DShoes

Phantom electrical issue?

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Hey Guys. I'm having a weird, intermittent electrical issue I'm hoping you can help me trouble shoot. My '65 is my daily driver averaging about 7-10 miles a day. Recently, the (aftermarket Retrosound) radio started cutting out and turning back on. This is usually accompanied by a total loss of ability to accelerate. What's odd is that is happens for literally half a beat, almost a stutter, before things turn back on. A month+ ago, I had a faulty voltage regulator that was causing the radio and amp light to freak out and eventually the car shut off while driving. Replaced that and no issues since - until just recently. I'm getting no other "symptoms", such as an amp warning light or other flickering. I had an unfinished door jamb courtesy light switch replacement project going that I thought might be the culprit (loose raw wire), but I wrapped that up last night with everything working and shielded. The car / radio did its stutter step as I put it in gear to get on my way to work this morning...so that wasn't it. Sometimes it'll happen when I'm just in stop & go traffic.

 

Thoughts? Is my alternator starting to fail? Maybe the new voltage regulator is bad and starting to fail? Appreciate your thoughts. Thanks!

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Seems like the new radio installation might be a clue to finding the electrical boogeyman. Just so I understand...Does the stop/start lack of acceleration occur without the radio on? Have you tried pulling all the power off the radio and seeing if it still happens? PRL
 

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Something very common is a bad IGNITION switch. Check to see if any of the wiring is loose or the plastic connector dis-colored from heat.

 

 

Tom T.

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I have had the radio in there since August with no issues whatsoever. My sense is that is an indicator of the problem, no the problem. The stop/start acceleration lag issue does occur with the radio off, but double-checking the wiring can't hurt. I recently pulled the ignition switch, cleaned and re-installed it when I was troubleshooting what turned out to be the voltage regulator issue. I will double check it for discoloration and to make sure none of the connections has come loose . This feels more like an overall power supply / regulation problem... 

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For a start, I would connect a voltmeter temporarily so you can watch voltage while driving and see exactly what is happening when it starts acting up. You'll be able to tell if its a gradual decline in voltage or a sudden major discharge like a short circuit.

I would carry a fire extinguisher with you until you find source.

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I had a similar instance some time back. I found that the spade connector feeding the fuse box from the ignition switch was very loose.

Re-crimping that connector stopped the problem. Just a thought.

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So I just went and pulled the ignition switch. There is some minor warping / melt on the plastic housing at the red wire. So there is definitely some heat here but no metal on contact to cause a short...but maybe the heat issue IS the problem? Would that come from a faulty switch or from an overload coming down the red wire towards the switch? Forgive my ignorance, electrical is not my thing! Seems like the switch may be the issue, especially how common this problem is. Thanks.

ignition switch wiring.jpg

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8 minutes ago, JZRIV said:

For a start, I would connect a voltmeter temporarily so you can watch voltage while driving and see exactly what is happening when it starts acting up. You'll be able to tell if its a gradual decline in voltage or a sudden major discharge like a short circuit.

I would carry a fire extinguisher with you until you find source.

Where do you connect the voltmeter to? The ignition switch wiring so it can be read in while driving? Agreed on the extinguisher!

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2 hours ago, DShoes said:

So I just went and pulled the ignition switch. There is some minor warping / melt on the plastic housing at the red wire. So there is definitely some heat here but no metal on contact to cause a short...but maybe the heat issue IS the problem? Would that come from a faulty switch or from an overload coming down the red wire towards the switch? Forgive my ignorance, electrical is not my thing! Seems like the switch may be the issue, especially how common this problem is. Thanks.

ignition switch wiring.jpg

 

 

 Looks like you have come across the source of the problem. The melted connector and burned terminal on the ignition switch says too much Amp draw going through the connection.

 I would definitely consider a new ignition switch , new plastic connector and new female connector on the red 10ga wire. Most likely issue is that the contact surfaces inside the switch are tarnished / corroded . 

I have repaired some of the automotive switches with good results.  I like to test the resistance before and after servicing. There have been some that had very high resistance to start with. When finished, they usually end up with  a 3 - 4 tenths of an Ohm resistance.

 

  Loren

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If you search the forum, you'll find how you can rewire the ignition switch, using a relay, to avoid running the current through the ignition switch.  Saves the headaches you're now experiencing.

Edited by RivNut (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, DShoes said:

Fantastic. Thanks for the help all! Next stop: OPGI. 

What are you looking for at OPGI?  Whatever it is, I'm sure you can find it cheaper elsewhere and with service to back it up.  There are guys here on the forum who can be of help as well as supply you with parts.  As one of them says, " If I don't have it, you don't need it!"

