How to tell if I have Short or Ground Problem??? Help! Please!!!! - Team Camaro Tech
Electrical & Wiring Troubleshooting electrical.

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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old Mar 7th, 06, 04:54 PM Thread Starter
 
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How to tell if I have Short or Ground Problem??? Help! Please!!!!

This will be long, but I want to give you the facts.

First off, I had my car running really good prior to my most recent work on the car. My car currently has the fenders, hood etc off of the car. My radiator support is on the car with the headlights and all wiring in place. In order to have my headlights work I had to run a ground jumper from the headlight bucket to the frame. But at that time, everything was working good and the car running great. Even drove it around the neighborhood.

So, my next steps in the restoration was to remove the speedo and gauge cluster to repaint the dash and plastic speedo and gauge frame and install a new dash pad. I took the wiring off of the wipers, headlights gauges, removed the radio, but never disconnected any wiring from the radio. I was trying not to screw up any wiring and keep really good track of where everything was plugged in.

Now, I have the dash all back together and the car is running like CRAP. I think I may have a short or ground problem. My dash lights work, my headlights do not. If I have the headlight switch on, and run a jumper from the headlight bucket to the frame, I get a spark, but no headlights. I am pretty handy with a multimeter. Is there a way I can find out if I have a short? Or, what are the most likely problems I may have caused? The dashlights are on with the switch, including both turn signals being on. The only other thing I did to the car was put in a headliner that involved replacing the dome light. I did install the dome light switches in the jams. I installed an electric water temp gauge.

So, what I have done to try to find the problem. I disconnected the dome light switches, disconnected the new temp meter, disconnected the wiper switch wiring. There was one thing that seemed odd when I took off the wiring from the headlight switch. One of the terminals was bent over sideways. I bent it back straight as the plug it would have installed in, had no contact in it anyway. Not sure what was the deal with that.

Any thoughts would be helpful on how to diagnose this problem. I am totally Stuck a this point. Thanks
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old Mar 7th, 06, 09:33 PM
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Re: How to tell if I have Short or Ground Problem??? Help! Please!!!!

If you put the jumper wire to the headlight bucket then to the frame and it arced you have a short in the wiring most likely a bare wire is touching the headlight bucket at some point. Take a test light and put it between the bucket and the frame and see what happens. Also make sure that the headlight ground wires are connected to the radiator support. There are two ground wires, one for each headlight. Check the fuses and see if there are any blown.

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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old Mar 8th, 06, 12:02 PM Thread Starter
 
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Backup Light Switch Help, Still have short

Posted yesterday my problem with my short I have created. Since I pulled the dash for painting and replaced the shifter, I have a short and the engine does not run well and I get a spark if I wire from the core support to the frame. Currrently have no fenders or hood on the car. I am wondering if I did not screw something up when I replaced the shifter. The old 4 speed was a muncie shifter that mounted to the tranney cross member. I do not recall any wires or levers that went to a switch for the backup lights. My new shifter did not have any switch or wires. I wonder if where ever the backup switch is, has caused this short. What should I look for?

Thanks
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old Mar 8th, 06, 12:23 PM
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Re: Backup Light Switch Help, Still have short

The OE location of the 4-spd reverse switch is mounted onto the trans case on the driver's side.

The harness for it runs up the drvr side of the tunnel and plugs into a firewall receptacle close to the gas pedal linkage passthrough.

With connecting a ground from the support to the frame, ie, subframe mounting area, I suspect the support is floating from ground reference, and it can. It is supported by two rubber (non-conducting) bushings. This would only mean either the junction block by the battery is shorted to the support, the voltage regulator is shorting to the support, the red supply line(s) are pinched or have holes in the insulation, or, the wiring harness inside the dash is touching ground.

The radiator support is floating because 50/50 antifreeze does not conduct electricity.

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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old Mar 8th, 06, 12:26 PM
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Re: Backup Light Switch Help, Still have short

Based on your screen name, I am assuming this is a 55 Chevy? Is that correct? If so, Does your gen and oil lights light up when you turn the key on? If not, those connectors plug on to light receptacles on back of dash. The oil light will cancel when oil pressure come up. The gen light should cancel once the car starts, BUT, if you have done alternator conversion, that circuit may not get canceled. I point this out to say if either of these remain energeized and not connected to proper bult recaptacle, then either may be intermittently shorting behind dash ... Also, your reverse switch should be mounted on the shifter and is activated by reverse lever on tranny...you will have to purchase separately if you did not have one ...So, connected to dash you have gen and oil lights, signal lights, and dash illumination lights. Make sure that all of these are properly connected and not dangling. Also, illumination lights will extend to ign switch, heater control and clock and any after market accessories that you may have connected...Also, make sure nothing is piggybacking on your ignition circuit, baslast resistor and coil...check generator/alternator ( whichever you have ) for proper voltage output ... If you have upgraded to HEI, you will need 12 volts and should pitch the ballast resistor ... Hope this rambling gives you some things to look for ...
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old Mar 8th, 06, 01:20 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Backup Light Switch Help, Still have short

This is actually on a 69 Camaro Coupe. I still use the 55 Chevy name since I restored a 55 Chevy before this Camaro. I plan to start a search on the car tonight to try to track down this problem. Thanks for any help.
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old Mar 8th, 06, 05:40 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Backup Light Switch Help, Still have short

Just a follow up. There are no wires around the tranny. The mechinism in front of the firewall with the rods that I think would have controlled the backup lights has been disabled. There is only a lever there at the bottom of the rod, but nothing connected to it. I will probably put some kind of electric switch on it later. For now, I still cannot get the car to run right.

