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ignition wiring problem

Discussion in 'Chevy Trucks' started by atvnut, May 15, 2003.

  1. atvnut

    atvnut Junior Member
    from tx
    Messages: 5

    83 GMC 3500 1-ton

    After pulling off my startor checking my batt. 2 dozen times, getting a new sieliniod, and cleaning the cable 3 times I found that I have a short somwhere in the ingition.

    If I play with my stearing wheel, gear columb, and key I can somtimes get the truck to start, but it is definatly a short in the ignition. I saw that the key works on a rod going down the top of the stearing columb, so it should be working the ignition switch.

    I took the lower panel, and instument cover off. Do I need to take the whole dash assembly off to get the the switch that the rod works?

    Also, if it is that big of a deal fixing the problem the key switch can I just put a spring loaded horn type switch on the dash, run a pos. from the batt. to the switch and from the switch to the pos. startor post on the sieldiniod? Would my engine still crank and kill?


    What should I do to try to find the short? Where should I look? What do I need to replace? Can I just put a new starting switch on the dash?
     
  2. gordyo

    gordyo Senior Member
    Messages: 527

    Does this truck have a Neutral Safety Switch? Before you rip into your steering column I would check, and if so I would make sure that it is working correctly.
     
  3. wyldman

    wyldman Member
    Messages: 3,265

    The first thing you have to figure out is if it's mechanical or electrical.Mechanical would be something in the steering column or lock assy that is preventing the switch actuator rod from moving far enough to start the vehicle.Electrical would be a bad switch or wiring.

    It is usually caused by a mechanical problem in the steering column.That truck should have the neutral safety switch built into the column.It isn't an electrical part,but more of a mechanical means of preventing the lock cyl from turning to the start position when not in park or neutral.It may be a worn or misadjusted column and\or shift linkage that is preventing it from starting.If wiggling the shifter gets it going (by allowing more key rotation),then this is your problem.

    It could also be the lock cylinder assy that is worn or sticking in the housing,which is preventing enough travel for it to start.

    One last thing mechanical,is does this vehicle have tilt ? If it does,and the column feels loose (steering wheel moves up and down when rocked),then you will have to pull it apart and tighten the four little bolts in the column to correct the problem.The excess play created by the loose bolts prevents the actuator rod from travelling far enough to start the vehicle.

    On the electrical side,the ignition switch is mounted down on the bottom of the column,on the top right side.There are two 3/8" nuts that hold it on.It is also adjustable.You could try loosening the nuts,and sliding it up (towards the steering wheel) about an 1/8",which may help if it's not engaging the start position.It could also be a bad ignition switch,where the start contacts are burnt or worn.The switch can be accessed by dropping the lower knee panel,and reaching up around the column.Sometimes it's easier to remove the two steering column to dash support bolts,and the lower bolts at the firewall (leave the bottom one in a few turns so it doesn't fall right out),and let the column drop down for better access to the switch.The switch is cheap and easy,so if in doubt,just replace it

    You could hook up a manual button to start it,but I would not advise it.Not having some sort of neutral safety switch is EXTREMELY dangerous,as the vehicle can start in gear.If you ever need a DOT inspection,or annual inspection,it will not pass with a manual button setup.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2003
  4. atvnut

    atvnut Junior Member
    from tx
    Messages: 5

    I took the ingnition switch box out, and disasembled it, I dought it was the problem, but since I took it apart I got to get a new one.

    I know the problem is electrical, if its not that box what could it be?
     
  5. wyldman

    wyldman Member
    Messages: 3,265

    Put in the new switch,and make sure it is adjusted properly.If it's not the switch,it could be the wiring to the starter,or a problem with the starter.I doubt that is the case as you said above if you play with the column,it will start.I still think it's more internal to the column\lock cylinder if the ignition switch does not correct it.

    If you want you can test it before you put it in with a screwdriver.Plug the switch into the harness and use the screwdriver to slide the switch,and push it down (MAKE SURE IT"S IN PARK,PARKING BRAKE ON).It should start.If you put it back together and it doesn't work,then it's inside the column somewhere,or incorrectly adjusted.
     
  6. atvnut

    atvnut Junior Member
    from tx
    Messages: 5

    Put a new ignition switch on it and it does the same thing, I am pretty sure of th adjustment.
    I will make sure the wires connections are connecting good and take the ignition back off and do the screw driving thing on it, I dought it will do any difference but its worth a try.

