Symptoms of a bad ground?

Discussion in 'Fox 5.0 Mustang Tech' started by DucatiRdr, Apr 8, 2007.

  1. My car has somewhat of a start problem. I have read through the no-start checklist and plan on going through the step-by-step shortly but if someone could tell me what this sounds like (and confirm my thinking) it would help me sleep better until I can have at it.

    My car is recently out of a 12+ year (indoor, unheated) storage and has a small starting problem. Just about every time I jump in and turn the key there is a click, like the starter solenoid engages but there isn't enough battery power to turn the engine. Sometimes this happens two or three times before the engine turns over and starts. When it does turn it seems to turn easily and has always started, but I know one of these days it will strand me.

    When I was reviving the car from its slumber I couldn't get it to start after this same issue. A tech buddy of mine came in and got it running saying it was a bad ground. I have cleaned the battery terminals and removed an old aftermarket alarm. Does this sound like a weak ground or another issue?
  2. It could be a bad starter. If you turn the key to start it and when it clicks all the dash lights and all the power turn off in the car and you have to turn the key back off then on again it would be a bad ground. It sounds like a bad starter though cause usually you would have to play with the terminals or the chassis ground to get the car to start if it was a bad ground.
  3. did he do a voltae drop test?? if so you are looking for 0.3 volts positive side and 0.1 volt negitive... make sure all of you connections are clean and tight.. positive and negitive battery cables, starter relay cables ground straps (battery to engine and engine to body). the best way to clean these connections is with baking soda and water. about 1-2 tables spoons per cup of water. scrub with a toothbrush or something of that nature. it is good routine maintainence anyways. sounds like a lot of work but it is worth it. trust me!

    *** if the cables or ground straps are bad replace them!!**
  4. I'd add that for diagnostics, when your car won't start like clockwork, I've used a spare jumper cable in parallel with existing cables. If the car magically starts, whatever cable you're paralleling is likely deficient. It can help shorten diagnostics time since cables can rot from the inside out, making it tough to find a bad one.

    Good luck.
  5. Thanks so far for the replies.

    What makes a starter fail? Dirty brushes? Corrosion on the wire terminals? My car has sat for a while as I mentioned, but only has 16,500 miles.

    MustangMike, I have NO idea what he did. I dropped off the keys and the car had a new, freshly charged battery and when I went by the storage space the car cranked right up. I have had the battery in and out a few times since then (January 07) and have noticed the on again/off again start problem.

    Anthony85, when the click happens I have not noticed the lights going off. The dash lights go on and stay on. I turn the key to off, then to on again and within the second or third try the car jumps to life and runs fine afterwards.
  6. have you checked to make sure both ends of the cable from the starter relay to the starter are tight, it could be just a bad connection.
  7. I haven't but I'll check that this weekend. I have recently upgraded to a 3G alternator so I know the postive terminal of the relay is good...
  8. i had a little starting problem starter solenoid was cracked in half! Just real old and the cable stressed it until it cracked i guess. :shrug:
  9. I've been having the same issue with my mustang. But when the click happens, all the power is gone (no lights or gauges). I just replaced my negative battery cable and grinded the connecting place on the block to shiny metal. After that I would sometimes turn the key and get 4 or 5 quick clicks in a row.

    My starter soleniod is new. My negative battery cable is new. My battery is new. I have a 3g alt with extra ground.

    I think I'll just chance the cable going to the starter and see what happens. The cable looks to be the original so it might need to be changed after almost 20 years:shrug: .

    Maybe your cables are just bad.
  10. I had to move my car to get ready for the 6" of snow we are expecting for tomorrow and had a chance to watch for things some of you guys asked me about.

    Open door and overhead light comes on, key in and key chime rings. Depress clutch, turn key to on and dash warning lights are on and fuel pump primes. Turn key to start, a dull "click" and nothing else changes. Dash lights still on. Turn key to off, then back to run. Fuel pump primes and car starts right up. Sometimes I have to repeat this latter part a couple of times but never more than 3.

    Ok. The thing that interested me the most is that the dull click seems to be coming from behind the dash speaker on the driver's side and not from under the radio where I would expect the starter click to come from. There is never more than 1 dull click - so it doesn't sound like a dying battery where there are multiple rapid sharp clicks from where the starter is.

    Does this ring any bells? Maybe its the solenoid? I haven't had a chance to go through the no-start checklist yet. I am a CPA and working 8:30AM until 10PM for the next week or so.