1980 dies while driving, wont crank, no electrical - Ford Bronco Forum
 
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-16-2017, 11:14 AM Thread Starter
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1980 dies while driving, wont crank, no electrical

I finally got to take my new to me 1980 for a spin last night (the same one with the terrible tires- see other thread) and everything was great until I got home. I pulled up to my driveway and it died when I threw it into reverse to back into my driveway. Completely dead. No response from the key, wouldn't crank and all of my headlights/dashlights were dead so I assumed it had killed the battery. Charged the battery and nothing. Tapped the solenoid with a wrench and nothing. Replaced the solenoid with an extra I had laying around, then tested it by crossing the hot post to the ignition post and it cranked like normal. I checked voltage at my ignition post and had a solid 12V coming from the key when I had a buddy turn it for me so I know the ignition switch is fine. Put it in neutral and it still wouldn't crank so I know my neutral safety switch is fine. I messed around with it more and figured out the brake lights still work when the pedal is compressed, the aftermarket cd player comes on, but nothing else in the dash seems to have any current to it and it wont crank when I turn the key. Now I'm looking at the ignition control module and the ignition coil..but neither of these would explain why the headlights and dashlights are dead would they?

Let me know if anyone has any ideas. I hate to keep throwing parts at it but I feel like a new ignition control module is the next thing I know of to replace.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-16-2017, 12:04 PM
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First thing that comes to mind is to check your grounds and battery terminals for corrosion or dirty connections. If that is the problem, some low-load electrical components may still work, but not high-load components like starters.


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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-16-2017, 01:13 PM Thread Starter
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Forgot to mention- I did replace the battery terminals. They were shot so its the first thing I replaced.

I dont think it's a grounding issue since the starter cranks as normal when you bypass the solenoid with 2 screwdrivers
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-16-2017, 01:22 PM
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I had this issue for a while where it would just *click* and everything was dead.

It turned out to be the battery terminals. Even when they were tight, the connection was bad.
I'd get out and just grab the terminal and torque it with my hand, and I'd hear all the electrical components whir back to life.


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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-16-2017, 01:27 PM
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1980 dies while driving, wont crank, no electrical

These tools are pretty cheap at most AP stores and do a good job of cleaning battery terminals and the clamps also.


Edit: just saw your post about the terminal replacement. Have you checked the battery ground to the block and the starter cable connection? I had a dirty engine block ground connection once. I know you said the solenoid jump worked, but dirty connections act strange sometimes...

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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-16-2017, 01:34 PM Thread Starter
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If my terminals didnt have a connection the starter wouldn't crank at all though, right? When I cross the solenoid with 2 screwdrivers it cranks perfectly. Turning the ignition does send 12 volts to the solenoid but doesn't make it crank or do anything.

Also forgot to mention- I've used 2 different batteries and one of them is brand new. The battery cables and clamps are also brand new.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-16-2017, 01:40 PM
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Try this, loosen and then retighten the bolts holding the solenoid to the fender. The solenoid gets its ground through the bolts, if you have no ground, the solenoid won't work.

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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-16-2017, 01:50 PM
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Okay. Yes, if your terminals were bad, it wouldn't crank at all.

One thing to try is to pull off the signal wire from the starter relay/solenoid and hook a volt meter up to it and a solid ground. Then, turn the key all the way to the start position and see if you get 12 volts. If you are, then the starter solenoid isn't connecting the starter to the battery and there's something wrong it it. If you don't get any volts, then something else is up further back and the key isn't sending 12 volts to the solenoid.


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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-16-2017, 01:53 PM Thread Starter
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Mikey350 as I said one of the first things I did was replace the solenoid with a brand new one. When I connect the hot lead to the ignition post with 2 screwdrivers it cranks as normal..would this be possible if it didn't have a ground? I'll go out after work and sand down the area where the bolts make a connection but the other symptoms make me think its got to be something else.

AB if you read my original post I mentioned that I did test the wire coming from ignition and it does indeed get 12 volts when I get a buddy to turn the key. Just seems weird that 2 solenoids, one brand new, wouldn't be working. But I guess with cheap autozone parts thats not out of the question.

Does anyone else think this might be an ignition control module issue?
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-16-2017, 03:38 PM
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See if you can meter the small ignition post when it is connected to the solenoid. A very high resistance somewhere in the ignition circuitry would show you 12v when the ignition is turned on and the lead disconnected from the solenoid, but does not have enough current carrying capability (due to the high resistance) to operate the solenoid.


The ICM won't keep the starter from cranking the engine.

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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-16-2017, 04:48 PM Thread Starter
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Appreciate the suggestions Mikey..what you're saying is starting to make sense. I just remembered this happened for a brief second last week when I whacked the solenoid and it started working again. I brushed it off as the magnet being stuck and didn't think twice about it but now I'm starting to think it may have just re-grounded it when I hit it. Maybe the bolt holes are wearing loose and it's not making good contact anymore even though I just mounted a new solenoid. I'll start this evening by running a dedicated ground off the battery cable and tying it into the solenoid mounting plate just so I can rule out the ground. I guess in my thinking before I wasn't even taking into account that the solenoid had it's own ground.

I'll check back after I get home from work.

Thanks again guys
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-16-2017, 07:59 PM Thread Starter
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Whammy! Mikey thanks man I owe you a beer. The PO spray painted the engine bay and the solenoid base wasn't making good contact with anything. I ran a wire from my battery negative cable to the solenoid mounting bolt and it fired right up. Headlights and dash are good too, but still wondering what it has to do with the solenoid grounding??
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-16-2017, 08:17 PM
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Your truck (and all Broncos) have a negative ground, that means that the negative terminal of the battery is the "ground". The negative terminal has cabling that connects the engine, body and all the other metal parts. As any circuit, by definition, has to be connected in a circle (circuit), the electrical flow starts at the battery positive, through the load (solenoid/lamp/radio/fan etc.) and then to "ground" which carries the current back to the negative terminal of the battery.

The paint acted like an insulator, and the current couldn't find its way home.

Usually, the threads of the bolts holding the solenoid to the fender and the flanges on the solenoid are conductors that brings the "ground" to the flanges on the solenoid. Internally, the winding of the solenoid core is connected to the little terminal (I) and the other end of the solenoid winding is welded to the frame of the solenoid.

Take an old solenoid and open it up (grind the rivets off), then you'll know how it works. It is not magic.

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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-17-2017, 10:49 AM
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Glad you got it figured out.


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1981 Bronco. 300 I6. 450cfm QuickFuel 4bbl. BFG A/T KO2 32x11.5" tires. NP-435 trans. EFI exhaust manifolds. 2.5" Exhaust. DUI performance ignition. Redhead steering box w/ Saginaw PS pump.
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