How To Test The Starter Motor(Ford 1.9L, 2.0L)

You don't need expensive test equipment to test the starter motor on your Ford 1.9L or 2.0L Escort (or Tracer, Focus, Contour, Mystique, etc.). As a matter-o-fact, the starter motor Test can be done with just a multimeter and without removing it from the car, and this article will show you how.

This article applies to several Ford and Mercury 1.9L and 2.0L vehicles and if you want to see if it applies to you specific vehicle, take a look at the list of applications on the box labeled ‘Applies To’ on the column on the right.

Here are the contents of this article at a quick glance:

  1. Important Safety Precautions.
  2. STARTER TEST 1: Applying 12 Volts To The Starter Motor S Terminal.
  3. STARTER TEST 2: Verifying The Start Signal.
  4. STARTER TEST 3: Voltage Drop Testing The Battery Cable.
  5. Symptoms Of A BAD Starter Motor.
  6. Related Test Articles.

Before we start, let me tell you that the starter motor in the photos is a typical Ford starter motor and may not look exactly like the one on your specific 1.9L or 2.0L Ford car. Don't worry about this, since the info will apply to your car and you'll be able to successfully diagnose the starter motor as good or BAD.

Also, the photo shows the starter motor off of the car. This is just the make it easier to point out the terminals that you'll need to test, but this is an On Car starter motor Test... so on your car, don't remove the Starter (if you're following the test instructions I'm outlining here).

Important Safety Precautions

Precaution 1: It's important that you perform the tests with a fully charged battery... or you run the risk of obtaining a false test result that may have you replacing a good part your vehicle doesn't need.

A dead or undercharged battery will have you wasting time (and possibly money) by making you think that the starter motor is BAD when it isn't. If you don't know how charged the battery is do this simple test: Turn On the headlights for about 10 seconds and then turn them off. Now, with your multimeter in Volts DC mode, measure the battery's voltage. If it reads 12.4 or above... the battery has enough juice to crank the engine. Any voltage below 12.4 V and you must charge the battery first.

Precaution 2: Make sure that the battery positive and Negative Cable Terminals and battery Posts are clean and free of corrosion.

Precaution 3: Remove the key from the ignition switch to perform all the tests in this tutorial unless otherwise stated. This will prevent the your vehicle from starting (while performing the tests)... in case the starter motor is good.

Precaution 4: To gain access to the starter motor, you'll need to raise your Ford vehicle. It's important that you use safety stands to hold up your Ford vehicle. Don't trust the jack!

STARTER TEST 1: Applying 12 Volts To The Starter Motor S Terminal

How To Test The Starter Motor(Ford 1.9L, 2.0L)

In this first test, we're gonna' eliminate the starter motor right off the bat by applying 12 Volts to the S terminal of the starter motor solenoid, using a jumper wire (or a remote start switch) to see if the starter will activate or not.

If the starter motor doesn't activate and crank the engine (after applying 12 Volts to the S terminal), then you've got a bad starter motor on your hands.

OK, this is what you'll need to do:

  1. 1

    Jack up your Ford vehicle and place on jack stands. You'll need to raise the vehicle to gain access to the starter motor.

  2. 2

    Disconnect the wire that attaches to the S terminal of the starter motor starter motor.

  3. 3

    Using a jumper wire that's long enough (or a remote start switch)... apply 12 volts to the S terminal of the starter motor starter motor.

  4. 4

    As you apply these 12 Volts (to the S terminal of the starter starter motor), you'll get one of two results:

    1. The starter will activate and will turn over the engine
    2. -OR-
    3. The starter motor won't do a thing.

Let's take a look at what your test results mean:


CASE 1: The starter motor cranked the engine. This means that the starter motor is good and that you have an electrical issue keeping the starter motor from cranking the engine.

The next step is to go to TEST 2 and see if the starter motor starter motor is getting the Start Signal on the S terminal wire (circuit). Go to TEST 2: Verifying The Start Signal.

CASE 2: The starter motor DID NOT crank the engine. This usually means that your starter motor is BAD and needs to be rebuilt or replaced.

I suggest one more test and this is to test the battery cable (that attaches to the starter motor starter motor) for corrosion. This can be accomplished very easily with a voltage drop test. Go to TEST 3: Voltage Drop Testing The Battery Cable.