How To Troubleshoot A No Start (Ford 4.9L, 5.0L, 5.8L)

How To Test A Cranks But Does Not Start Problem (Ford 4.9L, 5.0L, 5.8L)

Troubleshooting a no-start problem on your Ford 4.9L, 5.0L, or 5.8L pick up, van, or SUV can be easily done, with the right diagnostic information and troubleshooting strategy and in this article I'll provide you with some of both.

In this article, I'll shed some light on the most common problem areas and more importantly, where to find the info you need to get to the bottom of the problem.

In Spanish You can find this tutorial in Spanish here: Cómo Probar Un Arranca Pero No Prende (Ford 4.9L, 5.0L, 5.8L) (at:

Difference Between A No Start And A No Crank

Since a lot of folks confuse a no-crank condition with a no-start condition, I'll clear it up right now:

In a no-start condition (also known as a cranks but does not start) your vehicle's starter motor is cranking the engine but the engine is not starting. This is usually due to a lack of spark, or fuel, or engine compression and in this article I'm gonna' explain in some detail how to diagnose this type of condition/problem.

In a no-crank condition, the engine is not cranking when you turn the key to crank the engine. In other words, you turn the key and nothing happens since the engine won't turn over. This usually due to a bad starter motor or a bad starter motor solenoid.

Remember this article only deals with a no-start condition.

No Start Condition Basics

What's gonna' help you to 'hit the nail in the head' (when diagnosing a no-start problem) is that the issue will be in one of three distinct areas. It's either gonna' be in the ignition system, or the fuel system, or in the engine (mechanical).

Remember, the engine needs air, fuel and spark to start and when it's not starting, it's because one of these three components is missing from the mix.

Let's take a brief look at each area (system):

Ignition System

  1. The ignition system is the one responsible for creating and delivering spark. Without spark, the engine will crank but not start.
  2. The ignition system on your 4.9L, 5.0L, or 5.9L uses a distributor type system and will include the following components:
    • Ignition control module (ICM). Depending on the year of your specific Ford, it'll have a inner-fender mounted ignition control module or a distributor mounted ignition control module.
    • Ignition coil
    • PIP (Profile Ignition Pickup) sensor. This is Ford's name for the crank sensor and is mounted inside the distributor. The most common name for this component is the pick up coil.
    • Distributor cap and rotor.
    • Spark plug wires.
  3. The thing to keep in mind about the ignition system is that all engine cylinders must get spark and the one thing that will stop the ignition system from creating spark on a wholesale scale is a bad crank sensor.

Fuel System

  1. The fuel system is the one responsible with supplying the engine with fuel.
  2. The fuel system components that play a major part in starting your Ford vehicle are:
    • Fuel pump.
    • Fuel pump inertia switch.
    • Fuel pump relay.
    • Fuel injectors.
  3. All of these components can be tested to make sure they're bad before replacing them.

Engine Mechanical System

  1. The engine pistons and valves (and all the other related components like: timing chains, etc.) are the ones responsible for the induction of the fresh air the engine needs for the combustion process.
  2. Although rare, internal engine mechanical problems can and do cause no-start conditions.
  3. Possible internal engine problems are:
    • Blown head gasket.
    • Blown engine.

OK, now that you now what are some of the components involved in getting your Ford pick up (van, SUV) to start or not start, let's take a closer look at some testing info in the next subheading.

Ford Vehicles:

  • Bronco 4.9L, 5.0L, 5.8L
    • 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996
  • Crown Victoria 5.0L
    • 1989, 1990, 1991
  • E150, E250, E350 4.9L, 5.0L, 5.8L
    • 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996

Ford Vehicles:

  • F150, F250, F350 4.9L, 5.0L, 5.8L
    • 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997
  • Mustang 5.0L
    • 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993
  • Thunderbird 5.0L
    • 1988, 1989, 1990

Lincoln Vehicles:

  • Continental
    • 1988, 1989, 1990
  • Mark VII
    • 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992
  • Town Car
    • 1988, 1989, 1990

Mercury Vehicles:

  • Cougar 5.0L
    • 1988, 1989, 1990

Mercury Vehicles:

  • Grand Marquis 5.0L
    • 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991