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Pathfinder65

Good battery drags like a dead battery

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I'm sure this has been posted somewhere, but I could not find it, I apologies in advance. The past couple days I noticed when I would start my 87 Pathy, time of day did not matter, the battery would lug down like it was about dead. Today I took it to the part store and had them check my battery and alternator. They told me the tester was showing the alternator, starter, and battery was all good. It did show the Battery had a surface charge on it, and he did not know why because that was usually a sign the alternator was bad, but that was not the case. I went to start it and it lugged all the way down to nothing. When I let off the key, he shook his head and said it may be the wires from the battery to the alternator. When I cranked it over again, the truck fired right up with out a problem, and did so the rest of the day until I tonight, I had to push start it (thank god for manual transmissions), now nothing happens when I turn it over. All electrical systems inside works fine from the Radio to the Dome light, headlights and and all outside lights come on without showing a sign of having a dead battery. I have no idea where to look first, so thank you for all the help and suggestions before hand.

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A guy at work had a similar problem on a Dodge pickup. He had sprayed the terminals of all the wires with battery terminal protector then put everything together. The protector was insulating the wire that went to the starter, so lights and everything worked, but it wouldn't start. He cleaned the protector off, then it worked fine.

 

Short story long, check the connections.

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I thought about that last night, kinda looked over it on the side of the road, but a iPhone only gives off so much light. Besides I figures since all the lights were good and strong it was something else. I'll do that today as soon as I get back from my doctor appointment, I have a 92 Jimmy that's getting taken off the injury reserve until I get the Pathy fixed. Thanks for the suggestion

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That is basically the sign of bad connections. The lights draw nothing compared to the starter motor. Give them all a good clean.

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all connections were clean, negative cable was really loose, tightened it down still acts like the battery is dead

 

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What about the other end of the connections, where it connects to the starter?

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I checked the battery connections, alternator connections, and starter connections all were good with the exception of the negative cable end. I was wondering if the ignition switch could be the culprit, since it starts and runs fine when I push start it?

Edited by Pathfinder65

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Could be, these are known to have issues with the ignition switch. Next time it happens, push in on the key and then try to start it. You could also check for voltage on the ignition wire where it leaves the switch.

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Pushing in on the key does not work. I'll have to wait until the weekend to take the column apart to get to the switch, only time I have free at the moment. I will keep checking back for additional suggestions and will update status as soon as I can. Electrical systems of a vehicle is not my forte, so thanks for all the help, it's much appreciated.

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There should be a harness connection somewhere under the dash so you could test the wire without taking the column apart. Unfortunately, I am in the middle of a move, so my fsm is packed. I can't tell you what color wire you need. Maybe someone that has access to the manual could help out?

 

There is also a link somewhere so you can download sections of the manual.

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Yeah, there's a plug for the ignition switch, I think it's above the pedals somewhere. But the wire connections on the ignition switch itself are right out in the open once you take the clamshell off. The starter should be the black wire with the yellow stripe. If you jump that to + (forget what color but easy to find with a meter), the starter should kick.

 

That said, I've never heard of the starter running slow because the ignition switch was bad. Click/no start, yes. Running slow, no. When you turn the key, that circuit passes power to the starter solenoid. The solenoid pushes the pinion into engagement, but also brings together the contacts that send power to the starter motor (power that goes through the big + cable to the starter). So if the contacts in the switch are hooped, it might do nothing, or it might pass enough power to move the solenoid (click) but not enough to bring the contacts together properly (no start). A slow starter motor isn't getting power, either because of connection issues or because the battery's weak.

 

Surface charge is a new one on me, so I looked it up. Apparently it can make a hooped battery test as good. If the battery charges too fast, it doesn't charge completely, so it acts like a much smaller battery when confronted with a load (like a starter motor). If you have another battery that will fit, I'd put that in there and give it a go.

 

The last battery I replaced still tested as good with my cheap tester. It even started the engine alright, when it was warm out. When it got cold, though, it dragged like what you're talking about. I swapped out the battery and it's been fine since.

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a battery may read fine until you put a load on it. If it draws down to 9V or below when trying to start, you have a bad cell and need to replace your battery. Normal draw down is to 10.5 or 11V or so if the battery is rated high enough in CCA for your application.

