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Old 03-21-2010, 08:21 PM   #1
FrozenCaveman
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Electrical trouble w/ignition - help?

Hey guys,

I'm hoping somebody will be able to give me enough of a clue on a problem that's been bugging me all afternoon.

I spent the course of 3 months replacing the dash in my '70 Camaro. I got most all of the plastic back together and can't get the ignition to crank. It seems like it might be a neutral safety switch problem, but I'm not sure how to go about troubleshooting.

Symptoms:

1) dash lights all work except for high beam indicator - didn't work before I took the dash apart and I forgot to swap the (presumably) bad bulb. Headlights work, dimmer works, wipers work, turn signals work, accessory setting enables power to aftermarket radio, cig lighter works, blower works...
2) dome light works
3) console light does NOT work, though bulb looks good (and it did work prior to my disassembly of the dash and console - no power on either orange wire as near as I can tell with a test light.
4) when I turn the ignition to accessory, the generator light comes on; radio works if I have it on
5) when I turn the ignition one step towards cranking the engine, the generator and oil light come on; radio works if I have it on
6) when I turn the ignition all the way to crank it, the gen light, oil light, and temp light are all on; radio turns off if I have it on

I have my radio connected to both battery power and accessory power (cig lighter, I think). Since the radio doesn't seem to work with the car off, I'm not certain the battery wire is working properly. This is backed up by my test light not functioning on that wire.

The battery is fully charged, and the car ran fine before I took things apart. In fact, I have more dash lights functioning now than before (my ebrake indicator didn't work before I took things apart).

Any ideas?? I'm not sure the radio issue is related. There is a loose connector in the console (something like a 4 or 5 prong box connector - I thought maybe gauges? But did the 70 have console gauges as an option?)

I'm really frustrated with all the work that went into the dash replacement (never again!), and I was all excited to fire it up and drive it now.

Anyone know how to troubleshoot a neutral safety switch? I'm just leaning that way because except for the radio problem, the symptoms seem to coincide with that.

Thanks for condolences and any advice.

-John
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Old 03-22-2010, 01:33 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrozenCaveman View Post
Hey guys,

I'm hoping somebody will be able to give me enough of a clue on a problem that's been bugging me all afternoon.

I spent the course of 3 months replacing the dash in my '70 Camaro. I got most all of the plastic back together and can't get the ignition to crank. It seems like it might be a neutral safety switch problem, but I'm not sure how to go about troubleshooting.

Symptoms:

1) dash lights all work except for high beam indicator - didn't work before I took the dash apart and I forgot to swap the (presumably) bad bulb. Headlights work, dimmer works, wipers work, turn signals work, accessory setting enables power to aftermarket radio, cig lighter works, blower works...
2) dome light works
3) console light does NOT work, though bulb looks good (and it did work prior to my disassembly of the dash and console - no power on either orange wire as near as I can tell with a test light.
4) when I turn the ignition to accessory, the generator light comes on; radio works if I have it on
5) when I turn the ignition one step towards cranking the engine, the generator and oil light come on; radio works if I have it on
6) when I turn the ignition all the way to crank it, the gen light, oil light, and temp light are all on; radio turns off if I have it on

I have my radio connected to both battery power and accessory power (cig lighter, I think). Since the radio doesn't seem to work with the car off, I'm not certain the battery wire is working properly. This is backed up by my test light not functioning on that wire.

The battery is fully charged, and the car ran fine before I took things apart. In fact, I have more dash lights functioning now than before (my ebrake indicator didn't work before I took things apart).

Any ideas?? I'm not sure the radio issue is related. There is a loose connector in the console (something like a 4 or 5 prong box connector - I thought maybe gauges? But did the 70 have console gauges as an option?)

I'm really frustrated with all the work that went into the dash replacement (never again!), and I was all excited to fire it up and drive it now.

Anyone know how to troubleshoot a neutral safety switch? I'm just leaning that way because except for the radio problem, the symptoms seem to coincide with that.

Thanks for condolences and any advice.

-John
I did not have your exact symptoms in my 2004 Grand Prix but sounds somewhat close. In my case it was a faulty ignition switch, it amazed me the eclectic commlection of things that go through the switch and things that don't.

