MAJOR Electrical Problem - Video & Pix, HELP! please...
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RWD 19xx-1984 DeVille and Fleetwood,
1985-1996 Fleetwood and Brougham Forum Discussion, MAJOR Electrical Problem - Video & Pix, HELP! please... in Past Cadillac Vehicle Discussion; It's probably an electrical short but dang thing spooked me! I was blogging in another thread about the problems I ...
  1. #1
    bhs82's Avatar
    bhs82 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    68 DeVille must be Haunted with a Ghost

    It's probably an electrical short but dang thing spooked me!
    I was blogging in another thread about the problems I had with the power window motor (still not completely resolved) and the last paragraph of my OP is what ties to this. The one other thing not mentioned there is that the Temperature Guage is pegged to Max Heat (right) position and stays there all the time.

    In the interim, I've been doing other work. The radiator had been leaking so I used a couple different stop leak products and it seamed to do the trick. Yesterday I was in the process of flushing the system (driving, cooling slightly, drainging, refilling). I was about 5 feet away from the car with the keys out AND ALL OF A SUDDEN THE CAR TRIED TO START ITSELF.

    I'm thinking I've heard an engine sputter on shut down but this was long after shut down. I carried on about my business and then all of a sudden the car tried turning itself over AGAIN!!! Then it happened again, this time while I was under the hood adjusting the dashpot. I was sure it was one of those Jack Ass / Punk'd moments with my buddy standing around a corner with a remote trying to video tape my reaction. Then when I got in the car, I noticed the Temperature Guage was normal. I turned the key and sure enough the horn, power seats and power windows were all working. Whew! I was afraid wires had fried due to a failed Circuit Breaker (keep in mind, I only have a temporary 30 Amp fuse occupying the slot right now).

    I drove the car through 2 more flushing cycles... at the end of the 2nd cycle, I was backing in the driveway and I noticed when I shifted the tranny into R, the Temp Guage pegged again and neither the horn or power windows or power seat were working again. (Shifting into R triggered the electrical problems)WTF!

    All in all the car tried to start itself maybe 10 times.
    Here is what I've noticed;

    1. A previous owner rewired the ignition to a hidden start button. To start the car, the key needs to be turned to the on position, then the separate, hidden button pushed.
    2. Without a key in the ignition at all, you can push the button and the car will try and start, but not turn over. Apparently turning the key to the 'On' position powers the fuel pump which makes the difference (I'm assuming).
    3. The problems all started after replacing the power window motor, however, I've also done several other things recently including replacing the voltage regulator, condensor, radio, putting new plastic sleeves around the wires running along the valve covers and taping them closed (insulation), etc., so any one of those could be a culprit but the power window motor was the most recent.
    4. WHEN everything related to the power window CB #11 (and the Temp Guage)... I've found that driving the car, then draining the coolant system while still hot, TENDS to trigger the 'Ghost Starting'. The 'Ghost Starting' tends to reset all the problems related to CB#11.

    Then I get a phone call today. My buddy went to start the car and the starter kept trying engaging with the vehicle running (cringing grind we've all experienced) so he simply had to pull the negative cable from the battery.

    I'm on my way over there now. I'm thinking out loud and would sure appreciate input;

    I wanna try and disconnect the new power window motor behind the door paneling in the event that is a source of a short in the system... however... before putting in a temporary fuse, when the fuse slot was vacant with neither a fuse or a circuit breaker, everything on that circuit which MAY have been the source of a short was disconnected so I don't think that is going to make a difference (right or wrong?).

    I can't find a 'fuse' for the starter. I've read about a 'Starter Relay' but not sure where to find that. I'm thinking if it's possible to access it, the thing to do is start the car, then disconnect the starter/solenoid wiring so it won't randomly engage, just to get the car back to his house without having it towed.

    My assumption is that there is a short in the system.
    How does one trace a short?
    I'm assuming that I can pull fuses one at a time, essentially disconnecting all components related to that fuse (thinking if a component is the source of the short that disconnecting that component would eliminate the short).

    Everything was working fine previously so I'm afraid I did something or introduced a change. The one other thing is the fuse panel itself. It did not operate or lock or slide like the Owner's Manual stated it should. I'm wondering if merely pulling it down or changing it's position compromised wires or contacts.

    Any input is appreciated. I hate electrical problems!

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    DouglasJRizzo is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: 68 DeVille must be Haunted with a Ghost

    Hooo boy.....

    First, I really hate home made electrical stuff, especially in cars. A hidden start button? Why? Sounds like that's condition number one to check.
    The second would be that if the temp gauge is pegging "H" all the time, and the power windows act up, you've got a panel problem for sure.

    I can't give a lot of electrical advice, but I will say that until the bugaboos are cured, I'd disconnect the neg cable whenever the car is left alone, as this sounds like the kind of stuff that can cause a nasty car fire.

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    CADforce69 is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: 68 DeVille must be Haunted with a Ghost

    Quote Originally Posted by bhs82 View Post
    2. Without a key in the ignition at all, you can push the button and the car will try and start, but not turn over. Apparently turning the key to the 'On' position powers the fuel pump which makes the difference (I'm assuming).
    Fuel pump in these cars are mechanic; not electric. What makes the difference is coil receiving electric power when ignition is switched on by the key, and sending through distributor electricity to sparks.


