Electrical - no start, please help - Ford Bronco Forum
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post #1 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-04-2017, 11:49 AM Thread Starter
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Electrical - no start, please help

I have a no start issue. When I put my battery back in so I can start it, my mind was on other things and I stupidly hooked the + cable to - terminal and - cable to + terminal. My starter relay smoked. It was hooked up for about 1 second.

I replaced the starter relay. Hooked things up properly and nothing, no start. I could here something click (starter solenoid I guess) immediately when I hooked up the battery. I am getting the "BRAKE" idiot light illuminating when I try to start, but nothing else. It's like the battery is totally dead.

So, I just took my battery to Autozone to have it checked for charge. It's a 2.5 year old Optima Redtop. The Autozne guy just looked at my receipt and handed me a brand new one. So, my battery is brand new.

I just hooked up my new battery (I even did it correctly this time!) and the exact same sequence of events and conditions above is happening. In other words, zero difference.

I'm scared here guys. What did I fry??? Do I need to also try a new voltage regulator? New starter maybe, seeing as the starter doesn't even try to turn the engine over???

Please help!!!! Thanks as always.

EDIT: I'll be reading through this in the meantime

http://www.fullsizebronco.com/forum/21-noobie-bronco-tech-questions-flame-free-zone/449441-bronco-wont-start.html#post6427978

That said, nothing just failed here, I caused the issue, so looking for help from that angle. I'm not good with electrical diag
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post #2 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-04-2017, 02:57 PM
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If you have power running for lights and stuff then you can isolate it to just the starting system.

First thing is look for blown fuses.
Also fusible links. They usually melt before anything else burns up.

You may have fried the wiring inside the starter. Check to see if power is reaching the starter (not the click of the solenoid, but actual power at the starter, as in hook up a headlight or something so it is powered from the starter feed and see if it lights up) or check with a spare starter. Or buy a starter and just put it in to make sure.

The solenoid on the fender might have gone out, too. Those are fairly inexpensive to replace so it's not a bad start.

Alternators don't like reverse polarity but shouldn't stop you from starting. Just check to make sure it works later.

Hopefully it is something easy and cheap.

'78 Ranger XLT- rebuilt 400 cid, aluminum intake, 4bbl carb, stock dist, stock ign - C6 Auto - 3in Flowmaster exhaust- Stock driveline - 32" BFG AT KO on rusty "modular" wheels - Protofab front bumper
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post #3 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-04-2017, 05:55 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the suggestions MDG. Though I'm still completely inoperable.

Here's what I know:
- new WH battery cables and starter wire and I cleaned the block ground on install.
- new starter relay/solenoid/4 post thing. All hooked back up correctly as I took the old one off and immediately installed the new one.
- brand new Optima battery (like today brand new)
- just replaced the starter (like brand new 10 minutes ago). I been needing a new one anyway. Old one could have been original. It was really weak.
- the starter relay/solenoid/4post thing clicks every time I connect/disconnect the battery
- I have that one BRAKE dash light that comes on when I turn the ignition to start
- all other electrical is dead: underhood light, all lights, radio, etc.

Something past the starter relay/solenoid is fried. Please tell me where to even begin looking my for fuses, etc. I know there's the panel under the dash in the fire wall, but they look like they always do, not blown. By the way, they are colored inside. Maybe the original fuses????

Again, any help is appreciated. I'm really, really inexperienced at this electrical diag. Thanks
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post #4 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-05-2017, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by 78BroncoSteve View Post
- the starter relay/solenoid/4post thing clicks every time I connect/disconnect the battery
That shouldn't happen. Battery connected and NO key. Of the 2 small wires on it, disconnect the one closest to the battery and see if it still clicks. (Or better, see if it has voltage at the small terminal. With it clicking, but not actually engaging to start the truck, it could be getting a "false" voltage from a high-resistance short. For example, my dome light wouldn't work, but had 12V to the bulb and the bulb worked separately. I had a bad connection, which allowed "12V" to be seen at the bulb, but the high resistance kept it from getting a full/real 12V to light the bulb. SO, if it's clicking, but not actually engaging, it might be seeing SOME voltage without being enough to engage the solenoid, which it shouldn't.)
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post #5 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-05-2017, 02:47 PM
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Solinois fail frequently, that is always my first stop. Contacts burn and stick or fields burn out causing shorts.
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post #6 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-05-2017, 04:01 PM Thread Starter
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Ok update here. Still have massive new problem. I replaced the voltage regulator just now. Still nothing. Then I'm tracing wires from the relay, move one coming off the positive side main post of the stater solenoid and my hood light comes. So I move it around more and it goes off, then I move it again and it's on now.