In any event, it was a good place to troubleshoot from since you can easily see the power coming to the switch and then you just have to see if you have it on the otherside. I let GM change the swtich itself, thing was like a puzzle from the Da Vinci Code...
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Old 03-22-2010, 06:25 PM   #3
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sorry to hear that you are having problems. did you pull your steering column out, or disconnect the large connectors on that? it should be fairly easy to trace the starter wire back up thru the car into the dash. it's been a while since i had my '69 console apart, but i thought that the neutral safety switch is located at the shifter. you should be able to jumper across that to determine if the switch is bad or not.
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Old 03-22-2010, 08:00 PM   #4
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I did drop the column by undoing the 2 large nuts that hold it to the bracket, but I only dropped it maybe a couple inches to remove the dash carrier. It's pretty cramped up in there as far as tracing the 12 gauge wires from the neutral safety switch in the console. I found an article somewhere stating that there should be power going through the switch with the key in the crank position or with the shifter in reverse. Do you know if the latter is true? It would be easier to test with the shifter in reverse rather than the key in crank position (not enough hands to hold it there!). Apparently my backup lights won't work either if the switch is bad (or I suppose somehow disconnected).

Thanks,

John
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Old 03-22-2010, 08:05 PM   #5
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Oh, and as far as jumpering across the switch, I'm not so sure what I'd be doing. Using a pair of alligator clips? But on what? It's not clear (to me) from my wiring diagram (Haynes Manual) what 2 wires I'd be jumpering and I don't have the switch in front of me at the moment.

Haynes shows a 20 P and 20 LG for the back up light switch. A 12 PPL/W from the neutral safety switch to the ignition, and an unidentified wire from the neutral safety switch to the bulkhead connector. Do both of these wires have power and the switch acts to interrupt the circuit? Forgive my newbness.

-John
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Old 03-22-2010, 08:08 PM   #6
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I'm hoping it's not a bad ignition switch (never had any symptoms previously) and since I did take things apart, maybe I bumped a connector somewhere or stretched a wire too wire. Anyway, I'll try troubleshooting the power to the console area first. Problem is that the Haynes doesn't show the wiring for the console bulb - not sure where those orange wires go yet...
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Old 03-23-2010, 04:14 PM   #7
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sorry ... i'm not sure of the specific answer for you. at a high level, though, this is the wrong forum for 2nd gen camaro help.

post this question on nasty228.com .... it's the goldmine of sites for 2nd gen camaros.
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Old 03-23-2010, 07:23 PM   #8
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Good enough, thanks!
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Old 03-23-2010, 07:50 PM   #9
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i hate to ask the obvious question ... have you checked for voltage at the starter? it's always possible that it's a coincidence that your starter crapped out at the same time that you were doing dash work.

jumpering across the neutral safety switch .... you can always just take it out of line, out of the circuit. that way you can tell if it's bad or not. i seem to remember that i had one go bad a very long time ago.

prior to '75 when they changed to the high energy ignition (HEI), the wire from the firewall to the starter is a fuseable link ..... it's possible that it's burnt out.

if you have shifted to using a HEI distributor in this car, you'll need to replace this fuseable link with a new wire in order to get the full 12 volts at the starter.

again ..... check out the nastyz28 website.
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Old 03-26-2010, 11:41 AM   #10
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Ugh. The other night it was getting late, but around 11:30 I went out to the shop and took another look at the console. Tried jumpering the neutral safety switch and that didn't change the outcome. Then it finally clicked as I was staring at the console harness. I tried visually following the wires again. The 4 or 5-prong plug I mentioned in my earlier post was supposed to be connected to something - my harness was just disconnected from the bulkhead harness, which was tucked nicely under my stereo. It was just dangling there not going anywhere while I thought it was an extra harness for an option I didn't have.

I don't know when that happened, but it must have been when I pulled the console out to avoid crushing it while I worked under and around the dash. I feel like an idiot, but I thought I'd post the resolution anyway.

Anyway, I drove it work today and felt pretty good about all the work I did.

Thanks for those who offered up suggestions. Everything pointed to no power in the console, but I just couldn't see the obvious the first couple times.

-John
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Old 03-26-2010, 10:14 PM   #11
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john - glad to hear that it was a simple fix for you, and that you're back on the road with it. driving the classic to work rocks!! enjoy the weekend.
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Old 03-29-2010, 04:11 PM   #12
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Glad to hear you found it!
Step 1. Is it plugged in.
Step 2. Try everything under the sun, then go to Step 1.

Many have followed these time honored instructions
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