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Discussion Starter #1
Out of the blue when I went to start the truck I got a big power draw down a clack then nothing, no starter engagement. The clack was probably the A/C clutch, the battery was fully charged. Pulled the starter, it looked so beat I just assumed it needed replacing so replaced it, still nothing, no voltage to the solenoid. So removed and cleaned all battery cables, things got better now when I turn the key on functions on the dash seem to work right but still nothing at the starter. Checked all fuses and fuse links that I can find, all ok. Moved the ground from the bracket to the block. Removed and replaced the ignition switch (not a job for an eighty year old), on internal inspection it had a hot spot in one area so I thought I had it nailed but still nothing, no power to the solenoid. Is there some fuse or fuse link prior to or after the ignition switch that I am missing?
 

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Welcome AG
what year model ??

older cars have a Neutral Safety Switch for the starter,
its on the column down by the floor board, with the Purple starter wires on it..
later models don't have it.. not sure what year they changed..

should be 2-3 fusible links at the starter..
there maybe 3 red wires on 2 fusible links..

might be 2 larger red power wires on the ignition switch..

the 2-3 red power wires and the Purple starter wires have to go thru the
bulk head connector on the fire wall..
sometimes there is a hot spot connection in there..
there is a 7/16 or 10mm head bolt thru the center of the bulk-head on the outside,
to disconnect the 2 outer connectors..

big click or clack and no crank is usually a low battery, bad connection, or the solenoid..
but the ignition switch pull-rod can be out of adjustment too,
tilt columns are worse about this..
the shifter park-lock can be out of adjustment too..
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Welcome AG
what year model ??

older cars have a Neutral Safety Switch for the starter,
its on the column down by the floor board, with the Purple starter wires on it..
later models don't have it.. not sure what year they changed..

should be 2-3 fusible links at the starter..
there maybe 3 red wires on 2 fusible links..

might be 2 larger red power wires on the ignition switch..

the 2-3 red power wires and the Purple starter wires have to go thru the
bulk head connector on the fire wall..
sometimes there is a hot spot connection in there..
there is a 7/16 or 10mm head bolt thru the center of the bulk-head on the outside,
to disconnect the 2 outer connectors..

big click or clack and no crank is usually a low battery, bad connection, or the solenoid..
but the ignition switch pull-rod can be out of adjustment too,
tilt columns are worse about this..
the shifter park-lock can be out of adjustment too..
Thanks for the reply, The starter solenoid has never been activated. I have continuity through the three wire fuse links at the starter (assuming these are the black barrel shaped things), am in the process of checking continuity from the ignition switch all the way to the starter now. The ignition switch has been double checked for proper positioning and is functioning as it is supposed to. In the 84 model this also locks out the starter function in all but park so serves as a safety switch as well.
Your saying the solenoid wire is purple mine looks burned red from heat and age so I have been checking the wrong wires at the ignition switch for voltage, will go back and check that (I don't have a schematic so have no idea where the power comes from to the ignition switch). I will also take a close look at the bulkhead connections if I don't get continuity all the way to the solenoid.
 

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black barrel shaped things
are the connectors, covered in plastic, the fusible links are the smaller wire ends,
from the connector to the battery terminal on the solenoid..

yes the later models don't use the NSS for the starter lock-out,
just the rod-lock thru the shifter to the ignition switch..

yes starter solenoid crank wire is usually purple, on the "S" terminal ..
but on a 4spd car there yellow too, for the clutch switch starter lock-out..

sometimes those electrical hot spots can show continuity or volts,
and open up under a bigger load.. same for the fusible links..

heres some diagrams
Ign Switch
Starter/Ign
the big list> MR Wiring
 

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On this site, under ARTICLES, then Electrical Systems there is a sticky thread with wiring diagrams.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Wow, thanks much for the info. that will make chasing gremlins much more fair. I'm to old for this but it is a beautiful truck so what are you going to do. The purple wire does buzz through to the solenoid but as you say maybe not with high current. I will get back to the chase, only going to get to 100 Deg. today a nice break for the Phoenix area.
 

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I had the same problem and was going nuts trying to figure it out. I hooked up another battery and everything worked even though the battery in the car was new and tested good. I just sat the good battery on top of the one in the car instead of removing it, using a small piece plywood to separate the two. I got a new battery, installed it and nothing.. I finally noticed that where the cable went into the clamp looked worn out. It pulled out with a little force and was black from arcing inside the clamp. One new cable later and everything worked. Apparently when I put the other battery on top of the one in the car I had put enough tension on the cable for it to make contact. It was a new cable by the way.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
When you say nothing, did you mean no solenoid noise at all? I have jumped mine to another car and still nothing no power getting to the solenoid at all. Today I tore out all the wires going to the solenoid except the battery cable and replaced the whole mess with new wire and fuse links as mine were in very poor condition from age and heat. A friend had mentioned a possible dead cell so that's why I tried jumping it to a good bat.. My battery is a side tap and the cables were badly corroded under the covers so I cleaned those and it did change a few things. Don't know if I mentioned it but there was a burned spot in the ignition switch on the start contact indicating a short. Next I'm going to look at the bulk head connector then last night I found a GM factory electrical trouble shooting manual on eBay, so will wait and see if that gives me any clue.
I appreciate all the input as I have spent 5 very hot days working on this brick and don't have a clue!
 

