starting problem - electrical

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starting problem - electrical

Postby millican » Sun Dec 17, 2017 6:22 pm

The other day, my headlight stopped working. That was the only thing not working. I got to the light and removed the bulb only to find that it's fine. I turned the key, and it lit up. After putting it back together, it was back to normal. Today, as soon as I pressed the starter button, there was a dull click and everything went out. Turn the key off, and the clock shows back up. Turn the key on again and there's no click, no lights, or anything else. The clock fades out with the key on. I checked all fuses, took the headlight out and put it back in. Checked current draw from the battery with key off and on and found no large draw. Checked the 20A fuse in front of the battery, and wiggled lots of wires to the headlight. Battery voltage is good and doesn't change when trying to turn it on and start. Is there a relay for the headlight that could be faulty, or is the headlight a red herring altogether? Any other ideas are welcome too.
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Re: starting problem - electrical

Postby CarCynic » Mon Dec 18, 2017 12:38 pm

You've got a bad connection someplace -- A "high resistance" or a "Smart Open" (I hate that term)

Wherever it is, it is making contact fine at low/no current (clock), but as soon as you try to pull a more significant current (lights or starter), it can't source the higher current.

Start at the source -- the battery terminals -- Tight? -- Corrosion? Cables in good condition?

Ground Wire? Same as above.

Then follow the big battery leads. I don't have access to the manual at the moment, but there is a starter solenoid someplace. Again, check/clean/tighten connections.

Sometimes, you can find it by just finding where it is getting hot. I had an old truck with the same symptoms. Only a click when you would attempt to crank it, but the Battery was fine. I got underneath while I asked the wife to try to crank it. - There was a rather impressive shower of glowing copper bits from the connection to the starter solenoid. Had I slid in just a bit further, I would have gotten it in the face.

I crimped on a new terminal, and it was fine for years.

Same thing on a different car. Sometimes it would start, sometimes it wouldn't. When it did start, cranking was very weak. I was convinced it was the battery since it would always start right up with a jump start (I always connect the negative lead to the frame or engine, as you should for safety). One time, while waiting for a jump start, I connected the negative jumper cable from the battery to the frame -- it cranked strong, and started right up. When I touched the negative battery lead, I rather painfully gave myself an extra layer of insulating rubber skin.

I replaced the negative battery lead with a marine grade replacement.
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Re: starting problem - electrical

Postby zozman » Tue Dec 19, 2017 8:58 pm

Do a load test on the battery. Then report back the results.

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Re: starting problem - electrical

Postby millican » Tue Dec 19, 2017 9:25 pm

Those sound like good ideas. It will be this weekend before I get a chance to work on it again. If I start fiddling with it, I cant stop.
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Re: starting problem - electrical

Postby slonaker » Tue Dec 19, 2017 9:46 pm

I had a similar experience. The battery was bad.

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Re: starting problem - electrical

Postby CarCynic » Wed Dec 20, 2017 1:28 pm

zozman wrote:Do a load test on the battery. Then report back the results.

zoz


I had typed that in my reply, but the OP said he checked the battery voltage with switch (light) on, and during attempted cranking, so I deleted that part of my reply before I hit submit.

I agree that a test with a proper battery load tester, set correctly for a motorcycle battery, is recommended.

Even the fancy digital load testers are available at a pretty good price these days.
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Re: starting problem - electrical

Postby millican » Wed Dec 20, 2017 2:21 pm

Lacking a load tester, I connected my 1HP DC voltage drill press, and it seemed to work normally.
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Re: starting problem - electrical

Postby dbcooper » Wed Dec 20, 2017 5:37 pm

millican wrote:Lacking a load tester, I connected my 1HP DC voltage drill press, and it seemed to work normally.


Just spin it or put a good load on it?
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Re: starting problem - electrical

Postby zozman » Thu Dec 21, 2017 7:38 am

millican wrote:Lacking a load tester, I connected my 1HP DC voltage drill press, and it seemed to work normally.



Step 2:

Lacking a load tester, you can remove the battery and take it to any auto parts store and they will test it.

