How To Test The Starter Motor (2001-2004 2.0L Ford Escape)

The starter motor is the heart of the starting system on your 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 2.0L Ford Escape or Mazda Tribute.

So, when this bad boy fails, your Ford Escape is going to suffer a ‘does not crank’ condition.

The cool thing is that testing it is not difficult. In this tutorial I will explain the 3 basic tests that you can accomplish to find out if it's defective or not. All 3 are explained in a step-by-step away and in plain English.

Contents of this tutorial at a quick glance:

  1. Important Safety Tips And Precautions.
  2. Symptoms Of A Bad Starter Motor.
  3. Tools Needed To Test The Starter Motor.
  4. TEST 1: Applying 12 Volts To The Starter Motor S Terminal.
  5. TEST 2: Verifying The Start Signal.
  6. TEST 3: Voltage Drop Testing The Battery (+) Cable.
  7. More 2.0L Ford Escape Tutorials.

Important Safety Tips And Precautions

TIP 1: You don't have to remove the starter motor from your 2.0L Ford Escape, since the starter motor test in this tutorial is an on car test.

But if you have removed it, you can bench tested and this tutorial will help you do it: Bench Testing The Starter Motor.

TIP 2: It's very important that the battery on your 2.0L Ford Escape be fully charged. Performing the test without a low battery will gave you a false test result and you might end up replacing good parts.

TIP 3: If your vehicle has a standard transmission, make sure that it's out of gear and in neutral, and that the parking brake is activated/on.

TIP 3: You'll need to raise your Ford Escape to access the starter motor. Use jack stands to keep it up. Don't trust the jack!

Symptoms Of A Bad Starter Motor

Without a doubt, the most common problem that you're going to have when the starter motor fails, is an engine that won't crank.

Now, the starter motor will also fail intermittently. In other words, it'll work fine some or most of the time but every now and then it won't crank the engine.

Here is a basic list of things will see when the starter motor has failed:

  1. Jump starting the engine doesn't make it crank over.
  2. The battery has been charged and/or replaced and still your Ford Escape does not crank.
  3. When you turn the key to crank the engine, all you hear is a small knock and nothing else.

Tools Needed To Test The Starter Motor

Testing the starter motor does require some basic tools. The cool thing is that they aren't expensive. Here's a basic list of what you'll need:

  1. Remote starter switch.
    1. If you'd like to see what a remote starter switch looks like, you can follow this link: Actron CP7853 Remote Starter Switch.
    2. You can either buy this tool online or you can buy it at your local auto parts store (AutoZone, O'Reilly, Pepboys, etc.).
  2. Multimeter or a 12 Volt automotive test light.
    1. If you don't have a multimeter or need to upgrade yours, check out my recommendation here: Buying A Digital Multimeter For Automotive Diagnostic Testing.
  3. A wire piercing probe.
    1. This tool is not an ‘absolute must have tool’ but I can tell you from experience that it makes it a whole lot easier to probe the S terminal wire for the start signal.
    2. If you'd like to see what this tool looks like, you find out more about it here: Wire Piercing Probe Tool Review (Power Probe PWPPPPP01).
  4. A helper.

As you can see... you don't need anything expensive. OK, let's turn the page and get starter with the first starter motor test.