Bizzare non-starting and starting behavior

I am baffled by my old beater truck (1983 Dodge 4wd with 225 slant six). I pulled up in front of the garage to pump up the tires. Shut the truck down. Filled the tires. Tried restarting, dash lights flashed, and nothing. No click, no starter noise, dead silence. Checked the fuses, all OK. Disconnected the battery, waited a couple of minutes, reconnected. Truck starts fine. Shut down, restarts fine. Anyone have an idea on what might be going on?

I would suggest checking/cleaning/tightening the other ends of the battery cables.
A loose ground connection to the chassis or a loose positive connection at the starter could cause exactly what you are describing.

Just reinstalled thebattery a couple of days ago. Both terminals clean and tight. Checked ground to chassis with continuity tester and wiggled wires. Solid ground. Checked starter connections; clean and tight. Checked starter wire for continuity while wires are moved. Solid connection.

I had this exact problem w/my Corolla one time, turned out to be one battery electrical connection at the post was loose. Since this doesn’t apply to you, some more diagnostic work is needed. When this occurs, and you get a no-crank condition, does the dashboard look normal like it should with the key in “on”, the gauges seem to work, the interior lighting works, when the turn the headlights on, do they come on as bright as usual? Tail-lights?

1983? I would just replace the battery cables altogether. It’s not expensive or hard to do. And there’s not much point in chasing your tail around until you know for certain that the main power stuff is good.

well, on my 75 ford, when I still had the original starter in it. the starter distorted when the engine got hot. it would not even turn over if you cut it off and tried to re start it immediately. after it cooled down for 15 min it fired right back up. a new starter fixed the problem.

Thanks for the comments. I’ll try to respond to each and provide some additional information. When the non-start condition is happening, the dash does not light, guages don’t move, the dome light doesn’t light and neither the head or tail lights light. Basically, the condition is indistinguishable from when the battery is disconnected. Regarding the battery cables, I have removed them from the truck and examined them for breaks and tested for resistance and continuity (check out fine). Replacing them would probably double the salvage value of the vehicle (see orginal description as “beater”).
The non-start condition happens intermittently (roughly once in 3 months) regardless of environment conditions. Yesterday it happened at roughly 42 degrees, 20 minutes after the truck was started and driven a couple of hundred feet. The truck had be sitting out doors in conditions approaching 30 below a couple of days ago. It has happened in the summer when the temperature is in the low 90’s and after the truck had been driven 50 miles.

So many electrical gadgets not working at the same time, there must be something major in common with all of them. That’s a good thing, it should be easier to figure out. It seems like it has to be one of these:

  • Check the applicable fuses, circuit breakers, and fusible links (providing main power). Resistance should be less than 0.005 ohms.

  • Battery is no good. Have it load tested.

  • Cables/connections from + battery to wiring harness is no good. Measure resistance, should be less than 0.005 ohms.

  • Cables/connections from - battery to chassis ground is no good. Measure resistance, should be less than 0.005 ohms.

  • Ground connection cable from engine to chassis is no good. Measure resistance, should be less than 0.005 ohms, as above.