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Old 08-12-2010, 10:04 AM   #1
Mechie3
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Default Turn on lights, lose power

Yesterday getting on a highway on ramp I turned on my lights and everything reset. Gauges, radar, speedo, etc. The car hiccuped but kept driving.

this morning my lights were in the on position when I went to start the car. It completely shut everything down. No dash lights, no anything. I popped the hood, wiggled the battery connections (good), turn the light switch off, the car started.

I got to work and tested it again. Turned the lights to the on position, turned the ignition...dead....everything. Not even a slow fading wane of lights, key fob won't work, wiggling the battery again didn't help.

where should I start looking for a wire shorting to the frame? Not sure where the headlight harness runs.
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Old 08-12-2010, 10:08 AM   #2
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What mods have you done to your car that involved any electrical items?

When you leave the lights in the on position and then start the car, there are relays that will cut out the power to the rest of the system to get the most power to the starter. The lights and other items are also controlled by relays.

If you don't have a bad ground or broken power feed then I would start with the relays that are related to the lights. Electrical gremlins are usually a pain to trace-down.
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Old 08-12-2010, 10:11 AM   #3
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TSX light swap (3 years ago), wire tuck of the passenger side engine harness (2 years ago). Haven't done any wiring mods recently.

Even when turning the lights back to "off" the car wouldn't restart at work.
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Old 08-12-2010, 10:29 AM   #4
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I would say to check all of the engine grounds. If one bolt/wire is a hair loose or there's just enough 'dirt' under one of the terminals, there won't be a good connection.

Loosen bolts as needed and retighten. Or loosen/remove, clean terminals, and reinstall. Again, this is on the engine.
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Old 08-12-2010, 02:15 PM   #5
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Pulled all the fuses, everything was good.
Jiggled the alternator wire, it was solidly in place
Jiggled the starter wire, it was solid
jiggled the battery terminal clamps, they were solid.
looked at the engine harness, it looked fine.

Pchow...car started (with the lights off). I'll try again later with the lights on (at home).
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Old 08-12-2010, 02:29 PM   #6
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I would have the alternator tested. Right before the alternator went in my 240sx my gauge needles started spin and the lights in the car were dimming and flickering and then dead.
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Old 08-12-2010, 04:31 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mechie3 View Post
TSX light swap (3 years ago), wire tuck of the passenger side engine harness (2 years ago). Haven't done any wiring mods recently.

Even when turning the lights back to "off" the car wouldn't restart at work.
start looking for a broken ground wire
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Old 08-12-2010, 05:17 PM   #8
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Alternator was tested when the lights first started flickering. Came out fine.

There aren't any major ground wires on the passenger side engine harness, only minor grounds to some sensors. (it's actually the bulkhead harness). All of the major grounds come directly from the fuse box portion of the harness or are on the engine harness themselves. These are the wires I shook to get it to work again (and have not been messed with).
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Old 08-12-2010, 09:10 PM   #9
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First thing I would recommend you do is remove the battery connections and clean them with a battery post cleaning brush. If that dosen't solve the trouble try cleaning the battery to chassis ground and also inspect the power lead from the battery to the main power panel under the hood. Look for a bad connection or internal corrosion on the wire.
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Old 08-13-2010, 09:31 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mechie3 View Post
Alternator was tested when the lights first started flickering. Came out fine.

There aren't any major ground wires on the passenger side engine harness, only minor grounds to some sensors. (it's actually the bulkhead harness). All of the major grounds come directly from the fuse box portion of the harness or are on the engine harness themselves. These are the wires I shook to get it to work again (and have not been messed with).
I guess you do NOT realize how fragile these cars are to poor grounds......NAY of them being bad is BAD.....ANY of them.....one little broken 18ga ground wire can ruin your day
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Old 08-13-2010, 10:20 AM   #11
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I agree any one being bad, but the fact that of all the wires I moved to checked for broken connections/wires that allowed the car to start again, none of them were close to the passenger side. All of them were on the driver side.

If you hear brakes squeeling on the driver side, you remove the driver side wheel to look for problems, you don't look on the passenger side to fix it.

Battery contacts are good (battery is less than 6 months old), ground contacts were cleaned off 3 months ago.
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Old 08-13-2010, 10:35 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mechie3 View Post
I agree any one being bad, but the fact that of all the wires I moved to checked for broken connections/wires that allowed the car to start again, none of them were close to the passenger side. All of them were on the driver side.

