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91 Escort, won't start.

02-07-2011, 06:35 PM
The alternator is good, so is the battery. The headlights will come on but the interior lights won't. Could it be the switch? Anyone have any ideas? it has me stumped.

02-08-2011, 01:09 PM
By interior lights do you mean the dome light? They often dont work due to dirty door jam switches, or dirty contacts on the switch on the dome lt itself.

When you turn on the ignition, do the small lights across the bottom of the instrument cluster come on? Does the starter crank the engine over at all? If your car is an automatic, the shift lever has to be in park or neutral for it so start, so try wiggling that lever just before you turn the ign. switch to 'start'.

Escort ignition switches have a poor reputation for reliability when they are over ten or so year old. So it could be a bad ignition switch. There are 2 parts to the switch, the electrical part, which can be bought separately and replaced, and the keylock part, which can also fail. Usually when that part fails, it just doesnt turn the electrical part of the switch at all - and it would feel like it wasnt turning anything. You wouldnt feel the detents as the electrical switch was being rotated.

It could also be a bad connection at the battery. Either the positive (red) one or the negative connection can go bad. There could be enough current to power the headlamps, but not enough (a couple of hundred amps) to spin the starter. The bad connection can be between the battery post and the battery terminal clamp, or between the clamp and the wire, or even corroded wires inside the insulation. Insidious.
It could of course be a bad starter too. The solenoid atop the starter does two things. It pulls the Bendix drive teeth into contact with the toothed ring on the flywheel, and it makes the connection between the heavy cable from the battery, and the heavy cable going into the starter. When mine was giving me trouble, I ran a wire (about a 12 gauge AWG size) from the small clip-on terminal on the top of the starter solenoid (under the intake manifold), and brought it out to where I could touch the other end to the positive terminal of the battery. This elimiated all the wiring and connections running to the ignition switch, & would always make the starter crank the engine around. But my wife got tired of having to open to hood to get the car to start, especially in the rain, and a new ignition switch (electrical part) solved it.
It also bypassed the safety features, so I had to make CERTAIN it was in neutral when I did this. If the ignition was on - the engine would then start and be idling.

02-08-2011, 02:16 PM
Have you tried using jumper cables?

Look over all your fuses, both under the hood and inside the driver door.

If you still aren't getting anywhere then it is probably related to your starter- but I'm not sure why your interior lights don't work if it is a bad starter... that just makes me think fuse.

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