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Old 04-02-2013, 12:47 AM   #1
02SVTAZ
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02 SVT- battery light, no start

After more than a year of trouble- free ownership and countless smiles, my beloved SVT broke down on me today. For the last week or two, I've had an occasional battery light. My wife just drove the car to Vegas and back last weekend, and never had the light. Today, we drove it in the morning, had the light, and then later it wouldn't start. No crank, just click. Battery measures 12.45 volts. I tried to tap on starter solenoid, but can't even see starter!

Battery is an Interstate that's 18 months old.

I plan to pull battery and take it to have it load tested tomorrow, but I'm thinking its a starter problem. I can't figure out the relevance of the battery light though, and why it's been intermittent. Seems odd.

Any ideas?

Oh- I do plan to attempt jump start tomorrow before I pull the battery.

Thanks!


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Old 04-02-2013, 05:18 AM   #2
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02 SVT- battery light, no start

Checkout this link
http://carbatteryworld.com/car-battery-voltage/

I'm thinking the issue is the battery was being under charged causing the battery light. At 12.4 volts the battery is at 75% of capacity, which in your car's present condition is not enough to start it. What I would do:

ENSURE A GOOD POWER SOURCE:
- pull the battery and load test
- if it passes have it fully charged
- if it fails replace it and have the new one fully charged
- take your tested, fully charged battery but do not install it

ENSURE A GOOD POWER DELIVERY SYSTEM:
- you now have a good battery so let's make sure your wiring can deliver power to and from the battery
- critically examine the cables that connect to the battery posts. Anything that is not bright, shiny & clean needs to be repaired/replaced. Any part that is rusty/eaten by corrosion needs to be replaced.
- Critically examine the other ends of the cables. The negative cables attach to the engine & frame. Disconnect the cables at the connection points. Anything that is not bright, shiny & clean needs to be repaired/replaced. Any part that is rusty/eaten by corrosion needs to be replaced. At the attachment point you may need to remove paint/dirt with sandpaper to get a bright shinny connection point. Reassemble the connection using dielectric grease & making sure the connections are tight.
- Do the same with the positive cables.
- Do the same with the positive connection to the alternator.
- Do the same to the connections to the starter/solenoid.

NOW INSTALL THE BATTERY
- Make sure that everything is bright and shinny.
- Use dielectric grease.
- Connections should be tight. If you can twist/turn a connector/battery post clamp then something is wrong. Repair and/or replace as required.

I'm guessing that at this point your car will start. Use the link at the top to check your charging voltages. The question is why was the battery being under charged? Was it the inefficient wiring you just repaired or a faulty alternator? Or both?

Yes you may have a starter/solenoid that is showing signs of age, but those signs are compounded by wiring/connections that cannot efficiently deliver the required voltage & current. To save money and weight your stock wiring system does not have much "reserve capacity" so a seeming small amount of degradation can be meaningful. Electrical components that receive electrical power at reduced voltage can pull larger amounts of current shortening their life. Starters crank longer at each start decreasing lifespan. Finicky computers get voltages that are slightly off and/or contain spikes leading to mystery misfires, starting issues or other problems.

Good luck
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Old 04-02-2013, 01:16 PM   #3
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Thanks for the feedback. Jump start was unsuccessful this morning. Evaluating wiring now... Clicking noise exactly the same with jumpers connected and voltage up over 13.8.
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Old 04-02-2013, 01:49 PM   #4
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sounds like you need to remove the cables from the battery and clean the posts and clamps with a wire brush....mine was doing the exact same thing and this is what ended up being the issue....
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Old 04-02-2013, 02:14 PM   #5
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Well, upon inspecting battery cables, there is a bit of corrosion. After cleaning and looking more closely at the cables, the POS cable is frayed, melted a bit, black and brittle for the first 4-5 inches. I've removed battery and battery box, and am in process of removing air box, etc. working my way down following cable routing to starter. At the very minimum so far I need to replace POS cable. I likely will do NEG as well since its apart.

How does the air box come off of that pedestal it's attached to? Sheesh!

So, the pieces/symptoms all fit so far...
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Old 04-02-2013, 02:17 PM   #6
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airbox is just pushed into rubber isolators that are on a plate/bracket beneath it....take the top half of and then carfeully pull straight upwards on the box to yank it free. some WD40 or PB blaster may be a big help if you can get some to spray onto the rubber grommets.
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Old 04-02-2013, 03:29 PM   #7
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So, I ordered new cables and started looking at the routing of these things. Wow! Gone are the days of a positive cable and a negative cable, eh? They're integrated into the whole harness now it seems. This might be more of a job than I'm ready for. Contemplating splicing in the terminal ends and the first 8-12 inches of each cable, beyond where they stop being brittle and discolored. Some good connections and maybe soldering them should do the trick, dontcha think? I really am not a fan of half-assing things like that, but not sure of my other options.
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Old 04-03-2013, 01:08 AM   #8
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02 SVT- battery light, no start

Quote:
Originally Posted by 02SVTAZ View Post
So, I ordered new cables and started looking at the routing of these things. Wow! Gone are the days of a positive cable and a negative cable, eh? They're integrated into the whole harness now it seems. This might be more of a job than I'm ready for. Contemplating splicing in the terminal ends and the first 8-12 inches of each cable, beyond where they stop being brittle and discolored. Some good connections and maybe soldering them should do the trick, dontcha think? I really am not a fan of half-assing things like that, but not sure of my other options.
I can sympathize with your reluctance to dismantle the entire harness. Only you, the mechanic on hand, can determine what's "good enough". Sounds like previous lack of maintenance to the connection points, and else where, caused excessive current draw which damaged the wires. Your question is can you really be sure that the wire sections that appear undamaged are in fact undamaged? You are also assuming that wire sections still in the loom are undamaged, is that a valid assumption? You are the mechanic, you need to decide. If you were paying for this what would you want the mechanic to do?

The overheating warrants at least some disassembly of the harness to determine if the overheated wires damaged other wires in the harness.

Good luck
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Old 04-03-2013, 01:40 AM   #9
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Have decided to have dealership replace the wires. $175 labor doesn't seem all that bad after looking into it. Car started no problem after reassembly. Could probably drive it now that it'll start, but I think I'll go ahead with the repair anyway.

Thanks for all the feedback everyone.
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Old 04-03-2013, 02:17 AM   #10
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Do yourself a big favor and check the alternator voltage and have a look at the belt tensioner, there could easily be other troubles in there. Alt should show 14 volts+ at idle. Slightly sticking off/on tensioner from age can easily produce intermittent battery lights.

It'd be a bummer to strand the wife out on the highway in the heat............
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