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Thread: Turn key and it clicks, but nothing else!!

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    Default Turn key and it clicks, but nothing else!!

    Hey all,

    So I'm a bit new to working on cars, done a little work here and there but am still pretty much an amateur when it comes to this stuff, so any help would be greatly appreciated!

    I have a 1978 280z, did a tranny swap and made it a manual a few months back, but lately I've had a few problems with the ignition.

    It usually does one of the following:

    1. Start right up.
    2. Start up and slowly whines and dies.
    3. Turn the key and it clicks (under the dash, I believe it's the relay) and then there's a second click somewhere from the engine and it either starts or it doesnt.
    4. Turn the key and the relay just clicks.

    As of a today, it's only clicking (#4.)

    A friend suggested redoing the wiring (?) but I was curious to see if anyone else had this or has had a similar problem to this.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!!

    Thank you!

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    Nova Scotia,Canada,Earth Blue's Avatar
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    Common problems with these symptoms are:

    Battery weak from not charging. Check the battery voltage ~ 1 hr or more after your last attempt to start or drive.:
    - 12.0V is fully depleted
    - 12.8V is fully charged (Yes the battery range is only 0.8V)
    - If you get the car going then check the battery voltage (you are now measuring the voltage applied to the battery to charge itand it should range from 13.5V to 14.5V)

    Faulty Alternator and voltage regulator (last step above)



    If the above quick checks are ok then the problem may be the wiring to the starter and ignition key switch. To resolve the quick and dirty way: clean all electrical connections from battery to starter and ground as well as from starter solenoid as well as the ignition connections behind the key switch.

    Consulting a schematic and factory service manual will help with chasing the wires (both available on line).


    Sometimes the solenoid in the started simply wears out as well as the ignition switch behind the key. These would have to be refreshed or replaced.
    Last edited by Blue; 11-07-2011 at 03:34 AM.
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    Registered User d240zx2's Avatar
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    To add to what Blue said, you could also have corrosion at the battery terminals. Clean the lugs and terminals w/baking soda and give her another try.
    First & Third owner of HLS30-00721
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    I know on 510s at this age you don't want full current loads to go thru the switch and it's aged harness. Zzzzz may be the same. Add in a relay that will be triggered by the switch wiring and send full load current thru that relay to the starter w/o going thru the switch. Any auto electric shop should find doing that task child's play....

    Any and all of the above are good hints too. Corroded cables will carry lesser current and I believe will add to carbon build up in the solenoid on the starter. The more carbon on those contacts the more "clickey" you get.....
    Bruce Palmer
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    Standard responses:
    Check fusible links. (Remember to remove them from the circuit & check for continuity.)
    Grounds, grounds, grounds.

    Non-standard:
    Did you follow someone's writeup on the swap or did you wing it? If it's the former, provide a link so we can see what the person/people wrote.
    What electrical connections did you disconnect when you did the swap? Did you inspect those? How about the wire for the neutral sensor? Is it bypassed properly?
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    One thing I forgot to mention is that I recently changed out the starter.

    I checked the battery cables and connections for corrosion or dirt and everything was clean.

    I found the relay and unplugged it and sort of reconnected them so that the pieces were touching and turned the key and it would start up or at least click a few times and start up.

    I went and got ready for work and came back out and the car did the same thing as before, click a few times and then it just started up.

    So, now I'm a bit confused. I'm thinking I need to clean the metal connectors off (?) but then my questions is if it's been connected all this time how could they be dirty?

    Or perhaps the angles that the wires are coming in at are crimping it at some location causing it to not work properly (???)

    But to answer the tranny swap, a friend and I did it ourselves. He was more experienced in it. I recall discussing the neutral sensor bypass, but neither one of us could find it and the car started up, but that may be a point of concern at this point, I'm just not sure where or which wire it is.

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    You have low voltage to the spade connector on the solenoid. If you can jump the starter and it works every time, you will know for sure that this is your problem.

    If your battery is strong and your alternator charges (CHECK THESE), there are two solutions: (1) clean all connectors related to starter wiring and hope that you've dropped the resistance enough or (2) incorporate a "starter relay" (as Bruce mentioned) to take the load off the starter circuit and give the solenoid direct battery voltage without running it through 40 feet of wiring and 40 year-old connections.
    2/74 260Z

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    So, i exhausted most of the above suggestions.

    I did take a wire straight from the starter spade connector and touch it to the positive terminal on the battery and the engine tried to crank.

    I traced the wire from the spade connecter to the relay bracket and found where it split in order to connect to the relay bracket. I peeled off the electrical tape and discovered that the wire from the starter's spade connector split into to.

    Multiple times I tried touching a wire to the the split and to the positive terminal and it continued to crank and only started up once.

    A friend suggested I take the spark plug wire out, stick a screwdriver in it and make sure it touches metal and try to turn the car on and see if it sparked.

    I got no spark.

    About two months ago I replaced the car with new spark plugs and new spark plug wires.

    Can anyone suggest what I should look into next?

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    Better to take a spark plug wire off, put a spark plug in, touch the spark plug electrode to ground or ground it with a jumper wire, then watch for spark across the spark plug gap while cranking. With a screwdriver, you have to be more careful with the gap. Too big and no spark, too small and you miss the spark. With a spark plug you can be more sure. Plus it gives you a reason to take a plug out and see if it's fouled.

    You can also test the coil in a similar way, using the main coil wire. If you get coil spark, but not spark plug spark, look inside the distributor cap. Maybe you just need a tune-up.

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