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Rodent nest, won’t start, no Visible wiring damage

trucklet

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1988 Ford ranger XLT 2.9 manual RWD, Never hesitated to start prior to today. Last driven yesterday and no observed abnormalities. Engine turns over and tries really hard to start but sounds very sick. Question of possibly more gasoline smell than should be present under the hood with moderate cranking. Rodent nest uncovered between air filter and passenger fender, after thorough vacuuming no obvious wiring damage is noted. All visible wiring under the hood inspected, same lack of findings. I don’t really know where to start in troubleshooting, I can’t really imagine that the rodent activity is not implicated. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. TIA.
 


RonD

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Welcome to TRS :)

First test when there is a Crank but No Start is the 50/50 test
Pull off the large air tube from the intake
Spray fuel into the intake, gasoline, quick start(ether), carb cleaner...........
Try to start
If it starts and then dies you have a fuel delivery issue
If it doesn't start/fire its a spark issue
50/50 instant results
 

rusty ol ranger

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Check the intake tube and airbox and make sure its not chocked full of nesting material
 

rumblecloud

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What's the worst that could happen?
I can’t really imagine that the rodent activity is not implicated. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. TIA.
Critters are PIA. More than likely that bugger or buggers have another nest in the airway. Excess fuel smell should mean you're getting gas - you just need some air maybe. Good luck.
 

trucklet

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Welcome to TRS :)

First test when there is a Crank but No Start is the 50/50 test
Pull off the large air tube from the intake
Spray fuel into the intake, gasoline, quick start(ether), carb cleaner...........
Try to start
If it starts and then dies you have a fuel delivery issue
If it doesn't start/fire its a spark issue
50/50 instant results
I sprayed starting fluid into intake, raced to the driver seat as fast as I could, no Start and no apparent firing. So I have a spark issue.

in view of the likelihood that the rodents created a problem with spark, and their only apparent activity was in the vicinity of the relays and wiring harnesses adjacent the air filter, what can I/should I evaluate next?
 

trucklet

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Critters are PIA. More than likely that bugger or buggers have another nest in the airway. Excess fuel smell should mean you're getting gas - you just need some air maybe. Good luck.
Thanks rumblecloud and rusty ol ranger. I read your responses after II replied to RonD. That would be an easy fix, I’m eager to check it out. I glanced at the air filter but did not explore the airway otherwise. But, when I followed through with the starting fluid into the air intake, air would have bypassed any obstruction near the air filter, would it not?
 

rumblecloud

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Yes, it would have - that's puzzling. Odd coincidence that it ran fine before rodent-nado.
Check spark. Plug a plug or two and have a look see. When is the last time you fueled up? Just guessing at this point, but maybe bad fuel? Still, starter fluid would eliminate that maybe.
Please keep us posted.
 

RonD

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You don't have to be fast, the fuel doesn't evaporate that fast unless its over 120deg outside

You will need a Volt meter or test light
Check to see if the Coil has 12volts with Key On, should be a red wire with green stripe, this wire powers the coil and distributor parts, no 12v = no spark

Wire comes from ignition switch, under steering column in the cab
Ignition switch gets 12v from a Fusible link on the starter relay(solenoid) in the engine bay, but if this was broken then no dash lights with key on, which you didn't mention
 

trucklet

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Yes, it would have - that's puzzling. Odd coincidence that it ran fine before rodent-nado.
Check spark. Plug a plug or two and have a look see. When is the last time you fueled up? Just guessing at this point, but maybe bad fuel? Still, starter fluid would eliminate that maybe.
Please keep us posted.
It has been driven fairly regularly. My son-in-law filled the tank the day before this all began. He drove at least four or 5 miles after filling it up, and when I asked him specifically about any problems, he said it seem to be functioning normally. The next day when I tried to start it, it sounded absolutely awful. At that point it did seem to cough a few times, MAYBE marginal ignition at that point but yesterday when I did the starting Fluid test there was no hint of any firing.
 

trucklet

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You don't have to be fast, the fuel doesn't evaporate that fast unless its over 120deg outside

You will need a Volt meter or test light
Check to see if the Coil has 12volts with Key On, should be a red wire with green stripe, this wire powers the coil and distributor parts, no 12v = no spark

Wire comes from ignition switch, under steering column in the cab
Ignition switch gets 12v from a Fusible link on the starter relay(solenoid) in the engine bay, but if this was broken then no dash lights with key on, which you didn't mention
I wasn’t paying much attention to the dash lights but the “check engine“ and alternator indicator lights definitely were on.
Will do. Thank you for the specific guidance.
 

trucklet

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It took me a while to get back to do the electrical testing on my 88 ranger, partly because it’s parked in an open carport and the weather in the Pacific Northwest has not been conducive to outdoor wrenching. I have a handful of cheap multimeters, grabbed one and proceeded to check the voltage of the ignition wire at the coil coming from the starter:11.6 V. I said to myself, “HMMMM“— Better check to see if the multimeter calibration is off. What better place to check than the Battery? Same reading. Lightbulb becomes illuminated in brain – Sometimes there can be adequate current to turn over an engine but not enough to get it over the hump to start. I put a charge on the battery and now she starts!

I had been drawn down a rabbit hole by the scenario of a truck that was devoid of any problems regarding starting or running smoothly and had been driven regularly. And there was that fresh rodent nest that led me to believe that there had to be wiring damage somewhere. No accessories were left on overnight and at that point, it wasn’t particularly cold here.

I wonder if the rodent activity could’ve created a current drain sufficient to draw down the battery? In any case, I was remiss in not honoring the dictum that an engine needs fire, fuel, and air. There simply wasn’t enough fire being supplied from the primary source.

Thanks to all who offered suggestions.
 

RonD

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Good work, thanks for the update

Good car/truck batteries will be 12.3v to 12.8volts
12.8v when new
12.5v after 3 years
12.3v after 5/6 years and time to shop for battery sales

12.2v and lower have less than 50% capacity so will leave you stranded at some point
 

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I wonder if the rodent activity could’ve created a current drain sufficient to draw down the battery?
It sounds like you're determined to blame those pesky squatting rodents. :)
 

rumblecloud

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Glad to hear you sourced the problem and let us know.
Too many times we never know "the rest of the story."
(See what I did there...)
 

RobbieD

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I wonder if the rodent activity could’ve created a current drain sufficient to draw down the battery?
Yep. The rodents were using your battery to charge their phones.

Another "thanks" for posting the update. It's always good to hear what the resolution was, and the thread may be helpful to somebody else down the road.
 

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