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Random No Start

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About a week ago I went to drive the truck and upon turning the key had what appeared to be a dead battery. Enough juice to turn on the interior lights and gauges initially, but then when I actually tried to start it, it suddenly was completely dead as in no lights, no gauges, nothing coming on at all. 30-40 minutes of being hooked up to jumper cables and she started. Drove it several times over the next 5 days with many start and stops, always turning over strongly. 


Yesterday while out doing stuff and probably 3-4 starts I pull in to a store to grab something to drink and something to eat. Come out 10 mins later, dead as can be. Turn the switch, nothing. No lights, gauges, nothing. Call my son to bring the car and cables. After @20mins of charging it's reading about 10 volts and I give it a try. A couple of clicks and it's dead again, as in nothing coming on at all. Thinking maybe the NSS switch may bad/dirty, I jiggle the shifter with no luck, put it in neutral with no luck. Pull the battery go to Advance Auto, battery tests good with 12.3V. Put the battery back in, hook up cables, let it charge for @40mins. She fires. Go straight to Advance Auto to get the alternator tested. Alternator checks out as good and as a side note had to turn truck off twice during testing and she fires right back up no problem. Get home, start and stop a couple of times to see if it happens again, no problems. Go out this morning, starts no problem.  


Side notes:


Battery is less than 1yr old

Starter is less than 1yr old

Volt gauge has been reading right in middle of 9 to 14 for a little while, but many times it IS down near the first "mark" on the volt gauge and NEVER gets very close to the 14. 

HVAC speed control resistor is bad as is blower motor, i.e. only runs on high and then blower motor often locks up. Rarely used of course, but don't know if that is drawing it down. 

Backup lights don't always come on unless I jiggle in reverse a little, supporting theory of bad/dirty NSS

PO had a wiring mess with lots of splices, external stereo amp, fog lights and have not purged excess wiring since none of those items are being used anymore. 


Did a fair amount of searching on here last night and best guess would be NSS, but seems like it could also be ignition switch or starter relay. But my final question is this: would a bad/dirty NSS cause a complete "disconnect" of power or would I still be getting lights and voltage showing but just no ignition? As I stated above, on both occasions of no-start it had no lights, gauges or voltage showing...nothing.  


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Can't hurt to clean up the NSS. But I'll point out that when mine went, everything was normal in terms of lights and gauges, until I turned the key from run to start, which is when everything seemed to go dead. I could always start it by turning the key to run and shorting the starter solenoid.

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Drove the truck today and it happened again, couldn't have been turned off for 10-15mins. Got the buzzer and gauges when I first turned the key but when I turned all the way to start, went straight dead. Jiggled the shifter while in park and then neutral and got gauges and buzzer again, turned to start and went dead again. Jiggle the shifter more in neutral and after getting gauges etc it seemed like it was still drawing down as the volt gauge dropped back even further. Let it just sit for about 15 mins and maybe let the batter recover and..........bingo, started. So I am 90% sure it's the NSS. I'll report back when I get the time to remove, clean and reinstall. 

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59 minutes ago, ParadiseMJ said:

If the NSS is bad it generally won't even click.  It'll just be turn the key and nothing at all happens.

That's what's been happening during the "no starts", then today after raking the shifter from park through neutral and back I guess I got enough contact to bring it back to life. 

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I'm about 1% sure it's an NSS problem based on your description. 

During normal, proper operation, when you turn the key to start, everything that isn't critical to engine operation powers down to allow maximum current to the starter. The starter cranks over, and when you let go of the key, whether the engine started or not, all the accessories power back up.


With a failed NSS, everything still powers down the same way when you turn the key to start, the difference is the starter doesn't even attempt to turn. Then you let go of the key, it turns back to run, and all the accessories power back on. 


The nss is between the ignition switch and the starter. It only has an effect on the starter. It won't kill power to accessories when the key is turned to run because it can't.


For sure, go ahead and clean up the NSS if you want to. It likely needs it if your reverse lights don't work, but it's not going to be your everything dying problem. 

I'm with Dirty on this. You've got a bad connection somewhere upstream of the ignition switch. 


There's wiring diagrams buried in the zip in this thread:

I'd start by checking battery cables for tightness and corrosion (both ends!) then try to figure out what all is in the rat's nest to find out if it's part of your issue. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Problem solved! Starter relay.........


My random no-start turned in to not random and for the past week the truck would just go dead when the key was turned to start. So over the weekend I checked the grounds and all were tight. Some were dirty with grease etc but there was no play in the wires at all. Pulled the coil and cleaned the contacts on the coil and the clips on the ICM. Checked the connections on the starter since it was just replaced a few months ago, all good. Did some more research of posts on here and while there are a lot of no-start threads with similar symptoms, one in particular read identical to mine and it was his starter relay. Decided I was willing to try this for $35 bucks and sure enough........BAM, started right up! Incredibly relieved to have that search mission behind me. 

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