 

Edited by RivNut (see edit history)

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16 hours ago, RivNut said:

" If I don't have it, you don't need it!"

 

Cheech Marin, 1996, quote: From Dusk Til Dawn. Find your own link.

Bernie

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Deterioration like illustrated in the connection at the ignition switch is very typical. It does not necessarily indicate an unusual electrical load (although that is certainly possible) but a normal electrical load thru many more CYCLES than the engineers originally anticipated. Each time the ignition switch is cycled, or put into use, there is a heating/cooling cycle which occurs and is normal. Thru thousands of cycles the heating/cooling causes the tension of the metal terminal to be gradually reduced until is becomes loose, starts arching which causes more dramatic heating/cooling, and eventually starts melting the plastic connector housing and causing open circuit issues which you may be experiencing.

Having stated the above it is still possible there is an unusual electrical load but you would have likely noticed some symptom like a burning smell, undesirable operation of a component like a dragging starter, or something inop completely.

If you find there is still a problem after repairing the issue at your ignition switch, determine which leg of the electrical system you are losing. For instance, when the problem presents itself try turning on the headlights to see if they function. If they function, your connection to the battery and the unswitched circuitry into the dash is OK. At this point you have eliminated the battery, cables, etc and would concentrate on the ignition switch circuitry.

  Tom Mooney

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On ‎1‎/‎26‎/‎2018 at 1:21 PM, RivNut said:

If you search the forum, you'll find how you can rewire the ignition switch, using a relay, to avoid running the current through the ignition switch.  Saves the headaches you're now experiencing.

 

I agree. I suspect the radio, in combination with some intermittent draw, is overloading the switch. A relay would resolve that, as long as it's getting enough power too.

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I have driven cars that had the key get hot while it was turned on. The contacts in the switch can have high resistance creating the heat or a high load from corroded junctions in the wire path or added accessory. Checking the ohmic value of the various sections of the circuit should pinpoint a fault. All switches and joints should be close to infinity. Fix the fault and you are back to new.

 

I like the idea of relays for the ignition and lights because it reduces the current load on a hard to find or expensive switch. I have considered that modification. I once had a '56 Olds that I installed an electric choke on. It took power from the primary side of the coil and was constant, a good example.

 

Most 1950's Rolls-Royce cars have a condenser at electrical switching points to reduce the arc and make life easier on the switch contacts. I have never modified a car in that manner, but it is worth the effort.

 

In the instance of the pictured switch I would check the resistance of the closed switch. "When in doubt, change it out."  The heavy red wire is the power directly from the battery and needs a thorough investigation.

Bernie

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On 1/26/2018 at 2:07 PM, RivNut said:

What are you looking for at OPGI?  Whatever it is, I'm sure you can find it cheaper elsewhere and with service to back it up.  There are guys here on the forum who can be of help as well as supply you with parts.  As one of them says, " If I don't have it, you don't need it!"

 

Good call, Ed. I'd much rather support the guys on here. To that end, any recommendations on who I might reach out to for the plastic female switch connection as well as the relay?

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1 hour ago, DShoes said:

Good call, Ed. I'd much rather support the guys on here. To that end, any recommendations on who I might reach out to for the plastic female switch connection as well as the relay?

Do you have a way of posting a picture of what you need?

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36 minutes ago, RivNut said:

Do you have a way of posting a picture of what you need?

Already did. See the photo of the damaged connector above.

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3 hours ago, RivNut said:

I played around looking at Google images and found this.  I found this link but didn't search it.  Perhaps they have one,

 

http://www.delmarwire.com/repair-harness-pigtails/gm-pigtails

Ed, thank you! Much appreciated. Clearly I have much to learn from your Yoda-like internet sleuthing skills! I will call these guys tomorrow and see what they've got. 

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I looked again and they had one for a 65 Pontiac.  Does anyone know if ignition switches were a corporate item used by all GM models that were built on the same platform?

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I was wondering the same thing on the switch connection / pigtails.

 

Relays for these ignition switches: I see a number of older posts in support, but little in the way of specifics on what relay to add and where. Does anyone have an experience they can share? Thanks guys.

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You could just swap out the connector plastic with a good used one and diagnose the reason for overheating and repair it. That is the simplest way.

 

This tool make it easy:  https://www.amazon.com/Lisle-56500-Terminal-Tool/dp/B0009OR906

 

I have had most of the terminal ends off my Riviera, cleaned and serviced the wires, and reassembled them.

 

A high resistance location that often gets overlooked is the bulkhead connector plugs. The spade connectors can get pretty corroded inside then and still let the loads operate.

Bernie

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