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GT 3.2 V6
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Yesterday, I made the 10~15 minute drive to work (2004 GT 3.2L). As I entered the camp (very bumpy), I received a low battery warning with several beeps, then it came back. This happened a few times, and then the dash went dark. The engine ran fine, the stereo (more below) was working.

I turned off all non-essential power (stereo, headlights, etc.) and I pulled over, but left the car running. Everything came back. Dash was back and everything seemed fine. I opened the hood, checked the battery connection, and it seemed fine. I drove to a parking space and the same issue kept recurring: low batt warning, followed by lights out on dash.

Driving home after work, the same issue kept happening, but I was able to induce the error and recover. Whenever I put the gear shift in gear I'd get low batt warning followed by lights out on dash. If I pulled it out of gear and then moved the shifter back and forth in neutral slot, it all came back like there was no problem. I could leave it in neutral for extended periods of time with no errors.

In 3rd and 4th, it errored out immediately. With 1st and 2nd gear, there seemed to be a 4-5 second delay before it errored out.

Last week, I replaced the stereo. The night before, I pulled down the overhead light fixture, where I found a very poorly made/installed additional ground wire with a lead from the ground on the overhead light fixture. I plan on using the factory mic, so I didn't re-connect any of that yet because I am making a new cable to go from the factory mic to the stereo mic input. I have no idea where this aluminum terminated ground wire went, it just fell out with the rest of the overhead light assembly.

For the new stereo headunit, I used a 2Connects WR harness which includes a parking brake lead. I connected the parking brake lead from the radio to the harness, but I didn't connect it to the parking brake. During the install, I did remove the negative battery cable. However, when I put it back, it looked solid.

If the new stereo or overhead lights caused an electrical issue, I should have received the error as soon as I started the car in the morning. I wouldn't expect it only after 15 minutes of driving.

The stereo and all the features seem to work fine.

Can anyone think of any reason the gear shift would be related to such an electrical outage?

All the parts stores here close early today. I want to get a wire brush and some dialectric grease. I'll follow the advise on the thread below and clean all the contacts I can find before doing anything else.
 

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Hmm, something like the gearshift touching a wire it shouldnt and shorting something out comes to mind, but your gearshift lever is plastic - I dont think you have the metalised plastic version do you ?
 

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Yes, gear cables and engine earths seem like a good place to start. Being able to check voltages of major circuits and seeing if it varies between when there is no fault and when the fault occurs may help trace it.
 

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GT 3.2 V6
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Discussion Starter #4
We had lots of rain last weekend. I wasn't able to do anything until yesterday.

My habits will be my undoing. By habit, I always set parking brake, then put car in gear. Why I thought the fault/short wouldn't be there after I turned off the ignition, I can't imagine. Anyway, overnight, it killed the battery.

I obviously suffer from RWD thinking too. For some reason, I expected the transmission to be right under the gear shifter. Of course it isn't. I did remove some of the center console trim, like ashtray and cig lighter before I realized this wasn't where the action was. The actual shifter mechanism is just below and behind the intake butterfly valve. I wanted to clean all the leads anyway, so I removed part of the intake and the battery.

I can clearly see -- even manipulate - the lever controlling the gear, but didn't see it rubbing anything or causing any movement in the harnesses/looms just above the shifter mechanism. I tried to check the harness bundles. Most of them are totally self-contained. The one exception is where I think they spliced in the LPG system electronics. They used those cheap plastic tap snaps. As far as I could see, there were no exposed wires. I should have taken pics.

A week ago I replaced the coil packs on cylinders 1-3-5. So, I was back there poking around and could have jostled something or partially pulled out a wire causing a short.

Now, with a lot more jostling around, I fully expected the issue to go away entirely, at least temporarily, until a particularly inopportune moment in the future. Sure enough, that problem has disappeared, but I know I didn't "solve" it.

I spent ~3 hours yesterday trying to charge the battery, but I was only able to get up to a 20% charge. This morning, the car was totally flat again. I used a remote power bank, started it and drove it around for a while before dropping it at a shop. They'll replace the clutch plate and thrust bearing today. I asked them to charge the battery too. I might have ruined the battery.

On a bright note, I did clean lots of leads. Dielectric grease seems super-expensive and difficult to get in Europe. Most places in Germany wanted 25euros for a tiny bottle plus 16euros shipping to Poland. I finally found some in Poland for about US$7, but it is practically sample size. There must be something else used here instead.

Since I at least looked at the engine side. I think I will finish removing the whole center console to see if there are any exposed cables there, or a place where the control arm from the shifter touches something.

Thanks again for your assistance.
 

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Good chance if not major earth cables (especially the inner wing one) then it may be the gas conversion wiring. Hope it works out but you may manage to fix it without being entirely aware.

