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  #1  
Old 02-10-2001, 08:36 PM
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I need some help with a starter problem on my 1989 260E. I was installing new wires for front speakers while the car was running. I shut it down for a moment to make a phone call and when I tried to restart it, the starter would not turn over. I could hear the vacuum pump and fuel pump, the radio came on, the antenna extended, and the lights and horn all work. But no starter.

I had MB roadside assistance come but the fellow felt it might be related to some starter kill switch that activated when I was clearing out old stereo and alarm wiring left behind by the car's previous owners. Problem is, the car has no alarm that I am aware of -- and all alien wiring has been removed, so if there is a unit it is probably not connected to anything.

Is it possible that I loosened something behind the (driver's side) lower dash panel?? Or on the passenger side? The problem seems to have occurred after I re-screwed the driver's side dash panel back into place. I had only removed the lower screws to tilt the panel out just enough to pull the speaker wire through.

Here is exactly what I had done prior to the problem Any insights you all can offer would be appreciated. I am convinced that the starter is fine and the battery is fully charged, so I do not consider those to be the cause.

1) removed center console wool paneling and window, mirror and fader switches.

2) Threaded speaker wirth through passenger side speaker opening, down to footwell, and into center console.

3 Threaded speaker wirth through driver side speaker opening, down to footwell, and into center console.
Now, this process was not easy and, in the process of blindly feeling for the inserted wire, I worry that I may have loosened
something.

4) In the process of threading the driver side speaker wire, cam across an alien wire that ran from driver side to passenger side.
It looked like speaker wire and I cut it. Engine was running, nothing happened.
Turns out that this wire was connected to the flashing LED for the aftermarket alarm installed by the previous owner and, as far as \
I know, is not in the car anymore.

5) Put dash lower panel back into place. Seemed difficult to bolt it and I pushed it kind of hard to make it contact the bolt holes. A short while later, I discovered that the batting/padding material in there had bunched up and was causing the difficulty.

At this point, I had shut down the car and when I tried to restart it a bit later, it would not. I immediately suspected that the wire I cut was part of the starter and reopened the dash to splice it back together. Tried starting and nothing happened. Tried again after a few minutes and car started. Tried restarting and it worked OK. Re-cut that wire and restarted OK. Then after replacing the dash, car would not start.

I suspect that I loosened a wire when fiddling under the dash. The MB Tech feels some remaining element of an aftermarket alarm is causing it. I searched for an alarm but found nothing. All I found were components (relays and wires) that were once part of an alarm at some point, and which I removed. They were: A.) attached to the vacuum pump, B) under the passenger floor mat, C) inside the engine bay.

However, one electronic component remains -- a small relay-type box made in Mexico, with its wires wrapped in electrical tape so it is probably not MB original. It is spliced to the device that the MB Tech tried to manually crank the started with. Is this some sort of kill switch that needs to be removed -- and was somehow triggered by my poking around?

What should I be looking for under the driver or passenger dash or on the center console that could be causing this?

Thanks.

Eric Silver
1989 260E
esilver@cyber-valley.com


[Edited by EricSilver on 02-10-2001 at 07:40 PM]
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Old 02-10-2001, 09:57 PM
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Ok, here is what you look for.

Under the hood, there is a connector in front of the brake reservior that has three wires in it. The large one is the one that triggers the starter. If there is a relay near there, that is your problem. Also, there could have been a relay installed under the dash panel. The wire color is purple I think.

You will have to take out the relay and splice the purple wire back together. The roadside guy should have been able to find this, it is a short path from the ignition switch to the starter.

Good luck.

The only other thing in the loop is the neutral switch on the tranny.
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Old 02-10-2001, 11:10 PM
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Hi Benzmac,

Thanks for your reply. I will do that first thing in the morning. (I want to do it now, but it's dark, cold, and I have been up 24 hours straight already -- a sure recipe for mistakes and accidents!)

Prior to my surgery on all alien wires and relays in the car, the device was connected to the alarm LED and/or the alarm cutoff switch. Perhaps cutting the connecting wire caused the switch to permanently set itself to "disable?" And, if it is indeed a kill switch, it seems to work when the battery is disconnected -- which I did in a vain attempt to "reboot" the system.

