Starter Spasms

Interior and Electrical

  1. The_Red_Barron

    The_Red_Barron Active Member

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    Hello again beautiful FMJ Forum!

    I'm back with another issue that I've been trying to bring up, but kept forgetting.....
    My timing is not fully tuned, but it works enough to not give me too many problems while driving. I disconnected the vacuum advance on the timing, and that helped me get power and stop most of the unwanted pinging. That's not the issue.....

    In order to shut the engine off when running 87oct, I tend to leave it in drive or reverse. I'm leaving the trans engaged, to help stop dieseling (continued combustion without spark), and it works well. Recently, I've noticed an issue that I'm not entirely sure is related.

    When I'm on campus, I disconnect my battery with a quick disconnect, to prevent the car from roaming without my knowledge......

    However, there are times that I leave the battery connected, because I know I'm going to go out again in a day or two.

    If I had the battery disconnected, it doesn't act up. If I leave the battery together, even for 20 minutes after running, it acts up.......

    I'll get in the car, put the key in the ignition, and hear the usual buzzers. The dome light comes on, the oil light and brake light come on, and all my lights will work (I know they will work without the key). I'll go to crank it over, and I'll hear *click*. I'll back off and all the lights will go out. If I shut the door, and remove the key completely, after a few minutes the lights will come back on. The car becomes completely dead. If I try again, it sounds like the starter is clicking extremely fast. My lights will flicker to match (LEDs).

    Now, I originally thought it was because of how I was shutting the car off. Maybe the neutral switch wasn't getting pressure, so the system thought it was still in drive or reverse, even thought the shifter was positioned in park. So, I tried shutting it off in park. It dieseled, like I expected. Went into the store, and came out 10-20 minutes later. Loaded the bags, got everyone in the car, and went to crank. It did the same exact thing. If I disconnect the battery (completely remove the quick disconnect screw[?]) and reconnect, it will crank over just fine.

    It's not like it will do it if I just sit.....I've tried it, it won't fix itself..... Perhaps there's a short somewhere? The starter is new, the ignition switch is newly replaced (didn't give me problems for months), and as far as I remember, the ballast is new as well. The motor was rebuilt about a year ago.......

    Is it possible that the starter was damaged by working on the car. There was one time when I accidentally let a torque wrench connect with the inner fender and the starter. There were sparks, but it didn't give me any problems for months after. And believe me, I basically drove it everyday.

    Even if I leave the car sit for 12-24 hours, it'll act the same exact way....... The only way to "fix" it is to disconnect the battery and then reconnect.

    Thoughts?

    I'll post a video on here later of the car doing it in the parking lot on campus...... you guys tell me what you think..... It does it with the lights and buzzers working after I left the car powered up for a few days......
     
  2. Oldiron440

    Oldiron440 Well-Known Member

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    The first thing I would do is verify that the starter is tight and that all grounds are one hundred percent.
     
  3. Aspen500

    Aspen500 Well-Known Member

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    The condition you describe sounds like a bad battery connection. The flickering lights, buzzing, etc are all caused by a loss of amperage, not necessarily voltage though. If the lights work until you turn the key to start, and you hear a click, it's also a classic indication of a poor connection at the battery posts. The connection may be OK for low amperage (like lights) but not for a high amp draw. The click is an arc which "burns" the connection off and then you have no voltage either.

    It's similar to having a wire with all strands broken except one. One light bulb might work but not 4 all at the same time. The one strand will carry voltage but no amperage.

    My first thought is the battery disconnect is at fault. If it acts up and you completely disconnect the battery, reconnect, and the starter works, that's where I'd look first.
     
    Rustyroger likes this.
  4. The_Red_Barron

    The_Red_Barron Active Member

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    Went for a ride today after doing some work.....

    Drove for about an hour or so, and decided to stop for gas before I got back on campus. Pulled into GetGo about 10 miles away....

    Filled up (spilled gas everywhere, pumps suck), got in the car. All the lights were on. Cranked, and got the fast clicks. Car went dead. Unscrewed the QD (Quick disconnect), turned the key, then returned the QD. Cranked, and clicked again...... tried again, and the same clicking. I disconnected the battery, and paced for a few minutes. No one I know up here has a truck, and I don't even have a tow rope. The rest of the trip is highway, and I really don't want to call tow company.

    Said some words, and completely pulled the ground cable from the battery. There was acidic dust that fell. Blew the rest out, and reconnected. Cranked right up.

    There is some acid on the negative post, which I'm not too sure why it's there.....And we even have the little felt rings to put around the posts, to help reduce the pile up....

    A while ago, I tried starting the car after it had been warmed up. I gave it just a little gas, and cranked. Once the car started, there was slight bumping from the engine bay. It could've been the starter? I really don't think it was though.

    Anyways, once I have a few days free, I'll try checking the starter connections, then the post. Ground will probably be the last to check, considering it has been working completely fine before now.....
     
  5. Aspen500

    Aspen500 Well-Known Member

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    Make sure the battery posts and terminals are clean and shiny and tight, but not TOO tight. The acid comes from the vents and some cheaper batteries can get leakage between the case and posts. Once the terminals are clean, put something like petroleum jelly, grease or an actual battery terminal protectant on them. That shields the terminals from acid vapor and keeps the corrosion down.

