Yet Another "Mustang Suddenly Died" Question - Mustang Evolution

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Old 12-17-2013, 06:52 PM   #1
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Yet Another "Mustang Suddenly Died" Question

Sorry for the 1,000th thread about a Mustang not starting up, but I wasn't able to find a situation that matched my own, so I thought I'd give it a shot and see if anyone has any insight on this situation.

'04 GT (automatic) has been starting up just fine, with zero indication of any problems, and is being driven daily. This morning, I drove to the supermarket, no issues whatsoever. Parked in front of my house waiting for my wife, turned the car off for a few minutes. Tried to start back up: nothing. No crank, no lights on the instrument panel. Totally dead.

We have one of these no-jumper-cable jump starters that connects to the cigarette lighters of each car, so I tried using that. This did cause the dash lights to come on, and when I tried starting up, it would not turn over but instead I got a rapid-fire click-click-click-click-click sound.

Next, I tried jump starting the car conventionally, with jumper cables. This did even less -- the dash lights did come on, but turning the ignition produced only a soft "coughing" sound and then nothing. At that point the lights went dead and any subsequent attempts to start the car, with the jumper cables still hooked up and revving the gas on the functional car, produced no effect whatsoever.

Meanwhile, I noticed that while the cars were hooked up, but with the Mustang not only shut off but with the keys out of the ignition, there was an erratic but ongoing clicking sound that seemed to be coming from the dashboard.

I then thought perhaps the battery had given out, so I bought a brand new battery and hooked it up. Started up -- nothing, totally dead. No lights, no sounds.

Tried hooking up the jumper cables again just on the off chance the new battery was drained. The only effect was, initially the same thing happened as previously, where the dash lights did come on when I turned the key to "on," but if I turned it, the same soft cough and then totally dead.

This problem is baffling to me. It's a brand new battery, and everything had been working fine up to the moment it didn't. There were no signs of anything failing, and it had started up fine just minutes before everything died.

I'm wondering, given the circumstances, what are the chances that it's a blown fuse? If so, which fuse or fuses could it be? I looked at the starter motor relay fuse in the power distribution box, but I can't tell from looking at it whether it's OK or not. I don't have a volt meter so I don't know how to tell if it's bad.

Another problem is that I've got more time than money or automotive knowledge. Having this car towed to the mechanic to replace the starter or alternator will be very hard on my finances right now (since I already bought a new battery), so I'd like to try any cheaper possible fixes before taking it to the shop. I've looked at DIY guides to replacing the starter on this car, but it looks pretty daunting since I've apparently got to get underneath the car and get up into some tight spaces. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 12-17-2013, 07:00 PM   #2
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You have a bad battery cable some where. Go through all of the connections from the positive side all the way to the ground side. Check them all and if one seems iffy replace it.
I would start with the ground side of the battery if it was me.

Good luck!
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Old 12-17-2013, 11:01 PM   #3
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You have a bad battery cable some where. Go through all of the connections from the positive side all the way to the ground side. Check them all and if one seems iffy replace it. I would start with the ground side of the battery if it was me. Good luck!
+1 and make sure to clean the terminals
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Old 12-17-2013, 11:57 PM   #4
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Check ALL of the ground cables...
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Old 12-18-2013, 12:25 AM   #5
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I say bad alternator , causing bad camshaft / crankshaft sensors , etc.

Why don't you test the alternator

---------- Post added at 01:25 AM ---------- Previous post was at 01:25 AM ----------

May seem odd but the alternators on these modular engines play a vital role.
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Old 12-18-2013, 12:51 AM   #6
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I say bad alternator , causing bad camshaft / crankshaft sensors , etc. Why don't you test the alternator ---------- Post added at 01:25 AM ---------- Previous post was at 01:25 AM ---------- May seem odd but the alternators on these modular engines play a vital role.
If it was a bad Alt, he would be able to start it then it would die after disconnecting the jumper cables, bad sensors would let him turn over the engine but not start. Because of the clicking in the dash id say its a short or loose ground.
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Old 12-18-2013, 01:12 AM   #7
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I had the same problem ending up replacing the alt but it wasn't that my mechanic was confused so he searched the car high and low somone had took some of my fuses and cut a wire running to my starter
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Old 12-18-2013, 01:26 AM   #8
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The clicking is the starter .. It's loud
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Old 12-18-2013, 01:27 AM   #9
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Mine wasn't cut all the way so maybe it was getting some connection just not enough
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Old 12-18-2013, 08:00 AM   #10
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Check all wiring, if thats ok start unplugging fuses one at a time till it lets you charge the batt and start car.
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Old 12-18-2013, 09:54 AM   #11
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Thanks so much for the information. A couple of (probably dumb) followup questions:

-- Let's say the alternator and starter were both bad. With a new battery installed and power coming in from another car via jumper cable, should I expect at least ACC power to come on continuously and reliably (even if the car won't crank or turn over)?