Next I check my light, they work too! So, now I turn the key to start the motor and, hey it tries starting! Great. But oh no, it won't stop engaging the starter. I turn the key to OFF. Still trying to start. Luckily it never fired because it didn't set the choke, but I had to pull the negative cable off the battery to stop it (only thing I could think of).

I collect my thoughts, put the positive cable back on and then as soon as I tough the negative post with the negative cable it sparks at the terminal and engages the starter again.

I f'ing hate electrical. Everything is hooked up identically to before I had any issues, just new parts.

What is it now?!?!?

EDIT: I've been doing some research. The only things I can come up with (besides a ghost in the machine) is that my lock cylinder/ignition switch is bad and sticking on OR my chitty Chinese auto parts store starter solenoid welded itself together on the first turn of a key. Please still offer other suggestions. Thanks!
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post #7 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-05-2017, 08:44 PM
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Don't forget that the neutral safety switch has a part in the truck starting and not starting. That however I don't believe is your problem here. My experience with the neutral safety switch tells me that once it's fried in doesn't start working again. If you decide to try and replace it I suggest you get yourself a motorcraft brand one for an 86 and swap in the correct connection.


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post #8 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-05-2017, 10:05 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the feedback on the NSS. I'll look for one per your criteria when it's needed (maybe it's toast, too??).

My immediate concern right now is that if my positive cable is hooked up to the battery, and I then try connecting my negative cable, it sparks and wants to melt where it touches. I have 4 small divots now on my negative terminal post from trying to rule different things out.

I don't even know what to test with seeing what voltage and what position of the key, etc. I have now replaced my ignition switch just to rule that out.
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post #9 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-05-2017, 10:52 PM
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Like I told you today at Oreillys, I'm no electrician. If your positive cable is connected and you try to attach the negative cable and it sparks, I would think somewhere along the line you have positive going to ground somewhere in there. My brother the mechanic just called me from California. I told him about your problem and he said you are lucky this happened on a rig this old! He went on to say... You have 2 or 3 fuseable links coming off the bottom of your starter relay right under where the positive batt cable is connected. They will look like regular wire except they might be thicker in one spot. These are the fuseable links. They are meant to melt or blow so further damage cannot happen to the electrical system. One of them will be going to the alternator,(which he said you might have fried) one of them to the interior/dash stuff, and there might be a 3rd one going to lights. You can disconnect all these wires from the relay, hook up your negative cable to the battery - then one by one touch the just disconnected wires to the relay. The one that sparks will be the one giving you all this grief! Follow it from there. I hope I've explained this as good as I was told! Good luck bud!
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post #10 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-06-2017, 12:51 AM Thread Starter
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Awesome info. Thanks Brian. I've been reading up a lot this evening on this issue. I'll follow your advice and thank you again for sharing. It's explained very well and I think I know exactly where to look of the positive terminal on the starter solenoid.

That's my fear is not being able to find how deep the rabbit hole is, but everything was operating fine (during my initial test when that wire moved as mentioned above) until I tried to start it and the starter stuck.

Let's hope I can find the issue at just one of those fuseable links!
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post #11 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-06-2017, 08:35 AM
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Best of luck Steve!!
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post #12 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 02:53 PM
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Good luck man!

I was actually looking at a '98 Dodge 2500 with the Cummins in it...I know, I know lol. Anyway, the day that I talked to the dealer on the phone about it (saw it while passing by and couldn't stop) the kid that worked at the lot went out and had to jump start it. Yup...he did it, hooked up the cables backwards and even went so far as to try and start it before he realized that it was hooked up backwards. I called the guy back about a week later to check on it and they had still not got it running again...I never called back and they never called me. Been probably 2 months now lol...these newer vehicles don't like it at all, our older BKOs it can be worked out fairly easily in comparison I think.

