Dodge Neon weird electrical occurance

Messages
903
Location
wa state
Today I hopped in my car and turned the key to the on position and looked up at the gauge, which showed just over 12 volts. I turned the key to start the motor and I heard one loud click(maybe the starter solenoid?) and then everything went completely dead. I mean everything....lights, dash, all buzzers, dings, EVERYTHING. Not a single thing in the car had power. 1st thing I thought of was a battery cable was loose, so I popped the hood to take a look. I propped open the hood, and a couple seconds later I see my blinkers blink twice, like it would if my alarm was being turned off or like when I reinstall the battery after doing some engine work. I look inside the car and all power has magically reappeared without me touching a single thing. I then took it for some errands and drove about 60 miles with 4 engine startups at various places that I stopped at, and didnt have a single problem. Does anyone have any idea what could cause all electrical power to be completely gone for less than a minute and then fix itself all on its own? remember, I didnt touch a thing when the power returned. Any ideas will help me narrow down the causes and hopefully fix to problem before it happens to me in traffic somewhere thanks
 
Messages
36,409
Location
ME
Whatever it is, it's one of the big connections. (Battery, block ground, or starter motor) The electricity arced under the large amp draw of the starter mower, making a high resistance burnt spot, blocking all power. They do sometimes self-heal, but the problem is still there, and going to strand you unless you find it.
 
Messages
391
Location
Canada
Originally Posted By: river_rat
If it's not a bad + connection, it could be a bad ground strap connection.
DING DING! I am very intimate with Neons (not by choice), look-up Neon Ground Replacement. Essentially snag some bulk 8/10AWG wire, pull out some baking soda and water and clean up connections to ground with a stiff brush and the solution you've made. Replace the straps with your wire. There are other 'tricks' where you replace grounding wires to other specific components but I think that is an exercise in futility. While you're at it, measure current draw as per the service manual with your ammeter (you have one right? get one it's a neon.). Have you had to resolder the dash cluster yet?
 
Messages
2,340
Location
La.
If not the ground problem, and you have an aftermarket alarm, disconnect it and see if problem goes away.
 

hooligan24

Thread starter
Messages
903
Location
wa state
-I will put it up on ramps today and trace all the ground wires and make sure all connections are clean and tight. -I have a multimeter, but will need to review the service manual for proper testing -Car does have an after market alarm, but it shouldnt have shut off all power. The alarm itself also lost power when this happened. -Battery is a 2 year old Duralast battery. Stock one gave out around 3 years old and 34k miles -car is a 2005 Neon SRT4
Quote:
Have you had to resolder the dash cluster yet?
Are you talking about the multifunction switch connectors that sometimes fry? If so, I inspected those connections a few weeks ago, and they had no sign of damage. I will inspect them again. Thanks for the suggestions everyone, I am heading outside right now to tear into the pile
 
Messages
25,053
Location
ON, Canada eh?
Do a load test on the battery. I have seen batteries show 12V but the amps aren't there for load. When you crank it, it drops to nothing. Check the connections at the battery and starter are clean and tight. Check for 12V at the starter when cranking. (Someone will have to help you. If you don't have 12 volts at the starter when cranking you have a bad connection some where. Red wire to red lead on DV volt meter, and black to a ground somewhere that isn't covered in rust... Scratch both with the volt meter terminals to ensure a good solid testing connection.) If you have voltage at the starter but it doesn't start, something is bunged up in the starter. Try hitting it a few times with a hammer and see if it will turn over. If it does the contacts are worn inside and should be able to be replaced without replacing the whole starter if you are mechanically inclined.
 
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hooligan24

Thread starter
Messages
903
Location
wa state
went outside and did some tracing of wires. There are 2 ground wires coming from the negative battery terminal. One goes to a bolt mounted on the transaxle, and the other is about a foot long and grounds to the inner fender well. Both look very clean at the connecting points. I did however notice that my positive battery terminal was looking a little deteriarated. I will replace both terminals in a little bit and then start some testing with the ohm meter to see if anything looks out of place. My other forum I visit suggested I replace the ASD Ralay(Auto shut down), but I removed it and still had power to all my lights. I dont think that was the problem. Any other idea's, or am I on the right track so far? -Another question, could a smaller ground(not at the battery) cause the complete loss of power? There are alot of smaller grounds(like 18 guage wire) all over the car
 
Messages
25,053
Location
ON, Canada eh?
Chrysler relays are never the problem. Trust me! I have done way too much work on Chrysler products. See my above post for proper testing of the starter system. Your starter grounds through the engine to the transmission to the ground wire you saw leading to the battery. Poor ground would cause sluggish starting and not no starting or dead starting like you are experiencing... I have never encountered a ground problem for starting issues on Chryslers... Always the positive terminal if any. Again, see my post above.
 
