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Author Topic: Please help with an electrical problem
UCFBrett
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Region: NASA SoCal
Car #: 255
Year : 1995
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Iím curious if anyone on the board can help me with an electrical problem on my 1995 Miata.

The short story:
The car wonít turn over, but it will turn over, start and run fine if jumped. I get no clicks or other noises, no lights on the dash when the key is turned to ďrun.Ē I replaced the battery, but the condition persists. Terminals are clean. The dash lights come on with the jump box connected.

The long story:
I just had a MiataCage installed, which means the entire dash was out of it, the in-dash fuse panel was relocated and there were probably lots of welding sparks flying around inside the cockpit.

Other relevant details: The battery went dead at the fab shop while the cage was going in. My guy charged the battery, and when I picked it up, I started it and drove it home. The week before the NASA event on Oct. 9-10, I trickle-charged the battery, which is something I always do to ensure a trouble-free weekend at the track.

When I loaded the car Friday night about 7 p.m., I started it and drove it onto the trailer. No sign of trouble yet. I left the next morning at 4:45 a.m., and when I went to start it at the track at 7 a.m. to pull it off the trailer, the starter was sluggish, then would merely click, click, click the solenoid. Then nothing.

So a buddy pushed me off the trailer and I used a jump box to start it for the first two run sessions. I drove to Shafter at lunch, bought a new battery, installed it, but I still have the same condition.

Will not turn over, no lights or clicks, but will jump start.

Itís probably worth mentioning that I also painted the entire interior of the car, including the studs where the ECM mounts.

I have only a modest working knowledge of electricity and this one has me stumped. I realize it's tough to diagnose over the Internet, but can anyone share any wisdom?

Glenn Verified Driver
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Ground issue

--------------------
Glenn
Crew chief Meathead Racing, NE Region Sales Division Race Engineering, The GOLD standard in SM engines, Occasional race slave for OPM Autosports

davew Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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Check all the battery grounds. Don't just look at them, take them apart and clean. Connections at Battery, inside trunk, ppf, cylinder head and under master cylinder.

I have had several cars with tight connections at the PPF that had corosion between the cable and the PPF.

Dave

--------------------
Advanced Autosports, The Midwests leader in Spec Miata Service, Parts and Rentals
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UCFBrett
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Region: NASA SoCal
Car #: 255
Year : 1995
Posts: 73
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Where is the ground lead at the head?

Keith in WA Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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My '95 is on the trailer so I may have this wrong but it's easy to look for yourself so fwiw...

Look on the back of the intake manifold, pretty close to the EGR pipe inlet. I thought there's also one on the front, sort of between the throttle body and the head itself. Also check the big ground strap behind the header that bolts to the flat spot under the brake MC.

Dave had a really good idea I'm going to do this winter. Put star washers between all the ground wires where they bolt to the car to ensure a good connection. Bad ground paths seem to be the cause of 90% of all electrical problems and I HATE electrical problems.

--------------------
Keith Novak
(Will work for tires)

UCFBrett
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Region: NASA SoCal
Car #: 255
Year : 1995
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Well, I checked, unbolted, cleaned with brake cleaner and retightened all five points. Still nada.

I had my doubts because my car has minimal corrosion.

This condition ostensibly is related to the "entire dash out of the car" thing. Does the inside fuse box have to be grounded? There are no fuses that would cause this, right?

I neglected to add that the headlights don't lift with the stalk-mounted light switch or the button on the center of the dash while the car is running or the jump box is connected. With the car running and the box connected, the parking lights do work with stalk switch. The hazards also work when connected or running.

UCFBrett
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Year : 1995
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Is there a dash ground strap that my fab guy forgot to reconnect?

Jason Brassfield Verified Driver
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There are two grounds under the dash that I know of, One on each side. They are to the far outer edges, held in place with phillips screws to the factory dash support sheet metal. The passenger side is pretty easy to see with the glove box removed, the drivers side... not so much...

- Jason

TORacing
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Very well could be a bad battery...try changing out w/ a battery from another vehicle and see if the problem still exists.

Tommy

Karl Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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Make sure the black connector is connected to the starter. The one that clips on. Sounds like it could be loose.

If that's not it. Have a volt meter connected to the battery when you try to start both with and without the jumper. What are the voltages?

G. Davis Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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Will it start when the jumper cables are installed on the battery terminals, or only with the negative cable on structure?