The MB Tech did notice the device when he tried to manually start the car from the switch you mentioned. Apparently, he neglected to consider that the device was still part of the circuit and, if active, would continue prevent the started from cranking.

Two things I forgot to mention:

I think I can hear a clicking/clanking sound when I try to start -- is that the starter solenoid?

Also, when I try to start, the fuel pumps keep hissing. Is that normal when the starter does not engage?

Thanks again for your help. I'll let you know tomorrow how it goes.

Eric

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Old 02-11-2001, 03:35 AM
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I decided to try what you suggested tonight -- but still no luck. I removed the relay and respliced the large wire, but it still will not crank. In fact, before splicing, I turned the key to the start position and touched the bare ends of the wire togther to see if I was getting a spark, but there was none, so power is apparently being interrupted to the ignition switch.

Later this morning I will look under the dash for another relay and purple wires as you suggested, as well as check for some some loose or broken red wires from the junction block to the ignition switch, which was suggested in another thread here.

Since lights, turn signals, windows, locks, radio, sunroof, fuel pumps, horn, etc. are all behaving normally, there is obviously some other ignition-related connection that I need to find.

I removed quite a bit of wire and cable during my initial cleanup, but until I removed the lower dash, nothing impacted the car's behavior.

Thanks again for your feedback.

Eric
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Old 02-11-2001, 01:27 PM
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Nothing like eight hours of sleep to restore clarity of thinking.

Here is a reiteration of my problem which might better help identify a solution:

I removed every trace of "alien" stereo and alarm wiring and relays over the past two days, and there was quite a lot of it. Unfortunately, in the process of doing so, I apparently cut a necessary power and/or ground connection to the starter.

The whole mess of wire and relays ran from that starter kill switch attached to the three-pronged starter switch in front of the brake reservoir, ran across the engine bay to the battery's positive terminal where two or three add-on wires entered into the passenger footwell. There they connected to two relays for vacuum door lock control. These ran under the door sills to the vacuum pump where an identical set of relays connected to the pump and a ground attached to the wheel well.

The most obvious opportunities for error were 1) when I disconnected the alien wires and relays from the vacuum pump -- including the ground; 2) when I removed the same type of relays and wires from under the passenger footwell -- where they apparently were spliced to the main power and ground wires. (Whoever installed all this stuff had a passion for electrical tape -- which was used instead of proper connectors.) My original concern about disturbing something under the driver-side lower dash is still a possibility.

The most obvious plan is to restore power to the ignition switch, which should enable the starter to crank, but I am not sure how to do this -- and don't want to do it blindly. Any suggestions on how to proceed?

Eric
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Old 02-11-2001, 07:49 PM
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REPOST FROM REDUNDANT THREAD


After removing after-market alarm & radio wire and relays I was able to jump start the car by attaching a wire to the battery's positive electrode, then touching it to the starter wire on that three-wire switch at the brake reservoir.

I am reading the posts here and on the MB Mailing list about wiring the starter, and my essential question is:

How do I connect the battery wire to the starter circuit inside the car?

Within the the mass of wires and relays I removed was probably a means of doing this, but not being so mechanically inclined, I don't know how to reproduce it.

Incidentally, in the passenger footwell is a bundle of wires -- of which four are cut and exposed, and were connected to the stuff I removed. One is purple and, when touched with the battery wire, caused the ignition buzzer to go off and the starter solenoid(?) to click. Two are brown and sparked and smoked a tiny bit when touched briefly by the battery wire. The last is yellow and I did not try anything with this. Should I be focusing on these?

Thanks again!

Eric Silver
89 260E


[Edited by EricSilver on 02-11-2001 at 06:53 PM]
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Old 02-11-2001, 07:49 PM
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REPOST FROM REDUNDANT THREAD

I have been doing this stuff for 30 years and my first step would be to get out the wiring diagram. Do you have the 124 CD? In it will be the ETM, electrical troubleshooting manual. It will show the theoretical layout of the system and show each connection or component involved. It will also show the location of where they are located on the auto.

