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Discussion Starter #1
Okay so I've been trying to tackle this issue for about 2 weeks now.... So I was driving back home from my hometown to where I live now (approx 27 miles) when my car did not want to turn back on after I came out of a convenience store. Crap. I needed a jump. Earlier in the day on the ride down to hometown, I noticed my cluster lighting was very dim even with it set at brightest setting and out of no where it was like something connected and they returned bright again. Thought nothing of it until car wouldn't start.
So I hustled up a jump from the first person wiling to even hear out what I had to ask and the car started up... However when it came time to drive, the headlights were weak as well as all interior lighting and the car started to be jerky... And then died... So I'm annoyed at this as I had just replaced the alternator 2 weeks prior.
I manage to get another jump from some people driving an electric hybrid Lexus (can't even hear the damn thing running) and even tho it took 15 min to even locate the battery in that car, we managed to get the Coug started again..... If only briefly. She didn't manage to stay on long enough to get out of the parking lot, let alone the remaining 22 miles home.
I got it towed home so I could at least diagnose the issue in the comfort of my own garage... By this point, the car stopped even trying to crank, i would just hear what I assume was the fuel pump priming and maybe some crackalackin from the fuse box. Also, my headlights not work. No hi beams or low beams. Not sure how it's related, but yeah.... All other lights are functioning. So, here's what I've done so far...

°Checked and replaced any and all fuses/relays
°Replaced Megafuse
°Bought and installed new starter (involved
a lot of swearing and coolant on the floor)
°New battery
°Re-secured the connections at the
alternator
°Visually inspected all wires from the fuse
box to the alternator

Nothing has improved. I am still at a no crank, no start and I don't even know what to try next. Someone suggested a clogged fuel filter so I'm putting a new one on in the morning even though I don't think that's the issue. I was thinking it could possibly be ignition switch? It's not PATS because the led goes solid when I try to turn engine on, it is not blinking rapidly. I'm not good at checking electrical stuff with multimeter unless i have someone helping me.
Any and all suggestions appreciated, I hope I am missing something stupid so this can be remedied asap. I miss driving my Coug!

Thanks in advance, I know you guys can help me!
 

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I know you checked everything, but all signs point towards a charging issue or bad power/ground. If it was a bad fuel filter it would at least keep cranking and it sounds like everything works when you turn the key to accessory (except headlights), but once you turn to start nothing happens. It was able to run with a jump so the battery held enough juice to get you going, but the alternator wasn't keeping it charged. You can try letting another car jump it again, but this time leave it connected while your car runs and test the voltage on your the battery. If it reads ~14v then the battery is being charged. Disconnect the jump car and read your battery and see if it starts dropping and if it does it's an issue between your battery and/or alternator.

I just redid the charging wiring for my car because, while it looked fine and ran, the lights were like a rave at night. When I had it out there was a lot of corrosion and wires just barely hanging on. So new power wire and connectors from the alt to starter, and then starter to battery. Cleaned up other terminals for grounds as well. I also did the TSB for the dimming lights that required replacing a harness and running a wire directly to the alternator. That whole harness can be removed from the car to inspect and work on and there's a few spots it could possibly make contact with another hard line and rub or, even worse, melt and ground out.

Pull your headlights out and pop the back cover off to see if the wiring inside is disintegrating. There's plenty of metal they can ground out on and not work. It shouldn't make a difference, but try starting the car w/them unplugged. Were any fuses popped and if you replaced them did they pop again?
 

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I know you don't want to hear that its the alternator, but I think you know that's what it seems like.
Reman alternators are notoriously hit and miss, and even brand new ones can be bad off the shelf.
There are a few other things you check first:

Try checking Fuse 30 under the dash and Fuse 7 under the hood.
If Fuse 30 is bad, you would also be missing some indications on the cluster.
If the fuses are good you could check for voltage at the connectors indicated below and if you see any discrepancies chase them until you find the bad connection.
If you have 12V at terminal 1 on the alternator, that whole circuit on the left side of the drawing is good.
If you have 12V on the CJB side of the cluster but not on the alternator side, the cluster is bad.
If the cluster, wiring, and fuses are all good, you got a bad alternator off the shelf.
80969
 
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The only thing that gives me pause is the "*New battery"
Even with a dead alternator, a new charged battery should crank at least, and should crank and start.
 
