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Previous Next Up Topic Public / General Discussion / Intermittent Electrical short (19396 hits)
By Rick M 3613 Date 2013-07-15 00:15
Ok this forum has helped me out building my vw bug and I need help again. I have a 1972 vw with a 1600 engine (stock).  I have an intermittent starting problem. sometimes 98% of time when going to start car it is totally dead, nothing.  I turn on lights and they dim down (big time).  I have installed a new starter and problem still exists.  Any ideas?  I am sure this site can help as you all have in the past.  I am very frustrated with this issue as I am afraid to go anywhere when I get it going.
By Jeffrey P 655 Date 2013-07-15 00:43
All your battery connections clean?

Is the battery dead? If you charge the battery does it start?
By Lloyd B 2301 Date 2013-07-15 02:32
Is it charging up? Good connections all around?   Look for even one little tiny light that is lit, how about the radio(power draw?)  Along with the charging system check up, make sure all your cells in the battery are good, one dead/shorted cell will cause other problems. 
These are all things to check on any vehicle, not just buggies.
By Brad H 1498 Date 2013-07-15 14:01
Make sure your ground strap at the front of the tranny is good and that is clean metal underneath the strap on the tranny and body. Also check under the ground strap on the battery for a clean connection to the body. All surfaces should be SHINEY. When it won't start use a test light and probe the wire going to the starter to make sure that you have power coming out of the ignition switch. Clean ALL the contacts in your fuse box. Make sure the main power wire from the battery to the headlight switch has a very good tight connection. All power goes through the H/L switch first and then to the fuse box.

By Rick M 3613 Date 2013-07-15 22:35
Thanks for the help topics!  I will check them all throughly and see if any of this works.  I have head lights and radio.  Once in awhile if I keep turning the key off and on trying to start it it will catch and start.  I just wish I could get in it and start it and drive away!!  I'm afraid to go anywhere with it in this stage, so I need to fix it right.  If anybody still has some ideas please reply to this and I will try them all.
By Lloyd B 2301 Date 2013-07-16 21:49
might the contacts in your key switch be worn out?  Check all grounds anyway, always a good idea on any vehicle, but pull your key switch and see if you can start (like you stole it) hot wire.  If you can, then you have a key switch problem.  That could be replaced, or perhaps(if your cheap like me and have lots of time) you can "fix" it.
Just my 1/5 of a dime

By Rick M 3613 Date 2013-07-17 01:28
Thanks for the reply about the key switch!  I was wondering if the switch could be worn out.  Can the switch make it short out like that?  The switch is original and has been in the car since 1972 (41 years)!!! I guess I will check the grounds and put a new switch in the car and see where it takes me

By Brad H 1498 Date 2013-07-17 02:28
If it is the switch do everything you can to find an original switch. The new aftermarket ones are not that great.

By Lloyd B 2301 Date 2013-07-17 15:26
I agree with Brad on that.  
It has been many years since I "tore" into an ignition switch, however, to the best of my memory they are not that complicated inside(old ones anyway) basically a three or four position switch. Sometimes I was able to recondition the switch to useable condition, till I could get another one.  I am thrifty(read cheap) that way, plus I like to take things apart to see how the mechanical part of it works.
By Rick M 3613 Date 2013-08-05 01:01
How do you get the ignition switch out?
By j b 1091 Date 2013-08-05 22:08
My issue, one of a long list that continues to breed all by itself, was the clock in the alpine stereo I pulled out of a junkyard Porsche. The low amp draw would slowly drain the battery, and ultimately destroyed 2 new batteries until I found it. Put all the accessories on a switch to disconnect them from the 12v +. A meter that measures amp draw was helpful as it had a lower threshold than what showed on the gage in the dash. 
By Brad H 1498 Date 2013-08-06 13:30
How do you get the ignition switch out?

You have to pull the steering wheel and signal switch and then you can remove the screw that holds the cover over the switch.

By Rick M 3613 Date 2013-12-22 16:01
No it doesn't but it seems to take a charge!  I am planning on getting a new battery for it to see if this helps.  Battery is old too.
By Rick M 3613 Date 2013-12-22 16:06
Never hot wired a vehicle before (let alone steel a car!! LOL)  How do you hot wire it?
By Jeffrey P 655 Date 2013-12-22 17:35
Run a jumper wire from the + side of the battery to the + side of the coil (I like to put a toggle switch in line with the wire to have a way to shut it off). Flip the toggle on to send + to the coil. Flip it off to shut the car off.


