Help! 289 v4 Not Starting - Vintage Mustang Forums

Thread Tools
post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-12-2012, 09:55 AM Thread Starter
Junior Member
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 27
Alert Help! 289 v4 Not Starting

Hi guys,

I've been reading and posting here and there but I've got a problem that's been rearing its head for a while now. I've been having starting issues with the mustang I bought over the summer, a 1967 mustang fastback 289 4v.

The car lately has only been started once every week or so (seattle rainy time and I don't have a garage).

I initially posted this and talked to a few friends and folks thought it might be the started, so I replaced it. Now when I get in and turn the key initially nothing at all happens (regular dash and warning lights do come on). Every few attempts to start I get a clunk that sounds like the starter is engaging but that's it. On a RARE occasion I'll get what sounds like the engine is starting but it sounds like it's only firing a cylinder.

Note: I'm running 89 octane with no lead additive (I've read by a few places that this works okay on a non-unleaded conversion)

I'm a car guy but this is my first project car so I'm learning a lot as a go. I'll give y'all whatever info I can and would really appreciate some advice on this. My family and I are moving this week and I need to get it started by end of week to get it on the truck for transport (yikes).

chager is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-12-2012, 10:36 AM
Senior Member
Woodchuck's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Peoples Republic of Vermont
Posts: 29,789
Send a message via Yahoo to Woodchuck
When you mean "starting it once a week, do you mean simply starting it and letting it run, in place, for a few minutes, then shutting it down?

To me, it sounds like you have 2 or possibly 3 problems. First, you have an intermittent problem with the starter engaging. Since you just replaced the starter, one can assume from your symptoms that you either have very poor battery connections or a defective starter solenoid.

The next suspect, especially since it's Seattle monsoon season is poor ignition wires and possibly distributor cap. If you open the hood at night and have someone turn the engine over and it looks like a lightning show that's a good sign that you should replace the ignition wires, clean the top of the coil and distributor cap, and check your point gap/dwell to insure you have a good crisp spark.

Next on my list, once the other two have been addressed and should they not fix the problem, are some fouled plugs from not giving the engine a chance to thoroughly warm up and burn off the deposits formed while running on part choke. If you feel like spending a couple bucks and replacing the plugs, fine, but if you can get it started and run it around for a half-hour they may clear up without a problem.


What, me worry?
- Alfred E. Neuman

Woodchuck is online now  
post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-12-2012, 11:15 AM Thread Starter
Junior Member
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 27
During the summer months I was driving it a few times a day, but lately it's just been starting it and running it for a few minutes once a week. (She's got bad seals in the front and rear windshield and water gets in during the "rainy" season here (aka 9 months of the year)).

I originally thought it was battery, and a shop when i first got the car said the battery wouldn't hold much of a charge, but I thought since all of the lights and radio would turn on with the key that a battery wasn't the culprit. Could it be possible that the battery is giving enough juice to run accessories but not start?

I have a line on a solenoid (that and ignition switch were my next thoughts) that I can get in and replace today or tomorrow.

Could this degrade over time? When I first got the car a few months ago it would start relatively ok, but it seems it's just gone downhill since then.

Also, the car came with an aftermarket carb that has a manual choke, but no choke cable inside the car. I haven't had a chance to replace it with a thermostat carb, so it's been running full open when i do run it. (I've been closing it to start it though).

Thanks for the assist Bartl!
chager is offline  
post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-12-2012, 11:16 AM
Senior Member
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Kansas City
Posts: 620
bartl is right on - also I would check the battery cables for internal corrosion and good tight connection and make sure that the starter solenoid is getting 12v at the 'S' terminal when the key is in the start position - or try jumpering the + terminal to the "S" terminal and if it cranks right over then you know either the neutral safety switch or the ignition switch is faulty.

Checking for internal corrosion is as easy as testing for voltage drops at each end of the cable while someone cranks the car... ideally you should see almost 0 drop at any point in the starter cable circuit. (both power and ground cables) Also if your first test at the battery shows low voltage either charge the battery and re-test or replace the battery if it doesn't hold a good charge.

1968 Mustang Convertible - Built 306/C4/8", disc brakes.
1966 Mustang Coupe - building for daughter... 5.0 EFI / AOD / narrowed 8.8 / 4-wheel disc / Integrated P/S... project creep anyone?
1990 Mustang NCAA/7-up Convertible
bwiencek is offline  
post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-12-2012, 02:41 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Colorado Springs
Posts: 7,863
Originally Posted by chager View Post
I originally thought it was battery, and a shop when i first got the car said the battery wouldn't hold much of a charge, but I thought since all of the lights and radio would turn on with the key that a battery wasn't the culprit. Could it be possible that the battery is giving enough juice to run accessories but not start?
Yes, the problem could easily be the battery. A nearly dead battery can power lights and a radio just fine, but still not have nearly enough cranking amps to turn over an engine.

Remove your battery and take it to a nearby Auto Zone. While Auto Zone isn't a great place to buy parts, they do have very good battery testers. Have the Auto Zone guys put your battery on the Bear battery tester. It will quickly tell you if the battery has any problems. However, the battery must be fully charged to properly test it. So, if your battery is nearly dead, and it sounds like it is, they will leave it on a charger overnight, then test it.

If you battery is bad, which means it has one or more dead cells, or something else, the Auto Zone batteries are a pretty good replacement. (That is, unless you want something that looks original.) Just don't buy the cheapest example. I always buy the best battery available. (I don't like being stuck with a dead battery!)
Klutch is online now  
post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-12-2012, 03:53 PM
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 74
I had a similar issue and it was my nutral safety switch.
silversol is offline  
post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 10:48 AM Thread Starter
Junior Member
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 27
Thanks for all the tips guys, here's an update:

I replaced both the battery and solenoid. After doing that it started up a bit rough, but I expected that from not having started in a few weeks. I let it run for a good 30 minutes and took it out for a drive around the block to make sure everything was ok. Parked it in the driveway, turned it off and then let it sit about 5-10 minutes, and then tried to turn it on again. No luck.

It is still not even turning over or making any sounds when i turn the key, but unlike before now it is trying to start more regularly, but it's just not firing. It is turning over but just not catching. After enough persistance it will fire and eventually start. I know there are issues with my carb (manual choke but no cable in the car) but it still seems like somethings missing. My next guess is going to be the wiring that was suggested earlier, or possible the ignition coil? (I started it when it was dark and didn't see any lightning show so I'm assuming the distributer is ok).

Hopefully it's serviceable enough to get on the transport truck.

chager is offline  
Sponsored Links

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Vintage Mustang Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome