40 just goes dead

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Oct 30, 2004
Sacramento, CA
Lately I have been having a little trouble with the cruiser. It started on Friday, and on my way home, it just completely died. I had enough momentum to get it into my driveway, but when I would turn the key to try and start it, nothing at all, not even the charge idicator moved. So I charge the battery, it starts up, take it for a quick drive and the truck died again. Got it jumped and home, tried to start it yesterday, nothing at all. Charge the battery, leave it sit for a couple of hours, and there is a small click half of the times I turn the key, like it's trying to start only half of the time. I think that there is a short somewhere, or the battery is grounding itself somewhere. Any help?
Bad ground?
Battery cable?
Check the voltage at the battery when the truck is running. If it is not higher than about 13.5 volts then its probably the alternator. Search for how to test the alternator. Check to make sure the belt is driving the alternator. Take the battery to local parts place and have them check it for free. I think they may also be able to check the alternator for you if you dont have the tools.
I doubt it's your alternator because it doesn't sound to me like you drove it enough on your new battery to run it down although I could be wrong about that. It's real easy to check your alternator: remove it and take it to your local NAPA and they will bench test it for you. (AutoZone et al probably will too)

What I'm betting on is dirty/corroded battery posts and cable ends including the point where your negative cable is grounded at the block/head/mounting bracket. Get yourself one of those nifty little tools with an inner and outer wire brush to clean your cable end terminals and your battery posts. Clean the neg cable ground point with emory cloth or wire brush. Clean the starter motor ground cable where it mounts to the frame the same way. Put a star washer under the battery and starter grounds where they attach to the frame/head/block/bracket. Use dielectric grease (available at NAPA) on battery posts and ground points.

If none of this helps and your alternator checks out OK, take a look at your voltage regulator. It's easy to check this with a multi-meter and a Haynes manual.

Good luck,
The easiest thing you can do is go to your local autopart store and have them load test the battery. Some places have a special machine that will check it while the car is running.

Aside from that, have good clean contacts on your battery leads, both ends. I added a ground wire from the starter to the chassis when i was having trouble starting the engine a couple of years back. This little wiring mod. fix my problem. It was a bad ground, like suggested above.
Sounds like a battery to me. I had a a rig do the same thing as you're describing...not my 40 though. Thought it was the alternator or wiring. Got the alternator tested for free at a Schucks and it was fine. Next I tried the battery (it was a fairly new battery, so I didn't think it was a battery problem). Turns out the battery was fried. It wouldn't hold a charge. Most any place can do a quick test on a battery for free. Give it a shot. Its a lot easier than figuring out wiring problems...

Good luck!
Next time it dies, try turning you headlights on. If they come on and are bright, it's not your battery. If they come on, then try starting, sounds wierd, but if you have a bad connection, the headlights can start enough of a draw to get the current flowing though the bad connection, which will then allow you to start (maybe) Does it always die after the same amount of driving? Do you watch the ammeter while you are driving? is it neutral, negative or positive?

Here is how I would go about trouble shooting a problem like this.....

A clicking noise is a voltage problem. Solenoids click when they do not have enough voltage to drive the starter. This can be caused by a few things.

1) dead battery
2) bad connection on the starter circuit, which causes a voltage drop.

However, a bad connection on the starter circuit should be able to be ruled out, as you say it dies while you are driving.

There are 3 main parts to any electrical circuit, Source, Control and Load.

The source in this case is the battery (almost always is in a car circuit)
The control is your ignition switch
The load is your ignition system, spark plugs etc.

If you can determine that your battery is good by measuring the voltage, and your ignition switch is good (does the ignition still come on - dash lights etc) Then the problem is either in the ignition system or the wires that connect it all.

Here is where we can combine some things to cheat a bit.

You say that when it dies, you can't roll it over, it just clicks....

This says to me (as stated above) that the same issue that is killing the ignition, is not allowing enough voltage to the starter.

Here, look for things that these two circuits have in common.

1) they both use the same battery
2) they both use the same ground strap
3) they both run through the same fuseable link

(there may be more than this, I can't think of them though)

From this we can then rule out (if it checks out OK) your battery.
If the ignition stays on when the engine dies, we can rule out the fuseable link,

So it looks likely that the problem would be on the ground strap (or power connection if it is shared)

A connection can look perfectly good, but have enough dirt or be loose enough to have a high enough resistance that almost no voltage can get through.

Now, if you find that it IS your battery, you need to know why.

Again use the method above of Source Control and Load.

The Source is your alternator
The control is your regulator
The Load is your battery.

Or, a bad connection inbetween. Rule out the 3 main parts first, then start looking for a bad connection. (can you manually excite the alternator? does the battery charge from an external battery charger and hold it's charge? etc...)

Hope that wasn't too long winded or boring!

fuse? holder for fuse?
Also have your coil checked. It may check out ok when it's ohmed out but don't rule it out just yet. Sometimes they will stop working after you put a load it. After it cools down it will start working agian.......then die......and so on.

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