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Umm... this might be obvious, but is this more than just a starter solenoid problem? by Patrick
Started on: 04-10-2015 04:05 PM
Replies: 35 (553 views)
Last post by: Patrick on 04-17-2015 01:57 AM
Patrick
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Report this Post04-10-2015 04:05 PM Click Here to See the Profile for PatrickClick Here to Email PatrickSend a Private Message to PatrickEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post

I've had no issues with my 5-spd '88 Formula, but today when I went to start it up, the starter began to engage for a split second... and then nothing. No power to anything.

When I put a meter on the battery, I couldn't get a reading of higher than 1.8v. That was odd to say the least.

I eventually discovered that if I disconnected the main power supply to the power junction, that there was indeed 12.29v from the battery.

When I connect it again, the volts drop down again to 1.8 or thereabouts.

What's going on? Is this an indication that there's an issue with the starter and/or starter solenoid?

I've experienced dead starters previously, but in more than 40 years of owning a car, I've never had a problem occur quite the same as this one.
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Gall757
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Report this Post04-10-2015 04:16 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Gall757Send a Private Message to Gall757Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Can you re-run your test with the starter disconnected?
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Patrick
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Report this Post04-10-2015 04:25 PM Click Here to See the Profile for PatrickClick Here to Email PatrickSend a Private Message to PatrickEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Gall757:

Can you re-run your test with the starter disconnected?


Well, not without jacking the car up. The car's parked on the street, and rain is imminent, so I'm not keen on getting under the car right now. I suspect I'll have to get under there eventually, but I'm hoping for a miracle cure in the meantime.
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Report this Post04-10-2015 04:33 PM Click Here to See the Profile for tebaileyClick Here to Email tebaileySend a Private Message to tebaileyEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
If you could, load test the battery. Sounds like the battery crapped out. A volt meter doesn't put a load on the battery so it could show 12v until a load is applied. I've had batteries do that to me before, one was only a week old.
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Report this Post04-10-2015 04:40 PM Click Here to See the Profile for fierofoolClick Here to visit fierofool's HomePageClick Here to Email fierofoolSend a Private Message to fierofoolEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Place the trans in 3rd or 4th gear and rock the car a bit. It might be possible the starter is stuck? That could put a heavy draw on the starter. I had an 62 Bonneville almost go up in flames because the starter engaged with a clunk and then stuck.
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Report this Post04-10-2015 04:49 PM Click Here to See the Profile for PatrickClick Here to Email PatrickSend a Private Message to PatrickEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by tebailey:

If you could, load test the battery. Sounds like the battery crapped out. A volt meter doesn't put a load on the battery so it could show 12v until a load is applied. I've had batteries do that to me before, one was only a week old.


I don't really have a way of load testing the battery... other than starting a car I suppose.

It would surprise me if the battery was bad, only because I'd been driving the car every day and the battery was fine as of last night. However, I suppose a relatively simple test would be to swap batteries between the Formula and my '84 duke.

Just looking up at the ominous rain clouds which are gathering...
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Patrick
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Report this Post04-10-2015 04:51 PM Click Here to See the Profile for PatrickClick Here to Email PatrickSend a Private Message to PatrickEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post

Patrick

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quote
Originally posted by fierofool:

Place the trans in 3rd or 4th gear and rock the car a bit. It might be possible the starter is stuck? That could put a heavy draw on the starter. I had an 62 Bonneville almost go up in flames because the starter engaged with a clunk and then stuck.


This is what I'm actually suspecting. I did try and rock the car, but had limited success. I think I'll just put a wrench on the harmonic balancer bolt and see if I can turn the engine over a few times.
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Patrick
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Report this Post04-10-2015 06:17 PM Click Here to See the Profile for PatrickClick Here to Email PatrickSend a Private Message to PatrickEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post

Other than the resistance of the compression at each cylinder, there was nothing preventing the engine from turning over using a wrench... so the starter's not jammed.

If the rain holds off, I'll try swapping batteries after I have something to eat.

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Report this Post04-10-2015 07:23 PM Click Here to See the Profile for tebaileyClick Here to Email tebaileySend a Private Message to tebaileyEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
I had an Exide battery in my old truck that was only a week old, one day it was starting great and the next day completely dead. Try jump starting the car and see if it starts. Or if you have anything that runs on 12v that you could hook up to the battery and see if the voltage drops.
Or like you said, swap the battery.