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Messages
750
Location
oregon
i had a neon with a similar prob, also the turn signal would some times not work, ended up replacing the clock spring which fixed the prob. not saying this is your prob. but a lot of things are effected by a bad clock spring and most will most defiantly seem like something else.
 

hooligan24

Thread starter
Messages
903
Location
wa state
I think I may have found the problem. Like StevieC said, the Pos terminal. There is no build up on the terminals themselves, and they were tight enough, but the bottom half of the terminal is corroded on the inside and also has a crack on the lower half. When I am done putting the car back together, I will try and get a good picture of the terminals. I still plan to do some ohm meter testing
 
Messages
39,805
Location
Pottstown, PA
I had this on my jeep. I'm quite embarrassed about it. You would have 100% reliability and functionality until you has ZERO functionality. Then, like you were magically triggering some relay, everything would go back to 100% reliable and functional. No solenoid clicking. Do "THUNK" and everything going dead. Just get in and find your trip odo has been reset. It may or may not crank ..then, like if you opened the door, with the triggering of the dome light, everything came back. Now all the same suggestions were made ..grounds ....and this was over months. It (the condition)started in the coldest part of winter and I didn't figure it out until Spring. It never left me stranded. The condition could be called transient but always occurred at the initial starting event (if it in fact failed to crank - sometimes it was just a reset of the trip odo). It was the battery cable. I had my extreme veteran wrench install a new battery (it was time to feed the mechanic) ..and he did the full treatment. Cleaned the terminals ..the battery tray ..etc...etc. The negative cable was loose. It never occurred to me that this connection would be defective. At least not ONLY show those oddball symptoms. I've never had a bad connection react in this limited manner while providing otherwise reliable service. So, I tightened the thing. shrug Two months later I check it again ..and I can wiggle the thing shrug . So, this time I really tighten it. So far ..so good. Next step is to replace the terminal or the whole cable. Like I said, it was embarrassing. Battery 101 Didn't I feel like a shaved-tail Louie?
 
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19,685
Location
Sunny Florida
oh no, it can't be the ground cable! Only the positive one fails, per above post. But oh so true, about 90% of weird electrical probs are nothing more than a bad connection somewhere. One of my Neons would spike the temp gauge to super hot out of nowhere. After determining the engine was not overheating, I finally located a very small ground wire under the hood from the engine to the body. That's all it was.
 

hooligan24

Thread starter
Messages
903
Location
wa state
After doing some testing with the volt meter and my service manual by my side, everything checks out good. With the ASD relay removed to prevent the motor from starting, I connected the meter to a engine ground and the neg terminal on the battery. I cranked the engine and got a spike of .13 volts. The manual says anything higher than .20 volts needs to be repaired. I did the same test between the pos+ terminal and the B+ terminal on the starter....cranked the motor and got a spike of .17v and tapered down to .11v after about 2 seconds of cranking. I got no readings between the -post and the -terminal, and the same for the + side. I guess I will see if the gremlin comes back sometime. The one thing I am regretting now is, not testing the same way before installing the new terminals. I will try to get that picture of the terminal posted in a little bit.
 
Messages
25,053
Location
ON, Canada eh?
Originally Posted By: SteveSRT8
oh no, it can't be the ground cable! Only the positive one fails, per above post. But oh so true, about 90% of weird electrical probs are nothing more than a bad connection somewhere. One of my Neons would spike the temp gauge to super hot out of nowhere. After determining the engine was not overheating, I finally located a very small ground wire under the hood from the engine to the body. That's all it was.
I didn't say it couldn't be the ground cable, but that it's unlikely (by the way that I explained it) to be the ground cable. And that out of all the starter problems I have fixed on Chrysler products it's most likely the positive terminal that is the problem as it usually corrodes because Chrysler is moronic about the design and placement of the starter and because this isn't a GM and it doesn't leak a pile of oil it doesn't stay corrosion free. (If you were referring to my post as the "Post Above") tongue2
 
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hooligan24

Thread starter
Messages
903
Location
wa state
Top of terminal. Looks good, especially when mounted on the battery Side view, still looked good while installed Bottom, not good but couldnt be seen while installed. note the crack in it top and bottom. after looking closely at the terminals, the top half barely touches the battery post due to the taper of the post. with the crack and the little bit of corrosion, I am hoping that was the problem
 
Messages
25,053
Location
ON, Canada eh?
Not your problem... I thought it would be covered in "Green/White" with corrosion, that is nothing... Aside from the crack. Check the starter connections...
 
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