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help figure out this one guys

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Jun 16, 2016, 9:26 PM

Post #1 of 5 (1148 views)
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I have a 1980 mustang with a 302 car-berated engine added later in its life. i was out side my car while it was running and seen smoke coming from the center of my dash so i turned it off. now when i try to start my car it turns over and fires up. but when i left off the starter the car just dies. this car is very basic just a stereo and normal headlights etc. it seems like the power flow is lost when i let off the key and i was searching for melted wires anything and found nothing. what do you suggest i try replacing etc. thank you for your time

Hammer Time
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Jun 17, 2016, 2:21 AM

Post #2 of 5 (1134 views)
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what do you suggest i try replacing etc. thank you for your time

Your belief that you will resolve this by throwing parts at it.

You need an electrical tech to track down the short, the damaged wiring and the cause.


We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.

Tom Greenleaf
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Jun 17, 2016, 2:57 AM

Post #3 of 5 (1130 views)
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I'll try only because somehow and just chance ended up with a lot of Ford products from tech school practice vehicles and teachers who were former Ford oriented techs themselves.

This model year was among the worst for many vehicles, Ford no exception. Pitiful power and dependability rushing to engineer specs to meet requirements both emissions and fuel economy mandates seemed to fail at both in hindsight.

One thing with this problem stands out. It just a starter circuit that now caused smoke interior if I read that properly. Know that Ford - most models had altered the ignition switch and recalled almost all for many model years around this one and even many models and years later. The plastic inside the switch didn't isolate power from nearby ground well and was recalled as it did cause dash board fires.

With that, that's where I'd be looking. Ignition switch itself should show melted burned plastic if the most common problem recalled by Ford for the vintage. Other wouldn't cause this problem - the key in column lock cylinders were famous for not staying in the correct position or could pull keys out with ACC. or RUN position of key just not well indexed mechanically. It could allow removal of key when just a hair of power was still ignition position yet engine would shut off as expected but not totally off electrically.
So even if not a defective switch it would take a hit from the set up and would be the place to check, diagnose and should be visible not guessing you should see the problem on this complaint,


Tom Greenleaf
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Jun 17, 2016, 6:31 AM

Post #4 of 5 (1120 views)
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Had to look harder into this and found same ignition switch style and part # is used in 100% known recalled vehicles.

Looks like this....

Note how close the spades to plug in to are. No problem 99.? % of the time. I've never seen one that did fail - by chance or that only a small number were proven to fail at all and cause an issue.

This would be the likely weak link if aggravated by anything to include plain age, use, weather extremes plus toss in just unplugging the thing to access some other part or for other work at all as plastics go brittle as hard candy, the holding "bail" or a clip of plastic almost never works twice when lots younger than this car on assorted models of anything.

This is the place for the source of trouble not the end of the fix but highly suggested to toss this item for new with the problem at hand and history of it on these vehicles.

At a minimum, look at this item as it smoke so evidence is for sure somewhere.

Hope this pic shows of just any plastic plug item (not yours) that was overheated and burned.......
(edit) can't make it show. It's white plastic clearly burned brown to black at connection,

If that doesn't show Google out "images" of burned automotive wiring connectors for the zillion pics on file,


(This post was edited by Tom Greenleaf on Jun 17, 2016, 6:32 AM)

kev2 profile image

Jun 17, 2016, 6:31 AM

Post #5 of 5 (1119 views)
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are you comfortable with automotive wiring?
If yes - start with a wiring diagram and a test light. let us know if you need a diagram
EDIT: You said center of dash smoking? and mentioned "just a stereo" if that was added -not OEM- that is first suspect.

(This post was edited by kev2 on Jun 17, 2016, 7:54 AM)

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