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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There's been a lot of posts on start up issues. Obviously a bad starter makes a whirr but often also cranks so you get a whirr but the car still starts. A complete starter failure is not far away. A low battery- a lower audible whirr but it is easy to check for a bad battery. The starter and alternator have been checked- both okay on test. . This once a month thing has been going on for a year. I can't figure it out. The linkage seems tight, the switches okay. I've been told a bad tooth on the flex plate will make a sound while the car is running and the flex plate usually stops in one of three positions so a problem will occur a lot more than once a month. Yyet another guy says high power lines can cause a problem.

2002 Taurus Wagon 3.0.

Well yesterday a mechanic said there is a chip in the key that if bad, the engine doesn't recognize so it whirrs but no crank. I held up the larger devise to which the kay is attached, (not sure of the name) in which you hit to lock or unlock doors and the guy said no, it is the key its self- hidden inside the plastic. I have never heard of this. Strange thing is, I have recently been wondering if it was something connected to the computer.

Any comments appreciated.
 

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There's been a lot of posts on start up issues. Obviously a bad starter makes a whirr but often also cranks so you get a whirr but the car still starts. A complete starter failure is not far away. A low battery- a lower audible whirr but it is easy to check for a bad battery. The starter and alternator have been checked- both okay on test. . This once a month thing has been going on for a year. I can't figure it out. The linkage seems tight, the switches okay. I've been told a bad tooth on the flex plate will make a sound while the car is running and the flex plate usually stops in one of three positions so a problem will occur a lot more than once a month. Yyet another guy says high power lines can cause a problem.

2002 Taurus Wagon 3.0.

Well yesterday a mechanic said there is a chip in the key that if bad, the engine doesn't recognize so it whirrs but no crank. I held up the larger devise to which the kay is attached, (not sure of the name) in which you hit to lock or unlock doors and the guy said no, it is the key its self- hidden inside the plastic. I have never heard of this. Strange thing is, I have recently been wondering if it was something connected to the computer.

Any comments appreciated.
Any issue with chip key, the theft light will flash and nothing happens, no noise.
The issue with whirrr and no crank is different.
I had '03 DOHC and it went from first time to really bad is week or so. It was a bad tooth area worn in the flex plate. I replaced the flex plate and fixed that.
Now two. '04 (160K) and '05 (140K) that do that about once a month or so in every day driving. The '05 (used buy) does it from time to time over 2 years and gets no worse.
The '04 does it about once a month and gets no worse. I plan to have a local shop replace the starter when they get a chance. When that time happens, I will get back to this post.
As a side from that: They '04 suddenly failed to do anything. Battery near new. Jumped and got it home. Then nothing but the interior lights went dim when the HL are on. Found ground cable corroded through at the crimp at the ground clamp near the battery post. Hiding under the plastic covering. Fixed that. Had nothing to do with the whirrr and no crank.
-chart-
 

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2000 Taurus SES 12v
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A once-a-month problem is difficult to diagnose. Could very well be the starter, but when you take it out and bench-test it, the cogwheel comes out properly (like the other 29 days of the month).

Don't you have a junk-yard close by where you can get another starter? If that starter behaves the same, it must be the flex plate.
 

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A once-a-month problem is difficult to diagnose. Could very well be the starter, but when you take it out and bench-test it, the cogwheel comes out properly (like the other 29 days of the month).

Don't you have a junk-yard close by where you can get another starter? If that starter behaves the same, it must be the flex plate.
This is not an easy one to change out. I would only trust a rebuild. In my case of the '04, it has oil coating all over the starter from valve cover leak. I plan to have the gaskets replaced when I get the starter replaced.
-chart-
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well that's on the plan- go ahead and put in a new starter. I am told once the starter is off you can rotate the flex plate and check for bad teeth? True. I would have a mechanic do it as I couldn't tell if a tooth was worn past an acceptable level. In any event I'm two years into a rebuilt starter so if I put another in- probably have to do it anyway within a year. This oil leak getting on the starter- is there any way to verify that?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well I'm very slowly learning. So what I have may be "Freewheel" I just get a whir without any crank and the source could be the Bendix or corrosion on the cable. I checked on the sticky starter Bendix. It always disengages once the car starts- no trouble there, just this "free wheeling" whir sound. On the cable corrosion, how do I test that? If the starter is replaced then the sticky Bendix is part of that.
 