If you hear brakes squeeling on the driver side, you remove the driver side wheel to look for problems, you don't look on the passenger side to fix it.

Battery contacts are good (battery is less than 6 months old), ground contacts were cleaned off 3 months ago.
Is there a chance the tension you put on the wires (jiggling or pulling or whatever) could have caused a broken or loose ground to become bridged in another area of the wire? Or, in a separate area all together?
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Old 08-13-2010, 11:10 AM   #13
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Since when does "jiggling" fix anything?
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Old 08-13-2010, 11:36 AM   #14
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Since when does "jiggling" fix anything?
Well it does help with those annoying drips after taking a piss...
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Old 08-13-2010, 01:45 PM   #15
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Quote:
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Is there a chance the tension you put on the wires (jiggling or pulling or whatever) could have caused a broken or loose ground to become bridged in another area of the wire? Or, in a separate area all together?
Yes. That's what I have to do now, is track down which part of the harness it is, and then from there find the damaged portion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by silver-duck View Post
Since when does "jiggling" fix anything?
It doesn't completely fix it, but it makes the car start so I could drive it home instead of trying to trouble shoot in in the parking lot at work with a 108 deg heat index.
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Old 08-13-2010, 06:27 PM   #16
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Quote:
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Since when does "jiggling" fix anything?
Jiggling doees help to track down where an intermitant falt is. Those are the biggest PIA to fix.
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Old 08-13-2010, 06:30 PM   #17
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Well it does help with those annoying drips after taking a piss...
No mater how much you shake and dance the last little drop always ends up in your pants.

Could not resist
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Old 08-13-2010, 06:38 PM   #18
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Its your ignition dude. There is a short between "acc" and "on" it seems. This would cause the hanging starts, the lights flickering (headlights dont come on until you turn the key to 3-4 position) My wife had a car do the same thing, changed out ignition tumbler, problem solved. If that is the problem, you owe me $3.52 for muh experts knowledge
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Old 08-13-2010, 06:38 PM   #19
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No mater how much you shake and dance the last little drop always ends up in your pants.

Could not resist
You're doing it wrong.
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Old 08-18-2010, 02:34 PM   #20
Mechie3
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Quote:
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Its your ignition dude. There is a short between "acc" and "on" it seems. This would cause the hanging starts, the lights flickering (headlights dont come on until you turn the key to 3-4 position) My wife had a car do the same thing, changed out ignition tumbler, problem solved. If that is the problem, you owe me $3.52 for muh experts knowledge
The lights don't flicker to the on position, but sometimes while driving and coming to a stop they'll flicker slightly. The odd part about it being the tumbler itself is that it only occurs when the lightstalk is in the on position prior to starting the car.

I have a spare tumbler in the basement, but I'm in NY this week, CA the next, and I live in IN.
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Old 08-18-2010, 03:16 PM   #21
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It may be a short or the tumbler but I doubt it....you'd have more likely blown a fuse by now if it were a short.

Its more likely a ground:
- Check the grounds on either side of the frame down low by the lower cam gear covers. They are for the headlights and radiator fans
- If the TSX swap has HIDs check the ballast grounds....HID ballast dont like bad grounds at all and pull a lot of juice at initial start up.

To check and see if its the head lights at start up pull the headlight fuse or the bulbs and start the car with them on. If she starts then its the lights for sure. If she dont start its something weird like the tumbler.

.........If your handy and have a few hours and $25-30 make up a grounding kit it will help all over.
- Batt to frame ( headlight ground spot )
- Batt to drivers side intake manifold bolt
- Drivers side Manifold bolt to rear Alternator bolt ( the wingy one )
- Alt bolt to pass side manifold bolt
- Pass side manifold to lower frame ( headlight ground spot )
- Alt bolt to fire wall where trany ground is

It also could be a ballast starting to crap out, particularly if your getting flickering
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Old 09-15-2010, 05:23 PM   #22
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Figure I should close this out. Never really found the source of the problem but it "went away". I checked all of the wires I soldered into the harness behind the radio, made sure non were exposed, undid a few grounds, cleaned the area, and re tightened them. Undid both battery contacts and reinstalled them. Also undid the harness coverings going to the alternator and starter to check for fractured wires and found nothing. Ohm meter readings didn't show anything either. Pulled both lights, checked all of the bulbs and harnesses for failures and pulled and reinserted all of the fuses/relays.

One of those things fixed the problem.
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