View Full Version : car won't start

Gary M. Kubancsek
04-10-2015, 01:48 PM
1976 Cadillac Superior Regal Landau - when I turn key I get these four dashboard warning lights simultaneously:

Coolant Temperature - Stop Engine Oil Pressure - Stop Engine Temperature - Brakes

New battery October 2014. No clicking sound - car just sits there when key is held in start position. some local advice says bad starter, some say short somewhere.


suggestions and advice appreciated

thank you Gary K.

Noah Dorsey
04-10-2015, 01:55 PM
My total UNexpert thoughts: Probably your starter motor or voltage regulator. If you take care of those and it keeps happening, probably a bad alternator.

Denny Shira
04-10-2015, 02:16 PM
Check and clean all connections. Battery, starter, alternator, ignition switch. Also load test battery. check neutral safety switch, try starting the car in neutral,
sometimes that's all it takes! Good luck. If you are going to be under the car, make sure that wheels are chocked and that the car is being held up by properly rated ramps, jack stands, or a combination of both. SAFETY FIRST!!!!:thumbsup:

Peter Grave
04-10-2015, 03:11 PM
A simple test after you follow Dennys jacking and support advise. Get a piece of husky single conductor wire about four feet long clean off both ends. Now takes two people or alligator clips on the wire. One party holds wire on positive battery terminal (or attach wire to terminal) get under rig starter right rear of engine touch wire to Small wire terminal on starter Selonoid should kick in and starter turn over. if nothing selonoid probably bad if selonoid gives a loud click and does not turn over its starter. Second way if you own a test light ground test light under rig have a helper turn key to start check small terminal for voltage No volts problem is between switch, neutral safety switch, and starter.

John ED Renstrom
04-10-2015, 09:36 PM
lights are normal with engine not running and power on. sounds like the neutral safety switch to me no power any were no noise. as suggested try it in neutral and try wiggling shifter around keep your foot on the brake just it case it fires in gear. if the car has been sitting it may just be low enough on the batter to not tip the solenoid and I have seen a corroded battery cable do the same thing. work the lights and not the load.

start with the simple things first then work up to the heavy iron, jumping the starter eliminates the neutral safety switch.

Joe Rackov
04-11-2015, 10:21 PM
Check the two purple (IIRC) wires going to the neutral safety switch on the steering column. Both sides should be hot when in park and key in start position. If so, continue to starter solenoid. Purple should be hot at solenoid. If so, starter is probably toast. The purple serves to energize the starter solenoid to engage (pull starter drive into flywheel) while jumping the battery terminal to the lower solenoid terminal will energize the starter motor (armature) and make it turn.

Alex Butakes
04-12-2015, 01:45 AM
definitely sounds like your neutral safety switch.

Gary M. Kubancsek
04-13-2015, 01:31 PM
Thank you for the troubleshooting tips, I appreciate it. Gary K.

John ED Renstrom
04-13-2015, 09:44 PM
but did you get it started??

Gary M. Kubancsek
10-24-2015, 04:49 PM
Ok - sadly after all this time - I am just installing a new starter and solenoid - I hope to try and start the vehicle on Sunday- one question - where would I find the neutral safety switch. I tried to find it in Cadillac shop manual with no luck. Being a mechanical engineer - electrical troubleshooting isn't my best talent. Thank you for the consultation. Gary K

Paul Steinberg
10-24-2015, 09:11 PM
The neutral safety switch is located at the bottom of the column. I would suggest that you hold off on the starter, because I don't believe that is the problem, until you check all the rest of the items. First start by turning on the headlamps, and seeing if they are bright. If not bright, then look for a poor negative or positive battery connection. Turn off headlamps, and then with the key turned to the start position, pull the shift lever from Park to the extreme right of the gear selector. If you hear the starter start and then stop, do it more slowly, until you find the "sweet spot" where the car will start. This would indicate a bad neutral safety switch. If this test doesn't give you positive results, then the next thing to do is to ferret out the neutral safety switch, and see if it has come apart or come loose. The Cadillac neutral safety switch has a multiple myriad of functions, such as providing vacuum to the parking brake, turning on and off the backup lamps, etc. Finally, I would give a tug on the positive battery cable where it goes down toward the starter. Sometimes this will give you a temporary fix to a poor connection. Below, thanks to eBay, are some pictures of the neutral safety switch. Be careful not to break the vacuum line connections, because those small nipples are very brittle from age.
If none of the above produce any positive results, then it might be the starter, however, rarely do starters catastrophically fail. Usually they will give you some warning. If you have another car available, and jumper cables, give that a try. I have seen where a battery will have one cell fail, and there will not be enough reserve voltage to even get the starter solenoid to click. This will show if you find the headlamps dim when you attempt to start the car, as directed above.

John ED Renstrom
10-25-2015, 02:19 PM
then before you replace everything. the double prong set of wire should be purple ,on that one are the wires going to the safety switch. carefully remove them it best to remove the switch from the base of the steering column first and carefully pry the plug off. then jump it with a heavy wire from one wire to the next. make sure it's in park and try it. if it starts thats your problem. word of advice is don't attempt to drive it that way. as it will start no matter were the transmission is and with the switch removed you have no park pull off or back up lights. they have been known to get out of adjustment and fail to make contact also.

Todd Merrifield
10-25-2015, 02:48 PM
For what its worth, I just went through the following experience with my daily driver car:

About every 4th or 5th time I would go to start my car, all I would get was a click, no spin. Assumed it was a dead spot on my starter motor, and resolved myself to installing a new starter. After swapping out, much to my surprise I had the exact same problem. Tested my old starter on the bench and it started faithfully every time. Asked around and someone suggested bad connections or battery. Jumped the battery wire to the small solenoid wire and got the same issue, every 4th or 5th time. All other connections looked clean and felt tight, so I pulled my truck over and hooked its battery up with jumper cables to the car I was working on. Sure enough, started every time I tried. Got a new battery for it and it's been fine ever since. Don't fully understand it, but the next time I have starter issues the first thing I'm going to do is hook up my battery charger/starter, or another vehicles battery to see what happens and go from there.

I always thought starter "dead spots" were a thing, and maybe they are, but the same person that recommended the battery also explained this to me, which makes sense; if a starter has a dead spot, and the motor lands on that dead spot, it won't spin again until something moves it off the dead spot, like moving the car while in gear. That is not what was happening with mine, on mine, you sometimes just had to turn the key a bunch of times to get it to spin again.

Rick Franklin
10-25-2015, 05:17 PM
i always begin with the simple easy inexpensive items first and progress from there

Gary M. Kubancsek
10-27-2015, 04:42 PM
Thanks to all for the advice and personal experiences. Since I had bought the starter and solenoid- I went ahead and installed it. The car started up fine. I had replaced the battery last fall and was consistency getting 12+ volts. The car is running - although it blew a rear brake line. Getting that fixed today. Again, my sincere thanks to everyone - and Paul for the neutral safety switch information and pictures. Gary K