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Well I'm very slowly learning. So what I have may be "Freewheel" I just get a whir without any crank and the source could be the Bendix or corrosion on the cable. I checked on the sticky starter Bendix. It always disengages once the car starts- no trouble there, just this "free wheeling" whir sound. On the cable corrosion, how do I test that? If the starter is replaced then the sticky Bendix is part of that.
Rebuilt starter would have new "bendix" which is a "one way clutch" so the engine does not spin the starter when it fires. That one way clutch is a wear item and wears out, or just gets dirty. The ratchet has moving parts, called "pawls".
-chart-
 

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04 Taurus SES Vulcan
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There are several ways the bendix engages depending on the manufacturer of the starter (as long as it fits and has the right rating, it doesn't much matter which type is used so you may find either)... Some use one-way clutch type which uses rotation of the starter to force the engagement, others use electromagnet and a "shift fork". In either case if the gear engagement is too slow you'll get the whirr or a grind noise.

To check the cable while it's acting up you can bypass.. Put a jumper cable from batt+ to the lug on the solenoid where the other end of the fat red cable attaches. If it's not acting up, you need a fancy starting system tester but luckily you can have it done for free at a major chain parts store when they're not busy.
 

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There are several ways the bendix engages depending on the manufacturer of the starter (as long as it fits and has the right rating, it doesn't much matter which type is used so you may find either)... Some use one-way clutch type which uses rotation of the starter to force the engagement, others use electromagnet and a "shift fork". In either case if the gear engagement is too slow you'll get the whirr or a grind noise.

To check the cable while it's acting up you can bypass.. Put a jumper cable from batt+ to the lug on the solenoid where the other end of the fat red cable attaches. If it's not acting up, you need a fancy starting system tester but luckily you can have it done for free at a major chain parts store when they're not busy.
Pic of Vulcan starter, DOHC similar but mounted on the transmission.
The cylinder above the starter motor is the solenoid, that pulls the lever that pushes the gears out to engage, it also has electric contacts that power to the motor when the solenoid is fully traveled.
Oil drips on the starter are a death.
-chart-
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
First, I really want to thank you guys for helping me out. My past experience has been that a starter gives a warning or two and then fails completely. Someone said I could have just gotten a bad starter. It was replaced (a rebuilt) and was okay for 11 months before this thing started. Since the car is old, I'm wondering if the shop bought the cheapest starter they could find- figuring I wouldn't have the car much longer. In any event I didn't realize that a starter could have a problem that could simply pop up now and then over a long period of time. This pal of mine (has since died from Covid-19) told me if I ever couldn't get the motor started to take wrench a give the starter a gentle tap but he didn't explain WHY. I think what he must have been thinking was a sticky Bendix situation.
Well, I think I am finally on the right track to getting this thing resolved. Thanks again to all.
WHY am I keeping a 2002 Taurus? The newer cars have a lot of "bells and whistles" but as I see it- more and more stuff to go bad and require repair. I'd like to keep the 2002 going for at least another 6 months to a year. I only put about 6,000 miles per year on it- around town.
 

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12,142 Posts
First, I really want to thank you guys for helping me out. My past experience has been that a starter gives a warning or two and then fails completely. Someone said I could have just gotten a bad starter. It was replaced (a rebuilt) and was okay for 11 months before this thing started. Since the car is old, I'm wondering if the shop bought the cheapest starter they could find- figuring I wouldn't have the car much longer. In any event I didn't realize that a starter could have a problem that could simply pop up now and then over a long period of time. This pal of mine (has since died from Covid-19) told me if I ever couldn't get the motor started to take wrench a give the starter a gentle tap but he didn't explain WHY. I think what he must have been thinking was a sticky Bendix situation.
Well, I think I am finally on the right track to getting this thing resolved. Thanks again to all.
WHY am I keeping a 2002 Taurus? The newer cars have a lot of "bells and whistles" but as I see it- more and more stuff to go bad and require repair. I'd like to keep the 2002 going for at least another 6 months to a year. I only put about 6,000 miles per year on it- around town.
Pic of my insurance policy should it totally fail to crank. There is just enough room to get this on the hex on the end of the crank.
-chart-
 

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