328 total electrical failure.

Discussion in 'Technical Q&A' started by Skindiver, Aug 16, 2005.

  1. Skindiver

    Skindiver Karting

    Apr 22, 2004
    JHB SA.
    Full Name:
    Drove to work.
    Started it up to drive home. It took, and cut out dead after two seconds.
    Total electrical failure. Not a spot of power anywhere. No lights, dash lights, hooter, ignition, radio, fans.. nothing.
    Stranded for 15 minutes at the office fiddling with battery connections and pushing on fuses and relays etc... nothing.

    Pushed the car forward about a half a wheel rotation ( not trying to push start it, just to move it ) and suddenly full electrical power was restored. No further problems since.
    One other strange thing seemingly associated with the "wheels rotating" (or some pickup or the other) is that there is a clicking over the radio when rolling, engine on or off but with the ignition on, that blurs into a whine at speed, the frequency of which seems to be directly associated with rotation of the wheels.
    When rolling slowly,i can actually stop the car carefully in the "middle of a click" which has the effect of blanking the radio out completely until i roll forward a smidge again.

    any clues ?

    regards Skin.
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  3. DGS

    DGS Four Time F1 World Champ

    May 27, 2003
    Full Name:
    Have you checked that the battery disconnect (in the front corner) is connected tightly, with no cables trailing?
    (I gather this isn't a US model -- so the wiring digram I have may not be a lot of help.)

    Does your model have ABS? I wonder if a short in the ABS system might cause issues from the abs sensors in one of the wheels. If you have a lift, you might try lifting the car and turning one wheel at a time.
  4. flyingboa

    flyingboa Formula 3

    Nov 27, 2003
    Full Name:
    Same happened to me. Battery disconnect was the problem. I cleaned it properly and I had no more problems.
  5. Skindiver

    Skindiver Karting

    Apr 22, 2004
    JHB SA.
    Full Name:
    It is an Euro ABS 89 model.

    When i was having a mission with my tacho a six months back, i cleaned all terminals in sight as well as the earth disconnect. This was the first thing i twiddled when the power went out too. No direct luck. The battery is fully charged.

    The clicking over the radio also starts during a journey, usually after a hard corner to one or the other side. Pressing in the clutch and revving the engine makes no difference. Ie the noise does not rev up with the engine.
    I have to switch to listening to a CD after this starts. It will continue until i stop completely and restart after a while.

    I might be imagining things, but at the moment that the car lost electrical power, i might have heard one "circuit- breaker" like "click" sound as it died, but this from the cabin , not the battery area.

    It all sounds like a loose earth.. but ?

  6. Birdman

    Birdman F1 Veteran

    Jun 20, 2003
    North shore, MA
    Full Name:
    THE Birdman
    I would try jumpering over the master shut off switch and see if anything changes. Can't hurt to try.

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  8. gatsby

    gatsby Karting

    Apr 26, 2005
    half moon bay, CA
    Full Name:
    My guess would be loose earth.
  9. DGS

    DGS Four Time F1 World Champ

    May 27, 2003
    Full Name:
    The relay panel is inside the cabin. When power when off, the fuel pump relay would have clicked off.

    You might check the relay/fuse board for burned connectors -- the pins on that board are a smidge light for the current some of them run ... especially if they get a bit loose.
  10. tbakowsky

    tbakowsky F1 World Champ
    Professional Ferrari Technician Consultant

    Sep 18, 2002
    The Cold North
    Full Name:
    Check your starter connections
  11. Skindiver

    Skindiver Karting

    Apr 22, 2004
    JHB SA.
    Full Name:
    The total failure happened again on Saturday morning. I started up and drove down to the garage. switched off and filled up. It would not start up again.
    Nothing. No hooter, no indicators, no radio, no lights, nothing.
    Only this time, the anti skid light blinked and audibly clicked rapidly on and off with the key in the first position. While it was doing this clicking and blinking i pushed the cigarette lighter in which caused the blinking to cease immediately but the cigarette lighter never warmed and ejected.

    I had to tow it home this time. No amount of towing or rolling it around got it to reset like last time. That must have been an unrelated fluke.

    At home i first put a battery tender on the battery without disconecting the terminals to see what it would do after a few hours of charging.
    However the tender immediately showed a green light meaning fully charged. This was a bit puzzling as i had not driven the car in a month and while the battery is new, it would have needed a bit of a charge to top it up completely as usual.

    I pulled the earth connector plug and it stayed green.
    I disconnected the earth cable ( same thing i know ) and it stayed green.
    I then disconnected the live terminal as well and then the tender flipped over to red ( charging ). ie, It started charging only once i completely isolated the battery. This is not usually the case.

    Immediately i removed the tender, replaced the earth and live terminals and presto! full power back on the car.

