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Power Steering Hose Grounding Out?

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Old 05-16-2011, 09:54 AM   #1
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Power Steering Hose Grounding Out?

Hey Guys,

I posted this in my thread on Yotatech but that's much less traffic over there and I need some input ASAP.

So I have my 87 4Runner project. Just installed a new engine, got everything set up and quadruple checked all connections, wires. It started fine and I drove it for about a week after without a single issue. Starts every time, no sign of a weak starter, battery is brand new.

Go to the gym on Friday night after driving for 5 minutes or so (starter showed no issue with weak contacts or low battery) leave it sitting for the hour I'm in the gym - come out and its drained. Lights work, starter has contact because it attempts to spin the engine but can't do it fast enough to start the engine.

I didn't have a chance to look at it in depth until yesterday. I took the starter out and replaced contacts, that didn't fix it. In fact, as soon as I reconnected the battery I got smoke from under the hood from the opposite side of the engine compartment from the starter

My power steering hose has worn through the foam insulator and through the rubber hose down to metal. That part was laying directly on a hard line for the PS reservoir and the line was getting EXTREMELY hot anytime the battery was connected. Heres a pic, I covered the affected areas with electrical tape but I think the damage has been done


So, my technical question is - does it make sense that since the engine is grounded through the main ground wire by the A/C compressor and one by the PS mount on the engine that a worn-through PS line would create a bridge that would draw off my battery and get it hot as hell? Do I need to replace the PS line and that should fix it? Or have I opened a can of worms?
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Old 05-16-2011, 10:42 AM   #2
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Now that I think further into it, I must have a short that is charging the body somehow. Then that power is coming back through via my worn down power steering hose. Does that seem logical? Time to search for shorts. Thank god this thing doesn't have as many wires as my FJ
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Old 05-16-2011, 12:43 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dhk View Post
The only thing I can imagine is that some part that the power steering line is laying across is somehow tied high.


First thing you need to do is get a volt meter and test the braided PS line and the thing its laying across to determine their charges. If either is NOT NEGATIVE (0 V wrt negative battery terminal), you need to trace it back to where it is being charged POSITIVE.
Yeah, I'm an automotive electrical noob for anything besides stereo equipment. It just completely puzzles me how a damn power steering hose could get smoking hot when all of it should be negatively charged and there are no wires nearby it that could possibly be shorting against it.

I will be taking my fine tooth comb to it tonight along with a volt meter. It doesn't make sense how it happened all of a sudden. I wasn't driving it hard, it wasn't overheating, the power steering system was working fine. And then bam it had a draw
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Old 05-16-2011, 03:28 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YFZ_TRD View Post
Now that I think further into it, I must have a short that is charging the body somehow. Then that power is coming back through via my worn down power steering hose. Does that seem logical? Time to search for shorts. Thank god this thing doesn't have as many wires as my FJ
Yes. There is a short from the +12 Volts to some part of the truck, but that part isn't connected to ground very well. When the hose and tube got together, that grounded the part and allowed current to flow, causing heating and smoke.

Connect the negative lead of the voltmeter to the battery negative. With them insulated from each other, check the voltage on the metal part of the hose and check the voltage on the tube. The one with a higher voltage is electrically connected to +12 Volts. Follow it around and see if you can find the short.

Good luck.
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Old 05-16-2011, 04:41 PM   #5
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^Thanks for the confirmation. I will be attacking with a voltmeter tonight. I just want the damn thing to work!
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Old 05-16-2011, 05:40 PM   #6
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Pull the positive cable off and connect an ammeter from the positive terminal to the positive cable end. Do this with the door closed and everything turned off. This will give you a base draw. It should be low, in milliamps. The computer will draw for a short time and go back to sleep mode.
Unplug fuses and watch for the draw to stop. This is where you look for the short.

Happy hunting.
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Old 05-16-2011, 10:34 PM   #7
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Alright, I went to town with a voltmeter. When I connected the negative and positive battery terminals and then ran the neg on the voltmeter to the neg bat terminal then touched the positive voltmeter to the valve cover I got a 10 volt reading.