[This message has been edited by tebailey (edited 04-10-2015).]

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Patrick
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Report this Post04-10-2015 08:19 PM Click Here to See the Profile for PatrickClick Here to Email PatrickSend a Private Message to PatrickEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post

Well... I took the battery out of the Formula and stuck it in my '84, turned the key... and Va-roooom! Okay, more like "rattle-rattle". Hey, it's a duke.

So it's not the battery. I suspect the starter and/or solenoid have packed it in. So... I guess I now have an excuse to pursue the following...

 
quote
Originally posted by Patrick in This thread:

A year or so ago I went to the wreckers to buy two newer light-weight starters... one for my 2.8 Formula and one for my 2.5 '84. I knew there were actually two different sizes of these newer starters depending on the amperage. I found one of each, one noticeably larger than the other, although both were considerably smaller than the original starters on our Fieros. Turned out that one of the starters was faulty (so I returned it for a credit), but I used the remaining one on my '84 as its starter was toast. The replacement starter works very well.

So why didn't I pick up another newer starter to replace the faulty one that I took back? Because the current starter on my Formula works perfectly, and I could see it wasn't worth replacing it for a very minor reduction in weight. However, if and when that starter packs it in, it is a no-brainer to replace it with a newer lighter-weight version.

I re-found this thread HERE that has some good info in it, including weights. I suspect the smaller of the two starters that I had picked up also weighed just over 6 lbs.



Starting every Saturday, my favorite wrecking yard has different car parts marked down by half-price for a week. Perhaps I'll get lucky and starters will be on the list as of tomorrow.

Thanks to everyone who's posted. When I get this resolved (probably in a few days), I'll report back.
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Electrathon
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Report this Post04-11-2015 01:06 AM Click Here to See the Profile for ElectrathonClick Here to visit Electrathon's HomePageClick Here to Email ElectrathonSend a Private Message to ElectrathonEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
You said you have NO power to anything. The last thing it is is the starter. You have a connection issue, close to the battery.
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Patrick
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Report this Post04-11-2015 02:06 AM Click Here to See the Profile for PatrickClick Here to Email PatrickSend a Private Message to PatrickEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Electrathon:

You said you have NO power to anything. The last thing it is is the starter. You have a connection issue, close to the battery.


Hey, I'm all ears and more than willing to listen to all suggestions. Any ideas to explain the following?

 
quote
Originally posted by Patrick:

When I put a meter on the battery, I couldn't get a reading of higher than 1.8v. That was odd to say the least.

I eventually discovered that if I disconnected the main power supply to the power junction, that there was indeed 12.29v from the battery.

When I connect it again, the volts drop down again to 1.8 or thereabouts.

What's going on?


It seemed to me that there was some sort of heavy electrical draw occurring somewhere. Since the trouble started as soon as I tried to start the car, I was suspecting something in the starter solenoid was perhaps shorting out. I'm no wiring expert, so please... point me in the right direction.

[EDIT] Obviously the thing to do is to get under the car and totally disconnect all power from the starter. That would at least eliminate one variable. Hopefully it's not raining tomorrow and I can raise the back end of the car and get under there.

[This message has been edited by Patrick (edited 04-11-2015).]

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Report this Post04-11-2015 03:42 AM Click Here to See the Profile for RexgirlSend a Private Message to RexgirlEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Yes, Patrick, your car probably has a near short circuit, and the large starter solenoid terminal is a good starting place to measure with an ohm meter.
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Report this Post04-11-2015 03:53 AM Click Here to See the Profile for PatrickClick Here to Email PatrickSend a Private Message to PatrickEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by fierofool:

I had an 62 Bonneville almost go up in flames because the starter engaged with a clunk and then stuck.


 
quote
Originally posted by Rexgirl:

Yes, Patrick, your car probably has a near short circuit...


