Electrical Mystery

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Electrical Mystery

Postby starfire » Sun Aug 14, 2016 9:43 am

Hi,

1978 Starfire, 305 V8. Manual trans. No changes have been made to the car electrically or mechanically since last year (when it worked fine). This year (May) I got it out of storage and brought it home. It started and ran perfectly. I finished putting the windows back in and replaced the window trim. Went to move it back into the garage and it wouldn't start. Thought that was odd as the Optima battery is very strong, but realized I had backed the car in and out of the garage over the past week while working on the windows and had the doors open while I was working (I know, I should have unhooked the battery) so I figured maybe it was just run down from that. Put the charger on it and it started right up, put it in the garage and left it there without moving or starting it for a few weeks. Got in it last night to move it out of the garage and because it hadn't been started in a few weeks I had to pump the gas and try a few times to start it. Before it would start, all electrical (except clock) shut down. No dome light, no radio, no headlights, nothing. OK, it's been hot and the battery did not have a tender on it, I put the charger on it and left it overnight. This morning got in it, dome light on, Tried to start it and it turned over a couple of times and then the electrical system shut down again. Got out checked the battery, it's fine (12.8 volts) put the charger on it again and it went up to 100%. Opened the door and the dome light came on. Turn the ignition to on and the radio works. Try to start the car and as soon as I turn the key to start, the electrical system shuts down. Get out, put the charger on again, reads 100%, leave the charger on, open the door, dome light on, pull the headlight switch out, electrical system shuts down. Unhook the headlights. Charger still reads 100% (I'm sure now that the battery is not the problem) try to start the car again, electrical system shuts down. Nothing but the clock works (makes sense as clock has a direct feed to the battery). Get out, unhook the battery charger. Ponder for a while, take the air cleaner off. Open the door, dome light back on. Try to start the car. Electrical system shuts down.

It seems that if I let the car sit for a few minutes, the electrical system will reset itself, but if any major power (lights, ignition) is applied it shuts back down.

Any ideas on what my problem is?

Thanks,
Alan

1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass S Convertible
1978 Oldsmobile Starfire Firenza

"Starfire, the Oldsmobile you didn't expect"
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Re: Electrical Mystery

Postby stage169 » Sun Aug 14, 2016 10:25 am

Do the easy things first, the batery could show a complete charge from your charger but the only way to know if it is good would be a load test. Parts store can do that for you.

Check your ground connection.

Put your key in the run position, if everything stays on then you might want to hook up a remote start switch to see if the engine will start. Just guessing if it is not the top two items it might be your ignition switch.

Good luck, that stuff is always a pain. I'm sure others will chime in.

Brian
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Re: Electrical Mystery

Postby heinz057 » Sun Aug 14, 2016 1:11 pm

check to make sure that the battery terminal ends are tight on the battery also where the connect to the starter and the ground to the block
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Re: Electrical Mystery

Postby starfire » Sun Aug 14, 2016 3:03 pm

The battery is definitely good. I will check the connections tomorrow as they could be loose, I didn't notice any looseness when I was putting the charger clamps on and off multiple times but I think side terminals are more difficult to tell if they are loose. I checked the negative connection at the head and that is tight . I'll have to check at the starter also, but it would surprise me if that was an issue.
Alan

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1978 Oldsmobile Starfire Firenza

"Starfire, the Oldsmobile you didn't expect"
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Re: Electrical Mystery

Postby spencerforhire » Sun Aug 14, 2016 3:38 pm

The ignition switch and fuse box are fed from a fusible link at the starter, attached to the large post with the battery cable; I'd start there. It could be loose or corroded or partially burnt.
The "fleet"-
77 Vega Estate wagon- project(someday)will have TPI305/T-5, S-10 spindles/axles
72 Vega HB Drag Car -383/'Glide/9"(9.35@146.19)(5.94@117.28 1/8th)
76 Vega GT- 400/4spd/9" retired from active duty(rusty)
03 Silverado 2WD ex.cab (work truck/parts hauler)
04 Silverado 2WD ex.cab (retired)
06 Haulin' 20ft enclosed car transporter
93 Suburban- 350/4L60(retired)
00 Saturn SW2- wife's car
01 Saturn SC2- younger son's project
00 Saturn SL2- daughter's car
98 Saturn SW2- spare
and 3 more Saturn "parts cars"
Note- the very act of listing all of these has made me realize I have some kind of problem.....

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Re: Electrical Mystery

Postby starfire » Sun Aug 14, 2016 3:44 pm

What I don't understand is why does the electrical go completely out and after a few minutes come completely back.
Alan

1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass S Convertible
1978 Oldsmobile Starfire Firenza

"Starfire, the Oldsmobile you didn't expect"
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Re: Electrical Mystery

Postby Monza Harry » Sun Aug 14, 2016 5:43 pm

Alan I have had similar issues and it always seemed to be a Battery connection or Cable issues [Like Heinz57 said to check] except once and my Main fusible link was toast but it wouldn't do anything when mine went [but I have heard of the partial like Spencer mentioned] You could check the fusible link with a Remote Starter Switch, maybe easier to hook up than find the Fusible link [I am thinking ~50/50 on these cars] If the battery, cable and connections are good it will turn over but probably not stay running as the load of fuel pump, fan, dash and ign. will probably over load the weak fuse. So start with cleaning the ends at the battery, and if no magic, then do a voltage test along both battery cables individually, on the positive between the battery and starter solenoid [that is lots easier said than done on a V8 H-Body] and the negative between the battery and the finished ground [also a good place to check for a bad connection]. I have had a set of battery cables that corroded down the length and seemingly out of nowhere it started acting up when any load was added like the brake lights would stall the car. As for the why, the most likely explanation I have heard is when you try and start the car the high current flowing through the last tiny connection that let the dome light, light left through the corrosion sparks and creates a little bridge that will run the low current items like your single dome light, but as soon as you add more demand, that little part gets hot and ends the insufficient connection until you shut it off and you create a little bridge [think of this as would happen with points and the pitting from the arcing] and again it starts but it will become less each time until Nothing! Alan if you need some more help give me a call, I am on days this week so early evening would be good. Harry
I'm not a hoarder I'm a preservationist 78 Monza Spyder (Soon To Be 2+2 with Spoilers)
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Re: Electrical Mystery

