Ford F-150 won’t start – common causes and solutions

If Ford F-150 doesn’t start, the suspicion quickly falls on the battery – and not without reason. But there are also a number of other factors that can paralyze the engine. These are the most common causes.

Weak car battery

Especially in the winter months, an empty or weak battery takes a top position when it comes to starting problems. In addition to the cold, numerous electrical consumers such as seat and rear screen heating, wiper system, blower, etc. also put a strain on the battery. This also applies to lights or radio – especially if they are not automatically switched off after the car is parked. This can be the case with older F-150 trucks.

The noise that the starter makes when trying to start often shows that the battery is weak. If this is the case, the starter works only with difficulty or cannot turn the engine at all. As a rule, the current in the interior also fluctuates (lights will dim); in modern vehicles, a warning usually appears on the instrument cluster screen. In the worst case, when you try to start the engine, you only hear a click, triggered by the magnetic switch on the starter.

Ford F-150 battery (13th generation 2015-2020)

If the battery is depleted, the only solution is to jump start by a donor battery, or recharging the battery with a charger or replacement of the old with a new battery. The latter should only be done if the old battery is really defective. A battery that is only discharged does not have to be replaced with a new one.

Defective alternator

If the Ford F-150’s alternator is defective, the battery is no longer charged when driving. This is usually visible through the permanently illuminated battery symbol on the dashboard. Usually this display goes out immediately after starting.

The electricity is generated while driving in the alternator (three-phase generator), temporarily stored in the battery and is then available for starting and operating the vehicle. The good news: Sometimes the problem is limited and all you have to do is replace the alternator drive belt. You can check if your alternator is defective with a multi-meter.

Loose or ailing cables

The battery is full, but the F-150 still won’t start? Occasionally the circuit is broken due to problems with the power cables. The causes can be different:


In cars, the steel body serves as a “minus” line. Therefore, components such as the alternator or the battery are also connected directly to the body. The current flow at this interface can be interrupted due to corrosion, which can lead to starting problems.

Loose cables

Especially in older vehicles, screw connections of the cables can loosen from time to time, interrupting the current flow.

Marten bites

Marten are always trouble in the engine compartment. If relevant components are damaged, ignition problems can arise. These components must then be replaced. Here’s how to protect your vehicle from marten bites.

Fault in the fuel system

This can also happen: In the hectic pace of everyday life, you fail to refuel in good time – despite the (intact) fuel gauge, flashing signal lights and displayed remaining range.

  • With petrol engines on F-150, it is usually enough to fill up. With older diesel engines it may be necessary to bleed the fuel system beforehand.
  • If the tank is empty and there is a puddle under the car, pipes and hoses should be checked immediately for leaks.
  • If there is still sufficient fuel in the tank and other causes are out of the question, the following factors could prevent starting in the fuel system: blockages in the fuel filter or the fuel line, failure of the injection pump and malfunctions in various sensors. Then usually only the workshop can help.

In general, remote diagnosis of starting problems is practically impossible, because there can be many other causes in addition to the above. Defective wear parts, for example starters or ailing spark plugs, can make it difficult or impossible to start, especially in older Ford F-150 vehicles.

Author: Nabeel K

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Kyle Jarrell
Kyle Jarrell
1 year ago

My 2016 Ford F-150 starts fine in the morning, but if I kill the motor once I get into town or a gas station and try to start it back up, it just turns over. I turn the key off and try it again and some times it will start up.
What’s the deal?

Guy Jennings
Guy Jennings
1 year ago

My 2015, 105k miles, wife pulled into shopping center. Would not turnover! Got new battery…tried everything. Nothing would happen when start button pushed. Had it towed. It was the starter!