Until I find out for sure, I'm glad I at least removed the battery. If this is indeed what's happened, I'm surprised there isn't some sort of fuse/fusible link that would blow in this situation.
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Report this Post04-11-2015 05:25 AM Click Here to See the Profile for RaydarClick Here to Email RaydarSend a Private Message to RaydarEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
I'm guessing you still have a side terminal battery. Were you actually measuring on the bolts that thread in to the side terminals?
I'm guessing this was nothing more than a loose/corroded connection at the battery. Or a battery that is "fractured" internally, and about to give up the ghost. (That you temporarily repaired by jostling it.)
If it was a loose connection, you fixed it by removing and replacing the cables. I have actually heard of a few cases of the side posts breaking their connection inside the battery.

I don't believe it's a short circuit of any kind. Anything that is going to load a good battery down from 12 volts to ~2 volts is going to make a lot of heat and probably a lot of smoke, in very short order. (As fierofool alluded to.)
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Report this Post04-11-2015 09:53 AM Click Here to See the Profile for ElectrathonClick Here to visit Electrathon's HomePageClick Here to Email ElectrathonSend a Private Message to ElectrathonEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Radar is spot on. You do not have a short circuit ( which is a power wire pinched to ground). You have an open circuit. It is a loose or corroded connection someplace. It is very possibly a corroded battery cable at the terminal. Pull out the bolts and look inside the hole for corosion. Wiggle the wires around. Look at the positive post at the starter where all the wires connect. It you have lost everything there are only a few places very near the battery that it can be.
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Report this Post04-11-2015 04:02 PM Click Here to See the Profile for RexgirlSend a Private Message to RexgirlEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
My suggestion is to remove the positive battery wire and measure electrical resistance from the wire to the body. If you read over, say 50 ohms, then your problem is the battery, as Raydar posted.
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Report this Post04-11-2015 04:56 PM Click Here to See the Profile for PatrickClick Here to Email PatrickSend a Private Message to PatrickEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Raydar:

Were you actually measuring on the bolts that thread in to the side terminals?


I'll supply more details in case this might be helpful to diagnose the issue.

The battery is mounted up front in the spare tire compartment. I have long factory battery cables from another GM car running back to the starter(+) and to the engine block(-). From the starter a second cable (which is molded into the same terminal attached to the starter as the main positive cable) runs up to the electrical junction by the original battery location.

When I tried to get a voltage reading directly off the battery, I was only getting 1.8v and I thought that this was simply because I couldn't get the leads from the meter to make good contact with the bolts on the battery terminals. (I've often found this to be difficult on any of my Fieros.) Without doing anything to the terminals, I then decided to take a reading from the power junction in the back instead. It was still 1.8v, and I couldn't understand why the voltage was so low. I then disconnected the power cable from the junction. Lo and behold, it now measured 12.29v at the end of the cable. If I then touched the power cable to the junction terminal, the voltage immediately dropped to 1.8v again.

It's important to note that these changes in voltage had nothing to do with any "jostling" of the battery as it was not being moved, and the terminals were not being tampered with. I was measuring these changes in voltage several feet away from where the battery was actually sitting.

When I eventually disconnected the battery cables from the terminals on the battery, they were plenty tight, and there was no corrosion as I had previously put dielectric grease on all metal surfaces. I put this battery in my '84 and it started the engine just like usual.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I have limited time today, but the first thing I'l try is to put an ohmmeter between the positive battery cable and a good ground and see what the readings are... and I'll see if there's any difference in readings with the positive cable connected or not connected to the power junction.

[This message has been edited by Patrick (edited 04-11-2015).]

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Report this Post04-11-2015 07:09 PM Click Here to See the Profile for tsharkSend a Private Message to tsharkEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
...

[This message has been edited by tshark (edited 09-08-2018).]

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Patrick
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Report this Post04-11-2015 07:38 PM Click Here to See the Profile for PatrickClick Here to Email PatrickSend a Private Message to PatrickEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Patrick:

I have limited time today, but the first thing I'l try is to put an ohmmeter between the positive battery cable and a good ground and see what the readings are... and I'll see if there's any difference in readings with the positive cable connected or not connected to the power junction.


This is what I found...

There is zero resistance between the neg battery cable and ground. Good.

There is infinite resistance between the neg battery cable and the pos battery cable when the power cable is not connected to the power junction. Good.

However (and this is where my lack of electrical knowledge kicks in)...

