Need help finding a bad ground...I think.


New Member
Nov 2, 2004
My stock temp gauge jumps with any electrical useage. When I turn my blinkers on, the temp gauge AND the bat gauge both move with each blink. When I turn my headlights on, the temp gauge will jump 1/4 of the full range. So if I am driving at normal op temp, the temp gauge is half way up, but when I turn my headlights on the temp gauge jumps up to almost the top, and stays there until I turn my headlights off. If i turn my headlights off, the temp gauge jumps right back to mid.

I believe it is a bad ground somewhere, but I don't know where to start.
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The block to firewall ground behind the motor often becomes disconnected. It's behind the intake manifold on the drivers side... a strap with a big ring terminal on the end...
I seem to recall a ground behind or next to the gauge cluster too (for the gauges). Someone can confirm or deny that.

Good luck.
Grounds are important to any electrical system, and especially to computers.

1.) The main power ground is from engine block to battery: it is the power ground for the starter & alternator.

2.) The secondary power ground is between the back of the intake manifold and the driver's side firewall. It is often missing or loose. It supplies ground for the alternator, A/C compressor clutch and other electrical accessories such as the gauges. Any car that has a 3G alternator needs a 4 gauge ground wire running from the block to the chassis ground where the battery pigtail ground connects. The 3G has a 130 amp capacity, so you wire the power side with 4 gauge wire. It stands to reason that the ground side handles just a much current, so it needs to be 4 gauge too.

Picture courtesy timewarped1972

3.) The computer has its own dedicated power ground that comes off the ground pigtail on the battery ground wire. Due to it's proximity to the battery, it may become corroded by acid fumes from the battery. It is a black cylinder about 2 1/2" long by 1" diameter with a black/lt green wire.You'll find it up next to the starter solenoid where the wire goes into the wiring harness

4.) All the sensors have a common separate ground. This includes the TPS, ACT, EGE, BAP, & VSS

5.) The O2 sensor heaters have their own ground (HEGO ground) coming from the computer. This is different and separate from the O2 sensor ground. It is in the fuel injector wiring harness and comes out under the throttle body. It gets connected to a manifold or head bolt.

6.) The TFI module has 2 grounds: one for the foil shield around the wires and another for the module itself. The TFI module ground terminates inside the computer.

7.) The computer takes the shield ground for the TFI module and runs it from pin 20 to the chassis near the computer.

8.) The computer's main power ground (the one that comes from the battery ground wire) uses pins 40 & 60 for all the things it controls internally.

See for help troubleshooting voltage drops across grounds

Extra grounds are like the reserve parachute for a sky diver. If the main one fails, ther is always your reserve.

The best plan is to have all the grounds meet at one central spot and connect together there. That eliminates any voltage drops from grounds connected at different places. A voltage drop between the computer ground and the alternator power ground will effectively reduce the voltage available to the computer by the amount of the drop.


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Awesome info, thank you.

I am assuming it is a ground issue, but am not 100% sure. I am going to install my Cowl Gauge with guages for volts, water temp, and fuel pressure...but that won't be until I get the car painted in a few weeks. Before then I am going to install my electric fan and upgrade the wiring on my 3g alt. So I want to try to fix this problem before the fan install so I know that I will have a fairly accurate stock gauge. Once I put my aftermarket gauges in this won't be an issue.