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  #1  
Old 10-27-2003, 10:00 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: westchester, ny
Posts: 747
lights out & car dead; broken ground strap did it

On Sat nite my son picked me up in our 88 300ce, dropped me off at the house & went to visit his friends. 15 seconds later he called from around the corner- the car had suddenly stopped, all lights were out & it wouldn't start. I pushed the car to the curb & left it in front of a neighbor's house. Yesterday I read up on alternators, brushes & voltage regulators. I especially remembered one post that said to check the alternator wire going to the battery, before dealing with new parts. So tonite I checked under the hood. Battery voltage was 12.4. Then I tracked the alternator wire. When my eyes reached the ground connections near the battery, I couldn't believe it: The battery ground wire had broke off at the ground connection bolt. Swapped the ground strap, opened the driver's door, and lights. Turned the key, and action. Drove home & parked in front of the house. All is well, and thanks to this forum, at no cost. Even the wife and kid were impressed.
BTW, why would the ground strap break in two. Old age/fatigue? Could an adverse electrical event have occurred?
Thanks
Richard
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87 300e (white/black; amg body kit)
88 300ce (red/cream; amg body kit)
93 300ce cabrio (white/blue/blue top)
93 300ce cabrio (black/grey/black top)
98 ml 320 (totaled @ 137,000 miles)
99 clk320 (black/grey/black top)
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  #2  
Old 10-27-2003, 10:17 PM
Q Q is offline
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Posts: 839
I have had the same experience as you with an old Honda. The wire breaks due to corrosion and fatigue. I'll bet that you notice the starter is running a little more robust.
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  #3  
Old 10-28-2003, 02:45 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: westchester, ny
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Absolutely correct.
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87 300e (white/black; amg body kit)
88 300ce (red/cream; amg body kit)
93 300ce cabrio (white/blue/blue top)
93 300ce cabrio (black/grey/black top)
98 ml 320 (totaled @ 137,000 miles)
99 clk320 (black/grey/black top)
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  #4  
Old 10-28-2003, 07:45 PM
Wes Bender's Avatar
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Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Alpine, AZ / Green Valley, AZ
Posts: 733
It's worth checking the ground strap, at least annually. If the engine is reasonably well insulted, any metal connection will try to act as a ground. This can get rather spectacular. On my Healey, for example, if the ground strap is disconnected for any reason, the choke cable tries to become the ground. That can be disastrous when you try to start the car. I'm not sure what, if any, metal parts on the MB make continuous contact from engine to ground.

My .02,

Cheers,
Wes
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  #5  
Old 10-29-2003, 11:24 AM
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: Mass
Posts: 1,127
The raw end of that cable wicks moisture into the copper stands. This will happen to any wire with raw ends exposed. This causes corrosion troubles, particularly in the roadsalt belt. I believe this one goes 'uphill', so gravity also works against it.

The ground wire on the 124 is on the thin side already. Loose battery mounting or twisting of cable can further stress it.

This is a common problem on many cars, at least in the NE. Fully exposed braided 'ground straps' have got to be the worst design of all.

If you excavate into it, you will probably find only the first few inches are corroded.

How to prevent?

When replacing cables, I like to 'wick' solder into the raw cable end(s), then seal tight with heat shrink tubing or liquid electrical tape around the lug (or whatever connector).

'Tinned' copper cables are better for corrosion resistance, typically these are rated for 'marine' use. Fewer fatter strands are more resistant than many thin strands. Of course, if you keep the strands dry, it does not matter...

Clean and lube the ground contact area and fastener for good lasting results
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