    When you turn the key on the "brake" light on the instrement panel comes on some times, and some times it don't. When I try to turn the engine over the light goes dim, and/or off. When I let go of the key the light comes back on. Sometimes the light don't even come on, and somtimes when I am playing with it the light goes completly off and don't come on.

    Any idea, I know its electrical, if its in the comlub it may be somthing to do with the shifter linkage or netraul switch"whatever that is".

    What is the netral safty swich? Where is it located?

    Is there anything I can do to check the wiring harnass.
     
  7. wyldman

    wyldman Member
    Messages: 3,265

    The neutral safety switch is normally an electrical item mounted on the trans or shifter,but on your truck it doesn't have one.They use detents in the shifter to prevent the ignition from turning to the start position when it is in any gear,except for park or neutral.Drop it in a gear,and try to start it,you'll see how it restricts rotation of the lock cylinder.

    Disconnect the ignition switch from the column and actuate it manually with a screwdriver.If it starts,and works fine,then your problem IS NOT electrical,it's in the column,and the mechanical actuation of the switch by the lock cylinder.Do this step so you know which direction to go in next.

    If it still acts the same,then it is electrical and we can trace it out from the switch next.Post back your results.
     
  8. atvnut

    atvnut Junior Member
    from tx
    Messages: 5

    I took the ignition off switch off and tryed it with a screwdrive and it did the samething it has been doing.

    What wires could be bad, loose or diconnected? Is there any test you can do with a test light to check this stuff?
     
  9. atvnut

    atvnut Junior Member
    from tx
    Messages: 5

    I put a new ignition switch on the truck and bolted the stearing columb back up, havent put the knee nocker panel or the dash panel on yet. I have a wire that I tied into the sieliniod wire(the one to activate the wire) and touch it to the battery. You can hear the sieliniod click, not a dead batt. click, but an activation or somthing click. I put a jumper cable direct to the startor and on the positive and it would turn the engine over a little, but not a full rotation. After that we hook another set of cables to a running trucks batt., and touched the other cables(dirrectly to the startor and to the batt.) the truck turned enough to crank it, you had to play with it but, it would turn it over alittle when the abendex engaged. We got the truck running and drove a few miles and went back to the house. After I got to the house I put a batt. charger on the battery and turned the engine over, and you could here it clicking. I hooked a test light to the pos. wire on the seidliniod(the one the engages the startor) and grounded it off and got in the truck and hit the key, and the light lit up meaning that there is contact to the seiliniod. In the past I have done this and there wasn't pos. to the wire.

    I am thinking know that the batt. is shot and/or I have a bad seliniod. I put a new batt. on the truck when the problem first started, but it didn't help so I took it off and pu the old batt. back on.

    I am going to put a new batt. on the truck tommoro. and see what happens. If this don't work I will drop the startor leaving the existing sielinoid pos. engagment wire I will add anothrt wire and run it up to my battery I will see if just connecting it to my battery will work. If not I will get a new seiliniod.

    What puzzles me is the positive wire that goes to the seiliniod, it is suppost to engage the seiliniod when you turn the key over, wasn't working awhile back, but worked today. It could be that it has a short and know my batt. is low, or the ignition switch fixed the short and the batt. is low. OR it could be the seilniod but that is a different story.
     
  10. wyldman

    wyldman Member
    Messages: 3,265

    Take the battery to a parts store,most will test it for free.You could also try another known good battery.That will a least eliminate the battery.

    Make sure the cables are good,both positive and ground.You should have a large ground cable going from the battery to the alt upper mounting bracket,and sometimes they don't make good contact,or the bolt gets stripped.The starter also must have a good ground through the block.If in doubt,drop the starter and clean the mounting surface and bolts.I noticed above you've been jumping power to the starter with cables,try jumping the ground side (clip one on the starter,and one on the battery negative),and see if it helps.If it now works you have a bad ground problem.

    It's starting to sound like you may have a bad starter.You can drop it and take it to a parts store,and again they should test it for free.You can also test it out of the truck,with a set of booster cables.Pay close attention to wiring at the starter too,as it is exposed to a lot of heat and water,which creates corrosion,and eats wires.