Can you tell if your new battery is still charged?

--------------------
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Glenn Davis

davew Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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This may sound very basic, but are your battery cables in good shape and clean. I have seen cable go bad at the connection between the wire and the terminal clamp.

Are you connecting the jump box directly to the battery negative terminal or to the chassis. I usually clamp to the trunk latch rater than look for the terminal buried inside the trunk.

And to clean the PPF connection you need a wire brush. The PPF is aluminum and the cable end is steel. Oxidation starts the minute the bolt is tightened. then when the connection is taken apart and reconnected you get a high resistance connection. This problem baffled me the first time

Dave

--------------------
Advanced Autosports, The Midwests leader in Spec Miata Service, Parts and Rentals
608-313-1230
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mr von charbonneau
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It is my opinoin if you welded while the computor was conected you fryed you computor not sure sounds like your down for a year

otherwise your cage builder nicked a wire
again your down for a year

otherwise if you nicked a wire with a beer can

you still can drinck for a year

Dusty Bottoms Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
99 all the way!

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quote:
Originally posted by mr von charbonneau:
It is my opinoin if you welded while the computor was conected you fryed you computor not sure sounds like your down for a year

otherwise your cage builder nicked a wire
again your down for a year

otherwise if you nicked a wire with a beer can

you still can drinck for a year

I'll drink to that (whatever that was) [laughing]

--------------------
"Your victory is tainted! Asterisk! Asterisk!!!"--Lisa Simpson

Karl Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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...and I see you will now be "pondering about ssm" while drinking. So, were/are you "(fed) up with the 99(s)"??? Can't quite get a grasp yet. [Smile]

Surprized your region/area isn't 51...or have you already been there?

EDIT: Wait...now it's "99 all the way" You understand they have electical issues, right?

Drago Verified Driver Made Donation to Website Series Champ
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Wow, I actually can't believe I am sayiing this, but Andrews post is more understandable than Karls? [Big Grin]

--------------------
Jim Drago
East Street Auto Salvage
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2006-2007 Mid-West Division
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EAST STREET RACING

UCFBrett
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Region: NASA SoCal
Car #: 255
Year : 1995
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Jason: I'll look for those connections.

TO: I borrowed a "known good" battery from a guy at the track before I went and bought a new one. At least I believe it was good. He pulled it off a charger to lend it to me ... and I borrowed it from an electrician.

Karl: That connector is on, but I'll see if I can push it on a bit further.

G. Davis and Dave W.: I have been jumping it with the jump leads connected to the battery terminals, with the car's factory cables connected. I can see no indication of dirt or damage to the factory cables. This was a clean, unmolested Miata when I bought it, and I never had any hint of electrical problems till the cage went in.

I'll pull the PPF connector again and wire-brush it. I'll also recharge the new battery. I sure wish I would have kept the old one.

I have only a test light because I am, demonstrably, an electrical novice (maroon) and a meter would only confuse me more or cause me to do more damage.

When the cage was being welded, the ECM was unbolted from its mounts and laid over the windshield.

UCFBrett
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Car #: 255
Year : 1995
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Hmmm, car turns over fine with the jump box connected directly to the car's cable terminals.

Charger indicated the battery charge level is low. The charger even flashed a red "check" light after being connected about 8 minutes, and stopped charging. It did this twice.

Is it even possible to get a bad battery? I was a parts guy for 12 years and I never saw a battery that was actually defective.

I bought it out in the boonies, and it looked like it had been on the shelf awhile. Someone may have dropped it? Bad cell? Internal plates touching? Hmmm.

Scottie
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I once bought a battery of the shelf and it was bad.

--------------------
How do I fit this ls7 into my mia... nevermind.

Bad Al Bell Verified Driver Made Donation to Website Series Champ
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kill switch is bad or has bad connections

--------------------
"Bad"Al Bell
SM/SSM #3 "JD"
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G. Davis Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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If you are jumping on the battery terminals successfully, then I suspect it is not a ground issue. If your battery is discharging while running, there is a charging system issue. If your battery is discharging while not running, you have a wiring issue, i.e., short or unswitched load.

I have seen bad batteries out of the box. When you get a known good battery in the system I would get the charging system checked. If you have an ohmmeter, measure the resistance between the positive and negative battery cables with the battery disconnected and all switches, etc. in the off position. Should get an open circuit. If not, start backtracking until you find out where the load is.