    Quote Originally Posted by bhs82 View Post
    I can't find a 'fuse' for the starter. I've read about a 'Starter Relay' but not sure where to find that. I'm thinking if it's possible to access it, the thing to do is start the car, then disconnect the starter/solenoid wiring so it won't randomly engage, just to get the car back to his house without having it towed.
    The neutral switch is what cuts electric flux to starter when is in a different position than "P" or "D". Apparently, this switch is bypassed in your car -Similar modification in my 69-, so only the button should open or cut the circuit. I think you have a cut too.

    Quote Originally Posted by bhs82 View Post
    My assumption is that there is a short in the system.
    How does one trace a short?
    You will have to follow the wires powering starter and see if there is any point where + and - can contact apart from the switch. You can even force the situation by moving them at that point. I think circuit should be restored to original as soon as possible. I want to make this in my car some day, though I never had this self starting problem.

    I can not make any comments on the rest of issues as my electricity knowledge is rather limited. Just an advice: ALWAYS disconnect a battery wire when operating in the engine compartment. Belts or fan could trap your fingers, shirt or other complement you wear if that self starting takes place at that moment.

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    MAJOR Electrical Problem - Video & Pix, HELP! please...

    This is what happens when I try and connect the battery now;


    Any suggestions on diagnosis?
    My guess is a short in the starter solenoid?
    I plan to disconnect the cables from the starter to test it but have not had the opportunity.

    Before anyone notices and comments, the bozo before me used a black cable for Positive and a red one for Negative/Grounding. The Negative/Grounding cable is bolted to the engine block. Due to the current problem, I removed the battery and have been using a 300amp "Battery Jump Starter" at medium charge for testing as I've tried changing out cables and fuses. That way I can connect both Positive and Negative by cable to a smaller source and use a switch to test. Instead of the big sparks, I hear clicking - as if the starter were not getting enough power.

    Here is an image of the entire setup. I've never before seen a 200amp fuse at the battery.
    (Click on ANY of the images for a larger picture)


    Here is an image of the positive cable connector.

    I disconnected all of the wires from the Positive Cable connector except for the largest black cable. I believe the smallest red wire goes to the ignition key switch/Button, while the cable going through the fuse was for the starter. However, even with disconnecting all but the large black cable, the problem still exists. If anyone can elaborate on what these various wires/cables are to/for, please... But my biggest issue is in the video above.


    BACKSTORY - There were some electrical problems as I blogged on here. Then everything was fine and my friend took the car out for a 20 mile drive and stopped for breakfast. According to his girlfriend, an hour later when he went to start the car he kept pumping the gas and pushing the starter button for a while. The engine fired up but then the starter did not disengage and he got that grinding sound like when you try to start a car with the engine running. In a panic he jiggled around some wires under the dash then franticly pryed the positive battery cable loose from the terminal (it mounts with an allen bolt but he simply stripped it off given the urgency). Then I got called down. I disconnected the Negative cable from the terminal, connected the Positive, and now when I go to connect the Negative it does the above.


    SIDENOTE - This whole set up is clearly after market. I found the original Negative grounding cable still mounted to the frame and hanging in the engine compartment. I connected that to the Battery Negative Terminal and interestingly got no power to the car. Strange.

    THANK YOU to anyone who can help... Electrical is really not my forte.

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    Re: 68 DeVille must be Haunted with a Ghost

    Gentlemen, thank you for your input, especially with respect to Safety..
    An entirely larger situation currently exists warranting a new thread. It MAY be related but the new situation is alarmingly shocking. I took pix and video and posted the thread here.

    Sorry if it's confusing but now the situation is more dire.
    Once I get past the "New" problem, I can revisit this one.

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    csbuckn is online now Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: MAJOR Electrical Problem - Video & Pix, HELP! please...

    My guess is that your starter coil has shorted out. You could take it out and have it tested. This really sucks to have this type of issue. I've never seen anything like this. Does anybody else have a fuse on their starter wire?

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    Re: 68 DeVille must be Haunted with a Ghost

    I have a similar problem. My temp needle jumps everytime there is a problem. (seems to be the canary in the mine)

    When my window was shorted out the needle would jump when I stepped on the brake, or hit the horn, etc.

    Seemed my key buzzer (white wire to the horn relay) was causing a problem so I unplugged it. That was fine for a while but the headlight switch was going.

    Replaced it with a new one and it still did not work right. Had to use a jump wire. After that the needle stayed pegged, but everything worked.

    Until yesterday, now no headlights or parking lights. If the switch is pulled in the on position the lights light up only while the started is engaged. When the motor starts off they go.

    Something is burnt out somewhere. But with a thousand 43 year old wires, most with faded color, and a removed old alarm system put in by who knows who. I don't know where to start.

    Ain't old cars fun!

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    CADforce69 is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: MAJOR Electrical Problem - Video & Pix, HELP! please...

    My caddy electric system was tampered in the past. Even has a separate button to make starter work (You must turn ignition on with key before; if not, starter turns but engine do not start). No fuse on the starter wire nevertheless.

    I think there must be a short in the starter motor too; itīs consuming a lot of electricity so as soon as you get wire close to terminal, a big spark comes out and probably starter would turn again if you held the wire close enough time. First I would take out starter, install another starter and see if this happens again. You could get a cheap one at a junkyard. If everything is ok, leave it installed. Maybe it works for a lot of years yet. I would not try to repair old starter unless I had an appreciable experience in fixing electrical devices. Taking it to a repair shop probably have a similar cost than buying a new/remanufactured one.

    Anyway, something odd must have been happening to this car in the past as the former owner installed such a fuse and substituted original ground wire. Maybe the old ground cable broke but this kind of fuse has an explanation only if a huge electric consumption could take place. Maybe this problem occurred in the past from time to time and the car tried to start by itself from time to time.

    This cases remind me the movie Christine

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    Re: MAJOR Electrical Problem - Video & Pix, HELP! please...

    RE "Christine" - LMAO!!!

    Alright guys thanks. Good points. Last night he was stranded and I did not bring my floor jack and his car is VERY low which is why I couldn't get under it then. I won't have an opportunity to do anything for a couple days.

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    brougham is offline Cadillac Owners Master
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    Re: MAJOR Electrical Problem - Video & Pix, HELP! please...

    Start by getting a factory service manual and fixing some of those half-ass repairs. Pretty much all of these problems are because of the messed up wiring and that can also be a fire hazzard.

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    Lightbulb Re: MAJOR Electrical Problem - Video & Pix, HELP! please...

    ok so i noticed the black / red switched out combo and thought WTF for a while till I read your post a bit more.

    maybe buy some different coloured cables?

    it's your car....

    sooo...

    on my 1970 coupe the "major" battery negative cable (blue in this case) bolts directly to the chassis of the car in the front right wheel well area.



    there is no "minor" cable coming from the negative terminal.

    the "major" battery positive cable goes directly to the starter motor.

    the "minor" cable goes to the back of the alternator...



    as I understand it (and I ain't no sparky)

    when you turn the key it

    A: completes the power circuit for the points allowing the coil to charge up and sparks to form at the plugs via the dizzy and appropriate leads

    B: when you turn further it powers up the solenoid which closes and in turn causes current to flow to the starter which then (if all goes well) cranks over the engine...

    with the engine now turning by itself

    (running...can you not hear the 7.7 litres of music?)

    the alternator spins which causes electricity of a favorable nature to flow down the (on my car anyway) "minor" positive wire and charge the battery....

    I'm sure someone in here will correct me if I'm wrong / leaving something out but that's how I see it any way....

    power windows?

    temp guage?....

    hey, I already told ya I ain't no sparky....

    I hope this helps a little....

    Alby M.

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    CADforce69 is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: MAJOR Electrical Problem - Video & Pix, HELP! please...

    Just to be sure that the problem comes from a short in the starter (and before you replace your starter):
    You can disconnect the starter wires and connect them to another 12 V. device you positively know that is ok (a light, for example). If the device or light is on as soon as you connect the battery wire, the problem would not be inside the starter but in another point in the part of the installation concerning starter power. If the device or light is on just when you push the starter button, then the problem is inside starter.

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    Re: MAJOR Electrical Problem - Video & Pix, HELP! please...

    Quote Originally Posted by brougham View Post
    Start by getting a factory service manual and fixing some of those half-ass repairs. Pretty much all of these problems are because of the messed up wiring and that can also be a fire hazzard.
    I second this. Start with a factory service manual and wire it back to stock as much as possible.

    Someone had done some really crazy stuff on my Ford pickup to get around a failed turn signal switch. I had to operate two separate switches in order for the hazards to work. I finally decided to fix it after the 3rd traffic stop for not having any tail lights (sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn't). It took me hours of studying the manual and tracing and pulling out wires to get it right again. Once it's back to original, you can breathe a sigh of relief. The original engineers really did know better than most shadetree mechanics.

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    Re: MAJOR Electrical Problem - Video & Pix, HELP! please...

    Great tips - Thanx to all... I'll be able to work on it tomorrow and look at some things more closely.

    In the mean time, as I stated previously I found the original Negative Cable still attached to the frame and sitting there in the engine compartment. When I unbolted it from the frame and went to pull it, I found another 'mesh' wiring clamped to the cable where it bolted to the frame. I assume this 'mesh wire' attachment grounds something else which is why the cable was left mounted. Here is a picture. Can anyone tell me what that 'mesh' wiring goes to and if it is safe to merely cut it off without mounting or grounding it to the frame?
    (click on image for a larger picture)

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    rjgeyer is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: MAJOR Electrical Problem - Video & Pix, HELP! please...

    That "mesh" wire is used to connect the body and frame together electronically. It effectively "grounds" the body sheet metal.

    You'd likely run into a whole host of other problems (gauges, radio, windows, etc not working, or working inconsistently) if you remove that connection.

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