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This weekend I went on a mini road trip with my dad in his ‘68 coupe. We recently added a t5 to it and it’s made a world of a difference. We drove down from LA to Palm Springs. Not too far, but a good way to test the new tranny and cooling system. Everything held up great! That was until I took the wheel at a gas station. My dad got off to get coffee asked me to fill up the tank and this exactly what happened...

I parked and proceeded to fill up the tank only to realize I was too far from the filler neck and pump. I got back in, and like an idiot forgot it’s a stick and I turned the ignition key without pressing the clutch. No biggie the car lurched forward but there was no one parked in front. No harm no foul. I filled up but when I went to start the car... I got nothing. No crank, no buzzing from the solenoid, nothing. By this time my dad came back and we checked all the essentials... battery cables, starter cable, solenoid but still got nothing when we turned the key. Here’s something else, when we opened the door the interior lights would come on but when you turned the ignition key to acc or on they would cut off. None of the gauges or radio worked either. We got a jump from a car there and everything seemed to be normal. We figured we’d look into it once we got back home. I took the wheel on the drive back and instantly noticed something was off. The tach gauge was acting erratically bouncing all around. Still the car was driving fine and not misfiring. It wasn’t until it got dark and I turned on the head lamps that I noticed something was off. As soon as I turned them on we heard and felt a distinctive groan from the engine bay. Like a huge load was added to the car. I noticed the tach was bouncing even wilder now too and higher on the rpm spectrum. Last thing we noticed was if I accelerated too abruptly the engine would miss a bit.

We made it home and after parking I tried restarting the car and nothing... same as the gas station no cranking or even buzzing coming from the solenoid.

We’ll dive in to all the usual suspects during the week, just wondering if anyone has any thoughts or similar experiences they can share. Thanks!
 

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I have a second car my son and I are working on for him that we drive occasionally, and I keep the battery cable off when it sits. When I want to start it, I'm lazy and just twist the battery cable on. If I don't get it tight enough, in the right spot or whatever, when I go to start I may or may not get a little click then everything goes out including the courtesy lamps. My guess is when you jump started the car, the juice went through the cable, not across the battery, and there is a loose connection on the battery or at the positive post on the solenoid, maybe the ground on the passenger side between the back of the engine at the head, block, or starter that goes to the firewall. Check those. Glad you got to drive with Dad and be sure to pass on the fun to the next generation ! !
 
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Measure the battery voltage. Should be above 12V just sitting and around 13.8V when idling. The groan and needle bounce sounds like you have a dying alternator. It may not be charging the battery fully, or you may have a bad battery that is loading the alternator more heavily.
 

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Aside from the aforementioned cleaning the battery and ground cables and making sure they're tight, also check that your alternator belt is tight enough.

I once drove my old F-100 across the state at night watching my headlights get dimmer the whole way because the belt was slipping and I was draining the battery the whole time. I almost made it all the way home before the truck gave out when I let the RPMs drop at a light.
 
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