Short to ground in dash

WesFischer05

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2023
19
16
3
Phoenix, Arizona
I can not get anything in my dash to to work. I have voltage at my power wires and all the constants power orange wires BUT I also have voltage at my ground wires… Every ground I test has voltage so I know there is a short somewhere.

What I’m asking is has anyone else had something like this happen and any help on where some grounds are or could be pulling voltage? In a picture down below I have circled a body ground. Is this the main ground? It does have voltage so I believe somewhere upstream of this wire is the short, does anyone know the path this wire takes? Or any ground wires and where they might be shorting

The second picture is a connector I can see ground possibly goes into. Is that true? And what even is the connector, I could not find info on it.

I’m kind of just stuck and maybe a second voice could help me figure out where this ground is getting voltage, thank you!
 

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pagrunt

Geezer
Sep 14, 2014
9,067
15,114
113
Elderton, Pa
Did you check your gauge fuse? The wire that powers the dash cluster is pink/black stripe (circuit #39) which is key hot. Full details like if it's just the gauges/warning lights, just the back lighting or everything which would help guide in which direction to trouble shoot.
 
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WesFischer05

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2023
19
16
3
Phoenix, Arizona
Did you check your gauge fuse? The wire that powers the dash cluster is pink/black stripe (circuit #39) which is key hot. Full details like if it's just the gauges/warning lights, just the back lighting or everything which would help guide in which direction to trouble shoot.
I checked it and it’s ok. It’s everything in the dash. Lights, radio gauges and anything in the dash. That is what leads me to believe it is shorted at the body ground cable in my picture since to my understanding that ground connects to all other grounds in the dash.
 

pagrunt

Geezer
Sep 14, 2014
9,067
15,114
113
Elderton, Pa
Now this could be tricky. I've looked over the diagrams in my '81 Chevy CSM & it shows just the on 12 ga wire to ground the dash harness to the body (driver side dash) with a main splice of 11 to 13 ground wires tied in (does vary based on year & division). This will be buried in the harness itself. With this guess you shouldn't even have exterior lights working either since the light switch won't be grounded. There could be a break in the 12 ga ground which would screw up everything but tracking it could most likely need to have the dash pulled for better access. I looked over power feed but from what I've traced you wouldn't be able to start the car along with the power loss to the whole dash. This is about as far as I can go to help. But you do at least have an idea of a possible cause with power in the gound. But I'd suggest trying to cut power to fused circuits to see which one that could be feeding power to the ground.
 
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WesFischer05

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2023
19
16
3
Phoenix, Arizona
Now this could be tricky. I've looked over the diagrams in my '81 Chevy CSM & it shows just the on 12 ga wire to ground the dash harness to the body (driver side dash) with a main splice of 11 to 13 ground wires tied in (does vary based on year & division). This will be buried in the harness itself. With this guess you shouldn't even have exterior lights working either since the light switch won't be grounded. There could be a break in the 12 ga ground which would screw up everything but tracking it could most likely need to have the dash pulled for better access. I looked over power feed but from what I've traced you wouldn't be able to start the car along with the power loss to the whole dash. This is about as far as I can go to help. But you do at least have an idea of a possible cause with power in the gound. But I'd suggest trying to cut power to fused circuits to see which one that could be feeding power to the ground.
Yeah sorry forgot to mention the exterior lights also not working. I am engine swapping it right now so I can’t test if the engine will start or not but thank you for the info on the grounds! I know it has to be getting power before they all connect because everything is not working.

Quick question if you know but it looks like there is a ground wire going into a connector on the fuse block. Could this be the wire it’s taking power from? It is the black wire at the top of the connector going into the fuse box on the left.
 

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pagrunt

Geezer
Sep 14, 2014
9,067
15,114
113
Elderton, Pa
Yeah sorry forgot to mention the exterior lights also not working. I am engine swapping it right now so I can’t test if the engine will start or not but thank you for the info on the grounds! I know it has to be getting power before they all connect because everything is not working.

Quick question if you know but it looks like there is a ground wire going into a connector on the fuse block. Could this be the wire it’s taking power from? It is the black wire at the top of the connector going into the fuse box on the left.
Didn't know you were in swap mode so that adds other causes. Now that might just be a power feed & would change direction.

That black wire in the top cavity is the seat belt buzzer power feed. That will trace back to the buzzer itself.
 
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WesFischer05

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2023
19
16
3
Phoenix, Arizona
Didn't know you were in swap mode so that adds other causes. Now that might just be a power feed & would change direction.

That black wire in the top cavity is the seat belt buzzer power feed. That will trace back to the buzzer
I’m gonna start taking fuses out one by one and seeing if my voltage drops at the ground. If I do find the fuse that’s supplying it with power do I just trace up the wire and hope to find where it and the ground are connecting?
 
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pagrunt

Geezer
Sep 14, 2014
9,067
15,114
113
Elderton, Pa
I’m gonna start taking fuses out one by one and seeing if my voltage drops at the ground. If I do find the fuse that’s supplying it with power do I just trace up the wire and hope to find where it and the ground are connecting?
That'll be what you'll need to do but if everything is still wrapped the harness will need to be opened up unless you can find the damaged spot by luck.
 
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ELCAM

Royal Smart Person
Jun 19, 2021
1,082
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Without the engine and starter in the car how are you getting power to the fuseable links?

How are you measuring the power at the grounds? Testlight /meter connected to ground and where else?
 
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