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Do a voltage drop on your batt cables. I've had them look good but be corroded inside the insulation where you can't see unless cut open.
 

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x2 or try the jumper cable, battery to the starter..

when I seen the badly corroded cables, was going to say last-nite before I got busy and fell-out,
try a remote starter switch,,
from battery connection on the solenoid to the "S" terminal..
that bypasses everything but the battery/cables/starter..

i'v seen those cables get purty crunchy on the inside, bend them, you can feel it..
 

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Discussion Starter #11
x2 or try the jumper cable, battery to the starter..

when I seen the badly corroded cables, was going to say last-nite before I got busy and fell-out,
try a remote starter switch,,
from battery connection on the solenoid to the "S" terminal..
that bypasses everything but the battery/cables/starter..

i'v seen those cables get purty crunchy on the inside, bend them, you can feel it..
Thanks, I think I will change them as they look original and were very corroded inside the covers. I did jumper the batt. to the s term. and that works fine. still not getting 12V from the start sw. to the S term..
I just got the bulkhead connector apart, and see nothing obvious except a lot of petrified dielectric grease, what should you do with that, clean it off and replace it or leave it alone?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks, I think I will change them as they look original and were very corroded inside the covers. I did jumper the batt. to the s term. and that works fine. still not getting 12V from the start sw. to the S term..
I just got the bulkhead connector apart, and see nothing obvious except a lot of petrified dielectric grease, what should you do with that, clean it off and replace it or leave it alone?
Sorry, on my previous post I said no power to the solenoid at all, I should have said to the S terminal, I do have power to the batt. term..
 

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I did jumper the batt. to the s term. and that works fine.
I meant to mention that a while back.. WTG
.
except a lot of petrified dielectric grease, what should you do with that,
if its still soft, its usually ok
hard and crusty,,
disconnect the battery and scrape out what you can and replace it,
just to keep the water/moisture out,, but your climate is not like mine, 300% humid..

double check the ignition switch connector,
just thinkin about that hot spot again, and why it could be there..
 

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I meant to mention that a while back.. WTG
.

if its still soft, its usually ok
hard and crusty,,
disconnect the battery and scrape out what you can and replace it,
just to keep the water/moisture out,, but your climate is not like mine, 300% humid..

double check the ignition switch connector,
just thinkin about that hot spot again, and why it could be there..
Yes, I'm creeping up on that switch again. all the wires buzz through to the bulkhead and the purple wire buzzed through to the switch but not getting continuity to the two red wires from the bulkhead to the switch not sure yet what's going on as I had 12V on both of those yesterday. Now on one of them I get a flaky intermittent buzz like its building up current and arcing but not all the time.
Now I have to figure how to get behind that fuse pnl. without screwing something up and see what's going on.

Thank again for the support, I was a GM mechanic for a few years back in the late 50's and had a great teacher but have not worked on a car until about a year ago when I got this truck, boy has it kept me busy chasing gremlins. Unfortunately both my body and mind are not keeping up. I had a new 68 El Camino back in the day, loved it but started family so had to let it go. Always wanted another one but by the time I'm done this one is going to new as well, one part at a time.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Often on forums the OP never posts the conclusion to the issue. I’m not sure this conclusion will be of much help to anyone as it involved a comedy of errors (although I did not find any of it was funny).
First the issue presented itself in a dramatic way, dim lights, obvious high current draw, no start, & no solenoid click. Then no headlights, fan, radio, or cab lights nothing. I checked battery first, fully charged! Checked cables cleaned corrosion, things got better, lights, fan and radio working now. I pulled starter, bench tested with jumper cables, tested bad. Installed new starter/solenoid, still no start or click. Jumped to another car, still nothing. Replaced the Ignition switch, old one had hot spot on the S wire contact, thought I was on to something, nope still nothing. Replaced all the wiring and fuse links at the solenoid (I had continuity checked these earlier but they looked very ragged), still nothing. Started continuity checking all the connections from the solenoid back to the ignition switch, they were good all the way (this after being misled for some time by a faulty meter that I had an intermittent wire). Still nothing. Pulled the Ignition switch out for the third time to re-check the connectors for a bad connection, found none, cleaned all the connections and triple checked the ignition switch for proper alignment, checked ok for a tilt wheel truck, still no 12V to the S term. in the start mode.
Fed up I took the battery which was always showing 12.7 volts to have it checked out, it showed 18CCA instead of 800. This battery is a 2018 Interstate 5yr warranted battery, so I just never suspected it would be a bad cell or cells. Installed the new battery and it started right up!
OK, so why did I get nothing when I jumped it to my other car? It seems that the very high end GM factory 20’ jumper cables used to jump new cars from the top deck of the transit trailer, that I had absconded from the back seat of a new Buick Skylark some 60 years ago would no longer carry current! Karma I guess!
In the end I will never know for sure whether just the battery caused all the symptoms or a combination of corrosion, ignition switch or wiring but at this point I no longer care, after several days working in heat up to 110 degrees I’m going to rest.
Thanks to all who responded to my post and especially JJLT1 for the Schematic links which were very helpful.
 

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x2.. a BIG Long-Island Ice-Tea..

WTG AG, I think ?
I had a battery with top and side terminals,
only thing powered from the Pos side post was the starter batt cable..
it would not start, everything else had full 13v and was fine,
starter solenoid worked fine, just would not turn-over...
side post terminal came loose inside the battery, but the battery was fine..
 
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