You can't do this kind of work without that tool.
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Old 02-11-2001, 07:50 PM
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REPOST FROM REDUNDANT THREAD

An Old Cajun Proverb...
Eric,

It goes like this: "Sometimes when you're up to our ass in alligators, it's hard to remember that your original intention was to drain the swamp."

So, I can see that you are in a heap of trouble. First, remember this simple fact, just about any brown wire in a Mercedes is a ground wire. And, you should be using a 12v test lamp. It looks like an icepick with a wire coming out of the back of it, with an alligator clip on the end. You connect the alligator clip to ground, and when you touch the end of the "ice pick" to a voltage source, a bulb in the handle of the "pick" will light up. Much safer that probing around with jumper wires.

I really don't know, aside from what Steve is already telling you, what to suggest to help you. Remember that all wires in your car will be color coded, usually with a main jacket color accented with stripes. Look for the ones that match, and try re-connecting any that you severed. Then try the ignition key again.

One last thing, if you re-post to the original thread you started in the first place, it will be brought back to the beginning automatically. That way, all of the information on the topic will be in one place, and no one will have to go looking for the older thread... I really don't know of a way for you to prune them together at this point, short of cut/paste/delete...

[Edited by longston on 02-11-2001 at 05:23 PM]
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Old 02-11-2001, 07:51 PM
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REPOST FROM REDUNDANT THREAD

Steve,

I have no CD or diagram. Normally I would not be fiddling with any of this, nor am I qualified to do so, but I was forced to out of necessity.

The junk circuitry I removed had a wire that ran from the battery to a starter kill relay that was crudely spliced to the three-pronged starter switch's purple wire in the center. This wire then ran back into the passenger footwell where it connected to the alarm wiring. All of this is gone now, but the logic remains: Power from the battery must somehow get to the starter wire in the ignition switch.

My first impulse was to just splice into the visible purple wire I can see under the dash, but since that has never been tampered with before, I am not about to start. Splicing directly into to the engine bay switch is not an option since the starter would spin forever.

I am actually starting to enjoy this as I am learning a lot about how this car works -- and how exceptionally well-engineered it is. I could easily stop now and just jump the car again tomorrow and have my mechanic do the wiring, but the remaining work *seems* relatively straightforward.

longston:

Your alligator analogy is very relevant, but I would say that I am actually out of trouble now.

Believe it or not, this whole process started with a worn key that would not open doors or start the car. After removing and cleaning the locks with no success, I simply got a new key (took only a day). Then I figured that since I had already done so much work -- and figured out how to remove the door handles -- I'd continue with every "housekeeping" task I had been planning to do for several months -- specifically, repainting my trim and doorhandles, as well as rewiring my stereo (no point in putting a 180 watt head unit through a 60 watt amp).

It was when I pulled back the passenger carpet and discovered the mess of strange wires that I decided every non-original wire or device in the car had to go. (Just a personal quirk; if there is dirt under the carpet, most people will not care, but I will not sleep well until I know it is gone.) I eventually removed two buckets of wire and cable that the car's previous owners left behind. (If you saw how poorly this stuff was installed, you probably would have done the same.) Everything went smoothly until I cut whatever 3rd-party ignition connection was in use, but that's OK. The car runs, and any needed restoration work will not be hard or expensive. Mostly, I like knowing that my car is "clean" with no one else's leftover junk in it.

As for the ignition key, that works fine -- as long as there is power to the ignition wire. Worst case, I will extend the battery and ignition wires into the car, and rig a center-console "Batmobile" starter (in place of the fader wheel which I no longer need) until I get to my mechanic's later this week.

Thanks -- both of you -- for your feedback!

Eric

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Old 02-12-2001, 01:36 AM
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Thanks To Everyone

Thank you to everyone who replied to my problem.

I have resolved it for the most part by pulling the ignition and power wires into the car -- just as they were before. However, I have decided to go with a permanent push-button ignition scheme rather than connect to the ignition key, since I am still spooked by the key problems I had which triggered all this in the first place.