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I didn't get to work on the Pathy this weekend, was feeling under the weather a bit. As far as a weak battery, I was thinking that was the problem because of how it was acting, but it was put on a load tester and I was told the battery is good. I'm thinking there is a direct short somewhere, when I open the door I get a small static charge from the door. This didn't start until just about the time the truck began acting up. Idk if there is any correlation between the two or not, but starting to think it is. Will retrace wires tomorrow. I push started it to keep the battery charged just in case, started no problem that way, except the brake warning light stays on now. (new issue to deal with later). Going to park it on a hill so I can drive it in the morning since the heater in it works fine.

 

Slartibartfast, crossing the wire under the clamshell only produces a click as well.

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Sounds like you've ruled out your ignition switch, then. I'd check the relay next, just because it's easier to get to than the starter is. Make sure the relay is clicking like it should, check for power at the plug, jump that power to the appropriate pin to simulate the relay closing and see if the starter kicks. Also try turning off your clutch interlock if you haven't yet, just to be sure it's not the clutch safety switch locking you out (seems unlikely but easy to check). If it's not the relay, and the terminals are all tight, and you're sure the battery's good, all I can think is that the contacts in the starter solenoid are fouled up and not making contact anymore.

 

I doubt the static shock from the door has anything to do with the truck's electrical system. The air in your area is probably just drier than usual. A direct short generally results in either a blown fuse or a fire, and you have to try pretty hard to shock yourself on a 12v system.

 

As for the brake warning light, check your brake fluid level. Is it throwing up any other lights?

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I'm not sure I trust those load testers the parts stores have. I had a battery that would start the truck "okay" but as soon as the temp dipped below freezing it wouldn't turn over at all. But of course it tested "Fine" at Canadian tire, so they wouldn't warranty it.

 

Just for @!*%s and giggles, do you have a battery from another car that would fit? Just for testing.

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Only other battery is a side post, I'm really thinking it's in the starter. It's warm today so will pull the starter and see if there is anything going on there I cannot see from under the truck. Relay works fine, but starter will not turn when I cross it there. When it comes to any kind of electricity, I don't have to try hard to get a charge. I found out last time if you plug the coil wire in while leaning on the vehicle you can get a jolt. I did it twice, guess I didn't learn the first time.

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If the relay or the ignition were the issue, it would either start, or not start.

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check for constant 12v on big starter wire. Check for 12v on trigger wire to solenoid only when ignition turned to start. If no voltage there, could be interlock. There are threads in here about bypassing (running new ignition wire). Wouldn't hurt to pull the starter out and do a little testing with jumper cables (just make sure to strap it down or stand on it). If the solenoid 'thunks' all the time and the starter doesn't spin sometimes, open her up and do a good cleaning, especially of all the carbon dust and oil that has dripped from the pressure sender (if it's anything like my old 95). I have some pictures in here somewhere about cleaning the starter guts. The key is to take a little time and systematically work your way through the system, bypassing, jumpering, etc until you isolate where the drop occurs.

 

here's some info to read:

 

http://www.nissanpathfinders.net/forum/topic/19559-electrical/?p=335151&hl=starter&do=findComment&comment=335151

 

http://www.nissanpathfinders.net/forum/topic/38736-wont-start-turn-key-lights-camera-no-action/?do=findComment&comment=732143

 

http://www.nissanpathfinders.net/forum/topic/20818-what-could-cause-starter-to-fail-like/?do=findComment&comment=361764

 

 

Edited by k9sar

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Sorry for the lack of updates, I've been sick and haven't had time to update what has happened. I went back to what I originally thought the problem was, the Starter, I took the starter off and had it tested. It was bad, but still under warranty so was able to replace free of charge. Once starter was replaced Pathy fired up like nothing was wrong. Too bad I couldn't get reimbursed for the headache and time I spent trying to trace down an electrical problem that didn't exist. Always trust your instincts. thanks for all the help everybody. It is much appreciated. If anybody has a link where to get a good instrument panel (Speedometer), or any parts for that matter, please let me know.

V011797275
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Instrument panel problems are typically solder issues. There are many discussions in here dealing with them. I can't help with respect to where to get a new cluster etc since I use local u-pull-its and you are a few states away. For basic replacement parts, I use Rockauto.com. See vendor section for a 5% discount code as well. Glad the truck is running again and good luck.

 

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Ive had my 91 from new,Through out the years every time I get that symptom its the starter, next time give the starter a whack then see if she kicks over. When was the last time you changed the starter? I have to change starters about every 5 years.Ive also had to kick start mine, but lotta times a good whack could do it if it is a starter problem.

 

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