Non-starting '89 Spider - ignition switch? - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-23-2017, 04:50 PM Thread Starter
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Non-starting '89 Spider - ignition switch?

Hi AlfaFriends,

I'm trying to troubleshoot my friend's 89 Spider not starting. He drove it for an hour yesterday, parked it and then it wouldn't start.

It appears that everything that doesn't need the ignition switch is working fine - headlights, horn, electric side mirrors, hazard lights. However, anything requiring the switch doesn't work (e.g. radio in the accessory position) and the fuel pump doesn't show signs of life in the first position and the car won't even try to turn over. Headlights don't dim when the key is turned.

To address the problem, I checked all the fuses - they are all good (with one exception, see below). I cleaned off all of the typically corroded contact sites, including on the left fender. PO put a fuse there and that is in tact.

So everything is pointing to the ignition switch, but two things don't make sense. The first is that the 8A fuse by the CPU was burnt out. Replacing it didn't fix the problem. The second is that the PO had installed a starter relay already, so the switch should have been protected.

Any hints tying in the burnt fuel pump fuse and the ignition switch going bad? Our next step is to start tearing apart the dash but I really don't want to go down the ignition switch replacement pathway if there are any other ideas.

All suggestions welcome.

Thank you!
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-23-2017, 05:05 PM
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Turn key to first position (on not start). Check for 12 volts at hot side of fuse 6 (or simply check both sides). If you are not getting power there you likely have a bad ignition switch. Wires from switch to fuse could also be bad but less likely.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-23-2017, 05:24 PM
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The relay for the starter only protects the contacts for the the 'start' position. The 'ignition' contacts could still be a problem. Check the switched side of the fuse box as suggested above.

Relays can go bad. If it is the standard 20-30 amp cube type relay try a new one.

It is fairly easy to bypass the ignition switch. Alongside/near the steering column are two black plastic connectors. One end goes to/from the switch, the other side goes from/to the fuse box and the starter. Red is 12V+, brown is switched 12V+ to the fuse box, black is for the starter. Jump red to brown and everything that should work with the key 'on' should be powered up. Add black to the connection to activate the starter.

- - Eric
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~ 1984 Spider Veloce ~
- -~ 1981 GTV-6 ~
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Last edited by ghnl; 07-23-2017 at 05:29 PM.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-23-2017, 05:39 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you!

I'll give these suggestions a try. I sure hope it's just the relay...

'82 Alfa Spider Veloce + '74 Fiat X1/9 + '10 Mazda RX-8 GT
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-27-2017, 09:41 AM Thread Starter
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Still stuck - any other ideas?

Following the instructions above, I changed the relays and that didn't fix the problem.

I then isolated the ignition switch wires. The switch seems to work (no continuity between red and yellow (it looks like a newer switch with yellow instead of brown) when the key is not turned, and continuity when it is.

Disconnected from the switch, I tried jumping red to brown. Red is live, gives 12+volts. When I connect to brown, it drops to 0. So there must be a short, correct? The other thing I noticed at the fuse box is that green/black and red/white were not connected. Green/black should just be to external lighting and I can't find red/white on the wiring diagram in the workshop manual.


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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-27-2017, 10:25 AM
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BB member PapaJam makes color coded wire diagrams that are superior to the cryptic factory versions. Send him a PM, ask for copies (include your email address) and he'll send you some .pdf files that will make chasing Alfa electrons much easier. I took my copies (on a USB stick) to an office supply store and had them print out color copies on 11"x17" paper then plastic laminate them - perfect for shop use.

- - Eric
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- -~ 1981 GTV-6 ~
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-27-2017, 10:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sgweiner View Post
The other thing I noticed at the fuse box is that green/black and red/white were not connected. Green/black should just be to external lighting and I can't find red/white on the wiring diagram in the workshop manual.
Are you sure about the green/black wire? At least on the diagram for an '86 Spider, there is a green/black wire that connects between Fuse No. 7 and the positive terminal of the ignition coil.

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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-27-2017, 10:56 AM Thread Starter
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No - I'm not sure - I was going off what I saw in the ridiculously complicated service manual. I saw another pic here that refers to the green/black you are talking about: http://www.alfabb.com/bb/forums/spid...placement.html

That is helpful, so maybe it's the green/black thing.

