Odd problem with battery/wires/something? <LONG>

Chris_Polley

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Jul 21, 2001
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Alright... this is gonna be a long explanation to make sure I get the whole story across. Hopefully somebody has run across something like this before and has some info for me.

I have an '87 Stang with just over 50,000 miles. Really clean inside and out. The engine looks like brand new yet. Under the hood is clean. It has a year old Interstate battery that I have had tested at two different places and it tests out perfect.
About a month ago the problem started where I would go to start my car and it sounded like the battery was really low or that I had a bad connection because it would barely turn over at first and then once it got going it was just fine.
Fast forward to a month later... (I don't drive the car all that often) and I went into the garage to fire it up and I noticed right away that my clock and radio stations were reset. I thought...hrmmm... my battery went dead? But after turning the key a couple times (it clicked a few times first) it cranked right over like it had full charge. So I shut it off, cleaned the battery terminals and the connectors on the wires and tightened em back down good (they weren't dirty in the first place but I did it anyway) and went to go try starting it again and it clicked a couple times and then after hitting the key a couple of times it fired right up. So I thought... maybe bad ground to the block? But that was clean as well... no corosion and it's tight. The positive wire going to the solenoid is also tight and looks like new. Could the wires themselves just be going bad? Or is there anything else I am forgetting here? How about the solenoid? If that was going bad could that cause the radio to lose power when the car is not running? My battery wires and connectors all are very clean and look like new, but perhaps the 17 years are catching up to the wires internally? Can I test them like a plug wire? What kind of resistence should I be looking for? Any ideas would be appreciated... I will probably buy new wires and connectors and try that... but that's about my only idea. Like I said, the battery tested out perfect at two locations and there is no draw on it when the car is not running. I've never had to charge the battery.
 
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jrichker

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Here's a checklist:

Check battery, terminal connections, ground, starter relay switch (also known as solenoid) and starter in that order.

A voltmeter is handy if you are familiar with how to use it to find bad connections. Measure the voltage drop across a connection: more than .5 volts across a connection indicates a problem.

1.) Will the car start if it is jumped? Then clean battery terminals and check battery.

2.) Check the battery to engine block ground, and the ground behind the engine to the firewall.

3.) Then pull the small push on connector (red wire) off the starter relay (Looks like it is stuck on a screw) and jump it to the terminal that is connected to the battery. If it starts, the relay is good and your problem is in the rest of the circuit.

4.) Remember to check the ignition switch, neutral safety switch on auto trans and the clutch safety switch on manual trans cars. If they are good, then the relay is bad. See http://www.autozone.com/images/cds/gif/large/0900823d80195963.gif for 88-90 year cars .OR see http://www.autozone.com/images/cds/gif/large/0900823d80195964.gif for 91-93 year cars.

5.) Jump the big terminals on the starter relay next to the battery with a screwdriver - watch out for the sparks! If the engine cranks, the starter and power wiring is good. The starter relay is also known as a starter solenoid.

6.) The starter may be hung, loosen up the bolts that hold it on, and give it a good whack with a big hammer. Tighten up the bolts and try again.

7.) If that doesn't work, use a jumper cable from the positive lead on the battery direct to the starter post where the big wire from the relay connects. If it cranks then, it is the power wire from the relay gone bad. This will be hard to do, since there isn't much room to do it.

8.) Pull the starter and take it to Autozone or Pep Boys and have them test it. Starter fails test, then replace it. If you got this far, the starter is probably bad.
 

JimBowy

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Nov 8, 2003
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good tips!
*subscribing*

im having the same issue with losing radio stations randomly...

actually my problem has another twist... sometimes when I turn the key to start ... the engine beings to crank than everything dies (including power, it stops cranking and the radio dies, etc.) than I put the key back to stop and start it again... then it works?

Figure that one out....
 

jrichker

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JimBowy said:
good tips!
*subscribing*

im having the same issue with losing radio stations randomly...

actually my problem has another twist... sometimes when I turn the key to start ... the engine beings to crank than everything dies (including power, it stops cranking and the radio dies, etc.) than I put the key back to stop and start it again... then it works?

Figure that one out....
There is a FREE recall on Ford ignition switches. They overheat and sometimes catch fire.

Copy down you VIN number and call the Ford dealer nearest you. Tell them you want to see if the ignition switch recall for Fords & Mustangs was done on your car. They will ask for the VIN number & check it against the master database. If it isn't in the database, then you can schedule an appointment to have the switch replaced for free. The TSB is #95S28, and don't let them tell you that they don't do that anymore...
 

JimBowy

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Do you know the specific recall? I found one recall of 9.0 milllion vehicles in 96 but it didn't cover my year of mustang (its an 87)

I found another but it appeared to be covering another 2.6 million.... the court was originated in California and it does mention my year in this article.

Thanks
 

BlackGT89

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Dec 16, 2002
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Huntsville, AL
Chris_Polley said:
So I thought... maybe bad ground to the block? But that was clean as well... no corosion and it's tight.
Did you actually take the ground wire going to the engine off and clean it thoroughly ? It can look good but still have a problem (it fooled me once like that). I'd clean the connections with a file or a dremel or whatever until shiny metal goes against shiny metal. There is a mismatch of metals here and that contributes to the problem. There is also an aluminum bracket that uses this same bolt and I would move the ground wire ahead of the bracket so that it grounds right next to the block (actually it connects to the aluminum timing cover).
 
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