Touched the positive terminal to the power steering reservoir next and got a 2.3 volt reading. Nearly same reading from the power steering arm.

Next, I removed the starter motor and hung the positive starter wire outside the truck to make sure it wouldn't bridge against something. Connected the battery again - everything reads 0. It appears part of the starting system is causing a drain and charging the engine at the same time?

Could this be the starter relay? Or could the ignition switch on the starter be causing a drain? Any of these ideas sound plausible?
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Old 05-17-2011, 12:35 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YFZ_TRD View Post
Alright, I went to town with a voltmeter. When I connected the negative and positive battery terminals and then ran the neg on the voltmeter to the neg bat terminal then touched the positive voltmeter to the valve cover I got a 10 volt reading.

Touched the positive terminal to the power steering reservoir next and got a 2.3 volt reading. Nearly same reading from the power steering arm.

Next, I removed the starter motor and hung the positive starter wire outside the truck to make sure it wouldn't bridge against something. Connected the battery again - everything reads 0. It appears part of the starting system is causing a drain and charging the engine at the same time?

Could this be the starter relay? Or could the ignition switch on the starter be causing a drain? Any of these ideas sound plausible?
It sounds like the positive starter wire or the starter relay is shorting positive to ground. I would look for any worn-through insulation on the wire. Also, look for something on or inside the starter relay that could be causing the short. Maybe some metal bits or maybe some kind of liquid or goo like oil or grease.

Also, there may be something wrong with the grounding of the engine. You shouldn't be able to get 10 Volts between the valve cover and the negative terminal of the battery.

Make sure that you fix the short before you fix the engine grounding or the wire from the battery to the starter will get very hot.

For the '86 (hopefully, the '87 is the same), there should be a ground wire going from the battery to the frame beside the battery. There should be a ground wire on the right of the engine near the AC compressor. There should be a ground wire connected to the intake manifold (22R-E or R-TE only, not 22R). There should be a ground wire on the left of the engine, near the alternator. You should trace them and make sure that their connections are good and tight and clean.

Good luck.
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Old 05-17-2011, 08:10 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Bear View Post
It sounds like the positive starter wire or the starter relay is shorting positive to ground. I would look for any worn-through insulation on the wire. Also, look for something on or inside the starter relay that could be causing the short. Maybe some metal bits or maybe some kind of liquid or goo like oil or grease.

Also, there may be something wrong with the grounding of the engine. You shouldn't be able to get 10 Volts between the valve cover and the negative terminal of the battery.

Make sure that you fix the short before you fix the engine grounding or the wire from the battery to the starter will get very hot.

For the '86 (hopefully, the '87 is the same), there should be a ground wire going from the battery to the frame beside the battery. There should be a ground wire on the right of the engine near the AC compressor. There should be a ground wire connected to the intake manifold (22R-E or R-TE only, not 22R). There should be a ground wire on the left of the engine, near the alternator. You should trace them and make sure that their connections are good and tight and clean.

Good luck.
All my engine grounds are clean and tight. That's why this is so strange. This vehicle is in immaculate condition for its age, no credit to me for that. The one test I should have done prior to removing the starter again is just disconnected the solenoid wire and left the main starter wire connected to see if the draw is from the solenoid. Oh well. I am going to replace the starter, if there is still a draw I will replace the starter relay or at least attempt to fix it.

My starter positive cable from the battery is in fine condition and wrapped in wire loom so there's very little chance it will ever be damaged. I will double check that again, however.

Thanks for your help. Definitely pointed me in the right direction since I am new to the use of a voltmeter for automotive applications.
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Old 05-17-2011, 10:10 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dhk View Post
If your valve cover is reading 10 volts with respect to battery (-), then I can assure you, that is definitely not the case.
Right. It has a serious drain. It's being charged by something in my starter system. I removed the starter and hung the starter positive cable away from the truck and then reconnected the battery. No charge on the engine. Meaning the positive charge on the engine was definitely coming through the starter somehow.

