No start after replacing positive battery cable

Tiny
TONYCOGO
  • MEMBER
  • 2013 FORD EDGE
  • 3.5L
  • V6
  • 4WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 68,102 MILES
As I understand it, many newer Ford's have a severe corrosion problem at the battery terminals because the batteries are vented at the terminal as opposed to being vented on the sides or top center of the battery. This is beside the point for my current problem, but it is the cause of the problem I have. I would like to know if buying a different type of battery will solve this problem, but again, it's secondary to my current problem. The main problem is further down in this post, but because of the corrosion problem, the positive battery cable terminal was all but eaten away. I was never made aware that there was a problem (the vehicle is my wife's car, so there you go!) Until one day I went to change the oil and was proudly presented with a massive green gob sitting on top of the battery where the positive terminal should have been.

After thoroughly cleaning the battery terminal and post, I had to replace the terminal. The positive cable terminal was about $25 and the whole cable, with terminals at both ends, was about $140. Though 5-6 times more expensive than just the terminal, I decided to replace the entire cable because there just isn't enough slack in the cable to allow for snipping off the old terminal, stripping the cable for a new terminal (because of the way the wire harness is made, the cable can't be pulled out well enough to get enough slack) and reconnecting the terminal to the battery post. Also a contributing factor was nowhere does Ford publish any kind of specifications for the cable, like the gauge of the cable or its length. I could have tried to determine the gauge, but I figured, by the time I figure it out, I would have the OEM part by then. Besides, I probably would have had to buy about 5-10 feet of the wire, which I didn't need, and I probably would have had about the same cost as the OEM part, not to mention the trouble of having to try to splice the new cable to the old cable and attach the terminal or trying to make an all new cable with terminals at both ends. This presented another challenge in that the other terminal (at the starter) would have had to be reused because it can't be purchased separately. And, to top it off, I would have had to purchase a special crimper (an Open Barrel Crimping Tool, search for IWISS IWS-8200A or IWISS IWS-5100A, both about $46 from Amazon; not sure which is the right one because I don’t know the gauge and/or amperage I am working with). Again, all this is beside the point, but I wanted to explain the complete story of the decision to buy the OEM cable to help the widest audience.

So, I purchased the "Positive Battery Cable (Overlay Harness)", part number BT4Z-14A411-G and followed the instructions that came with it (see the attached instructions) to replace the cable.

I replaced the cable, with no problems, except that it probably took me about 10 times longer than a trained professional because, well, I am a DIYer. I don't have all the proper tools, training, workspace (shop), experience, etc, plus when I do a job on my own vehicle, I want I do an extra good job. I had to split the job up overnight because I didn't want to work into the wee hours of the morning, so I started Saturday afternoon and finished Sunday morning. I had the battery out of the vehicle overnight; I figure a total of about 17 hours.

Here is where my current problem occurs. After replacing the cable, reinstalling the air cleaner box, reinstalling the battery and attaching the positive cable, then the negative cable to the battery, I figured I was done; I then jumped into the driver seat to start the car to make sure everything was okay, but it wouldn't start. I scratched my head for a while then tore out the air cleaner box and battery again to check to make sure I hadn't missed reconnecting a wire somewhere, which I found I hadn't.

So what could be wrong? When I open the door to the car, the interior lights come on. When I get in the car, I attach my seat belt (just to eliminate any possible problems there). I turn the key to on and shift to neutral, let it drift slightly, and then shift back to park just to ensure the shift lock is engaged. Also, while the key is on, all the gauges come to life, radio presets are still there, headlights and turn signals turn on and off, so I feel everything is okay. I press the brake pedal, again, just to eliminate any possible problems there. When I turn the key to start, there is nothing. No click, no turnover and the gauges go out but return after a few seconds. Do I need to reset something?

I know it’s rather wordy, but I wanted to present a complete picture. I hope I provided all the necessary information for a diagnosis. I just don’t know what to do next.
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Friday, May 1st, 2020 AT 10:09 AM

6 Replies

Tiny
TONYCOGO
  • MEMBER
For some reason my attachments didn't upload. They should be attached here.
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Friday, May 1st, 2020 AT 10:20 AM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Hi,

Since everything cuts out for a couple seconds and then comes back, I suspect you have a loose connection. Recheck battery terminals and confirm you can't turn them indicating they are loose. Recheck the main wire you replaced at the starter. Next, there is a smaller wire that comes from the starter relay which is also attached to the starter S terminal. It should only have power when the key is in the on position. Did you do anything that may have damaged or loosened that wire?

Also, check fuse 19 in the battery junction box to make sure it is good and has power. If that fuse blew for some reason, there will be no power to the starter relay.

I attached two pics below. In reality, it is one page, but I cut it in half to make it more readable for you. I did overlap the two so you can easily follow.

Let me know what you find or if you have other questions.

Take care,
Joe
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Friday, May 1st, 2020 AT 7:07 PM
Tiny
TONYCOGO
  • MEMBER
Hi Joe,

Thanks for the info. You gave me a starting point, and my next door neighbor is an electrician/engineer. With the wire diagram you provided and a fuse box diagram downloaded from an online version of the owner's manual, we solved the problem. It turns out I had reconnected two vital wires in the wrong places.

When I began this job, I had serious misgivings about messing with the main wire harness in the engine compartment. I was afraid of cutting a wrong wire or nicking something that would cause a short that wouldn't be easy to diagnose or getting confused by too many disconnected parts and reassembling something wrong. I had good reason for these fears because, in my case, one came true.