-- What is causing that clicking sound from the dashboard area, even with the key removed from the ignition (but with the car getting juice via jumper cable)?

-- Are battery ground cables a universal standard, or can there be a wrong type for a given car? I ask only because the previous owner looks to have replaced this one at some point, since it is obviously different from the cable and connector from the positive terminal.
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Old 12-18-2013, 01:12 PM   #12
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Thanks so much for the information. A couple of (probably dumb) followup questions: -- Let's say the alternator and starter were both bad. With a new battery installed and power coming in from another car via jumper cable, should I expect at least ACC power to come on continuously and reliably (even if the car won't crank or turn over)? -- What is causing that clicking sound from the dashboard area, even with the key removed from the ignition (but with the car getting juice via jumper cable)? -- Are battery ground cables a universal standard, or can there be a wrong type for a given car? I ask only because the previous owner looks to have replaced this one at some point, since it is obviously different from the cable and connector from the positive terminal.
You've got a bad cable somewhere, + or -. Hopefully just a bad connection
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Old 12-18-2013, 03:06 PM   #13
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Like i said, i think the clicking in the dash is a short or loose ground, im leaning toward a short that is rapidly draining ur battery.
With external power to the car, under normal conditions, your accessories should work. It is possible that ur starter or alternator is shorted out. U can disconnect them one at a time to see if it is.
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Old 12-18-2013, 07:33 PM   #14
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Checking things over this evening, I observed the following:

-- Interior/dash lights and power locks did work, but turning the key only produced that "cough" sound and everything went dead;

-- Turning on ACC again did bring the lights back on, but turning the key a second time just killed the car, no sound;

-- Subsequent attempts to turn the key produced nothing -- car totally dead.

So it seems like there's some tiny amount of power that built up over the past day that was able to power the interior lights, but once it was discharged that was that.

I'm wondering if this says anything about exactly what component(s) is/are at fault here. Would this symptom be consistent with bad wiring? I did check all the cables that were visible from above (too dark to go underneath), and the ground connections and the connections to the battery posts were all tight. Connection from the positive terminal to the fuse box was also tight, no noticeable corrosion.

HOWEVER, looking at the pos/neg connectors, the insulation is stripped back from the connectors and the (bare) wires do have a lot of corrosion on them. So my next move, unless otherwise advised, will be to cut back those cables and change out the connectors.
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Old 12-18-2013, 07:43 PM   #15
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Yes ive seen cables completely corroded through. Also what is the voltage across the battery before and after trying to start?
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Old 12-18-2013, 09:36 PM   #16
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I had a similar problem. My wire going to the negative battery terminal was loose and the terminal was rusty. I just brushed off the rust with a wire brush and tightened the bolt holding the wire on the terminal. Easy fix. Took less than 5 minutes.
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Old 12-18-2013, 10:19 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by ElSaborAsiatico View Post
Checking things over this evening, I observed the following: -- Interior/dash lights and power locks did work, but turning the key only produced that "cough" sound and everything went dead; -- Turning on ACC again did bring the lights back on, but turning the key a second time just killed the car, no sound; -- Subsequent attempts to turn the key produced nothing -- car totally dead. So it seems like there's some tiny amount of power that built up over the past day that was able to power the interior lights, but once it was discharged that was that. I'm wondering if this says anything about exactly what component(s) is/are at fault here. Would this symptom be consistent with bad wiring? I did check all the cables that were visible from above (too dark to go underneath), and the ground connections and the connections to the battery posts were all tight. Connection from the positive terminal to the fuse box was also tight, no noticeable corrosion. HOWEVER, looking at the pos/neg connectors, the insulation is stripped back from the connectors and the (bare) wires do have a lot of corrosion on them. So my next move, unless otherwise advised, will be to cut back those cables and change out the connectors.
It's your cables and/or connectors.. Mine was doing the EXACT same thing... Cleaned em up replaced my + connector and vroom vroom vrooooom
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Old 12-19-2013, 03:23 AM   #18
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irishn8 -- apologies for missing what you said re: clicking in the dash.