Moving along, you're going to clean the ground on the battery negative and the positive lead. Clean the wires that go the starter relay which are behind the battery box to the front. Then if the ground at the relay is good, you will then remove the left side running board where the master ground bolt is to the frame and clean and re-tighten that.

Report back your findings.

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Re: starting problem - electrical

Postby millican » Thu Dec 21, 2017 8:46 am

heh. The problem is that I leave for work before auto parts stores open and return home after they close. I have some days off coming up to get the battery someplace.
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Re: starting problem - electrical

Postby millican » Sun Dec 24, 2017 2:46 pm

Found the problem. As carcynic suggested, there was a bad ground.
I was getting over 180 Ohms resistance from the G/W wire on the starter relay to the battery negative.
Image
Traced it back to where I should have started - the ground to the frame.
Image
Thanks guys. I'm posting this especially if someone else already has that tab open to buy a new starter relay or Ignition Control Module.
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Re: starting problem - electrical

Postby CarCynic » Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:42 am

I'm glad you found your problem, and that it seems like it was essentially a zero (parts) cost repair.

Resistances like this can cause all sorts of strange problems, and you cannot always use an ohm meter to find them.

The problem is that Ohm's law is always wrong. Here's a simply way to prove it, and then why it is relevant.

Take an ordinary classic household filament light bulb, and measure the resistance with a cheap DVM/VOM/Multimeter.

Now, using that result, calculate the current at 110V (I=V/R). You'll get a value of 100's of amps, but that light bulb works fine in a 15A circuit, and assuming it is a 100W bulb, it should draw about an amp @ 110V.

How can this be?

The problem is that resistance changes as materials are heated. In the light bulb, the glowing filament has a much different resistance than the cold filament, and the tiny bit of current the multimeter produces in resistance mode does not even begin to heat the filament.

The same thing happens when you go to crank your engine with a poor connection. The bits of corrosion/rust/peaks/valleys of a bad connection quickly heat due to the high current of cranking, and change their resistance.

This can work either way. As with the light bulb, the micro connections can have low resistance (appear good), and then heat with current, and fuse open, or just have a high resistance. They can also read a high resistance on a pocket meter, and then micro-weld themselves at high (cranking) current, and actually crank the engine, perhaps intermittently, or this condition can cause other strange problems.

You won't always catch these problems with the free multimeter from Harbor Freight. That's why they (other vendors) sell specific milliohm meters or ground testers. If you do not have a milliohm meter, running a separate test wire, visual inspection, or just re-doing all suspect connections is the best way to find/eliminate these problems.

OK, -- Sorry -- Lecture complete for today, but perhaps this will help someone for other situations/vehicles, as well.
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Re: starting problem - electrical

Postby Rafe Hollister » Thu Jan 25, 2018 12:53 am

Very nice lecture! I'm old and know a lot, but I learned something. Now I just gotta find the ambition to find the poor ground on my turn signal/running lights. Mostly they don't work at all. Sometimes one works. Today if I put the left turn signal on, the right running light comes on. When I cancel the turn signal, it goes out. If it weren't for your advice I would have thought they were demon possessed.
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Re: starting problem - electrical

Postby CarCynic » Thu Jan 25, 2018 12:46 pm

A little story... (You guys encouraged me.)

I had (until just before I got my Helix) a 1976 Citroen Dyane (Mechanically the same as a 2CV). (602cc and 35 HP was just waaaaay too much power for me.)

One day, I was driving to work, and the lights on the dash, fuel gage and voltmeter all went out. I knew it was just a poor connection. I didn't feel like, or have the time to pull over, so I thought about how I could fix it just from the driver's seat.

A 2CV's electrical system is simpler than a Helix (fewer fuses, for one), so I knew the windshield wipers were the biggest load on that circuit. I turned on the wipers, which stuttered, and then started working. The lights and gages came back at the same time. I turned off the wipers, and the lights/gages continued to work, and kept working for the rest of the work week commutes.

A few days later, I cleaned up the fuse block properly.

It could, of course just been a timing coincidence, but it I think my technique worked... The larger load of the wiper motor caused it to "find a path" -- A case of the mirco welding mentioned above.
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