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Thread: Electrical quit while trying to start car

  1. #1
    Senior Member hippieman9's Avatar
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    My VIN:    06668 81' Grey interior, 5 speed, Grooved hood. Previous owner of 16301, in 2001.

    Electrical quit while trying to start car

    Ok, Let me see if I can explain this. I went to take my car for a drive today, I turned the ignition on and heard the fuel pump prime (Daves's RPM relay), turned the key to "start" engine cranks. car didn't start. Attempted to crank it again, and did 2 more times. Then I turned the key to off (car has yet to start) Then turned back to "run" and all the lights and electrical in the car wouldn't work, no console lights, doom lights, no fuel pump, no warning lights.... But i look up and see the door edge lights are lit. So I open the engine compartment and no courtesy light. I check the battery voltage at the Jump start lead in the engine bay and I get 6v DC. I then open the battery compartment and touch the positive terminal and Bam! all the lights come back on. I turn the key to "start" and it fires right up. Took it for a drive and it drove perfect.
    Any ideas as to what would of caused this electrical conundrum?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Rich's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hippieman9 View Post
    ....I then open the battery compartment and touch the positive terminal and Bam! all the lights come back on. I turn the key to "start" and it fires right up.
    Based on this info you might have a problem with the positive batt. terminal. Not sure what you meant by "touching it" but if it's loose and then you make the connection better by touching it or moving it then you could get this kind of result.

    Check both of the battery terminal bolts. Sure they are tight. Check the main ground cable connection. Go from there.
    March '81, 5-speed, black interior

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date:  May 2011

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    I had this once when I did not tighten the battery connection.

    you are aware that the started draws several hundred amps and therefore the connection
    must be really good ?

  4. #4
    Member
    Join Date:  Feb 2015

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    You should also check for corrosion on the battery terminals and battery main ground point besides just being tight. Also check the positive at the starter for same.

  5. #5
    Senior Member hippieman9's Avatar
    Join Date:  Jan 2018

    Location:  Haw River, NC

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    My VIN:    06668 81' Grey interior, 5 speed, Grooved hood. Previous owner of 16301, in 2001.

    Cool, I will check these out. The PO installed a New battery in March when I bought the car just because, he knew I was driving it from AZ to NC. He also had installed a battery shut off installed in on the positive terminal. Not sure how I feel about that though.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    I was just thinking battery cut-off switch. Agreed with the others that it is likely all the way back to the battery connections itself given how many things are affected and what you (inadvertently) did to get it going again. I would not worry about it being on the positive versus the negative terminal. Several of us had that conversation a while back. Many put the switch on the positive because of the lack of room in at the back of the battery compartment where the negative terminal is.

    Post a pic or two of your cut-off switch as it is installed and maybe someone can spot something that's causing your troubles. Or it just isn't tight. Likely easy to resolve one way or another.


    Sept. 81, auto, black interior

  7. #7
    Delorean Guru
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    It is going to wind up being either a bad connection (most likely) or a bad battery (possible but unlikely).
    David Teitelbaum

  8. #8
    Senior Member hippieman9's Avatar
    Join Date:  Jan 2018

    Location:  Haw River, NC

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    My VIN:    06668 81' Grey interior, 5 speed, Grooved hood. Previous owner of 16301, in 2001.

    Quote Originally Posted by David T View Post
    It is going to wind up being either a bad connection (most likely) or a bad battery (possible but unlikely).
    yeah, I am thinking the battery disconnect was slightly loose. but that doesn't explain why the door lights were on but nothing else.

  9. #9
    Delorean Guru
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    The door lights require so little power so they would work till you tried cranking.
    David Teitelbaum

  10. #10
    Administrator Ron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hippieman9 View Post
    yeah, I am thinking the battery disconnect was slightly loose. but that doesn't explain why the door lights were on but nothing else.
    I'd guess the poor connection wasn't supplying the AUX/other relays with enough power to energize them. And since the door lights are one of the few things that aren't fed through relays and require very little power (as David mentioned), they lit.
    (Similar to the key being off and the battery nearly dead.)

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