I can't have the battery connected for more than a few seconds or else a bunch of stuff starts getting really hot. Including my power steering pressure line. The battery reads a full 12 volts when nothing is connected. So my starter problem is definitely separate from the battery.
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Old 05-17-2011, 11:01 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by dhk View Post
No, you missed the point. If the engine was properly grounded, then it doesn't matter if there is a short at the starter, it will still read 0V with respect to the battery negative terminal. The heat you get from the PS hose would have happened right at the starter motor instead.
So why would I get a 0V reading on the engine and all components once I remove the starter and reconnect the battery? All accessories in the cab and headlights, etc worked at that point.
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Old 05-17-2011, 11:25 AM   #12
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I appreciate your help. I'm just clearly having trouble wrapping my head around the electrical theory behind all this.
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Old 05-17-2011, 11:43 AM   #13
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So why would I get a 0V reading on the engine and all components once I remove the starter and reconnect the battery? All accessories in the cab and headlights, etc worked at that point.
Because there is a problem with the starter. Take it and have it tested at your local auto parts store. They will do this for free. If it's as bad as you describe it, it will send their meter into over-drive.

Added bonus: Don't tell the guy testing it that it has a short and get the vid camera ready. We will be waiting.
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Old 05-17-2011, 12:06 PM   #14
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Took it in. The guy was definitely surprised when he tried to test it. All I got was audio. Their test station was in the back. He brought it out and did what I didn't think to do- tested continuity between the positive post and the body of the starter. Definitely connected. Wow. I really hope all my sensors and the ecu are still alive.
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Because your ground is bad/weak **AND** your starter is shorted out!
I don't think there is a ground issue at all.
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Old 05-17-2011, 12:56 PM   #16
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I don't think there is a ground issue at all.
Yeah my understanding doesn't point to a grounding issue either. But I'm teachable so I won't rule it out if I install the starter and my issues don't go away.

I just can't think of any other reasonable explanation for how my truck could go from working perfectly to all of a sudden having a drain. The only thing that seems plausible to me is a 24 year old electronic item that was already on its last leg (but working fine) deciding it was finally the right moment to kick the bucket. I was not driving it hard, temp was fine, electronics normal, then all of a sudden the starter takes a crap.

I will update tonight after I get that baby installed. I really appreciate your input guys. I was thinking I was pretty cool installing a new long block and getting it to work without issue. And then the truck decided to keep my ego in check
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Old 05-17-2011, 01:09 PM   #17
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I don't think you put the contacts in correctly. That's the only direct unfused source from the battery to the starter.
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Old 05-17-2011, 01:17 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by 98tacoma27 View Post
I don't think you put the contacts in correctly. That's the only direct unfused source from the battery to the starter.
Yes, that seems to be true. That's why I'm not certain the new starter is going to solve all my problems.
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Old 05-17-2011, 02:29 PM   #19
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The only direct line to the starter stops at the solenoid. Is there salt on the terminals and the insulator?
There has to be leakage somewhere. Look for bare spots on the positive to the starter, and arc marks on the solenoid.
You can always run the volt meter from the disconnected positive solenoid lead to the positive battery cable(starter end, with it disconnected). There should be NO voltage present. If so, there's a solenoid leakage problem.
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Old 05-17-2011, 02:36 PM   #20
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Name: Lee
Joined: Mar 2009, #14534
Location: Beaverton, OR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skytower View Post
The only direct line to the starter stops at the solenoid. Is there salt on the terminals and the insulator?
There has to be leakage somewhere. Look for bare spots on the positive to the starter, and arc marks on the solenoid.
You can always run the volt meter from the disconnected positive solenoid lead to the positive battery cable(starter end, with it disconnected). There should be NO voltage present. If so, there's a solenoid leakage problem.
Yeah, I'm hoping that's what the problem was initially. Then I made it worse by screwing up the contacts. I cracked the plastic insulator that the positive contact sits against inside the solenoid housing. Didn't think it would be an issue but apparently it was.
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