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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, I had an experience I've never had before with old XL. I attempted to start the car last evening and at first there was a click from the starter, then nothing, so I turned the key again and nothing at all. There was no radio when in the run/acc position, no clicks, or sounds from the starter, nothing, total blackout. I checked the battery and it is fully charged, 12.54V. In past I've had a situation with an out of adjustment neutral safety switch. My long running solution was to push on the shifter a little, or move it out of Park and back and then it would crank, and there was always radio, fans, etc., in the run/acc position.

Where to look? It appears that the electrical fault is somewhere that cuts all power to everything. Is all power isolated, or restricted to the starter when the key is in the start position? Could it be the starter relay/solenoid on the inner fender, and/or the starter switch? I did not bang the relay, or jump it with a screwdriver to see if it is stuck as I was in a hurry to go somewhere. Could the starter switch be stuck between contacts? It does not seem to respond to cycling the key and there is no more resistance in the turning of the key.

I don't have a wiring diagram, so I thought I'd start by asking the collected brain trust for thoughts, ideas and suggestions on where to start my investigations. I guess after 38 years with the car it can still surprise me. :unsure: :D
 

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I had the very same issue happen with my 68 Galaxie. There was a recall notice in the early 70's on that switch. Essentially it melted together! They made a replacement kit for it. My original switch was toast. I know the 70 had a different ignition switch but it might have the same fault that the 68s had? But what you're describing fits my situation to a tee and it was the entire switch that went bad.
 

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You need to determine whether its switched 12 issue on the hot side or not. Did the headlights work? if so, its in the ign switch harness or switch IMHO, more than likely. if not, its either the main ground, 12v lead at battery to solenoid, or something in that area.

by the physical resistance not feeling the same in the switch as before... id def look there 1st. does a 70 have a column switch or a dash one? i would assume column.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the replies! The battery terminals are clean and tight, that was part of my prep for first start of the season, just a week prior. The headlights do no come on, no lights, fans, radio, etc. Yes, the key is in the steering column. I guess a trip under the dash is in order to check the ignition switch and wiring harness and scan the fuse panel. Maybe more significant than getting older is being fatter and less flexible for the contortions needed to get, and work under the dash. (Heavy sigh) :rolleyes: :p:D
 

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+1 to all the suggestions to start at the beginning, and trace for power at each connection throughout, and grounds back to the beginning.

Note that sometimes a poor or damaged connection can 'restore' to flow voltage, but little power (amps). This often allows low-loads like interior lights to come back on, but you still can't use high-amp stuff. The point of this is that you may want to leave a draw on it while testing (headlights on high) so the meter can 'see' the drop.

BTW, sometimes you can feel warmth caused by high resistance at the problem area when the issue is marginal. You can sometimes use this for pre-failure diagnostics. Examples could be cranking the engine, then feeling the power cables to and from the starter for warm spots that are poor but not yet failed; or headlights on and feeling the wires and connections to-and-from. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the tips guys! I haven't been able to tackle this yet, I spent my weekend fighting rusted fasteners and the like on a 98 Taurus that needs new front struts. It's never good when you take out the reciprocating saw after the wrenches and sockets have let you down. :( :cautious: I had to add new stabilizer bar links to the project.:D
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
OK, I fixed it! It has been raining here for the last couple of days, but we're back to sunshine and I had a few minutes at home at lunch time. Taking the good advice and recommendations I got my VOM out and measured the voltage as 5851a suggested. Across the battery, post to post, it was 12.49V. To the + post on the solenoid 12.10V. Hmmm? Negative battery post to positive cable clamp, 12.10V. Woop, there it is! I pulled the clamp off the + post and reset it, then 12.49V to the solenoid post, radio and lights came on, turned the key and the car started. I have never had a poor battery connection cause a total blackout condition like that before. It is quite amazing and interesting how that little thing had that effect. Maybe I'll get a new end for the + cable, or a whole new cable. Thanks to everyone for your help.
 

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Maybe I'll get a new end for the + cable, or a whole new cable. Thanks to everyone for your help.
16 year old me would probably have just tightened down the cable and been on my way but 61 year old me would at least clean both battery terminals and both clamps so I don't have to fix it on the road. :) Great that you got it working!!

Pat
 

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+1, and tightening would have perhaps only gotten you home. Statistics that focus the issue (and every manufacturer has different numbers, but in any case) is that well over half of "bad" alternators and batteries are actually bad connections or cables. The new battery or alternator usually does fix the problem, but only because the removal and installation improves connections.
 

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I had the same issue last summer. The terminals were on the battery tight, everything seemed fine. I had my son turn the key while I watched under the hood and I got a small bit of smoke coming up from the battery negative ground cable to the block. The ground cable was in rough shape and the connection was loose. I replaced the cable, cleaned up the mount point on the block and got a new bolt. Haven't had a problem since. Good luck!
 

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as a side anecdote...

a very good friend of mine, the guy i actually got my 66 from, (whom ive known for 33 years). still has this unbelievably annoying habit of never tightening down battery cables on his cars so he can just 'swap them out' from car to car (he has a few). this also includes no battery tie downs. I cant tell you over the decades how many times its been like

'click'
hood opens

'wiggle wiggle'
hood closes

'we're good' (really? lol)

🤷‍♂️ :ROFLMAO:

I sent him a link to some cam-over lock quick release battery terminal clamps... its got to be better than just friction and hope.:ROFLMAO:
 

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as a side anecdote...

a very good friend of mine, the guy i actually got my 66 from, (whom ive known for 33 years). still has this unbelievably annoying habit of never tightening down battery cables on his cars so he can just 'swap them out' from car to car (he has a few). this also includes no battery tie downs. I cant tell you over the decades how many times its been like

'click'
hood opens

'wiggle wiggle'
hood closes

'we're good' (really? lol)

🤷‍♂️ :ROFLMAO:

I sent him a link to some cam-over lock quick release battery terminal clamps... its got to be better than just friction and hope.:ROFLMAO:
I wouldn't care about the loose terminal clamps... but...
No battery hold down is scary.

Corner too fast.... batt falls into the fan... spills/sprays acid everywhere....
Hit something.... repeat...
Someones hits you.... repeat
Hit giant pothole.... repeat

No batt hold down is just plain dumb!

I know... I did the same in my ignorant youth...
Now supposedly older and (debatable) wiser....
 

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Its super sketchy. it hasn't really bit him... yet. he's 53 and I'm amazed it hasn't happened yet. I've personally seen a car burn to the ground from an unsecured battery grounding the pos terminal before, I'd never do it.
 
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