With the ohmmeter on 20K, and with the power cable now connected to the power junction, I get a rising reading between the neg battery cable and the pos battery cable. The reading is rising above 10.00 on the digital scale when I stop.

Does this indicate anything out of the ordinary?

 
quote
Originally posted by tshark:

Ha.


"Ha" ?

 
quote
Originally posted by tshark:

Run an ampere meter inline between the connections at the junction. See how much current is being drawn.


I can run more tests tomorrow... if it's not raining.
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Report this Post04-12-2015 02:02 AM Click Here to See the Profile for RexgirlSend a Private Message to RexgirlEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Voltage equals current times resistance. It's possible there is a bad (high resistance) connection between the positive battery terminal and the engine compartment's distribution block,
(BTW, a rising resistance may mean there is capacitance across the + and -. ).
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Report this Post04-12-2015 03:24 AM Click Here to See the Profile for PatrickClick Here to Email PatrickSend a Private Message to PatrickEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Rexgirl:

It's possible there is a bad (high resistance) connection between the positive battery terminal and the engine compartment's distribution block,
(BTW, a rising resistance may mean there is capacitance across the + and -. ).


I'll do this same test to my '84 duke and see if the results are the same or different. I just want to make sure that what I observed isn't "normal".

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Report this Post04-12-2015 01:29 PM Click Here to See the Profile for RexgirlSend a Private Message to RexgirlEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Um, is your resistance reading rising to 10 ohms or 10,000 ?
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Report this Post04-12-2015 01:42 PM Click Here to See the Profile for tsharkSend a Private Message to tsharkEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
...

[This message has been edited by tshark (edited 09-08-2018).]

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Report this Post04-12-2015 02:38 PM Click Here to See the Profile for PatrickClick Here to Email PatrickSend a Private Message to PatrickEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Rexgirl:

Um, is your resistance reading rising to 10 ohms or 10,000 ?


I dunno... you tell me.

 
quote
Originally posted by Patrick:

With the ohmmeter on 20K, and with the power cable now connected to the power junction, I get a rising reading between the neg battery cable and the pos battery cable. The reading is rising above 10.00 on the digital scale when I stop.

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Report this Post04-12-2015 02:48 PM Click Here to See the Profile for tebaileyClick Here to Email tebaileySend a Private Message to tebaileyEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Here's a long shot that I ran into once before, bad cable. I had a Skytrak that did the exact same thing. Ended up being a bad cable, when I wiggled the cable it would start, but everything would go dead the next time you tried to start it. The cable looked great, almost like new, but one of the ends would lose contact inside the cable.
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Report this Post04-12-2015 04:05 PM Click Here to See the Profile for PatrickClick Here to Email PatrickSend a Private Message to PatrickEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by tebailey:

...bad cable.


Yeah, anything's possible.

What I thought I'd try is to leave the present power cable disconnected from the power junction, and to then just supply power from a "remote" battery to the power junction. This would in essence bypass the starter/starter solenoid and at least allow me to see if power returns to the rest of the car.

However, it's pouring rain right now, so this may have to wait for awhile.

[This message has been edited by Patrick (edited 04-12-2015).]

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Report this Post04-13-2015 01:32 AM Click Here to See the Profile for RexgirlSend a Private Message to RexgirlEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Comparing the resistance readings between your '88 and '84 was a good idea. They won't be identical, of course, but they should be somewhat close.
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Report this Post04-13-2015 02:07 AM Click Here to See the Profile for theogreClick Here to visit theogre's HomePageSend a Private Message to theogreEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
12.29 is low battery...
See my Cave, Battery

84 may use less power to start. Amps drawn by everything... Not just amps use by starter.

Take battery to store, charge and test.

If 84 has full charge battery then try that battery.

If car has been in freezing weather... Very good chance you have frozen the battery causing dead cell(s). Low battery are easy to freeze. Dead cells w/o a load can look ok to a DVM. Put any load on it and volts will drop like a stone.

Charging iffy battery in a car etc can be dangerous. Dead cells can "leak" acid, cause fires/explosions, fry alternators, etc.

------------------
Dr. Ian Malcolm: Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should.
(Jurassic Park)


The Ogre's Fiero Cave (It's also at the top and bottom of every forum page...)