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Yes it should still crank and run if the battery is new. The alternator shouldn't cause an issue at first with a new battery. When said battery dies from not being charged then the alternator is the problem.
You can take the alternator out of the car and start it and drive without it until the battery dies.
Playing with mine last week I had a moment where the car would try to crank but it was like the battery was dead. Extremely working hard to crank. Maybe turning the engine a half a turn and then stopping. Trying 4 different batteries I decided that wasnt it. Cleaning my grounds under the hood and tightening them put everything back to normal. Not cleaning the battery end of the ground wire but where it actually bolts to the body on mine.
So after all that Rambling and what not. I would check my ground wires and the wires and connections from the battery to engine.
 

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Bad batteries can do some funky things so I was going to suggest that until I read that you had put a new one in. I'm on Team Bad Connection/Ground somewhere.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks everyone for replying!

So, I was at first suspecting the alternator was bad too, until I put the new battery in and still got nothing.

I don't want to give up, I feel like I may recheck everything again and make sure there is power between all components involved. It seems like power is not getting to the starter solenoid.... Mmc757 that is a great diagram, thanks, I will def check out those areas...
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Bad batteries can do some funky things so I was going to suggest that until I read that you had put a new one in. I'm on Team Bad Connection/Ground somewhere.
My friend keeps telling me to keep checking, he thinks it's a loose connection somewhere. I'll have to recheck my grounds too
 

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If the ground points the negative cables hook to aren't good enough you have problems similar to bad battery or alternator. I've put brand new batteries in and gotten everything to work in the car only to get a "click" when I turn the key and then everything shut off.
Only to realize I had a faulty ground. Usually either the battery terminal or the area in the fender apron that the other end of the wires hook to.

That being said bad grounds can also cause funny issues with the lights and the rest of the car for that matter. For an 18-21 year old car thats not at all unlikely.

If it does end up being the alternator, which on this car is highly likely as well, Id suggest getting the replacement tested before leaving the store. I've had new ones off the shelf test bad before ever even paying for them.
 

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Another possibility is the cable between the alt and the starter being degraded under the insulation.
Failing battery cables are not uncommon for cars of this age...We usually see it between the battery and starter first, but it doesnt sound like thats your problem.
If any moisture ever gets under the insulation of that cable, it cant get back out again so the copper corrodes to the point of minimal conductivity over time.
Its hard to verify with an ohmeter, but you can check it easily enough with the car running. If the alternator voltage is 14 but the starter voltage is lower, that's your problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Another possibility is the cable between the alt and the starter being degraded under the insulation.
Failing battery cables are not uncommon for cars of this age...We usually see it between the battery and starter first, but it doesnt sound like thats your problem.
If any moisture ever gets under the insulation of that cable, it cant get back out again so the copper corrodes to the point of minimal conductivity over time.
Its hard to verify with an ohmeter, but you can check it easily enough with the car running. If the alternator voltage is 14 but the starter voltage is lower, that's your problem.
Unfortunately, I can't get the car running....

I can take pictures of anything if anyone wants to see something in particular... Another set of eyes wouldn't hurt lol

I'm going to check the grounds now
 

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If its not starting even with a jump than I would put money on it being your battery cable.
Use a jumper cable to go straight from the battery to the starter, bypassing the battery cable to prove it.
 

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If its not starting even with a jump than I would put money on it being your battery cable.
Use a jumper cable to go straight from the battery to the starter, bypassing the battery cable to prove it.
Genius! Yes, it hasn't been starting even with a jump... It did originally when I first got stuck in the parking lot, but would sputter and die within seconds... I am going to do this right now!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
80970
Think I may have finally found the problem....
 

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Yeah thatll do it.
 

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It was inside one of those plastic wire bundles that are wrapped in electrical tape.... The whole thing felt greasy and wet underneath, maybe oil spilled and seeped in at one point, but it made everything lubricated and i guess the wires that were clamped and crimped then shrink tubed were able to separate, yet stay hidden underneath the tape until I started messing with stuff....
I'm fixing it now, and hopefully this will resolve everything because if it doesn't work after this, I'm just going to set her on fire and roast marshmallows....
 

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Yay Smore's
 

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Good job. Guess I can put away my marshmellows then.
 
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Good job. That's the kind of content I come here for. (y)
 
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