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Good Battery-Good Terminals & Cables But No Power To Anything

Discussion in 'General Chevy & GM Tech Questions' started by RANisbet, Dec 16, 2010.

  1. RANisbet

    RANisbet New Member

    My 94 suburban (half ton, 2WD automatic) developed an electrical problem.
    I turned the key to start and as it began turning over, everything went dead, even the dash and interior lights and would not come back on after releasing the key from the start position.
    I moved the shift lever while holding the key in start position and it staretd.
    Problem recurred next day and restart worked again.
    Today the moving of the shift lever wouldn't work.
    I checed the battery and it's good and it's terminals are tight and clean.
    Note: I had a similar occurrance with my 2004 suburban when the starter motor relay hung half way, causing all electrical connections to have no power.
  2. stephan

    stephan Rockstar 4 Years 5000 Posts

    Hey Ran, welcome to the GM truck club. Since you were able to get this started 2 days in a row by moving the shifter, I would suspect the neutral/park safety switch. Before you replace it you can check it by bridging the wires for a few days just to make sure this is it before spending the money to replace it. Just be cautious as it will start in any gear with these wires jumped.
  3. murdog94

    murdog94 Epic Member 5+ Years 5000 Posts

    Also the ignition etc.. the steering columns in these trucks are known for having problems since the tilt wheel would work loose and start to short out connections. but i would start with the neutral safety switch as well.
  4. RANisbet

    RANisbet New Member

    I did think of that method, but the fact that every electrical item on the vehicle has no power makes me think it would be some other problem. If I remember correctly, the interior lights, dash components, headlights etc all have power regardless of the position of the neutral safety switch. In fact one test of a battery is to see if the hadlights go dim when engaging the starter. They should stay on if you have a good battery!!
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2010
  5. murdog94

    murdog94 Epic Member 5+ Years 5000 Posts

    However if the switch is shorted then you have a short to ground that is killing power... But as i said it is obvious you have a problem in the column if you were able to play around to get it started...
  6. stephan

    stephan Rockstar 4 Years 5000 Posts

    Hey Ran, you could check all your chassis grounds, engine to chassis, engine to firewall, dash cluster etc. It certainly wouldn't hurt... It just seems kind of coincidental that you wiggled the shifter 2 days in a row & it started. What are the odds??
  7. RANisbet

    RANisbet New Member

    Ground connections check is a great suggestion.
    A bad ground connection that opens with high current draw from the starter would remove power from everything.
    If there were a short of power to ground, the energy in the battery would either burn the short till open, start a fire or discharge the battery. Since the battery remains charged and there is no fire, it could be a the third option, but somewhat unlikely since it is intermittent.
  8. murdog94

    murdog94 Epic Member 5+ Years 5000 Posts

    Welcome to the GM world of electronics. ive had shorts to ground like that in the column on my 1988, and my 1994 chevies. it all depended on exactly where the steering wheel was in and position of the shifter.. But the main ground to the battery is one that i handnt thought of and is a culprit as well.
  9. dualdj1

    dualdj1 Rockstar 100 Posts

    yeah i really doubt it's a short if you're losing power to EVERYTHING. I don't know why wiggling the shifter would help, unless it's just causing enough vibration to get connection. You shouldn't lose power to your lights and such if the ignition switch is bad; IIRC power to the fuse block does not go to/come from the ignition switch. so check that main ground.
  10. RANisbet

    RANisbet New Member

    Turned out to be a loose ground at the chassis.
    Strange it would come loose, but a quick tightening and that solved my problem.
    Thanks to all who offered recommendations.
    Bob Nisbet
    Sr. Technology Protection Engineer
    Army Research and Technology Protection Center
    Supporting Army Aviation
    Redstone Arsenal, Alabama

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