1996 Ford Contour Possible Short?

Tiny
RAINMAN01
  • MEMBER
  • 1996 FORD CONTOUR
  • 6 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 14,300 MILES
My 17 yr old daughters 96 contour has a varity of odd problems that appear to be interconnected. If you try to start it, often times it wont until you use the power window switch. This causes the wipers to come on & cycle twice and the car will start. The wipers will also come on while driving from time to time, and when using the turn signals, always cycleing only twice. When you step on the brake the stereo will cut out and the dash gauges will momentarily jump. The stereo will also cut out if you turn on the signal lights, (but not the flashers), or the rear window defrost or the power windows. On two occassions now in the last 3 days, it simply would not start for a long period of time. Both times it did this it had shut off on its own while being driven. I have checked & cleaned the 5 engine compartment grounds that I can find and have replaced &/or cleaned the postive wires from the battery poet to the auxillary fuse box in the engine compartment. Any ideas?
Dennis.
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Thursday, August 20th, 2009 AT 2:29 PM

3 Replies

Tiny
MJR346
  • MEMBER
Check the wire insulation for coming apart going to the fuse box underhood The symptoms you are describing are classic symptoms that these cars had when it would start with the wires flaking like this.
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Monday, August 24th, 2009 AT 3:01 PM
Tiny
RAINMAN01
  • MEMBER
Hello,

That was actually the first thing I did. The 4 wires from battery post to fuse box were shedding insulation. I removed and replaced with 10 GA multi-strand automotive wire. Did not help. Next I went for the grounds and traced, cleaned / replaced as needed. Pulled dash panels, opened under-hood harness' etc. Etc. Looking for a bad ground or short in a hot circut.
This morning I was taking it to the shop to let them have at it and it shut down again & would not re-start. I became annoyed and started pulling on the main battery cables. The darn wipers cycled twice and went off. (They were not turned on). My daughter got in and as long as I held tension on the leads to the auxillary fuse box the car would start & run. When I released tension it would shut off & not re-start. We gat it home where I pulled the auxillary (under hood) fuse box and took it apart. There I found that the 2 leads going to the black 80 amp fuse, which supplys power to the under-dash box were not bolted down & were arcing. The insulation at the connectors for these leads was melted & the was much corrosion on the contacts. I replaced the connectors, cleaned the contacts & bolted the leads down tight. PROBLEM SOLVED!
I build Cabin Crusiers for a living & am very knowledgeable when it comes to 12 volt wiring. I have never seen a set up like this either in a boat or a car. The use of the power window switch apparently created a connection and allowed the car to start until the next time the wires shifted. Also, apparently, re-engerizing the circut would cause the wipers to cycle.
I appreciate your help and would like to point out that you were correct in your assesment of the problem. If I had taken the time to follow the leads I replaced that were shedding insulation to thier terminus, I would have discovered the problem a week ago.
This is one wacky car but my daughter loves it. The look on her face when it started & actually kept running was worth the weel of irritation I put up with.
Again, Thank you for the in-put & I hope this helps some other poor schmoo figure out his phantom problem.
Dennis.
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Monday, August 24th, 2009 AT 6:25 PM
Tiny
MJR346
  • MEMBER
Glad that is all what it is. These vehicles are known for the flaking issue actually condemning a lot of these cars to the scrap heap because of it. From what I can figure, the car was designed by European engineers who underestimated the thickness in gauge of wire and the insulations properties.

Usually I see engine performance issues due to the flaking to the point the car will not run because of it
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Monday, August 24th, 2009 AT 8:42 PM

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