    I suspect that some relay or electrical goodie only half cycled, thereby sucking, blocking, interrupting? the power. Disconnecting the battery must have reset the same relay or goodie that allowed power to flow again. My terminals were tight and clean so i dont think that they were the problem.

    Any more clues ? Its becoming dicey now.

    Thanks Skin.
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  13. peajay

    peajay Formula Junior

    Apr 17, 2002
    near Paris, France
    Full Name:
    Could it be your main steering column switch assembly ?
  14. Ken

    Ken F1 World Champ

    Oct 19, 2001
    Arlington Heights IL
    Full Name:
    I don't understand with no ground on the battery how disconnecting the hot lead would start the tender charging unless your battery is grounding through the case. This CAN happen; try to see if this is the case. I don't know if this is the cause of your problem but if you have any electronic cut outs in the car, I suppose it could.

  15. Skindiver

    Skindiver Karting

    Apr 22, 2004
    JHB SA.
    Full Name:
    Once i had reconnected the terminals and the power was restored as per my post above, i once again applied the battery tender and it indicated 'red' or normal charging. I did not lift or move or insulate the battery from the frame at all.
    Its a three month old sealed maintenance free unit.

    Thanks for wracking your brains for me

  16. loki

    loki Guest

    Jul 25, 2005

    This was my thought as well but I would also consider replacing some of the main cables from the battery and tender. If there is corrosion or a break in the wire, you may experience the same problem
  17. gdbsti

    gdbsti Formula Junior

    Oct 10, 2004
    Nor Cal
    Full Name:
    Don't confuse yourself with the battery tender on/off testing. Get a real voltmeter/multimeter and start some systematic fault finding.
    Electricity is just like plumbing. Think of the wires as pipes of different sizes and water as electricity. Trace it until you find where it stops.
  18. Chiaroman

    Chiaroman Formula 3
    Rossa Subscribed

    Apr 21, 2004
    New Jersey
    Dear "Skin"

    Please keep us posted on your detective work.

    I am sure there are people here who print this stuff out and put it in a folder for future reference.

    I know I do!!

    Thank you.

  19. Dr_ferrari

    Dr_ferrari Formula 3
    Professional Ferrari Technician Consultant

    Nov 2, 2003
    Pocono Sportscar
    Full Name:
    Jim McGee
    If you are completly losing power, It must be either power/ground connection.

    power connections: At the battery and the feed to the fuse box. could even be the fuse box itself but if you lose all power, the problem must be between the fuse box and the battery. move the wiring around the fusebox, tug on the harness, see if the problem shows itself.

    the ground side: can only be the main grounding leg at the battery to the frame, any other poor ground would not cause a total failure of all systems.

    Do not discount the battery itself. I have seen some batterys develop internal open circuits causing the problem you describe (even 3 month old ones).

    good hunting, regards, Jim
  20. Bandit

    Bandit Formula Junior

    Dec 21, 2003
    Central MS
    Full Name:
    Mike B.
    Sounds odd, but I think you may have a bad connection within the battery. My battery tender stays green unless the battery is actively taking a charge. If the internal connection is broken, the battery would not take a charge.

    Jiggling the battery around while disconnecting the leads might have given it enough contact to allow the battery to take a charge and give you power back.

    I would hook a load-type battery tester up, tap on the battery housing, and see if the voltage stays within specs.
  21. Miltonian

    Miltonian F1 Veteran

    Dec 11, 2002
    Milton, Wash.
    Full Name:
    Jeff B.
    #18 Miltonian, Oct 11, 2005
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    I don't claim to know my way around a 328 very well, but I have an idea. If you look at the attached picture, you can see the main positive electrical cable connector on my 348, which is located behind the fuse panel in the right front footwell. If this connection is not clean and tight, you could suffer an intermittant total loss of electrical function.

    Many years ago, when I was working at a Fiat dealership, we used to see the same problem on a regular basis on X1/9's. In most cases, it could be cured by simply tightening the nuts on the cable ends.

    One of the 328 experts on FChat should be able to tell you where to look for this component on your car, if it has such a thing. I'm betting that it does!
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  22. Mike328

    Mike328 F1 Rookie
    Rossa Subscribed

    Oct 19, 2002
    Boulder, CO
    Full Name:
    The 328 has a number of very thick gauge, red wires leading into the fusebox, which I believe come from the battery.
  23. f355spider

    f355spider F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    May 29, 2001
    Full Name:
    Hugh G. Rection
    There is also a "disconnect" battery connection in the trunk....make sure it is clean and tightly fitted together.
  24. jonathannealeuk

    May 6, 2005
    Falkirk, Scotland
    Full Name:
    Jonathan Neale
    My 348 ground to a halt, mid-journey recently in a similar fashion. That was traced to the multiplug behind the steering wheel. Just one bad earth connection!


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