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Report this Post04-15-2015 03:11 AM Click Here to See the Profile for PatrickClick Here to Email PatrickSend a Private Message to PatrickEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post

It's been a little wet here the last couple of days, but today the sun came out... and so did my multimeter.

 
quote
Originally posted by Patrick:

With the ohmmeter on 20K, and with the power cable now connected to the power junction, I get a rising reading between the neg battery cable and the pos battery cable. The reading is rising above 10.00 on the digital scale when I stop.


This same test on an '84 duke... The reading went up to about 4.

This same test on an '86 GT... The reading went up to about 8.

So, it appears there is supposed to be a reading of some sort, but why it continued to rise on the Formula (up to and over at least 10) remains a mystery to me.

 
quote
Originally posted by Patrick:

What I thought I'd try is to leave the present power cable disconnected from the power junction, and to then just supply power from a "remote" battery to the power junction. This would in essence bypass the starter/starter solenoid and at least allow me to see if power returns to the rest of the car.


I did the above procedure, and as I suspected, electrical power returned to the rest of the car. I could see the interior lights on with the door open. When I touched the power cable that goes down to the starter to the junction, as before, the interior lights went out. No electrical power to the car. When I removed the starter power cable from the junction, the interior lights went back on. However, without doing anything else, I repeated that simple procedure... and the interior lights this time didn't go out when I touched the cable from the starter to the power junction. What the heck? I did it over and over... same results, the power didn't disappear anymore.

I figured what the heck... I hooked the battery back up in the front compartment, turned the key... VAROOOOM !!!

Works like new.

I have no idea what was going on.

My thanks to everyone who stepped up and offered a suggestion. Every suggestion was appreciated, every suggestion had merit.

Feel free to offer an explanation.
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Report this Post04-15-2015 04:02 AM Click Here to See the Profile for RexgirlSend a Private Message to RexgirlEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Very odd problem indeed !
Just guessing wildly... Since the main variable seems to be that you are physically moving the solenoid-to-power-junction cable, there may be an intermittent (near) short to chassis ground in it. Does this wire pass near the exhaust pipe or rub on the body/engine?
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Report this Post04-15-2015 05:42 PM Click Here to See the Profile for PatrickClick Here to Email PatrickSend a Private Message to PatrickEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Rexgirl:

Since the main variable seems to be that you are physically moving the solenoid-to-power-junction cable, there may be an intermittent (near) short to chassis ground in it. Does this wire pass near the exhaust pipe or rub on the body/engine?


Through a process of elimination, I'm suspicious of that cable as well... but I can't emphasize enough how little I moved that cable as I was doing my testing, and getting different results. It's only been on there for a year and a half, and if I had to guess, I'd say I did a perfect job installing it. There shouldn't be any issues with it grounding out on the exhaust/body/engine, but obviously the next time I'm under the car I'll be carefully checking it over.
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Report this Post04-16-2015 01:25 PM Click Here to See the Profile for NotorioSend a Private Message to NotorioEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Gremlin ...


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Report this Post04-16-2015 01:42 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Gall757Send a Private Message to Gall757Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Chupacabras.............

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tebailey
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Report this Post04-16-2015 03:17 PM Click Here to See the Profile for tebaileyClick Here to Email tebaileySend a Private Message to tebaileyEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
You do have a strange one, to draw that much voltage and not let the smoke out of something.
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Patrick
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Report this Post04-17-2015 01:57 AM Click Here to See the Profile for PatrickClick Here to Email PatrickSend a Private Message to PatrickEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
About a year ago, I swapped out the pulley on the harmonic balancer and installed a "power pulley". (Hey, I got it for a song.) It's basically a smaller pulley that turns the alternator and the water pump a bit slower, therefore saving a little more HP for the wheels... as the theory goes. Anyway, I noticed that the idle quality had been affected right away after installing this pulley. The idle would often surge up and down a couple hundred RPM or so while at a light, whereas it had been rock steady prior to changing the pulley.

The reason why I mention this, is that after messing about with this other issue, the surging has now been eliminated.

I suspect there's a connection somehow... or maybe I should say a bad connection. I also suspect that Electrathon is reading this and thinking to himself... "I told that guy what the problem was."

 
quote
Originally posted by Electrathon:

You have a connection issue...

[This message has been edited by Patrick (edited 04-17-2015).]

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