No battery power after start

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I've got a bit of a stumper here.

I've got a '91 LS400, and I seem to have trouble with the starter. It started (lol) a few months ago, when I noticed that my radio was losing its memory - i.e. the programmed radio stations were erased - which points to having a disconnected battery at some point. Lately it has been getting worse. There is a chance that, when starting, it will not and lose power completely. I mean, turn the key to the run position and start, and I just hear a click, and then nothing. Everything is out. No more door ajar light on the dash, no nothing. Fortunately there is a ground-switch onder the hood, so I turn that off and on, and power is back.

Once I got it started, and then it died again. Started again, put on some throttle, and it started revving, but as soon as I let go of it, it died again. Same solution: power off and power on, problem solved.

This all directed me in thingking there might be something wrong with the ignition switch, so I ordered that, 2 weeks later installed it, and the problem seems to almost gone away. But today it died on me again. I tried to start, one click, and everything dead. Power off, power on, and it will start again as if nothing happened. Radio memory gone, clock timer 1 am, and odometer trips A and B both back to zero.

I have a feeling that it is a kind of protection by means of an automatic fuse somewhere in the system, because the starter may be going bad.  Once I had it three times in a row, and the starter moved a tiny little bit, and the fourth Tim it started. But now it didn't even do the click like when it moves a little bit just went dead.  

Question: Can anybody PLEASE tell me what is going on ?




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No, no CEL. Everything is normal, no problem at all.  When it's running it is all ok.


Just when starting it will die on me completely. And for that matter, it happens maybe every two weeks.



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I guess it has something to do with electric. What voltage do you read for battery when engine is running and when off?

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I javen’t checked voltages. The alternator is practically new. Everybody that has heard it click and have seen this before, say that it is the starter. The alternator was replaced 3 years when I did the timing belt/waterpump.

I can understand why they would think starter, but is there an electronic system that turns the power off by way of an automatic fuse or something ? It is very strange. It tries to turn over, battery is fine. It just says click and then nothing, dash light for the door is off, everything dead. Go under the hood, turn off the ground switch, turn it back on. Start- does it again. Repeat 3 or 4 times. And then it will start. Problem goes away. It does that maybe once every 2 weeks now.



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I meant: maybe electrical problem, not mechanical. You can start on checking electrical connectivity: ground cable (for example), connectors ... Intermittent problem. You can also use WD-40 to clean the electrical connections. I would focus on starter and starter relay first. When it happens, can you try to start the car when it is in Neutral position? Sometimes it may have something to do with the park/neutral position switch. 

Sometimes, the theft deterrent system ECU can cause no cranking too.

Good luck, by the way, I know it is not fun for you. 

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