    In rare cases the cable to terminal connection can get corroded and cause sporadic problems. Not really anyway to fix that other than replace the cables. Those clamp on terminal ends aren't recommended except if there's no other choice. They cause all sorts of problems.

    I think you're narrowing in on the problem.

    Ideally you can install a battery with a external vent, where you run a vent tube down to under the car. That style wont corrode the terminals and added bonus, won't corrode underhood parts that are near the battery. A battery made to be inside (trunk, under the back seat, etc) the car will always have external vent provisions. This is what I mean for the vent tube (the one on my Aspen).

    DSC00135.JPG DSC00134.JPG
     
  6. Poly

    Poly Well-Known Member

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    So what happened ? Is everytrhing sorted out ?
     
  7. BudW

    BudW Moderator Staff Member

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    My ’77 wagon will diesel if turned off on fast idle (not yet 100% warmed up). Once warm and engine is back to normal idle, it will turn off fine.

    I suspect your idle speed is a bit high, and lowering it will fix that concern. That said, you need to get your ignition timing set right, before setting idle speed – but you might need to lower idle speed while adjusting timing to your taste.

    What is happening is the fast idle is causing the carbon deposits on pistons to glow red from heat. Those hot spots are igniting the fuel, without spark plug(s). Those hot spots are not an issue at low idle or at-speed (say 2,000 RPM). Also, engines without carbon deposits can’t cause dieseling – but it is easier said than done to remove those carbon deposits.



    It sounds like you either have a battery ready to die (or is mostly dead) and/or a short in electrical system somewhere.

    Most car batteries have an average life span of 2 to 4 years. If your battery is close to 4 years old – I would budget for a replacement really soon.
    There are indicators on how old a battery is. In most cases there is a sticker on the side of it when battery was made (not necessarily the “sell date” – but it might be close) or first shipped. I bought a battery this morning for wife’s minivan (Town and Country) and it had a sticker that says 5-18 (production or ship date of 5-2018). I have another battery that has sticker with “H16”. H is month (H = 8th Month (August) and 16 = 2016). These are two most common methods of battery age, but there might be others.
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    Most batteries have punch-out numbers on top of battery, for sell date – but I don’t see that method used much.
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    Before performing the tests below, the battery cable ends need to be clean and tight. Also, all ground connections also need to be clean and tight. A person might need to check the negative cable connection at cylinder head, the fender connections on both fenders as well as the ground strap from passenger rear cylinder head to firewall (not easily seen or accessible).
    20181017_155911r.jpg
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    Black or white arrows.

    When you do get car running, get or borrow a volt gauge, or get car to an auto parts store to test your battery. When car is sitting (nothing on), a charged battery should be close to 13 volts (13.2 volts for fully charged battery). If voltage (car off) is not, then you have a problem with battery or excessive draw when car is off.

    When car is running at idle is between 1000-1500 RPM, the voltage should be 14 to 14.5 volts. If not (either high or low), then you have charging system problem (alternator, voltage regulator or wiring harness problem).

    If “at rest” battery voltage is fine and running voltage is fine, but you still have a discharged battery after sitting for a while – it sounds like you have an excessive current draw on something, like maybe trunk lamp stuck on (or something). FMJ cars do not have as much to cause an excessive draw (as much as new cars can). The best way is to watch the amp gauge while pulling fuses (one at a time), or have a friend watch while you pull fuses. If you find the needle jump – then you have a source to start checking. From there, you may have to go to each item of that circuit and unplug while watching the amp gauge. The short can be found – but it takes some patience, a bit of logic and a Factory Service Manual,
    BudW
     
  8. shadango

    shadango Well-Known Member

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    Just to update this thread for my son (Red_Barron) -- he was home for a couple days in early November....and as luck would have it, the battery stopped charging in our driveway (rather than up at school or while on the road). No issues starting the car, but as we drove things got dimmer and dimmer....wipers were crawling....uh oh!! Looked at the voltmeter and it was reading 12 volts...so we knew there was an issue.

    Swapped in a new VR , no luck....then diagnosed it as the alternator. Swappeda reman unit in. We also went over his battery cables.... SO far, no more issues with the clicking-key issue. Time will tell.

    Hoping that perhaps it was just the alternator going out now and then, resulting in a less-than-fully-charged battery (which is only a couple years old and a decent one).

    He seemed to think that disconnecting the battery fixed his "clicking like a dead battery" issue when he would do that, but I am thinking it was related to the alternator and maybe a slightly loose terminal clamp, possibly the positive which is in poor shape.

    We will be swapping in a NOS positive battery cable (Merry Chrismas son! LOL) when he comes home for winter break. Not sure how the positive clamp is even holding on.....both sides are cracked!!!!!!!! But its on there tight....just has to make it til mid December.

    As far as dieseling Bud.....this engine was just rebuilt top to bottom 2 years ago..... not sure how much carbon could build up in about 6k miles?
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2018