Problem starting after driving in wet weather


Asked by jurassicfrog Sep 20, 2010 at 05:40 PM about the 1984 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

The first time I had an issue I was driving along in the rain after having skated
through a few puddles when I switched on the defroster and all of a sudden the
whole system appeared to reboot. I was doing about 50 so once it came back up I
kept driving along just fine (albeit a bit freaked out). A bit later it was fogging up a
bit too much to handle so I decided I had better pull over in case something awful
happened when I tried to switch the defrost on again. I probably should have done
it while driving because low and behold, the system crapped out and after reboot,
the starter wouldn't kick over (no solenoid click, nothing). So after sitting around
for a while and checking fuses etc. I call my girlfriend to bring some jumper cables
and see if that helps (though I figured it probably wouldn't since everything else
electrical seemed to have plenty of juice). That didn't do anything so I called AAA
to tow and of course after placing the call, I decided to try her one last time and
she started right up like nothing happened.

Until yesterday I wasn't able to reproduce the problem... This time I was driving in
a rainy situation, using the defroster and all the electrical bits (wipers, radio, lights,
etc. etc.) and decided to stop at the store. When I came back out, I had the same
problem. No starter activity whatsoever. This time the dash didn't blank when I
tried to kick her over and after waiting for about a half hour, she started up just
fine again.

Soooo... I'm guessing there's a short being caused by water. I figured it was
possibly the power to the starter was grounding out but I've never seen something
like that happen and I've had a number of vehicles that had completely unshielded
starter connections that have never developed a problem, including my El Camino
that had basically the same block and I would imagine a similar starter. So if it's
not a shorting of the power lead, are there any electronics that could be getting
wet or, well, anything that might cause this problem? The fact that the ac selector
switch appears to have had some involvement the first time makes me think it
might be more than just the starter connection too, however the selector switch
hasn't caused a problem since.

I've got the shop manual and it's singularly useless in this case (I think I need to
invest in the electrical troubleshooting addendum). I've searched all over online
and there appear to be a number of problems relating to the Optispark distributor
but she's an '84 which doesn't have it. Anyone have any ideas?

2 Answers

Mike Bonnell

My Rule of thumb - When you get funky things happening check battery cables and connections ... Sounds like one is loose to the battery to ground or to the starter. If all is good there my next thought would be towards the ignition switch Good Luck


Well Mike, you were correct. The nut on the power lead was free spinning. I would never have figured the starter would have worked at all with it as loose as it was. I feel a bit silly. Of course, I haven't gone through any puddles recently but let's hope that takes care of it. Thanks!

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