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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,
This weekend I ran into a problem with my starter battery that has me stumped, and I was wondering if anyone could offer a diagnosis.

I have a starter and a house bank on my sailboat with a 1-2-all battery selector switch. I put the switch on the starter battery (2) and got juice to my instrument panel, but when I hit the starter button the whole system lost power. My volt meter at the breaker box dropped to zero, but if I flipped the selector switch to 1 and then back to 2, power was restored but would die again when I attempted to start. I was able to get my engine to crank and run via my house bank, but this isn't a viable long-term solution.

I couldn't identify anything physically wrong with my connection, and the starter battery shows voltage in the 13+ range but just won't crank. This is the first time it's happened - any ideas?

Thanks,
Jeff
 

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Yep, yep, that is a sure sign of a bad connection.

Check at the battery first then at the starter.

Clean and tighten.

What is happening is that the conection is just enuff to power the gages and as soon as you ask for cranking power the small amount of contact is being melted away.
 

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Hi all,
This weekend I ran into a problem with my starter battery that has me stumped, and I was wondering if anyone could offer a diagnosis.

I have a starter and a house bank on my sailboat with a 1-2-all battery selector switch. I put the switch on the starter battery (2) and got juice to my instrument panel, but when I hit the starter button the whole system lost power. My volt meter at the breaker box dropped to zero, but if I flipped the selector switch to 1 and then back to 2, power was restored but would die again when I attempted to start. I was able to get my engine to crank and run via my house bank, but this isn't a viable long-term solution.

I couldn't identify anything physically wrong with my connection, and the starter battery shows voltage in the 13+ range but just won't crank. This is the first time it's happened - any ideas?

Thanks,
Jeff
This is the classic sign of a bad battery (assuming you have been keeping it fully charged and your connections are good). Take it to a battery shop and ask them to test it. The service is free. If you need a new one, you'll be in a position to buy it right there.
 

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wont crank

Starters require a lot of amps as batteries age they can still have 13 volts but no ability to deliver required amps. If battery is 2 or more years old it is suspect. Check all connections for corrosion. Also I had to take apart my battery switch to clean connections when a battery could not deliver.
 

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What I would do...

Go to the boat and pull the battery out of your car. Replace it momentarily with the starter battery. See if it cranks. If not, you know it is connections. If it does, you need a new battery. It could be either one (batt or connections).

Brian
 

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You have connection problem. Check all the cable connections from your starter battery to your selection switch. Dirty or loose connecytions are likely to cause this.
 

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A lot of people jump to the conclusion immediately that it is a bad battery, buy a new one and once installed and functioning, they think another job well done when, in fact, as a couple of others have suggested, it is a bad connection which fits your description perfectly and not the battery they just replaced for no valid reason. All these folks do is stimulate the economy (albeit a tiny fraction) and obtain a clean connection while in the process of switching out the batteries.

Always start with the easy stuff...
 

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The irony of this is that when the "dodgy" battery gets replaced, the engine cranks and you will say "Yep, they were right, the battery was knackered"

But in the process of replacing the battery, all the connections have been re-made properly and you will have thrown away a decent battery.

Re-make all the connections first, then go for for the battery.
 

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One other note--a bad battery conection will hamper the battery's ability to take a charge.
 

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Hello,

A real simple test for you is to swap the connections from battery 1 to battery 2 and vice versa. This will tell you a number of things:

1. If the problem stays with the battery (engine now starts with battery 2 selected, and does not start with battery 1) then the battery is bad.

2. If the problem stays the same (engine does not start with battery 2 and does start with battery 1) you have a wiring problem

3. If the problem goes away you had a connection problem.

Good luck,
Barry
 

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Lazy man's test---

Volt meter on battery POSTS (not the terminals that may be attached)

12+ volts

Turn starter

Batery goes to 0 volts---change out battery

True battery voltage stays at 12+ volts but instrament panel goes dead---

Clean posts and try again--

Still no power to the starter but battery voltage is still good---

Clean other end of both battery cables--

Still no power to starter---

Change out battery switch
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
You cracked the case!

Thanks everyone for the advice. It turns out the cable from the battery into the selector switch had shrugged its bolt and nearly shaken off its post. I tightened it back down and she started right up. Like most problems on this boat, I just had to pick a line (wire, hose, rope) and follow it far enough through the places boat builders usually try to keep hidden.
 
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