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The Older Truck Won't Start

You guys were so helpful last time (see ‘ATF and the older truck’) figured I’d give it another shot.

1975 Chevy K10 Pickup. Supposed to be a Silverado but most of the Silverado-ish do-dads on the inside are long gone.

Teenaged son drove it to school. After school it would not start.

“No, Dad,” he said “it’s not in gear.” And I trust him when he claims he did not leave the lights or the radio on. He’s pretty truthful - a better son to me than I was to my dad, that’s for sure.

His mom was closer, she drove on over, gave it a jump. No dice. AAA was nice enough to tow it home.

Looking at it today, this is what it does: With the key in, switched to on, no accessories. No lights. Won’t crank over - not even a whisper, a clunk, a rumble. Nothing.

I was told that this was the case when she was jumping it, too.

Checked the fuse box. All visually appear ok. Found ‘a’ 20a ‘fuse’ from the previous owner that was a real workman-like roll of tinfoil connecting the two poles. I admired the ingenuity and the care that went into it for a second. Then replaced it. Still no dice.

I’m avoiding pulling them out for a voltmeter check because a) they look ok and b) it’s kind of a chore getting them out in one piece. I’m not sure if b) is because I’m thrifty (cheap) or because I hate broken glass inside the truck.

It’s probably something simple and the truck is out there, hood up, mocking me. Her former owner, she is saying, would have done something clever and country and gotten her going in a jiff. Maybe more tinfoil.

Any ideas?

First thing to try is remove the battery cables and clean them (the cables and battery posts)…then reattach.

If that doesn’t solve problem…then it could be a fuzable link or the ignition switch.

I agree, check your cables as Mike said. May even need to replace them…especially if original ones!

I’d start by having the battery tested. It may have shorted out. If the battery checks out fine and all the fuses are good I’d start suspecting a bad ignition switch.

The fusible links are down on the starter attached to the same stud as the positive battery cable. That would be what I would suspect if indeed the battery is good and connections are clean.

If I remember correctly there are 2 wires coming off the battery positive post. One large that goes to the starter and one small that goes to a relay. Make sure the small wire is making connection and that the relay is good. But I haven’t worked on a 70’s chevy in about 30 yrs.

I with FordMan1959 on this. My sister had a Buick SkyLark that had a battery that shorted out. It would not take a jump. Drove me nuts. I replaced the cables and starter. The battery showed charged and load tested on the low side. It just would not work the starter.
The only other thing I can think of try tapping the starter. If it starts replace it.

"The only other thing I can think of try tapping the starter. If it starts replace it. "

I recall that trick from a beater-mobile I bought after my divorce. Whacked that sucker with a crowbar for two months until I could afford a rebuilt starter. Ramen or a starter … eating won out.

Took the cables off to clean. The ground wire on the negative cable just slipped right out. I thought “hmm”.

Put the ground back with the negative cable, wrapped them together the way the Marines taught me when I was laying in com wire, screwed the harness back on. On the second try a series of experimental tugs did not seperate them.

Cleaned the terminals, while I had everything off. They were already pretty clean, however. Lugged the battery down to Autozone. 7% charge, battery is fine. They hooked it up to this really keen computer-driven charger, that’s got my wall-charger beat all to heck. I protested that I did actually have a wall charger but I think he was looking for an excuse to use his computerized wonder-charger.

Ninety minutes later I’ve got a running truck.

So … it’s down to the ground wire not being secured to the battery. I need to watch that.

Also … the wire in the battery cables struck me as being a stiff and brittle. I’ll put ‘replace wires’ that on the todo list.

Also … I replaced that tinfoil fuse. I admire the can-do attitude expressed in a competently rolled bit of foil for a 20a fuse but … I feel better with an actual fuse in there.

Sounds like a fusible link problem as previously mentioned; possibly contributed to by the tinfoil fuse problem.

Maybe , just maybe, before Mom arrived, another student tried to “jump” the truck and cables may have been hooked up backwards…Now we are back to the fusible link problem for SURE…See Pete Peters post…

Caddyman - hooking up the cables wrong for a jump would blow the fusible links?

I’m not Caddyman but I’ll give ya an answer. Yeeeep!

No one jumped the car until my wife got there. And I’m not going to tell my wife she jumped it wrong because a) I’ve been married too long to fall for that one and b) she just doesn’t do that.

At any rate: it’s been two days, I’ve driven the truck to work, back, errands today and no problems.

My son’s in the STEM classes at school - I asked him if the ground wire not actually grounding could cause the problem. A light bulb went on over his head, he spouted a formula at me that I think means ‘yes’ and ‘I was paying attention in Digital Electronics last semester’.

March 27 Follow up.

Been 10 days, truck driven daily, 4-8 miles per day. No problems.

I think the problem really was the ground not being connected to the battery. Thanks for your kind words and all that jazz.

Darn thing is (almost) older than I am. I’ll be back.