I started out with replacing the fuse, as you suggested; hoping the simple solution would be the one I needed. My fuse was blown, so I got a new one and promptly blew out the new fuse (at position 19). Okay.I knew I had no loose connections, but I checked anyway and found I had no loose connections. Again, okay. The last, slightly more daunting task for me was checking the power at the starter as you suggested. I am by no means electrically inclined and, although I have a multi-meter and a continuity tester, I have no confidence in using them correctly. I soldiered on though, and checked for power at the starter as you suggested and found there was no power in the post with the key on or off. This is where my neighbor came in and he began checking for power and shorts in various locations, all related to the circuit between the battery and the starter and he soon zeroed in on the wire coming off of the starter relay post you mentioned. He asked me where the wire to that post went too, and of course I had no idea, so (to my horror) he began splitting the wire harness again to discover the origin of the wire because he was beginning to think we had the wrong wire diagram or there was a short in the wire somewhere (possibly from me cutting the positive battery cable and nicking something ) or, even, me having cut the wrong wire (the positive battery wire is red and there is another red wire of the same gauge inside the wire harness). He was splitting the harness back up toward the battery from the starter, when, almost finished, we discovered it was the negative battery cable. That's not right!

I know it sounds stupid now, with the wire diagram in front of us and the wire harness split wide open baring all the wires for all to see, but looking back to see a mistake and ridiculing it is a lot easier to do than thinking about how to try to solve a problem, putting together a plan to fix it, executing the plan, getting it right and adjusting for inevitable errors. I had no idea I had flipped the harness and wired the negative battery cable (black in the wire diagram) to the starter and the starter relay wire (brown/green in the diagram) to the engine block. In my eyes, I had simply reconnected two very similar looking wires to where I thought they belonged. You see, the wire harness looks like a thick corrugated black plastic pipe covered with black electrical tape as you follow it from the battery to the starter, with junctions where other corrugated pipes (or just wires) split off it or join into it. At a point near the starter, there is a junction where two wires leave the main branch, but on opposite sides of the harness. This junction looks like a plus. Although the one wire is slightly bigger than the other, without knowing what the wires are or what they do or without taking a photo (a lesson I continually have to learn due to haste or lack of thought) of the junction and its components and their destinations, makes this mistake an easy one to have occur. The wire diagram does not represent the actual routing of the wires, so it doesn't show you that both those red wires run alongside one another, along with the black wire from the battery and the brown/green wire from the starter relay. I know wire diagrams are useful tools for engineers and electricians but routing diagrams would be just as useful for DIYers and mechanics/technicians. I am sorry that routing diagrams are no longer produced (another victim of space savings and cost cutting, I assume). Hindsight also informed me that, had I planned on splitting the wire harness all the way from the battery to the starter to begin with, I could have saved that $115 difference between the battery cable and the cable terminal because there was plenty of slack in the cable, once it was freed from the bondage of the harness. However, (again, hindsight) I never had plans to do all that work to split the entire cable length because of the fears I had and the work to rebind/re-tape/rebuild the wire harness quadrupled my workload. Now I know why Ford's solution is to just cut the two ends off and leave the remainder in the harness.

So, thanks for giving me a place to start. The car starts now and runs as it should. I would like to know, however, what to do about the corrosion problem that started all this in the first place. I don't want to have to replace another terminal in the future (although, it would probably be easier to do a second time around!). I put a felt spacer under each of the battery terminals and sprayed each post/terminal with battery protectant that can be purchased at any auto parts store. Is that sufficient or, as I asked in the beginning, should I buy a different kind of battery (if that is possible)?

Thanks,
Tony
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Monday, May 4th, 2020 AT 1:28 AM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Tony,

I'm glad you found the problem. Honestly, the felt anti corrosion pads and then the spray battery terminal spray should last a long time. When I do my own car, I always check and clean them (if needed) each time I change oil.

I want to thank you for letting us know what happened. We all have to work together, and I feel what you described will help someone in the future with the same type of problem.

I hope if you need help in the future, you'll let us know.

Take good care of yourself. Never doubt yourself either. Just take your time and be confident.

Joe
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Monday, May 4th, 2020 AT 9:03 PM
Tiny
TONYCOGO
  • MEMBER
Joe,

Thank You. I'm just glad there is a service like this that I can rely on. I can't afford to buy the repair manuals for my vehicles from the automobile manufacturers (overvalued). Services like Alldata and Mitchell are costly (ongoing costs). The Chilton and Haynes manuals aren't specific enough and usually are too generic covering too many model years. Finally, searching the web doesn’t always produce reliable results. Many times I’ve found similar problems, but not exactly my model or situation. Sometimes, there just isn’t an answer to be found.

I love using 2CarPros because the times I have used it I've gotten responses within a reasonable time frame, I've gotten the reference materials I've needed, I've gotten friendly, encouraging, well thought out advice and accurate diagnoses (as long as I give accurate, well described problems; I hate it when I see someone wanting to know what is wrong with something without even describing all the "givens" like the problem, circumstances, equipment, make, model, etc.). And, I get to pass on what I've learned.

Thanks again.

Take care,
Tony
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Tuesday, May 5th, 2020 AT 2:59 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Thank you for your kind comments, Tony. You are always welcome here and we'll try our best to help.

You take good care of yourself, and again, I hope to see you again. Not because I want you to have trouble with the vehicle, but just hoping you'll come back.

Joe
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Tuesday, May 5th, 2020 AT 9:14 PM

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