Dear Unnamed Motorcraft Engineer:

Posted by on 10 June 2013

Did your blood just run cold?  Yes, that was us.  We curse you.  We’ve just had the “fun” of troubleshooting your design, and we wish grave, personal harm upon you.  We’d like to know you, so that we can find you, burn your home, and have our way with your family pets.

But we don’t know you, which is probably in the best interest of our continued liberty.

Which one of you?  Whichever one came up with this design for the starter on a 1996 Ford Ranger (and probably other years, as well as the Mazda B-series):

1996 Ford Ranger starter

Specifically, we refer to this little gem, the connector for the control wire:

Control wire connecter, 1996 Ford Ranger starter

The truck has refused to start consistently for some time.  The solenoid on the fender clicked happily, but we had no luck getting the starter to turn over.  Shorting the control wire to the power wire above produced good results.  We cleaned the terminals, to no avail.  A quick trip to our local O’Reilly revealed the culprit: that connector is well-known for loosening internally; sufficiently well-known, in fact, that replacement starters come with a different style of connector.  Where a connector is to be exposed to the elements, as well as vibration, it’s probably for the best that it be reasonably robust.

Yours isn’t, Mr. Engineer.

For those with late-nineties Rangers and Mazda B-Series pickups (and this is the third we’ve driven; we rather like the things), if you should happen to have problems with the starter, try pulling that plug and giving it a gentle squeeze with a pair of needle-nose pliers.

And Mr. Engineer?  While we don’t intend to start channeling Capt. Ahab, you had still best keep your head down.

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