--------------------
--------------------

Glenn Davis

UCFBrett
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Unfortunately, I don't have a kill switch, so that's not it. I bought one from DaveW but I haven't installed it yet.

What concerns me is that the battery I borrowed from the guy at the track would not start the car when I returned from that lapping session. If it were merely too weak to turn the car over when I installed it, my alternator should have charged it to the point that it would crank it when I came back in.

Shop Teacher
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Year : 1990
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Ok I got it, I have seen the same problem a few times. Itís the ignition switch wires. Wiggle them around close to the ignition switch while cranking and see if it starts. Both of the cars that had this exact problem had anti theft devices installed and damaged the wirers.

--------------------
Al Angulo
Auto Instructor
Ford Senior Master Tech
ASE Master Tech

UCFBrett
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Year : 1995
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I didn't have an anti theft device, but I did drill and put a big screw into the lock pin so the wheel wouldn't lock anymore. However, the column was dropped for about a month while the cage was going in, so maybe a wire got yanked?

I'll try that after I exchange the battery I just bought.

Shop Teacher
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Its not the battery. I put both cars that had this problem on a VAT 40 and the batteries tested great. It seam when they tap into the harness it screws up the wires. Jumping the battery increases the current and makes the car start. the other thing i found that worked was to just cycle the key very rapidly many times till it starts.

--------------------
Al Angulo
Auto Instructor
Ford Senior Master Tech
ASE Master Tech

UCFBrett
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Car #: 255
Year : 1995
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My car had no antitheft device on it, but I'll try the key cycling thing too. My battery is at the parts store right now because their meter said to "charge and recheck." I pick it up at 4 PST.

What confuses me is that if it's not battery related, why does the car turn over and start with just a jump box connected to the car's cable ends, but not with the battery?

Glenn Verified Driver
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A post a while ago cited replacing/checking the clutch switch. Many starter/ignition problems have been traced back to this little forgotten PIA.

--------------------
Glenn
Crew chief Meathead Racing, NE Region Sales Division Race Engineering, The GOLD standard in SM engines, Occasional race slave for OPM Autosports

UCFBrett
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Glenn, I already removed and bypassed the starter interrupt switch with a wire and two blade terminals.

UCFBrett
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OK, because of the borrowed battery I used at the track that was supposed to be good, I have no idea why a new battery fixed the car, but it seems to have done just that.

I took the battery to Auto Zone. Their meter said "recharge and check." When I went back at 4, the meter said the battery was NFG.

I got a new one, checked the charge level and it turned on the dash lights, then turned the starter motor and the car fired.

Thanks to all who responded with help. I know a lot more about Miata electrics than I did yesterday and now I know all my grounds are clean and tight.

David Dewhurst
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quote:
Originally posted by UCFBrett:
Unfortunately, I don't have a kill switch, so that's not it. I bought one from DaveW but I haven't installed it yet.

When you install the DaveW kill switch leave the kill switch in the on position all the time. When you rotate the switch to the off position the battery will be dead in a few days. When I explained to Dave that I had volts across the two switch posts in the off position Dave filled me in with the why & said leave the switch in the on position all the time. It's a KILL switch & kills everything in the off position.

--------------------
Have Fun [Wink]

David Dewhurst
CenDiv
Milwaukee Region
Spec Miata #14

UCFBrett
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I do plan to use his installation instructions strictly because of their simplicity and that they don't hack into the factory harness.

But I'll leave it on. Thanks for the heads up.

Keith in WA Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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Brett,
Check out the advice from Greg in this thread. Good stuff...

http://forum.specmiata.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?/topic/1/4184.html#000004

(edit...I missed the part where you fixed it! [tipsy] )

--------------------
Keith Novak
(Will work for tires)

Dusty Bottoms Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
99 all the way!

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quote:
Originally posted by Glenn:
A post a while ago cited replacing/checking the clutch switch. Many starter/ignition problems have been traced back to this little forgotten PIA.

[yep]

--------------------
"Your victory is tainted! Asterisk! Asterisk!!!"--Lisa Simpson

Glenn Verified Driver
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Good stuff all, I will save this link for future reference!

--------------------
Glenn
Crew chief Meathead Racing, NE Region Sales Division Race Engineering, The GOLD standard in SM engines, Occasional race slave for OPM Autosports

   

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