I did find a blown fuse. It was for the courtisy lights and lighter. I recall when I plugged in the lighter, I pushed in the lighter button and it sparked. Wonder if that could be part of the problem? Is there any chance a short could have damaged my condenser, this car still has points? I am grasping at this point. I would sure like to get the engine running good again before I continue with putting it back together. Thanks
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old Mar 8th, 06, 08:31 PM Thread Starter
 
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How can I tell if my engine is running rough due to electrical short or ground proble

Anyone know how to check to see if my engine is running rough due to an electrical short or ground problem? Thanks
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old Mar 9th, 06, 03:21 AM
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Re: Backup Light Switch Help, Still have short

Quote:
Originally Posted by Buildinga55
The mechinism in front of the firewall with the rods that I think would have controlled the backup lights has been disabled. There is only a lever there at the bottom of the rod, but nothing connected to it. I did find a blown fuse. It was for the courtisy lights and lighter. I recall when I plugged in the lighter, I pushed in the lighter button and it sparked. Wonder if that could be part of the problem? Is there any chance a short could have damaged my condenser, this car still has points? I am grasping at this point. I would sure like to get the engine running good again before I continue with putting it back together. Thanks
The lever at the bottom of the column is for locking the steering wheel when in PARK.

There should be a rod from the trans up to the column. When trans is shifted into Park, this action pushes a locking rod up into the steering wheel and endgages a pin into the lock plate underneath the steering wheel. If the rod is not all the way engaged, the key may not come out. Also, on the inside of the firewall, on the column, might be the reverse/neutral switch. This missing rod would activate the switch.

The cig lighter might be at fault. It should have a large orange wire. You might measure the resistance of the heating element of the lighter. Then install it into its receptacle, unplug the wire, and see if you get the same value. If its less then the plug by itself, then the problem is the interface of the two together.

With the points closed, you should take some emery paper through the closed point set for a few strokes to eliminate the carbon buildup.

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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old Mar 9th, 06, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
 
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Should I have Ceramic Resistor on my car

I am still battling my electrical issues. A buddy of mine was by tonight and thought I might have toasted my point or condenser with the blow fuse from my cigarette lighter. He also noticed my car does not have a ceramic resistor on the firewall. My car has the standard points ignition, should it have the ceramic resistor? If so, where does it go in the wiring diagram? I looked at the diagrams from this site and do not see a resistor around the coil or distributor?? I am going to go ahead and buy a new set of points and condenser and go ahead and change them. Let me know about the resistor if anyone can. Thanks
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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old Mar 9th, 06, 05:03 PM
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Re: Should I have Ceramic Resistor on my car

Camaros never had ceramic ballast resisters, they had a white fabric covered resister wire in the engine harness. If you've burnt it up, you could replace it with a length of stranded wire and a 1.6 ohm ballast.

If you didn't burn it up or hack it up, leave it alone, it won't cuase you a problem. Also, breaker points will last for months on full 12 volts with no problem at all, they just won't last for years.

At this point you are running at least 3 different posts on the same problem, it's getting confusing. Also, you might perhaps put what kind and year car in your sig, or mention it once ina while?





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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old Mar 9th, 06, 05:05 PM
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Re: Should I have Ceramic Resistor on my car

also unless we really are talking about a 55 here, the cig lighter circuit doesn't have much in common with the ignition circuit, other than they both start at the same battery.





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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old Mar 9th, 06, 05:29 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Should I have Ceramic Resistor on my car

Sorry about the multiple posts. I will refrain from that activity. The reason had multiple posts is I am not sure if I have a wiring problem or an engine problem. My car is a 69 Camaro Coupe 350 4 Speed

edited by JimM: I've merged your 4 posts in electrical into one, and will after feeding dogs and doing dishes, reread them and try to offer some help. Are there related posts in any other forums?
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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old Mar 9th, 06, 07:42 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Should I have Ceramic Resistor on my car

You have them all together. Sorry for the trouble and thanks for all the help.
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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old Mar 10th, 06, 06:27 AM
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Re: Should I have Ceramic Resistor on my car

ok, not sure how your dash work ties into all this, but it sounds like the main problem is no ground to the radiator support. I had this happen when my car was in the same stage of assembly as yours, and really weird things happened.

One thing I did that helped mucho was to connect the "lil pigtail wire" from the negative battery cable to the radiator support. Also, if you don't have the ground strap kit, get it. It's those lil bare braided conductors with terminals on the ends. Connect them from each valve cover to the firewall, and from the subframe to the firewall. Placement of these is shown in the AIM.

Do some multimeter checks. Key on, engine not running, one meter lead on the alternator case, the other on the regulator base. you must have ZERO volts. If you don't the rad support or regulator is not grounded right.

Without a good ground to the reg, my system charged at 18 volts! and that could make a points ignition run like crap.

It's pretty normal to have to chase grounds when you're putting a car back together. The factory setup grounded the engine thru the neg cable, which also grounded the alternator, but the motor is rubber mounted. The lil pigtail off the neg battery is shown to attach to the inner fender (where is it? are the inner fenders even on?) The rad support, stock, simply grounded thru the fender bolts, but the fenders are not on, and with all the fresh paint, may not get a good ground anyway.

With a solid ground connection from the engine to the body, and the battery to the rad support, most of your issues should go away. I use lotsa star washers, they cut thru the new paint and give a good connection.





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