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Discussion Starter #1
Problem on my 3.8:

Battery is from my 4.6. It cranks and starts the 4.6 with no problem.

Moved the battery to the 3.8. I attacn the power, then the ground. Get a spark from the ground. Enter the car, interior lights on. Turn the ignition, nothing. Lights go out and never come back on.

Remove ground and pos connections from battery, clean things up with a wire brush, reattach pos. When I touch ground cable this time I get no spark at all. None. Lights do not come on. Repeat several times; no spark when ground cable touched to battery negative. Lights never come on.

Remove battery from 3.8. Attach it to 4.6. 4.6 starts right up.

I'm thinking cables are corroded internally, but maybe there's something else I should look at. At this moment I'm at work but plotting my troubleshooting for tonight. Any ideas?
 

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Sounds like you might have a short somewhere. Check your fuses - both the panel under the hood (between the battery and the driver side shock tower) and in the passenger compartment. If anything is blown it will provide some insight as to which circuits you should examine.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Further testing:

I reinstalled the battery in the car. Got spark at the neg terminal. Voltage 12.7v across battery terminals. Voltage at battery connections also 12.7v. Voltage between starter connection from battery to ground wire at starter was 12.6v.

Removed spade connection and jumped btw starter pos and spade - solenoid clicked but motor did not turn. Solenoid never sounded like it retracted. Lights now won't come on. Repeated jumpings yield no more reaction from the solenoid. Voltage goes from 0 - 3.5V between starter positive and starter ground. Battery voltage still 12.7. Batter terminal voltage never gives me a solid reading.

Pulled the starter in case there was something inside that was failing. Took ti to Advance Auto to be tested. They said it was unattractive, but 100% functional and I'm sure they'd have been more than happy to sell me a new one.

Have not reattached anything since and battery is back in other car for the moment. Unless the starter test somehow failed to pick up a problem it might be a case of a short as previously alluded to. I do remember a time when the power antenna kept running and drained a separate battery. I removed the power antenna but did nothing more to the line than unplug it. Wonder if there's something else on that circuit...or how to test it. According to a diagram that I found on the site that's controlled by fuse #2 in the box underneath the hood. The fuse looked intact when I saw it. I pulled it but still no spark on the neg terminal.

Concerning fuses, though, if a fuse was blown, that would tell me that the short is after the fuse and at that poing circuit is no longer hot and therefore no longer shorting out. Then again, I could very likely be missing something, which is why I turn to the TCCOA Brain Trust.
 

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Further testing:

I reinstalled the battery in the car. Got spark at the neg terminal. Voltage 12.7v across battery terminals. Voltage at battery connections also 12.7v. Voltage between starter connection from battery to ground wire at starter was 12.6v.

Removed spade connection and jumped btw starter pos and spade - solenoid clicked but motor did not turn. Solenoid never sounded like it retracted. Lights now won't come on. Repeated jumpings yield no more reaction from the solenoid. Voltage goes from 0 - 3.5V between starter positive and starter ground. Battery voltage still 12.7. Batter terminal voltage never gives me a solid reading.

Pulled the starter in case there was something inside that was failing. Took ti to Advance Auto to be tested. They said it was unattractive, but 100% functional and I'm sure they'd have been more than happy to sell me a new one.

Have not reattached anything since and battery is back in other car for the moment. Unless the starter test somehow failed to pick up a problem it might be a case of a short as previously alluded to. I do remember a time when the power antenna kept running and drained a separate battery. I removed the power antenna but did nothing more to the line than unplug it. Wonder if there's something else on that circuit...or how to test it. According to a diagram that I found on the site that's controlled by fuse #2 in the box underneath the hood. The fuse looked intact when I saw it. I pulled it but still no spark on the neg terminal.

Concerning fuses, though, if a fuse was blown, that would tell me that the short is after the fuse and at that poing circuit is no longer hot and therefore no longer shorting out. Then again, I could very likely be missing something, which is why I turn to the TCCOA Brain Trust.
I had an issue like this and the ignition switch was bad. Does the key feel any different when you turn it? My switch was broken at the crimps, and broken apart. I couldn't believe it. I'm not sure thats your problem though.

Also the fender mounted relay (if you have one) could be an issue).

Check with a voltmeter across ground and positive wires. Go step by step until you find something wrong.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Key does seem to turn a bit loose.

Ignition switch...do you mean the white box mounted below the steering column as opposed to the key cylinder? I do have a spare one from the 4.6 (which now has a blown engine).
 

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I think the cables are dirty.
Did you clean inside the cables that connect to the battery posts real good until shiny. They can get a glaze on them and look clean but aren't.

And as a note, never use those stupid red and green washers AZ tries to pawn off on you. They make this condition worse.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I think the cables are dirty.
Did you clean inside the cables that connect to the battery posts real good until shiny. They can get a glaze on them and look clean but aren't.

And as a note, never use those stupid red and green washers AZ tries to pawn off on you. They make this condition worse.
I took a small wire brush to everything as things did seem a bit hazy on the connectors. Got a good surface on them as well as on the terminals.

Voltage readings were good at the starter so I imagine cables are no longer an issue. Thought they might be corroded inside but apparently from the readings the power is getting through.
 

