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Thread: Electrical Problems: Car is DEAD! Help PLEASE

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Roanoke, Virginia
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    3,178

    Electrical Problems: Car is DEAD! Help PLEASE

    Having some strange problems with my car, which only happened today so if anyone knows some reason the events below took place please let me know ASAP.

    Here we go:
    Jump in my car today around 3 to go to work and first turn my car does the grunt click noise like it's dead but wants to start and then does nothing...so I'm sort of confused so I turn it off turn the key again and it fires right up. I think it's strange but I'm late for work so I don't think to much of it. Make it to work on time with no problems what so ever on the way to and I'm still sort of dumb founded on what happened but having to work I don't put much thought to it.

    I complete my shift, come out to my car and first turn it does the same thing so I try the same procedure only to have the power seat belt go back and then she's totally drained. At this point I'm just trying to find a reason to understand why this happened and I noticed my moms Cell Phone Charger in the lighter so I unplug it thinking that is the cause (doubtful but who knows). Anyways I get the jump, she fires right up runs fine etc. and I'm on my way.

    So I leave work and I come up to a stoplight and figure I might aswell put my windows down, and when I hit the switch my tach jumps from 2k to 3k...I'm freaked out for I just had my tranny rebuilt and I'm thinking it could be that. Light turns green and I keep headin home and well I decide to hit the high beams...when I did that my VMM turned off and turned back on! I'm totally scared now and just praying I get home for everytime I hit a switch something on my dash flickers or dies.

    So I make it home and I pop the hood thinking that maybe one of my fuses in the box came loose, which didn't seem to be it so I hit some of the switch to see what they do to report on here. Everytime I hit the window switchs the interior lights would dim, same with door locks. Headlights still caused the problem with the VMM from what I could tell.

    Anyways I turn off the car and well EVERYTHING turns off...headlights,interior lights, chimes...you name it! Completely dead.

    So right now my car is completely dead and I need some leads on what to check. Could it possible be my alternator? Or is it something more complicated than that? Seems odd to me that if it were it would make it all the way home on my battery...30min trip.

    Anyhow PLESE HELP ME OUT. I'm a college kid working 2 jobs to keep this baby from going to the crusher and every day something eles wants to act up (which there was a cry icon )

    Thanks for reading and the help you provide.

    -Tim
    Current Collection
    1994 Thunderbird SC - Auto converted to 5spd

    1995 Thunderbird SC - Auto

    1994 Thunderbird SC - 5spd
    1989 Thunderbird SC - 5spd - Daily Driver
    1990 Thunder/Cougar XR7 - 5spd
    1994 Thunderbird SC - 3v Project

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    outside of Chicago, IL
    Posts
    81

    POssible starter cable loose

    If you had transmission rebuilt the starter bolts were pulled. The mechanic may have hung the starter from the cable and this may have loosened them.

    Check for loose cables on starter and that the bolts are tight too.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Roanoke, Virginia
    Posts
    3,178
    Not a mechanic by any means so where would I find my starter to check this?

    Thanks a bunch for the reply.

    Also would this cause the other problems while the cars running? I thought the starter was used just to get it going then it's function was over?

    -Tim
    Current Collection
    1994 Thunderbird SC - Auto converted to 5spd

    1995 Thunderbird SC - Auto

    1994 Thunderbird SC - 5spd
    1989 Thunderbird SC - 5spd - Daily Driver
    1990 Thunder/Cougar XR7 - 5spd
    1994 Thunderbird SC - 3v Project

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    spring hill florida
    Posts
    99
    mine did the same thing last weekend. i replaced the alt and its all good now. got my alt from autozone for like 130.00 easy install and works like a champ. brian

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Roanoke, Virginia
    Posts
    3,178
    So you had the exsact same deal where the tach would jump when you put the windows up or down?

    I know when my alt went on my base T-bird nothing like I discriped took place.

    However my moms aerostar did something similar from what she tells me.

    -Tim
    Current Collection
    1994 Thunderbird SC - Auto converted to 5spd

    1995 Thunderbird SC - Auto

    1994 Thunderbird SC - 5spd
    1989 Thunderbird SC - 5spd - Daily Driver
    1990 Thunder/Cougar XR7 - 5spd
    1994 Thunderbird SC - 3v Project

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    outside of Chicago, IL
    Posts
    81

    Starter found on passenger side

    If you can jack up the car (use jack stands to be safe also!) on the passenger side you can find the starter next to the engine and bolted to the transmission. It's between the engine and exhaust pipe.

    Disconnect the battery cable.

    Look underneath and there's two bolts to check for the mounting of it and one clip wire and one power cable which has a nut holding it. The all should be securely attached.

    If the alternator is the problem your battery will be dead, so have battery tested.
    Last edited by 3tbird; 06-20-2003 at 01:35 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Allentown, PA
    Posts
    733
    Ignition switch?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Roanoke, Virginia
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    3,178
    Checked on it this morning and well she has enough juice to use the keyless entry to open the doors. Did that and it drained shortly after.

    Maybe that helps.

    I'm leaning towards alt. as of now.