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post #13 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 10:05 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, I'm feeling pretty dumb about it. That's too bad about the Dodge, that era are sweet trucks.

I think I found my problem in the alternator harness. I'll be ordering a Left Eye Blind 3G set up (160amp, maybe 200 amp depending on what I think I'll add in the future), and go from there. I've been wanting to upgrade anyway as the stock set up is pathetic.

We'll see!
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post #14 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-10-2017, 12:46 AM
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wish you all the luck in the world and watching to see how it goes.
only tip I've got for you... don't go smokin' that legal weed before you're working on electrical stuff.

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post #15 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-10-2017, 12:37 PM Thread Starter
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Haha, thanks Pepe. I'll just try to only do one thing at a time this go 'round. It's getting tougher to break away to work on the Bronco: 8 month pregnant wife, 3 yr old, work.....something always interrupts me.

When you don't take your time, crap like this happens. Oh well, now the 3G is "required to get the Bronco going, babe" and not "well, no, the alternator works, it could just be better". Easier sell, lol.
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post #16 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-10-2017, 02:00 PM
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This is kinda weird to me.

I did the exact same thing as you did by accident (both battery cables were black and I wasn't paying attention). I briefly hooked the battery cables up backwards and there was a pop.

However, all I had to do was replace the voltage regulator and it was fixed... So I must have gotten lucky and the backwards contact was so brief it didn't to any further damage.

You will appreciate the 3g upgrade, btw... I did the 'ol Taurus junkyard upgrade.

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post #17 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-11-2017, 11:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 78BroncoSteve View Post
Yeah, I'm feeling pretty dumb about it. That's too bad about the Dodge, that era are sweet trucks.

I think I found my problem in the alternator harness. I'll be ordering a Left Eye Blind 3G set up (160amp, maybe 200 amp depending on what I think I'll add in the future), and go from there. I've been wanting to upgrade anyway as the stock set up is pathetic.

We'll see!
Nice, that could be it. As for the alt, the 3g is the way to go! Depending on who you talk to and what you want to run...I have a 130 on mine and did dual batteries with a TRUE isolation for key off and key on operation but charges when the engine is running. I don't have a lot of "extras" running but I run several LED lights in the rear cargo area, a couple "temp" LED flood lights that I can move around and connect with magnets so I can light different areas (camping this is COOL!), 2 amps (about 2200w total) and the head, and misc stuff with no issues on it. I won't be adding much if any more...in fact I may take out an amp.

That was an '08 Dodge that I was looking at...sorry damn typo! My brother has an '04. I like them from between those years. These new RAMs are UGLY as shit lol...and way over priced. I saw a Ford F250 for $53K lol I don't remember they year but seems like it was a '14. No matter...they can kiss my ass, I hate to say it but I'll drive a Chebby before I pay that...lol

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post #18 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-25-2017, 05:15 PM Thread Starter
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Ok guys. Got my LEB 3G "kit?" yesterday. I have now removed the stock alternator, wiring harness and voltage regulator assembly.

Now, I have a brand new alternator and LEB's single wire, megafused, harness. Perhaps this didn't come with instructions because it's so incredibly obvious to everyone, but not me.

So what, I connect one end of the harness to the alternator and one end to the positive post of the starter relay??? I see a threaded hole on the back of this alternator but there is no bolt to screw in to it. Is that where I connect the supplied wire harness?

I've read a few 3G threads, but can't get a clear answer for my exact set up. Thanks
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post #19 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-26-2017, 06:28 PM
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It's the terminal with the red insulator:

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post #20 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-27-2017, 08:13 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, Son.

I called LEB today and spoke with Kris, as I wasn't sure which wire to cut and tie back in. Of the two different plug connectors I have on the old alternator harness, Kris said to connect the BLK/YEL wire to my positive relay terminal. This is as I bought my new alternator from LEB, so it has the internal regulator or whatever eliminates the need for the GRN/RED wire I've been reading about.

The others on the main side of the harness (as it comes FROM the Bronco are just left alone I guess??

What did any of you guys do with them? All this sound correct?
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