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Won't Start - Gremlins!

Brian1973

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Truck was running just fine. Then went to start it up earlier after it sat for 30 minutes. Got the starter relay click and then everything (dome light, radio) went dead. New battery a month ago after previous one there for 4 yrs. Wiggled battery connections, nothing new. Went ahead and tried to jump start just in case battery has an issue, but as suspected, nothing different.

I noticed the check engine light was behaving erratically as I was attempting to start. Mainly, have it narrowed down to the headlights or brakes being engaged with no key in the truck, engine light is coming on and those things are NOT working... no reaction or solenoid click when trying to start... truck sits for a few minutes, the brake/lights work, go to turn key, all screwed up again... checked all brake and head/tail lamps, all appear to be working fine... Know I had an issue once with a brake light that would engage when using a turn signal causing my cruise control to unlock....

177k miles... thinking need a new computer? Argh! Other ideas?
 
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Brian1973

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BTW, starter was replaced last year... and I smacked that a time or two with a wrench jic
 

RonD

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It certainly reads like battery is disconnected.
I would check Ground cable at engine end, and positive cable end on starter relay, '91 should still use starter relay on the inner fender?

When you turn the key to START position those cables need to pass 200 AMPs of power to the starter motor, even a little corrosion or looseness and you will see NO connection(power failure in truck) or the "click, click, click" noise, which means NO AMPS.

Ground cable carries the same 200 amps, so if either the Positive or Negative cable has a problem the AMPS can't flow.

If cable ends, all 4 ends, look good then you will need to use a razor knife and cut each ends rubber coating back a few inches, if you see whitish powder replace cables.

Any loose or corroded connector will cause what you describe, when you turn on the key power jumps across bad connector then stops, dead again
 
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Brian1973

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Yes, relay on passenger side fender wall... connectors looked good on it and the battery... will look closer behind insulation and then under engine at the starter connector. I do recall having this issue as a temporary hindrance (although don't recall the CEL issue) at least once in the last year where I figured it was just a twist of the battery cable and that seemed to remedy it. The tapered posts on these batteries seem to allow some looseness with time/jiggling although I've tightened them as tight as possible :-/ (Knew I was getting close to battery expiration). With last months new battery install, I cleaned and made sure that wasn't a future issue. Or so I thought...

Hope it is that simple but it sure seems more complicated with the mere fact that lights and brakes are both turning CEL on. With or without key in ignition... Did only seem to happen after tried to start but going back to the poor truck one time before calling the hook. Sounds like a wire harness issue or a computer that's checked out. Neither of which I've messed with in the recent past.
 

Brian1973

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Thanks for the help. Got it going :-/ Until the next time it decides to do that again.

Again, tried to start it. Got one click of the relay and then the weird faint lighting of the "rear antilock brake", "battery" and then the illuminating of the "CEL" -with the brake engaged... Tried lights, nothing, other than illuminating CEL if the brakes weren't depressed already... left key turned to just before starter engagement. Wiggled battery post cables (figuring lights might try to come on if a short somewhere around those cables). Nothing happened. Stood there for a minute, not touching anything, the lights came on as well as I suppose the normal one click in the area under the fuse box in the engine compartment near "EEC check?". Try to start engine again, left lights on, "click" and all shut down. Turn light switch to off, my dome light works.. lights or brakes touched, dome light off, CEL on. Put headlight switch back to on, didn't touch anything, waited, about a minute later from trying to start, headlights & dome light came back on. Turned lights off, tapped brakes, all seemed good. Decided to turn off illumination on aftermarket radio. Tried to start truck a 3rd time (because that's a charm?), wahhla! I don't think radio had anything to do with it as I turned it back on and tried to replicate the symptoms again and could not. As titled, GREMLIN. I'll have another look in the daylight at wires but I couldn't see anything. But I too figured it was something like that as well but after fooling around with wires and knowing it was a new battery and near new starter, I wonder what else it could be if not wires? I think it is original starter relay. Probably not too expensive to knock that off the list, maybe replace ignition switch as well?
 
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modelageek

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It certainly reads like battery is disconnected.
I would check Ground cable at engine end, and positive cable end on starter relay, '91 should still use starter relay on the inner fender?

When you turn the key to START position those cables need to pass 200 AMPs of power to the starter motor, even a little corrosion or looseness and you will see NO connection(power failure in truck) or the "click, click, click" noise, which means NO AMPS.

Ground cable carries the same 200 amps, so if either the Positive or Negative cable has a problem the AMPS can't flow.

If cable ends, all 4 ends, look good then you will need to use a razor knife and cut each ends rubber coating back a few inches, if you see whitish powder replace cables.

Any loose or corroded connector will cause what you describe, when you turn on the key power jumps across bad connector then stops, dead again
X2. The cables or connections to the battery/starter/engine block are fubared. Replace them.

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modelageek

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I looked the cables up on Rockauto for you. Both can be had for about $22 in total, including delivery.

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