    -Tim
    Current Collection
    1994 Thunderbird SC - Auto converted to 5spd

    1995 Thunderbird SC - Auto

    1994 Thunderbird SC - 5spd
    1989 Thunderbird SC - 5spd - Daily Driver
    1990 Thunder/Cougar XR7 - 5spd
    1994 Thunderbird SC - 3v Project

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Rock Hill, SC
    Posts
    786

    Either

    It is either corrosion in you grounding/charging circuit, somewhere, or you have a bad ignition switch, for which there is a recall from Ford for these.

    Good luck

    Phil

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Roanoke, Virginia
    Posts
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    No one has yet to justify why they have determined what they feel it is. I've also been told by my local chapter friends that it may be a dead battery...? Unfprtunately I work 2 jobs on Thursday and Fridays so I work roughly 16 hours today and tomorrow so I don't have much time to check it out.

    Anyways please help me out, I don't want to replace something for "that may be" what the problem is.

    -Tim
    Current Collection
    1994 Thunderbird SC - Auto converted to 5spd

    1995 Thunderbird SC - Auto

    1994 Thunderbird SC - 5spd
    1989 Thunderbird SC - 5spd - Daily Driver
    1990 Thunder/Cougar XR7 - 5spd
    1994 Thunderbird SC - 3v Project

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Rock Hill, SC
    Posts
    786

    If you are waiting...

    For an exact diagnosis, you may wait quite awhile my friend, as the art of troubleshooting is difficult at best, and made much more difficult when only getting/giving advice on what it MAY be over the internet. When it comes to our SC's, if you have not bought a part that didn't fix the problem you had, then I guess you haven't owned your car very long then. Are you in the VA Beach area or near the ocean? Corrosion on all metals is much worse near the coast. If corrosion gets, let's say, on the battery terminals, between the posts and the cable ends, you can get buildup to the point where only a small amount of the post will conduct electricity. I had this happen to me while stationed in Pascagoula, Mississippi in a 5.0 Mustang I owned. Went to start the car, she started to crank, then everything went dead, EVERTHING!! I was thinking alternator, battery, you name it. Then when I went to pull the battery out to get it checked, I noticed the amount of corrosion on the posts and terminals. I used a wire brush to clean them off really good, put it back together, and bingo, she fired right up with no more trouble.

    So why don't you actually try a few of the "free" things we have told you to try. If that isn't enough and you really want to spend some $$, take it to someone and let them guess on your dime!!

    Phil
    Last edited by phils89sc; 06-19-2003 at 09:47 PM.

  12. #12
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    Apr 2002
    Location
    Lakeville, MN
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    O.k. That sounds so much like a dead battery I would start there.

    Especially if the battery is more than 3 years old. That makes it a good time to replace anyway. Don't pay more than $70 for the battery.

    My thought is that you could have dead cells in the battery. Thus you have just enough power to do something quick, but the power is quickly drained by whatever you do. The flaky behavior of the electronics when running would be a sign that you are running strictly on alternator output and that the battery has nothing stored. Thus while in the day the alternator can output enough for radio and A/C, at night when you add lights or when you use some other high current draw device, you start pulling alternator voltage lower than the engine likes, thus creating some odd behavior with the tach, and maybe even things like injectors.

    You'll want to get it fixed fast, if that's the problem. Having the Alternator work that type of duty cycle (100%) is one way to burn out an alternator fast.

    You should have the battery tested at a shop with a carbon pile tester. Charge it fully over night and then bring to a shop and they can do a load test. If it fails, replace it. And if it's old and it doesn't fail, I'd still replace it as there could be a lose plate inside that is intermittant.

  13. #13
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    Aug 2002
    Location
    Rock Hill, SC
    Posts
    786

    I doubt it is the battery...

    If the battery has dead cells, then even starting the car (probably the largest current draw you can get on a car) would be next to impossible as the voltage would just simply not be there. Besides, didn't you read, this guy doesn't want a guess, he wants an exact, and from what I gather, a near free fix.

    Phil

  14. #14
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    Mar 2003
    Location
    Idaho
    Posts
    356
    Practically every place that sells and installs batteries can test the battery and charging system. Sears, Wallyworld, Checker, Schucks, NAPA, etc. Take the car there and have them check it. They usually do it for free and it would eliminate guessing if it's the alternator or battery. I doubt you'll be able to troubleshoot this with 100% certainty on this forum.

  15. #15
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    SCCoA Member#1257
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    Well, he is technically getting a free diagnostic. Shops do nothing for free so he's saving $ right there. Anyways, you can check everything that these guys have told you w/o much trouble. You would have to replace nothing you dont need to and spend $0. just a bit of work. Anyways Take your battery, starter and alternator to a place like Advanced Auto or Auto Zone and they'll test them for free. I'd start with the battery since its the easiest to remove, then the alt, then the starter. Obviously, check the connections going to each component for loose wiring or corrosion. IF all of these are in good working condition then you would have to check for some other type of electrical demon.
    Current: 1993 SC 5.0L Auto Red, 1994 SC 5-speed Teal, 1995 SC 5-speed Chameleon Blue
    Old: 89 SC auto Twilight Blue, 89 SC stick Titanium, 90 35th stick, 92 Sport 5.0L stick, 94 SC stick Black, 1994 SC Auto Teal
    Also: 1992 Feature Mustang Convertible 5-speed Vibrant Red, 1991 BMW 850i 6-speed Red, 1994 BMW 850CSi 6-speed Red

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