89 suburban - No electrical power to ignition, dash, accessories

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  #1  
Old 06-01-02, 05:50 PM
TranT
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89 suburban - No electrical power to ignition, dash, accessories

I have a 1989 Suburban, 350V8, A/C, Power door lock, P/Steering, A/T, 2WD, 178 000 km. The problem is I could not start the engine at all. It seems there is no electrical power to the ignition circuit and all accessories, except for the lights, horn and cigarette lighter which are the only things still working. I describe the problem in more details below.

When my wife first started the car yesterday, the engine got started but died within next few seconds. At subsequent attempts to start, the starter only clicked repeatedly but the engine could not crank.

I noticed the dash voltmeter reading below 12 V (8V perhaps). So I recharged the battery but the charger indicated full charge within 5 minutes. So I attempted to start the engine again. At the 1st attempt, the starter "clicked" fairly rapidly but did not crank the engine. I turned the ignition switch off and switched it back to "start" again, but this time there was no click, no crank, nothing happened. I noticed that the dash voltmeter needle dropped completely to the left of the gauge scale.

I shifted the transmission lever from Park to neutral and back a few times, and tried to start the engine a few more times but there was absolutely no response (no crank, no click). I did notice that the dash warning lights (at bottom of speedometer hubble, brake or engine warning lights perhaps) lit momentarily one time while I was wiggling with the transmission shift lever with the ignition switch in "run". Beside this one time lit for a split of a second, they never came on at all.

With a digital voltmeter, I took the following measurements with the ignition switch in "run" position:

a) Inside car:
- battery (12.5 V),
- fuse box terminals: 12.5 V : 1st left column: Horn/DM, T/L Ctsy, ECMB,
- Fuse box terminals: 0 V: IGN, Gauge/Idle, Turn B/U, ECM1, CRNK (2nd column from left), ACC/LPS, INSTR LPS, Aux HTR /AC, HTR A/C (3rd column)
- Fuse box terminals (last column) : 0.03 V to 0.12 V: PWR ACC, STOP HZ (0.12V), Radio, Wiper.
- radio, fan, auxiliary fan, power door locks, turn signal, Hazard flasher: NO power (not working)
- Inside lights, outside lights, horn and cigarette lighter: Working properly or showing 12.5 V.

In engine compartment:
- alternator "red" terminal: 12.5V
- Junction box near Power Brake vacuum booster: 0V. At this box there are two terminals, I found on each terminal a red wire and an orange wire marked "fusible link". On right terminal, I guess the red wire is about 12 gauge, fusible link 14 gauge. On left terminal, red wire is 14 gauge and fusible link 16 gauge. I have no idea what voltage is expected here.

Another information which may be coincidental was that I replaced the Horn/DM fuses two times in the past month. During this period, I occasionally (4 - 5 times) plugged my CD personal player into the cigarette lighter using an adapter provided by the player manufacturer. When the CD player did not turn on, I went checking the fuse box and found out the blown fuses. Except for these 2 times, the player works fine.

I appreciate your help to find out what is wrong and how to fix it, or where I should investigate further.

Regards,
Tran
 
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  #2  
Old 06-01-02, 06:16 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 2,538
well i would start by taking off your battery terminals and looking at them and making sure there is no corrosion if there is clean them and reinstall, next you need to follow your negative cable to engine and make sure its tight and not loosened up, then you need to check at your starter the positive cable on the solenoid should be tight and you will probably have a couple of fusible links at the starter pullon them and see if they have melted into.
you should have 12 volts at your junction block under the hood even with the key off so you should be able to trace the wires back and see where the problem is it will either go directly to battery or to starter solenoid, and you may have a fusible link coming from alternater also.
 
  #3  
Old 06-01-02, 11:42 PM
TranT
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Solved - Found positive cable loose at solenoid

Thanks a million, Bejay. As you suggested, I followed the positive cable from battery terminal to starter solenoid and found a loose connection there. The nut here tied the positive cable (from battery) on the solenoid "battery" terminal; a fusible link is also tied to this connection to supply electricity to the junction block under the hood.

After I tightened up this nut, I got 12V into my junction block, and the car started properly... I think I understand how it works now... what a feeling...

Many thanks again,
Tran T
 
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