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I took a small wire brush to everything as things did seem a bit hazy on the connectors. Got a good surface on them as well as on the terminals.

Voltage readings were good at the starter so I imagine cables are no longer an issue. Thought they might be corroded inside but apparently from the readings the power is getting through.
But.

What you describe indicates a power loss at the primary circuit. When you try to start a vehicle with the lights on and they go dark as soon as you hitthe starter, it means there is not enought of a connection someplace or the battery is gone.

Getting 12 volts at a connection will not tell you if there is a good enough connection for the amperage that will be needed.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
But.

What you describe indicates a power loss at the primary circuit. When you try to start a vehicle with the lights on and they go dark as soon as you hitthe starter, it means there is not enought of a connection someplace or the battery is gone.

Getting 12 volts at a connection will not tell you if there is a good enough connection for the amperage that will be needed.
OK.

Battery can be ruled out. It's 2 months old and has no problem starting another car with a larger engine and more demanding starter.

Cables, Hm. Can't prove or disprove ya, so that could be a possibility. One thing that I do note is that once the lights go out, they stay out. This happens whether I use the key or directly jumper the starter connections. Disconnecting/reconnecting the battery does nothing to bring them back. Eventually (don't know the specific length of time) when the battery is reconnected the lights come on. Wonder if like some relay is hanging up somewhere.
 

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OK.

Battery can be ruled out. It's 2 months old and has no problem starting another car with a larger engine and more demanding starter.

Cables, Hm. Can't prove or disprove ya, so that could be a possibility. One thing that I do note is that once the lights go out, they stay out. This happens whether I use the key or directly jumper the starter connections. Disconnecting/reconnecting the battery does nothing to bring them back. Eventually (don't know the specific length of time) when the battery is reconnected the lights come on. Wonder if like some relay is hanging up somewhere.
Well that last part is interesting. If the starter is hanging, it will be an internal short. and all the lights will go out. Once that spring disengages to allow the short to open, the lights will operate again.

You had the starter checked. So, I am at a lose.

Do this again and when you reconnect the battery immediately after fail, go back and forth on the terminal connection.

Let me know.
 

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Engine??

Hello

Does the engine turn? You could of broken something internal.

Also if your head gasket went, You could be hydro locked.

Remove the spark plugs & see if you can turn the engine by hand.

If you get coolant out a plug hole you blew a head gasket into the cylinder.

Paul
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hello

Does the engine turn? You could of broken something internal.

Also if your head gasket went, You could be hydro locked.

Remove the spark plugs & see if you can turn the engine by hand.

If you get coolant out a plug hole you blew a head gasket into the cylinder.

Paul
Engine turns fine. No engine damage on ths car (the 3.8). I saved that for the 4.6 :D
 

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Key does seem to turn a bit loose.

Ignition switch...do you mean the white box mounted below the steering column as opposed to the key cylinder? I do have a spare one from the 4.6 (which now has a blown engine).
Yes sir, the one by the steering column. It caused all kinds of random electrical problems. I was testing the car while someone else cranked it. The starter would crank for a second or two and die (sometimes nothing). There was voltage at the solenoid too.

Then when I sat in the car and cranked it I noticed the lights on the dash didnt look right and the key didn't feel right. I immediate tore down the column shroud.

The switch was physically damaged, it was partially split in two. Worth a shot to check at this point. Could have recrimped it but for $12 I figured I'll have a spare...
 

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Voltage 12.7v across battery terminals. Voltage at battery connections also 12.7v. Voltage between starter connection from battery to ground wire at starter was 12.6v.

solenoid clicked but motor did not turn. Voltage goes from 0 - 3.5V between starter positive and starter ground. Battery voltage still 12.7. Batter terminal voltage never gives me a solid reading.

starter 100% functional
From what you have here, the positive cable from the battery to the starter is bad.

The battery is fine, as it will start another car.

The voltage drops at the starter end of the cable.

The battery wouldn't deliver enough current to engage the starter, although it tried until the main contact closed; it kicked the solenoid, but died when the main contact that fires the starter closed.

That last tells us that the cable can deliver some current, but not a lot. A multimeter lies in this circumstance, because it doesn't load the wire enough to make it fail. The starter on the other hand... :)

To get the right measurement, you have to measure across the starter terminals as the car is cranked; use clips to hold the wires, not a buddy to hit the starter, you know? :)

In this case, the starter solenoid stuck, cause it only got pulled part way out; leaving it shorted. The starter is engaged; remember that when you get this fixed... it will make some noise + sparks when you hook the battery back up. :D

Replace the wire from the battery terminal to the starter. It has corroded internal to the insulation, and is now a high resistance at higher currents. It will measure fine with a meter, but won't run the starter.

Odds are it's the first few inches from the battery terminal that are bad; if you cut into the insulation, you will see green powder. That's the rusted copper.

It would eventually burn in two at the bad spot, if you leave the battery in; I wouldn't recommend that. It's bad for the battery and car. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Update:

'Twas cables. Had to make new cables as these are no longer stocked and the ground is almost eight feet long, but + and - to the battery was replaced with #2 cable, the lead from + to alternator replaced with a #4, and it started right up.

Props to rbrown for first pointing in that direction and to grog6 for really breaking it down.

V = IR. I should have remembered this. Over time as R went up, I went down, but V remained the same.
 
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