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95 Escort starter delay in cold weather

11-01-2011, 12:56 PM
Hi guys. 95 1.9L 5 speed. 142K Runs like a champ but over the last few coldler mornings, low 40's high 30's, the starter is slow to get turning. This morning it was really slow, as I held the switch to the crank position for a good 10-15 seconds before it started. To the point that the dash lights dimmed, like a larger load was on the battery. Once it starts its fine. Later in the day it starts just like it should. Just wondering if I may have a starter about to go south on me.

11-01-2011, 08:18 PM
I could suspect a couple of things. First would be a bad electrical connection, such as at the battery posts-to-cable-terminal, or the cable to terminal, if your terminals are those clamp on kind made of lead. Also, the connection between the negative battery cable and the metal of the engine block or bell housing on the transmission. The negative cable is just as important as the positive cable. You can even have a cable that looks okay, but whose copper wires inside the insulation are badly corroded.
Less common, but also a could-be; a nearly worn out starter whose commutator was coated with the dried grease and the 'dust' from the carbon brushes and the copper of the commutator. This can happen when the brushes are about worn out, and the springs arent keeping them tightly against the commutator.
So I would first ensure all connections are clean, all wires are healthy, then budget for a rebuilt starter if the problem remains.

11-02-2011, 06:18 AM
Yeah, I am very aware of the bad connection deal. Went through that problem a couple of years ago. Added another ground cable to chassis. Plus when the connections are getting bad, my radio always resets all of the presets when the connection takes a dive. So far with this problem the connection seems to be good. And of course, in true typical car problem fashion, after posting this yesterday the little *$@*&^%$# (^%#$@$$) starts right up without any delay this morning, mid 40's temp.:iceslolan

11-02-2011, 07:17 AM
If it's not the starter then you might look at the ignition switch.

01-31-2012, 12:06 PM
Well the 'scort has been behaving the way it should since my original post. Granted we have had a mild winter so far, so I guess the delays could come back. Will re post if anything new pops up.

02-01-2012, 09:15 AM
Many years ago I got a short delay in frigid weather when the terminals and clamps were "dirty." Didn't appear too bad but it was enough. Also make sure that it doesn't need water. Problem is you clean them up and it doesn't take long begin the gradual decline again; be doing the same thing next year and I hate rework.


To clean-up the terminals to a golden copper color in seconds, would hacksaw the handle of a 2" diameter steel wire pipe cleaner brush, then attach it to a drill.

As long as 1-2 years between removal, have decoupled the clamps and found that they were still a golden copper-colored on the inside.

After making the connections, I've put a lighter machine oil, then engine oil over the battery terminals, then sprinkled a generous amount of baking soda on top of the oil; which of course sticks.

To keep from rusting out my battery tray bolts and everything beneath it, (note that the transmission-to-frame ground wire is right in front of it,) the battery itself goes inside of a heat resistant bag. The top part of the bag covers the battery terminals, limiting air-exposure.

These are bags designed for hot foods, usually obtainable from places that sell chicken, such as Popeyes, KFC, Church's, etcetera. In the bottom of the bag, I put a few folded paper towels and baking soda.

Never ever close or seal the bag as the hydrogen gas it vents, is combustible.

Prior to "reforming" (bending) the clamps, also used to use a metal shim to get a tighter fit, with more surface area in contact with the terminal. Had bought it with the wrong battery in it; apparently had larger terminal posts. Since reforming no longer have to use a shim to get a tight fit.

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