Question about 1996 Chevrolet Blazer

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Entire 1996 blazer electrical dies when starter solenoid engaged

-battery tests 12.6 v no load
-alternator charges 14.4 if I get it started.
-dash -ignition- lighting all work in the "run" position of ignition switch when key first inserted.
-as soon as the key is turned to engage the starter, the whole system goes dead-no dome light...nothing. It sometimes could be reset if the battery cable was disconnected and then reconnected. Now the electrical system is just fully dead.
-Battery still has a charge, but the car cannot even be boosted. When boosting I measure 14.4 v between chassis and positive cable from the boost vehicle, and yet no lights or anything on the dead blazer.

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  • bozhunter Feb 07, 2009

    thank you but..

    -I had previously done that with both cables. Also disconnected battery and boosted connecting to both blazer cables and tried with boosting to blazer chassis and + cable.

    -I now suspect a short in the starter, but the complete electrical failure has me stumped. Is there a master fuse or a fusible link I may have blown? I can't find anything in any manual about such an item.

    -also: hooking 12v power to + cable and - cable or chassis will not even trn on a dome light.

  • bozhunter Feb 08, 2009

    Followed this "bad connection" idea through and even though it would not boost to engine ground, it clued me in to the areas of trouble. Broken ground cable on engine side which then must have burned the small wire to ground. New + and - cables (had to lower starter), clean battery and starter connections and...voila!...for now.

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  • 24 Answers

Bad ground cable,use a jumper cable from negative to alternator bracket, if it starts thats it.

Posted on Feb 07, 2009

  • Rick Klatt Feb 08, 2009

    thats the problem you hooked to chassis thats not a ground to the engine,your main ground goes to engine first, near the back of engine there is a lead cable from engine to fire wall thats how the chassis gets its ground,and you have to have a clean metal surface and real good jumper cables to get a good contact.it is possible to have a good ground on chassis and bad on engine.original factory cables also have a little wire that connects to fender from negative cable.so basically you are getting volts and not enough amps that little wire can't handle it,if it hasn't burned yet I'm surprised.remember key word ground to engine.

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Hi Meadors,

The clicking sound you heard most likely the starter solenoid engaging the starter. Only in this case it's failing to engage the starter. This is a classic symptom of a low battery. Here's why.

In a perfect world, when you turn the key to start:
  1. the solenoid is fed 12VDC which engages an electromagnetic coil inside it.
  2. A spring loaded steel piston inside this coil reacts to the magnetic field. It is pulled against the spring. By itself this sounds like a loud decisive CLICK.
  3. The movement of the piston simultaneously pushes the starter gear into the flywheel and sends power to the starter via heavy duty contacts. The starter draws a lot of power.
  4. The starter spins, turns the engine, the engine starts, life is good.
  5. When the key is released, the solenoid disengages, the spring pushes the piston back, the starter gear disengages from the flywheel.
In our world, when you turn the key to start:
  1. The solenoid which draws it's share of power engages as before. Click.
  2. As the starter tries to spin, the power available is insufficient. It draws all remaining power, there isn't enough left to keep the solenoid active and it turns off.
  3. Since the starter isn't drawing power anymore, the solenoid re-engages and the cycle starts over. Click.
  4. The cycle repeats. Click. A series of rapid clicks. Same page?
While a dead battery is the prime suspect, there can be other causes. Things to do:

  • Check belts, specifically on the alternator.
  • Terminal connections clean and tight.
  • In the 'Let's not over look the obvious' department: Battery voltage?
  • Get a jump. Try a jump start.
  • If a jump gets you going, it is either the battery not holding a charge or the alternator not providing one.
Even new batteries can be bad off the shelf. Especially if they have been on that shelf for a while. They may show the voltage but not the amps. This is called a 'Surface Charge'.

If you don't have a voltmeter, what you need to do now is visit an auto parts store (not a shop). Most (in the hope of making a sale) will provide free testing of batteries and charging systems.

What you need is called a "Load Test" on the battery. It simulates the load of an engine being started. This will confirm the battery is good or bad.

Then with the car running, they need to check the voltage to the battery (they will know this). If it's not above +13VDC, the alternator is bad or not connected correctly.

And if it doesn't start, what better place to be?

Let me know what they and you find out by commenting.
Best regards
Mike

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