Don’t Overlook Those Grounds!

While working in the shop one day during my naval career, two junior mechanics came to me asking for assistance with a “No Start” issue they couldn’t solve on an old van. They had installed three new starters, batteries and alternators but the darn thing still would not start.

Ground Point Location We took a look at the van and within minutes I identified the issue. On a previous repair, someone had replaced the battery ground cable and grounded it to the carburetor mounting stud on the intake manifold. As this van was equipped with an aluminum carburetor the stud mounting was not providing sufficient ground. Once we replaced the ground cable and mounted it correctly, the problem was solved.

That lesson was very helpful to me when I retired from the Navy and went to work at a Ford dealership, as many electrical problems were directly related to ground issues.

Corrosion, rust, paint, undercoating, loose connections, torque and incorrect routing are just a few factors that could be preventing a good ground connection. Many articles in the TruckSeries truck repair software provide information relating to these issues  and more, and include wiring diagrams that indicate ground circuit numbers and connections. Many of the graphics available identify actual ground locations and positions. Torque specification tables may also include specific ground tightening specifications. Most OEMs now include torque specifications for battery cables.

Wiring DiagramUsing the commercial truck repair information provided in TruckSeries will help you quickly troubleshoot and repair an electrical system and/or ground related issue.

If you assume the ground connections are correct and in good condition, you may go down the same path as the  two junior mechanics. The end result could be unnecessary parts replacement and troubleshooting time, all because a simple ground cable was incorrectly routed and tightened. So don’t overlook those grounds!

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About the Author

Bruce Cansler

Bruce Cansler started his automotive career in 1973 as a technician for Datsun. He retired from the U.S. Navy as a Seabee Construction Mechanic with 20 active years of service and 10 as a reservist, then spent time working in Ford, Lexus and Caterpillar dealerships. Bruce has obtained ASE certifications in both cars and medium/heavy trucks and has worked with the Commercial Vehicle Group at Mitchell 1 since 2009.