The whole thing still doesn't make any sense though. Why would green/back disconnected prohibit the radio/wipers, etc to work? Why would connecting red to brown (bypassing the ignition switch) drop voltage from 12-->0. I'm thoroughly confused.

As Eric suggested, I've contacted papajam for the wiring diagrams.

My friend's car is interesting - it's an '89 with only 33,000 miles and is in absolutely beautiful condition - not a speck of rust... but the wiring has definitely been an issue in the past based on all of the work that has been done previously behind the fuse box.

'82 Alfa Spider Veloce + '74 Fiat X1/9 + '10 Mazda RX-8 GT
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-27-2017, 11:24 AM
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The whole thing still doesn't make any sense though. Why would green/back disconnected prohibit the radio/wipers, etc to work? Why would connecting red to brown (bypassing the ignition switch) drop voltage from 12-->0. I'm thoroughly confused.
Where are you measuring the voltage to see 0v when you jump the red to brown? Can you post a photo of how you did the jumper?

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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-27-2017, 11:31 AM Thread Starter
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Sorry it's not the best picture - the car is at my friend's house and I'm already back home. The picture below shows the area.

So the wires to the right (with the x's) go to the ignition switch.

I stripped/cleaned up the circled red/brown wires. Voltmeter from red to ground shows 12+V. Voltmeter from brown to ground shows 0V. When I connect red to brown (which should essentially be what happens when the key is turned in the ignition switch under normal circumstances), nothing happens, and testing voltage from the combined red/brown and to ground shows 0V.

I hope that makes sense.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-27-2017, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by sgweiner View Post
Sorry it's not the best picture - the car is at my friend's house and I'm already back home. The picture below shows the area.

So the wires to the right (with the x's) go to the ignition switch.

I stripped/cleaned up the circled red/brown wires. Voltmeter from red to ground shows 12+V. Voltmeter from brown to ground shows 0V. When I connect red to brown (which should essentially be what happens when the key is turned in the ignition switch under normal circumstances), nothing happens, and testing voltage from the combined red/brown and to ground shows 0V.

I hope that makes sense.
Could it be that you've got the wrong set of wires up in the column? Again, I'm looking at a wiring diagram for an '86, but there is no yellow wire at the ignition switch -- just brown, red, violet (for inside light timer), and black (to starter). The headlight switch, however, does have a yellow and red. I'm not sure why that would give you zero volts on the brown wire, but maybe there's something missing if we're looking at the wrong connections in the column. See below.
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-27-2017, 12:11 PM Thread Starter
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Excellent thought! However, I'm certain the ignition switch had been changed at some point. There are red, yellow and black wires coming out of the main wiring bundle, and they were soldered to the red, brown and black wires near the fuse box. So I'm pretty sure yellow in the picture is what would have been brown in the original switch.

I might have to just go through and disconnect/clean everything. Some of the wires are in pretty shoddy condition. The disconnected green/black may be a hint, though.

'82 Alfa Spider Veloce + '74 Fiat X1/9 + '10 Mazda RX-8 GT
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-27-2017, 12:15 PM
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Good luck! I'm sure you will get there if you go through it wire by wire with Papajam's diagram.
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Rich

'85 Spider Veloce
'17 Giulia Ti Sport
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-27-2017, 08:06 PM
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Two places to investigate.

First, on the back side of the fuse pane, pull the brown connector block. It should have three wires in it; brown from the ignition switch and two black and green wires. Check for scorching at the brown leads shovel connector. If found, disassemble, tighten and reassemble. AMHIK

Second, the two back and green wires route to the ignition coil and the VVT on the RH front of the valve cover. Near the coolant expansion tank, you should find in in-line holder with an 8 amp bullet fuse. Check here for continuity also.
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-28-2017, 07:04 PM Thread Starter
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Graham,

Your thoughts were good ones. We found the in-line fuse by the coolant expansion tank and it was, indeed, both blown and also badly corroded. However, jumping that didn't fix the problem.

At the fuse box, there was no sign of any scorching near the brown/green-black wire plug, or elsewhere.

Quick question - using my multimeter, touching one end to brown wire and one end to a ground shows no resistance. Is that correct?

Unfortunately, we've pretty much given up - planning to tow it to the shop next week.

'82 Alfa Spider Veloce + '74 Fiat X1/9 + '10 Mazda RX-8 GT
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