As a dot-commie, very much into computer technology, there are some intriguing possibilities with such a set-up, perhaps incorporating nearly undefeatable security using biometric or iButton technologies. Therefore, I'm kind of glad this little accident occured, and again thank every one who replied.

To Scott: thanks for the scoop on the brown ground wires. I assumed grounds would be black. In any event, there are two brown wires: one for the purple wire and one for the yellow. I know what the purple does -- initiates the pre-ignition sequence (without the starter). Why do I have a sneaky suspicion (or at least a strong hope) that the yellow will crank the starter? (And make me very happy.)

Eric
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Old 02-12-2001, 04:09 AM
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Generally the starter wire on most aftermarket alarms gets cut and rerouted through the alarm unit to kill the ignition.

Essentially I would be looking for two wires with the same color scheme that are disconnected and reconnect them together if they are the identical color scheme.

I'm not sure on the wire coloring, but I suspect that is where the ignition kill problem is if its an aftermarket alarm that you pulled out.

They generally just clip the starter wire and then it runs to an in wire and an out wire to complete the circuit when the alarm is disabled. and breaks the circuit when the alarm is engaged.

Hope that helps in your search.

Alon
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Old 02-12-2001, 05:40 AM
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Hi Alon,

Thanks for that info. Those two remaining wires (actually four, if you count the two grounds) must be the ones. I already know the purple is for pre-ignition and the yellow, which I have not tested yet, is hopefully for the starter. They are in the passenger footwell as part of a 14-prong wiring harness that is attached to nothing. There is also an 8-prong harness, also connected to nothing. I suppose the original alarm, and some other factory-installed device were there.

I will not be installing a new alarm, but will probably put a blinking LED on the dash, as well as investigate a fuel pump kill switch.

I stopped working on it once I connected some temporary wires for manual starting, so I could decide how to restore the ignition system. I want a separate pushbutton starter, as well as a dedicated power line to an inverter, so I can plug in my computer, tools, cell phone, etc. without having to use the cigarette lighter, etc.

I'll check out the wiring tomorrow, and will be very happy if those are indeed the ignition/starter wires.

Eric
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Old 02-12-2001, 08:18 PM
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sounds to me like you will have it all worked out.

If you don't have the factory alarm box then it would make sense to me that the wires are not being connected.

The factory alarm should make the proper connections when the alarm is disabled or should break the starter connections when the alarm is enabled.

Though I have seen benzes driving around with the factory alarm going off, so I am not sure if the starter kill is part of the factory alarm on some models.

In anycase, I like the idea of the push button for starting.

Though you will have to tell the valet parking guys about the pushbutton starter.

Alon
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Old 02-13-2001, 01:59 AM
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Telling the valets was one of my first thoughts about the pushbutton. It's also an unusual feature that fascinates people, like the one-armed wiper.

This would also be very confusing to potential car thieves. Assuming one got in and realized the ignition key would not start the car, he would open the hood to look for the kill switch -- but would not find one. If he hotwires the starter he would then realize the car still won't start (because the fuel pumps are disabled too).

I am planning to install 3 or 4 switches that complement those already on the center console, so they will look original and not draw attention. My chief concern right now is a lock-out which prevents the starter button from being pushed when the engine is running.

It's an interesting project.

Eric



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Old 02-13-2001, 06:13 PM
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Alon,

I came across a post of yours in another thread where you said something about building an LCD contol panel or some such into your center console. Have you started doing that?

I was finally able to figure out exactly what I removed from the old alarm system, and how it related to the ignition, and then essentially repeated what the previous owner did: brought wires from the starter switch and battery through the firewall and into the passenger footwell. However, I connected them the under-dash pushbutton that was previously the alarm cut-off, giving me a quick & dirty pushbutton starter.

Better yet, I also rigged a temporary switch using the wires that energize accessories and fuel pumps prior to ignition -- which eliminates the need for a key altogether.

Now I want to clean the whole thing up with a very thin, very elegant surface-mounted control panel on the center console. Have you begun anything in that area?

Eric
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