Take a screw driver and connect the two posts on the starter to engage it. Be will make sparks.

Thats it.
By Ron S 3875 Date 2013-12-23 14:38
Batteries can show correct voltage and show full charge, but have in ability to put out high currents needed for starting.   In essence the cells become clogged still making the voltage pressure but not the current flow.

A multimeter will not properly check a battery.  You need a load meter the will put a heavy load on the battery for a designated period and show the voltage under load and after load.  Harbor Freight sells these on sale for about 19 dollars.  I own one of those and over years have picked up a automotive shop style which will also check the alternator for proper current. 

If you want to prove it is the battery with out buying the proper tester, then you alternate choice is have a another person with a running car and jumper cables jumper your car after removing one lead from your battery (so it is not a load).  Jumper to your cars battery cables from their battery and start your car.
This works for most cars (except for a dodge truck with a Cummings diesel).

Again if the battery is older then the warranty period it likely is needing replaced any way.
By Ron S 3875 Date 2013-12-23 14:43
I have a couple cars that also sit and get a drain from clock or radio, etc.  Those small solar panels with the cigarette plug on the end keep just enough trickle to keep battery peaked with out over charge.  I put it in the dash when parking for extended periods.  Beats having to reset clock and radio.
By Jeffrey P 655 Date 2013-12-23 14:44
Replacing battery = money
Cleaning connections first = free.

Choose wisely.

I am not saying its not the battery because it certainly could be. What I am saying is that it sounds like it could be a corroded connection (most likely at the ground strap).
By Brad H 1498 Date 2013-12-24 05:09
Jeffery is right make sure all the connections in your starting and charging circuits are good and clean and secure. I've fixed lots of towed in dead vehicles that were nothing more than badly corroded battery cable ends or poor connections at major power points.

If you have a carbon pile battery tester DO NOT test the battery with the vehicles cables connected on newer cars and trucks. They can send HUGE voltage spikes into the vehicles electrical system and any module that is on line when you do the test can be ruined. We've switched to inductive testing now which measures internal resistances of the battery cells. Much safer. Also, never boost with a modern vehicle withte engine running. Only use the battery to boost. Huge loads on the alternator and the voltage spikes that casues can take out PCMs AND alternators. Just did one for a nice guy that cost him $1100 to boost his neighbours truck.....


By Rick M 3613 Date 2013-12-28 02:32
Thanks for that info!  Makes sense to me.
By Ron S 3875 Date 2013-12-28 15:10
I would like to clarify for my mind, we are talking here in this discussion about a older VW.  In reading I read all sorts of discussion on computer circuits, so please clarify is your 72 an ECU  version (super beetle or squareback, etc) or not?
By Rick M 3613 Date 2014-01-11 22:40
I have a 72 bug 1600 with 009 dist. webber 2bbl carb
By Jamie Appling Date 2014-03-20 15:48
Is the engine turning over when you turn the key? If it is not I would put a relay inline with the solenoid search for Hot Start relay.
By Stevie C 4006 Date 2014-04-10 21:35
Turn the key off
Disconnect the negative cable from the battery
Put a volt meter between the negative cable and the negative terminal on the battery
If it's reading anything but 0 something is drawing power when the key is off

If it's 0, buy a battery and drive it
By Rick M 3613 Date 2014-06-22 01:23
Just spent my Fathers day working on my bugs electrical short.  I cleaned the ground cable jumped starter out and it worked.  Unplugged ignition and traced wires and removed all and cleaned, unhooked after market stereo and it was like magic!!  It works and been driving it with no issues.  I wish I knew exactly what caused it  (cause and effect)!!  But I guess it was the ignition connections?  Thanks for all your help on this topic and it was free!! ;-)
By Brad H 1498 Date 2014-06-22 06:12
Good to hear. This is one of the major problem with buggies. Everything is so open and exposed to the elements that corrosion can take place rather quickly.

Previous Next Up Topic Public / General Discussion / Intermittent Electrical short (19396 hits)

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