Postby starfire » Sun Aug 14, 2016 7:20 pm

Harry those are all good points. I have had a negative cable go bad, but the result of that was no power at all (cable looked perfectly good) . Your idea of the cable being "weak" on the insides might be the answer. After I check my connections tomorrow, if that doesn't fix it I think I will next replace the cables (it's probably time anyway).
Alan

1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass S Convertible
1978 Oldsmobile Starfire Firenza

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Re: Electrical Mystery

Postby cosvega76 » Mon Aug 15, 2016 8:47 am

If that is an Optima and it went dead, I'd get a load test done on it. I had to replace one Optima that I got from my brother that was discharged (dead) and never fully recovered. And, recently, I had an AGM battery in my DD Miata that did something similar after it got slightly discharged when I left it connected doing an alignment with the brake lights on. I charged the battery afterward. A few days later I stopped for a quick errand. When I came back out and tried to start it, it wouldn't crank but the radio would play. I had to replace that battery, too.


Chuck
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Re: Electrical Mystery

Postby starfire » Mon Aug 15, 2016 10:05 pm

OK, I'm pretty much just an idiot. The positive cable was not tight at the battery. Tightened it up and vrooom, away she went. Now I remember when I went to pick the car up out of storage I didn't have a 5/16" wrench with me so I just hand tightened them. Told myself I'd put a wrench on them when I got home. Forgot to do so. I'm glad it was such a simple thing, but man.... :bang: :bang: :censored: :censored:

Sorry to have bothered everyone with such a "Mystery". Jeez, what a moron.

Thanks for all the help everyone gave.

I'm more than a little :oops:

Alan
Alan

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1978 Oldsmobile Starfire Firenza

"Starfire, the Oldsmobile you didn't expect"
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Re: Electrical Mystery

Postby spencerforhire » Tue Aug 16, 2016 6:39 am

Glad you found your problem. At least your battery cables don't unbolt themselves like in my wife's car. The 16 year old cables are getting stiff, and the engine rocking around on the motor mounts tugs on the cable ends and magically loosens them. We've had this vehicle for 6 or 7 years, and now I just re-tighten the cables about 1/8 of a turn every time I change the oil.
The "fleet"-
77 Vega Estate wagon- project(someday)will have TPI305/T-5, S-10 spindles/axles
72 Vega HB Drag Car -383/'Glide/9"(9.35@146.19)(5.94@117.28 1/8th)
76 Vega GT- 400/4spd/9" retired from active duty(rusty)
03 Silverado 2WD ex.cab (work truck/parts hauler)
04 Silverado 2WD ex.cab (retired)
06 Haulin' 20ft enclosed car transporter
93 Suburban- 350/4L60(retired)
00 Saturn SW2- wife's car
01 Saturn SC2- younger son's project
00 Saturn SL2- daughter's car
98 Saturn SW2- spare
and 3 more Saturn "parts cars"
Note- the very act of listing all of these has made me realize I have some kind of problem.....

Visit http://www.spencerforhire.ca
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Re: Electrical Mystery

Postby Monza Harry » Tue Aug 16, 2016 4:26 pm

starfire wrote:OK, I'm pretty much just an idiot. The positive cable was not tight at the battery. Tightened it up and vrooom, away she went. Now I remember when I went to pick the car up out of storage I didn't have a 5/16" wrench with me so I just hand tightened them. Told myself I'd put a wrench on them when I got home. Forgot to do so. I'm glad it was such a simple thing, but man.... :bang: :bang: :censored: :censored:

Sorry to have bothered everyone with such a "Mystery". Jeez, what a moron.

Thanks for all the help everyone gave.

I'm more than a little :oops:

Alan

Alan, Thanx for the self abuse, this saves us the trouble of hurling derogatory remark after derogatory remark! :lol: I thought that sounded like that problem and that is why I started with the battery connections and cables, WE thought you would have checked to see if they were actually connected to the car! :lol: :haha: :pook: lmao And now we need video of you self inflicting a couple of these :whack: Glad you are ready for the dream cruise, now you just need one of your girls to cruise it with you and your Dad! [You have enough for the whole family don't you? That would be pretty unique Some video of that would be extremely well received I am sure] That should make them feel pretty special and dad too! It is great when it is only embarrassing and doesn't cost anything to fix! Consider yourself LUCKY if this is the most embarrassing thing you do, I could easily exceed this level of foolishness but I think I'll shut up while somewhat ahead! :dunce: Thank God for the scarcity of video back then or there would be no living my past down. Harry
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Re: Electrical Mystery

Postby starfire » Thu Aug 18, 2016 11:32 pm

Yes Harry, I am very glad that was all it was. And thanks to all of you guys for being here to prevent me from running out to buy new cables, electronic ignition parts, tail light fluid, etc. to try and fix the problem.
Alan

1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass S Convertible
1978 Oldsmobile Starfire Firenza

"Starfire, the Oldsmobile you didn't expect"
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