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Thread: lack of electron flow

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    WY
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    115

    lack of electron flow

    I did a quick search but didn't see any posts that covered the problem I am currently experiencing, so figured I would post up and see if anyone recognized this particular problem.

    On the way to work, I noticed that every so often, the dash lights and radio and cigarette lighter (has a sound-fly plugged into it)would cut out when I used the brakes. I thought there might be a short developing in the brake light switch or something. When I got to work and shut off the car, all electrical power was gone. No interior lights, no auto-seatbelt drive, no door chimes, nothing. Turned the key back to run, acc. neither changed anything.
    Hooked up a pair of jumper cables after work and the car immediately started. Drove home, noticed that using the multi-function switch to momentarily engage the high beams caused the same total loss of interior lighting and radio function (and who knows what else.) I remember reading that the ignition switch on these cars (and most fords of this vintage) were problematic, but wiggling the switch itself doesn't see to be causing a problem, just brake and highbeam usage, which is making me think those items are overtaxing a failing circuit somewhere. I am going to di into this in a few days when I get time off, but thought I would see if anyone has had a similar experience.

    Thanks,

    Horn
    Over 17 years of asking "What's leaking now?"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    389
    Good morning


    Remove the steering wheel column covers and check the ignition switch for looseness/security. Good information here:


    http://www.sccoa.com/forums/showthre...voltage-issues.





    Good Luck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Posts
    840
    Sounds like a ground problem that may be intermittently cutting in and out. On my Mustang, a ground connection had failed, and all power had cut out when I was driving......fuel pump, lights, dash lights, everything. It was a quick fix, but was super weird when it happened. Check the connections to the body that are by the radiator on the front fascia part (ie: where the hood rubber stops are, kind of), they tend to get corroded.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Salem, OR
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    6,335
    Quote Originally Posted by tchicken View Post
    I remember reading that the ignition switch on these cars (and most fords of this vintage) were problematic, but wiggling the switch itself doesn't see to be causing a problem,
    That's because the key and the lock cylinder that you wiggled are not the actual switch. The key/lock cylinder moves a rod that reaches down to the right side of the steering column where there is a multi-wire connector attached to the actual 'switch'. If you could wiggle the rod where it passes into the actual switch, you might get lucky, but just diddling key on a SC is like relying strictly on harsh language


    The old school tactic (which saved me far too many times on other vehicles) of wiggling the key only works when the key cylinder is in direct contact with internal electric connections - on our car, the key is remote from the wired guts that matter.

    The issue is that the switch opens up and separates the contacts, generally leading to random issues, rather than a straight hard fail, over time, and is apparently a routine issue on our cars given their age, etc. Good news is the part isn't that expensive, readily available and not that hard to replace. Would be nice if the fail didn't scream poor design, but oh well.

    Note the only electrical connection at the key/lock cylinder is the small wiper ground that triggers the alert chime to warn when the key is left on, etc.

    Ken
    Last edited by KMT; 10-19-2016 at 11:06 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Bossier City, LA
    Posts
    2,155
    Those looking at the picture that KMT posted - the part that goes bad is the "finger" at either end that holds the switch plate to the housing (and thereby traps the spring, the detent, the metal finger assembly, and the ball that pops in and out of the detent).

    That loosens up, the board eases up, and the fingers inside no longer make good contact.

    The work around is, when you replace it, tighten it down with some zip ties to help hold it all together.

    RwP

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    Salem, OR
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    6,335
    >when you replace it, tighten it down with some zip ties

    Good tip, thanks.

    Ken

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    WY
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    ground

    Thanks for all the tips. It turns out in this case I had a ground problem. Removed and cleaned the battery cable and the ground along with the passenger side above the transmission cooling lines. I had a chance to run the radio and headlights w/ high beams last night and experienced no problems. I also inspected the ignition switch under the steering column cover, and while it doesn't 'look' bad, I'll be adding one of those to my next rockauto order.

    Thanks again!

    Horn
    Last edited by tchicken; 10-22-2016 at 08:44 PM.
    Over 17 years of asking "What's leaking now?"

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Posts
    840
    Quote Originally Posted by tchicken View Post
    Thanks for all the tips. It turns out in this case I had a ground problem. Removed and cleaned the battery cable and the ground along with the passenger side above the transmission cooling lines. I had a chance to run the radio and headlights w/ high beams last night and experienced no problems. I also inspected the ignition switch under the steering column cover, and while it doesn't 'look' bad, I'll be adding one of those to my next rockauto order.

    Thanks again!

    Horn
    Good to hear that you got it fixed. You know, it's ultra ironic when I can help get someone else's car up and running, but not my own.....not even after a billion hours spent troubleshooting.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Salem, OR
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1FSTBRD View Post
    ..it's ultra ironic when I can help get someone else's car up and running
    Wait until you have a problem on your car, don't remember where to start, and when searching here, you find out you're helping yourself from the past

    Ken

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