sometimes it's good to have a ground ...

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Jul 4, 2014
Great weather over the weekend, time to take the Mustang out of hibernation. Charged the battery when I got home on Friday with plans to start-up on Saturday, adjust the timing (installed electronic ignition over the winter), and maybe wash the car.

On Saturday, got the engine to crank but quite not enough gas to start so stop cranking, pump the accelerator a few more times, and ... nothing. No crank, no clicks, NOTHING. Scratch my head a bit and figure that as "nothing" was occurring and I had just charged the battery, maybe there's a problem the battery didn't hold the charge. Pull the battery & head to Advance to get the battery tested.

Battery checks-out fine so I buy a replacement starter relay as that is the next component in-line. Get the new starter relay hooked-up and still nothing. Hmmm ... turn-on the headlights and they don't illuminate. My battery charger has a jump-start feature so hook that up (headlights are ON!) but when I attempt to start all I hear is clicking from the relay. What is going-on? Read through the troubleshooting portion of the shop manual and it is talking about jumper wires to determine "the bad component" but something doesn't seem right as the car ran after I installed the electronic ignition, only change since then is the new starter relay & I have triple-checked the connections ... I need to think about this for a bit.

On Sunday I got an idea the headlights came on when the charger was hooked-up for the (attempted) jump-start not because of charger power but because of the connections made for the charger: charger-positive to battery-positive & charger-negative to an engine crossmember for a ground. Took some jumper cables and connected battery-negative to the crossmember ... car starts right up! Undo the jumper cable connection & same problem occurs so there's something on the "ground" side.

Tracked the negative battery cable to the block and the connection to the block is kinda loose -- I even heard a small "zap!" when I moved the cable a bit. Tightened-down that bolt and voila! Problem solved. It looks like that one bolt was loose enough that the vibration of the starter jarred the connector away from the block so when I attempted to start the car, there still was no circuit being made through the starter.


Royal Smart Person
May 21, 2011
Kentville,Nova Scotia,Canada
Good catch !!
Just goes to show that good grounds are a necessary for a good working car.
More than one is a good idea too.Mine has two extra ones from each side of the block to the frame as well as the one from the negative post on the battery to the frame.
Every once in a while I will take them off,clean the terminals and contact points with some emery paper and smear a drop of electrical contact grease on them.


Canadian Prime Minister
Mar 31, 2006
Kitchener, Ontario
That's almost exactly the problem I had last year near the end of summer but I went a bit further than changing the ford style solenoid. I run the E curve MSD distributor and I changed that out thinking it had a problem. I posted about it but your thread is a great reminder.


Master Mechanic
Jan 18, 2018
I think we've all been there and its the only way to learn. I went through the same thing on my chevelle. I was bumping the motor over with the firewall mounted starter button to adjust the valves, and then NOTHING. It was dead. I think the fuel pump worked but not the starter. First I changed the button on the firewall, then I pulled the starter out, which required removing the 2 1/8" header and no change. Cleaned the battery terminals and couldn't find anything. Finally I cleaned the battery cable to frame and BOOM it cranked right over.
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