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Random weird electrical problems

Discussion in 'Stock 1995 - 2001 Explorers' started by 98ExplorerGuy, June 14, 2011.

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    1. 98ExplorerGuy

      98ExplorerGuy New Member

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      Lately my 98 Explorer has been exhibiting random, weird, electrical issues.

      a) battery appears to be totally dead - no dome light, no remote door unlock, no starter. Several minutes later it is completely normal.

      b) electric windows stop working; then start working again

      c) sometimes, but not always, theft light on dashboard flashes (slow constant flash; not a code) while engine running

      d) remote door lock/unlock doesn't work; then does

      There may be others, I don't know - my wife drives the car more than I do.

      A while back (year? two years?) when the vehicle was in the dealer for other service, they said my battery cable terminals were shot beyond use and strongly suggested I allow them to replace them. I said sure, go ahead. What they did was cut off the old terminals and install ones sort of like this:


      [​IMG]

      but not quite; the ones they installed had a less-beefy clamping plate, more like stamped sheet metal.

      Last week, during one of the "dead battery" episodes, my son noticed that the vehicle came to life after I wiggled the negative battery cable (I wanted to see if the post clamp was tight). Upon further examination, it was obvious that the screw-down cable clamp was not tightly holding the cable, so we tightened it up and everything seemed fine for a few days.

      So, I mention all of this (random electrical probs; loose cable) to a mechanic friend and he remarked that if the dealer didn't load up that cable clamp with conductive grease, the cable might have corroded not only at the exposed end but all the way down the length of the cable. Yikes!

      I can tell you with certainty that there is no grease there and never was. What are the odds that this is related to the problems above?

      PS: there is no obvious sign of severe corrosion other than slight discoloring of the exposed wire. No green or white powder corrosion, for example.
       
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    3. FirstOnRaceDayy

      FirstOnRaceDayy Active Member

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      Sounds exactly like what happend to mine. The battery terminal kept loosening up and not make good connection. make sure its tight, if not, i bet its loosening up after a couple days.
       
    4. bobflood

      bobflood Elite Explorer

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      Yep - most likely time for new battery cables, both positive and negative. Chances are if you slice the insulation from the clamp down a couple of inches, you will find green wires/white powder instead of nice shiny copper.
       
    5. 98ExplorerGuy

      98ExplorerGuy New Member

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      Sheesh! I know it is not huge, but I don't need this additional expense right now.

      Any chance the dealer should/would make good on this?
       
    6. firepop5

      firepop5 Active Member

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      Before replacing the cables, disconnect them and make sure the inside surfaces that contact the battery posts are clean. Use a wire brush or coarse sandpaper. Clean the terminals on the battery the same way and reconnect the terminals. Be sure all connections are tight. See how clean and tight the other end of the cables are as well. Be sure battery is disconnected when checking other ends of the cables.
       
    7. KyBucks10

      KyBucks10 New Member

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      exact same thing happened to my ranger. literally to a T. i just clipped the wire back a half inch or so, reconnected it and its worked fine ever since. that was about a month and a half ago. as soon as it starts happening again, i will replace the cables.
       
    8. 98ExplorerGuy

      98ExplorerGuy New Member

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      So, at this point, I am not sure what to think.

      Wife went to leave for work this morning and car would not start. No dome light; starter ticked a bit and that's all.

      She was in a hurry so I grabbed my portable jump starter and hooked it up. OK, I know this is wrong, but I hooked red cable to red battery terminal and black cable to black battery terminal. Honestly, cables are so short that it is hard to find a good ground point within range of the black cable...

      Anyway, turned the key and the car started instantly. Isn't this a good sign that the problem lies in the battery or charging circuit rather than any potential corrosion of the battery cables?

      I don't recall how old the battery is but I am thinking only two years. I will have to sort through my records and see if I can find it.
       
    9. SoNic67

      SoNic67 Well-Known Member

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      The batteries have usually stickers on them with manufacture date.
      If you have acces to a electrical meter you can do some trobleshooting...
      14.2V on posts with engine running.
      12.5V at 10 minutes after you stopped the engine.
      Less than 0.1V voltage drop on any connection points with engine stopped and all the lights on.
       
    10. 98ExplorerGuy

      98ExplorerGuy New Member

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      Yeah, but wife has the car for the day. :)

      I will check sticker and voltages tonight.
       
    11. firepop5

      firepop5 Active Member

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      It could be the battery or charging system, but if your cables are not making good solid contact with the battery posts, you could have the same symptoms including the gremlins mentioned in your first post. You may have made better contact when you connected the jumper cables and this allowed the car to start. Clean and tighten the cables first. If you don't have a simple voltmeter get one and test voltage at the posts before and after the engine is running
       

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