Dielectric grease. That's just a largely meaningless word for grease which adds money. Dielectric grease could be lithium, molybdenum disulfide, red rubber (caster, I think), silicone, 'brake' which could be whatever or ceramic (white).

The only non dielectric grease I can think of other than assembly compound which is copper based (or zinc based for the better informed) contains graphite and is for use with battery terminals etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Received the car back today after mechanic shop replaced clutch disc, pressure plate, and thrust bearing. The clutch feels great and the noise is gone. The low batt indicator is back, mostly still associated with gear shifting (that is I can induce or recycle from it). I never told the mechanic about that issue, but I did ask them to charge the battery. They charged and tested the battery. They said they thought the voltage regulator is bad, but they didn't think I needed to replace the "generator."

I am not sure I understand any relationship between the shifter position and voltage regulator, but I could see a faulty regulator could make recharging iffy, keep the battery near the edge, so that any change in load could trip the warning.

For the time being, I have this nice little portable power bank starter which works nicely. The cost of labor here is very low and I don't have a good work space, so I will let them try replacing the regulator. At the very least, they'll also remove and test the alternator, which means all those contacts I couldn't get to will be cleaned up and reset.

Dielectric grease is very inexpensive in Mexico/North America where I've seen it widely used by professional mechanics, by factories on new cars, and by electrical engineers who presumably know what they're doing around circuits. In my own experience, I've seen it work to reduce corrosion and effectively keep out moisture compared to extensive corrosion and moisture penetrating connections where grease was not used. On several occasions, I've used white lithium grease as a substitute, but most of the dielectric grease I've used is transparent which I prefer for electrical connections. Too each their own.
 

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The charge issue may simply be a lower engine speed when changing gear and how that affects a suspected regulator. There was a thread a few months ago how someone got a regulator and brush pack rather than change the alternator. Part number were supplied.

I think any grease probably helps and it sounds like you've been thorough. Watch out when using lithium grease as apparently it is not waterproof (must be somewhat hygroscopic) as marine industry does not class it as waterproof. I guess the clear stuff is silicone and a favourite of mine for a few applications (but not bearings or CV joints). The zinc stuff comes on new O2 sensors and seems better than copper and became a favourite assembly compound of mine (after experience of others) a while back but it was just luck I learned of that but I'm happy to use good advice.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Interesting idea.

What really hurts about all of this is I haven't yet been able to get on a highway and really stretch her legs since the day I drove her back from Katowice (I was above 200kmh briefly that day). Today was a perfect day for just driving. I would have loved to take her up to Zielona Gora, which is not that far, but has a couple of nice bits of road. However, with Poles being positively militant about running with headlights 100% of the time and being uncertain about charging, I was leery of taking her up there.

Maybe tomorrow I'll take her out to the nearby highway to get her above 100kmh and see if I am getting a charge. I'll stay close so I can get back if need be. I am not too worried about needing a jump: I have a power bank for a jump start.

The dielectric grease I have, and the stuff sold in the US, is silicone based and advertised as waterproof. Lithium was just a backup. I didn't know it wasn't waterproof, but I am not surprised.

One thing I did notice, now the contacts are clean, etc. some lights are much brighter and steady. For example, the light in the rear baggage area when lifting the hatch, before that flickered on and off, and was always dim. Now, it is very bright, strong, and steady. Of course there is no way of knowing if that is something I did or something they did in switching out the clutch.

The little AC battery charger I have has a "repair mode" but it takes up to 24 hours. I am thinking of rigging a connection from my balcony and letting it run for 24 hours in case the battery has issues even though they said they tested it.

My college cars (a '74 Mustang II and later a '82 Datsun KingCab) had issues with the alternators, regulators, and batteries. I replaced the alternator in both of them, but I think with the Mustang I ended up replacing the alternator only to find out the bad alternator damaged the regulator. By the time I replaced the voltage regulator, the battery was damaged. By the time I replaced the battery, the rebuilt alternator was no longer any good. So then I replaced them all at the same time and didn't have any more issues.

Cheers,
 

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It's a shame you never told the garage about the problem they could have had a look.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
It's a shame you never told the garage about the problem they could have had a look.
They'll have a second chance when I take it back for electrical issues on the 14th. I'll tell them everything. I didn't tell the last time because I didn't want to mix issues and complicate things.

The reason I had them replace the clutch was because of a loud squealing noise I thought was either an idler pully or thrust bearing. A few times it "caught" such that I was confident it was the clutch thrust bearing. Only, they just replaced it and this morning the noise is back, worse than ever.

I'll turn it over to them on the 14th and ask them to just solve both issues.
 
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