At this point I'm very much hoping it is the connectors and/or the cables at the ends, since this looks to be a cheaper/easier fix than the other possibilities. The negative connector looks OK but the cable is corroded behind it...the positive connector though is very corroded, as is the wiring going in.

Just looking at the wiring, if I need to replace the cables entirely it looks like a bit of a headache to swap out. From reading other posts I had the impression that the wiring was pretty straightforward, but each of the pos/neg cables is bundled with other wires and it's difficult to make out what's what. Not sure if it came from the factory like this (I'm the 3rd owner) but nothing I've read has prepared me for what I'm looking at! Admittedly, this is the first time I've really carefully looked at this, and it was in the dark with a flashlight, so maybe it'll make more sense in the light of day.

In any case, thanks again for the feedback, guys. Hopefully the new connectors will fix this. It sucks to have her sitting dead in front of the house. Driving to work yesterday it seemed like every other car I saw was a 96-04 GT, each one taunting me with blissful mobility. ::weeps bitterly::
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Old 12-19-2013, 09:51 AM   #19
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Ya i know it looks daunting, but once you get into it, it will be easier than you thought. Just remember to take pictures so you can go back and check if you need to.

---------- Post added at 07:51 AM ---------- Previous post was at 07:49 AM ----------

If you go to a good parts store like if you have a NAPA west bay auto parts, they will have a full selection of generic battery connectors and cables. Alternatively you can check Late Model Restoration to see if they have the OEM parts.
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Old 12-19-2013, 10:12 AM   #20
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Don't rule out a "fusable link" either. The battery hot lead connection to the fuse panel and starter are not fuse protected. Instead, they use a type of wire that will melt if a short developed in that circuit.

Since you have low voltage to the starter (starter is not spinning) and you are hearing a clicking sound behind the cluster panel, I'm leaning towards the hot lead from the battery to the starter; from there, another hot lead runs to the alternator and fuse panel.

While these hot leads may appear good from the outside, the copper wiring can be green in color underneath the insulation. Can you see any green look to the wire by its connector that connects to the battery? At the end by the starter? Check these two spots very carefully. The starter location may require you jack the car and use a good supportive jackstand for safety.

One more rare possibility is the ignition switch itself. When you move the key to "start", wiggle it. If the starter begins to spin, you have found the problem.
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Old 12-20-2013, 02:12 PM   #21
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Quick update just to close out my topic. Yup, it was the corrosion on the connector(s) and cable wires. I believe it was the negative cable that was the culprit (although the positive connector was badly corroded, so I went ahead and replaced both). It had obviously been replaced in the past, and whoever did it failed to cover the bare wires in any way, so there was a shower of crap that fell out from it every time I so much as tapped it. When I took off the connector, it was clear that the wires were badly caked with gunk. I cut back the cable and put on the new connector, started up and hallelujah, she's alive!

Thanks again guys for your help! I would not have thought about the cables -- you saved me an expensive trip to the mechanic.
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Old 12-20-2013, 04:50 PM   #22
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Quick update just to close out my topic. Yup, it was the corrosion on the connector(s) and cable wires. I believe it was the negative cable that was the culprit (although the positive connector was badly corroded, so I went ahead and replaced both). It had obviously been replaced in the past, and whoever did it failed to cover the bare wires in any way, so there was a shower of crap that fell out from it every time I so much as tapped it. When I took off the connector, it was clear that the wires were badly caked with gunk. I cut back the cable and put on the new connector, started up and hallelujah, she's alive! Thanks again guys for your help! I would not have thought about the cables -- you saved me an expensive trip to the mechanic.
Nice to hear!
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Old 12-21-2013, 11:08 AM   #23
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It was easy too huh
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Old 12-21-2013, 03:22 PM   #24
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It was easy too huh
You would have had a good chuckle at how nervous I (total noob) was, approaching those cables! But it really was ridiculously simple, and I'm really, really glad that's all it was.

In retrospect, I guess it should have been obvious. The previous owner did not mess with the car very much, so the battery/cables hadn't been touched in a long time, but in the past month I've had it I've disconnected that cable several times (replacing the stereo receiver, fuel filter, etc.) so all that handling must have jostled the corroded wires.
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Old 12-21-2013, 05:05 PM   #25
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Oh i remember my first time lol. Glad its all better now!
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Old 12-23-2013, 12:16 PM   #26
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There is a star on this topic. What does the star mean?
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Old 12-23-2013, 12:53 PM   #27
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There is a star on this topic. What does the star mean?
No idear
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Old 12-23-2013, 01:43 PM   #28
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