 150 costs between $244 and $268. The labor to replace this part costs between $315 and $358.
Replacing the ignition switch in your Ford truck will cost from $57 to $111 for the parts. The cost of labor to replace it is between $76 to $96.
The batteries compatible with a Ford 150 will cost around $178. To replace it, you will pay between $34 and $43.
These costs are estimates and may increase if there are any related repairs. The prices may also change, depending on your location.
As much as it is frustrating when your car refuses to start, it can be a learning experience to diagnose and address the problem.
By understanding why your car won’t start, you are in a better position to know what to do. You’ll be able to troubleshoot more problems in the future.
And, at least, you will have basic knowledge of what your mechanic is fixing, even though it may be beyond your capacity.
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