Ignition switch/starter not engaging/intermittent charging

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EPfiffner
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Ignition switch/starter not engaging/intermittent charging

Postby EPfiffner » Tue Jan 16, 2018 8:46 am

Since I have had my '93 there's been a handful of times where I hit the key to start it and nothing happens, like the dome light doesn't even dim. I thought oh its the shift interlock or something so I didn't really worry.
More recently I had noticed a few times that the clock on the radio (its the original delco lol) had reset, as if the battery had went dead. I then had a situation where the car had sat a few days. I went to start it, 2 or 3 tries and nothing as described above. It then started fine, but the radio clock was 12:00. Drove the car. Shut it off, started fine.
Even more recently, I decided to drive the car around Christmas, it had been sitting due to salt but the roads were dry. The battery was dead from sitting so I charged it, started it, and let it run a while.
The next day I went to take it to work and it died on me after a couple miles, batt gauge was showing 8 volts like it wasn't charging. Put a charged battery in, fired it up. At first it wasn't charging per the gauge, then all of a sudden it kicked in and started charging. Took the alternator off, advance says it tests OK.

Quite a novel, I know. Just wondering if anyone will say "oh yeah, I had that problem!"

I have been checking and cleaning grounds in the engine compartment. When I had the alternator off I found a pinched wire (brown) so I fixed it. The insulation wasn't broken though so I don't think that was it. The car is down for other work so I haven't tried it since.

If someone makes it this far in the post without falling asleep, and has a quick suggestion, that'd be great. We'll figure it out eventually. Thanks!



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Re: Ignition switch/starter not engaging/intermittent charging

Postby Stencil » Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:16 pm

Well, you've listed several symptoms. Nothing really explains them ALL except for corrosion on the battery posts - I'd make sure to remove both and make sure it's extra clean, and also make sure there isn't corrosion inside the cable head (we have a rubber protector over it and it often gets buildup in there which doesn't show up unless you really look. It's normally much worse when it's colder out.

Otherwise, it could be the starter or the park/neutral switch causing the no-start. It could also be a bad ground.
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-Aaron
'92 Beretta GTZ 2.3L 5M - Undergoing "unibody off" restoration ATM.
'93 Beretta GT 3.1 5M (daughter's car!)
'96 Beretta Base 2.2 5M (new project!)
'11 Malibu LTZ 3.6L HF 6A

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Re: Ignition switch/starter not engaging/intermittent charging

Postby EPfiffner » Wed Jan 17, 2018 7:47 am

Thanks, I hear ya about the cables being the only thing that may be related to all of those symptoms. There's a ground right under the battery tray that was in bad shape when I bought the car, I cleaned it all up 1.5 years ago but I'll check it out. I may even relocate it, under the battery is not the best place.



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Re: Ignition switch/starter not engaging/intermittent charging

Postby ifixalot » Wed Jan 17, 2018 9:35 am

On some of my cars, there is a junction bolt where the battery is connected with a heavy wire, (10 gauge) on the firewall.
But on my 96, I think there is a wire coming off the post on the starter in addition to the very large wire from the battery.
These wires power the accessories. It sounds like maybe you get weak volts to the key to power the solenoid of the starter.
The voltage drops down so low the radio looses clock memory. But you say the dome light doesn't dim.
In any case look for a junction like that. If it is loose it couls also explain why you alternator doesn't charge all the time.
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Re: Ignition switch/starter not engaging/intermittent charging

Postby EPfiffner » Wed Jan 17, 2018 11:44 am

Thanks, I'm pretty sure I know where you are talking about. Near the cowl. I'll take that apart to and clean it really well. Even if that's not the fix its good maintenance and free.



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Re: Ignition switch/starter not engaging/intermittent charging

Postby Bapsu » Wed Jan 17, 2018 4:22 pm

This junction is at least in 3.1 -93 Corsica near ICM module, below the front exhaust manifold. Take look between engine and battery, near air intake box.

Dont know if beretta has different wiring, but I suppose you got same engine and year model so...
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Re: Ignition switch/starter not engaging/intermittent charging

Postby EPfiffner » Mon Jan 22, 2018 7:59 am

I finally had a chance to work on the car some more. A bit anyway. Saturday I had to go fix my S10 blazer, I had left it at work weds because something broke in the ignition lock cylinder. Went and replaced it in the parking lot (30mi each way).
Sunday I had some time to work on the Beretta. Temps had been between -5 to 20 deg F for quite some time but that has passed for now. I have a heated garage, but it gets expensive when its that cold.

Anyway, I cleaned the heck out of the batt terminals: wire brush, scotchbrite, baking soda & water. As suggested above they looked OK at first glance, but they could've been a lot better. Embarrassing because I know better than that.

Also took apart the junction that mounts above the blower motor box. First thing I noticed is that the nut was not really tight. Cleaned it up, added a star washer to the back and tightened securely.
Next was grounding. The main cable goes to a stud on the trans, and then another cable, 4 ga or so, goes in to the split loom and then grounds to the body under the batt tray. I took this cable all the way out, sanded the frame rail to bare metal, added a couple stars washers. On the end where it mounts to the trans it is missing like 3" of insulation, but there's only one broken strand and it ohms out 0.1 ohm.
Next was the starter. I ended up pulling it out completely, it was just caked with grease. I wanted to really have access to the wires and connections.
IMG_1930.JPG


All the connections looked OK, but I peaked behind the shrink tubing on all of them. This is what I found on the small terminal to the solenoid. There's a small purple with a fuse link (I believe this is the ignition wire) and a large 12ga purple doubled up.

IMG_1934.JPG

I like to leave well enough alone with factory wiring since they do such a good job, but I couldn't let this go. I'm going to crimp and solder new lugs on, I'm going to do 2 separate lugs since both wires won't fit together in a normal crimp lug.
The car is all apart for other work (see my members rides) so I had room to pull the harness up and pre-tin the wires. Today I will get the crimp lugs at work, and hopefully I can work on it again on the weekend.

So no resolution yet, but I think I eliminated some potential causes.



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Re: Ignition switch/starter not engaging/intermittent charging

Postby EPfiffner » Wed Jan 24, 2018 11:19 am

Got the new terminals crimped, soldered, and put heat shrink on. One piece of heat shrink is green, "borrowed" it from work so I wasnt being picky. I put the cleaned up starter back in. I had to shorten the 10-12ga purple wire a bit, but it connected to the solenoid OK. I'm just going to route the harness securely so it doesn't have any stress on it. Still didn't get to fire the car up though, hopefully this weekend. I probably won't know for quite some time if its fixed or not since its an intermittent problem.
IMG_1936.JPG



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So far so good: possibly resolved

Postby EPfiffner » Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:17 am

I addressed everyone's suggestions and I had the car fired up a few times this weekend just moving it around the driveway.
I measured the voltage across the starter and the main ground connection at the trans, and then I measured it at the battery and found no voltage loss, but that's not a definitive test.
The alternator was charging immediately on start up, so that's a good sign too.
I can't drive the car right now because the tires are so bald there are cords showing. I'm doing some suspension repairs and then I'll take it for tires/alignment, I'll post about this in members rides (just boring stock parts).
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