Ok your 4.6 ltr North Star is acting up and will not start intermittently. Example you turn the key and every thing works but the starter does not turn. It is the STARTER. Don’t Look for anything else. IT IS THE STARTER.
To change the starter looks scary as hell but it is actually easy.
Step one remove the air cleaner box and the duct to the air intake. The Mass Air Flow sensor is that black thing at the end of the engine where the duct is attached.
Remove the engine cover. It has 4 nuts holding it on. Now remove the long black plastic line that is running from left to right (facing the engine) put is aside. Disconnect the two vacuum lines on the back side right side. Straight down from there you will see a nut holding the fuel line just remove that nut. It will be important later. Now remove the spark plug wires – label them or make sure that the numbers that are on OEM plug wires is there so you can put them back later.
Remove the 10 bolts that hold the intake to the block. They are not tight and can be removed with a nut driver or a socket. Note, that the four nuts that you took off earlier that held the engine cover on were attached to 4 of the 10 bolts you are removing.
Now you should be able to lift the intake manifold up a little. Look at the fuel delivery lines to the fuel injectors next to the Power Steering pump (Left Side) you will see a thin wire attached to a steel tube (part of the fuel lines) this is a ground you will need to remove the bolt that is holding it.
Now you will be able to lift the manifold from the left side
Now you should be able to lift the manifold up 8 to 10 inches from the left side the right side will be held down by all the stuff attached to the throttle body. This should be enough for you to get the starter out.
Now you should be able to see the starter and remove it. Only two bolts hold it in. Remove them – the pull the starter back to you left pull it up and hold it on the valve cover and remove the nuts holding the wiring on to the solenoid.
Take the starter to a parts house and have it tested --- if it is bad replace it. My starter had a bad solenoid. So I replaced the whole thing. Now just do everything in reverse and starte the car and drive away.
It took me less than two hours not including taking the starter to AutoZone. Good Luck.
Ok so i was wrong --- torque to 7.4 lbs. NOT 20 as stated earler.
Also don't forget to remove the gasket (reusable) and clean it with break or carb cleaner and clean the block and the manafold then re install.
How do i know this ---- i did it wrong first. The car ran ok for days then it decided that every sensor was defective or reading bad things. it took days to figure out that i had vacuum leak throught he ill fitting gasket. now it is fixed.
I had a starter that was doing everything you could imagine: Everything else worked -no starter.
Everything else worked - no starter solenoid.
Nothing at all worked
Nothing worked and the battery was dead.
And probably a few other intermediate states that I have forgotten about...
It's interesting to note that a car whose starter (and everything else) were missing-in-action, would randomly be fine a few hours later. (Outside temperature was not a predictor.)
I "went in" with the idea that one of the starter cables was damaged - Found not to be true.
Once you get in there you are pretty much committed and must do 'something' just to justify the exercise.
Before buying a starter, I decided to look inside. Lots of Carbon dust (from the brushes wearing over time. I cleaned the dust out reassembled the starter, and so far everything is just fine.
That's the equivalent of a starter "rebuild" unless you have a catastrophic metal damaging type failure.
Anyway it was a pretty cheap 'repair'. If you want to go in with the idea of rebuilding, you should of course buy a new set of brushes first.
On the matter of getting the armature shaft back into the space between the spring-loaded brushes (not so easy with only two hands), I found that a plastic prescription vial of suitable size made it pretty easy.
My guess is that the reason the starter was doing such weird things is that the significant deposits of carbon dust were shifting around and shorting the starter in unpredictable ways.
If this is a common set of symptoms, my guess is that the starter cleaning repair might be a widespread solution?