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Electrical issue, won't start justs makes one "click" noise
Hello, I have been having a very hard time figuring out why my '72 won't start or even crank. 

quick back story, it drove fine until I stored it for 12 months without starting it or driving it (I know, big mistake).  did a quick tune up 2 weeks ago (replaced fluids, drained and replaced gas, charged up the battery, etc) before trying to start it. I tried starting it after that and it just clicked. Not the typical fast paced clicks associated with a dead battery, but just one click sounding like it was coming from the starter. so thats when I began trouble shooting, here is what I have done so far:

Tested the battery since it did sit for a year and found that it was holding charge. I also borrowed a friends new battery (730 cca) and saw the same results, so I dont think the issue is the battery.
- Replaced the start solenoid
- Replaced the starter
- Replaced both battery cables and terminal connectors

after doing all of this, I tried starting it and it still did the same exact thing- "click". So then I thought that the engine might be seized, so I got a 24" breaker bar and hand cranked the motor to make sure it wasnt siezed.  It did have some resistance, it wasnt the easiest thing to turn, but it also wasnt that difficult either, it definitely wasnt seized.

So just now I thought maybe the brand new starter solenoid I bought was defective, so I jumped it by connecting the two ends of the solenoid with the key in the "on" position.  When I did this, there were sparks and I heart it crank one time (first time ive heard it crank in a year). But after that one crank, nothing happened even if I held them connected together- no sparks or crank. So I thought id try it again with a freshly charged battery so I charged the battery back up to try again and this time there were significantly less sparks when I jumped it and no crank at all, just a tiny bit of sparks and then nothing.

I cannot seem to figure out what the problem is.  Any help would be sincerely appreciated, I want to get this thing back on the road!

Thanks in advance-
I am definitely no mechanic but I would want to first ensure motor can turn over. Almost sounds like a starter or connections issue. So first just make the starter turns the motor over good without the main top coil to distributor wire connected. Once it turns over good (complete rotations), check for spark and fuel.

Some of the better mechanics can break that down for you.

Good luck,


1971 Boss 351  
1972 Q code 4 speed convertible 
1971 Mustang Sportsroof  351-2V FMX 
1973 Mach 1 (parts car)
Is the car an automatic? NSS. Neutral safety switch. Try putting the car in neutral and starting. Or jump the wires for the NSS.

73 Grandé H Code. Headman long tube headers, T-5 Transmission, 3.70 Traclok, Lowered 1" all around, Aussie 2v heads w/ 2.19 intake, 1.71 exhaust, screw in studs, full roller cam 608/612 lift 280/281 duration LSA 112, Quick Fuel 750 CFM double pumper, AirGap intake.

- Jason

[Image: 082-hot-rod-power-tour-2017-1970-1970s.jpg]
In addition to the above, check your ground cable. Does it connect to both the chassis/body and the engine block, and are the connects to clean metal? In the year it wasn't run the metal the ground cables connect to may have rusted/corroded.

“If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.”
--Albert Einstein
Thank you guys for the replies!

Ray, the motor does turn over (with the help of the breaker bar by hand) but the starter will not turn over the motor because of the electrical issue, the starter just clicks.

73Pony, yes it is an automatic.  I was not familiar with the NSS until you mentioned it.  I just went outside to try to start it in neutral (full 100% battery) and it did the same "Click" sound as before, so I suppose it wasnt the NSS unfortunately.

Don, I thought that may have been the issue as well so I went ahead and disconnected the ground wire and sanded down the surface that it was connected to until it was clean bare metal again and reconnected it.  Unfortunately, it didnt help.

any other guesses? I find it really weird that when I jumped the solenoid I was able to get it to make one turn, but after that one time it wasnt able to turn again even when jumping the solenoid a second and third time. Thanks for the help again, hope to hear back!
I do not think the car sitting that little time would cause mechanical issues. Has to be a ground issue, solenoid etc. . I have one car that sat for 42 years and had no issue starting. Only thing that was changed was the voltage regulator that was corroded. Will be doing same thing with a 73 Mustang that has not been started since 1982. I just finished a 73 that had sat for 27 years again no issue except that the PO put a head gasket on backwards. When I pulled head inside motor like brand new. Absolutely no rust or corrosion.
A car sitting will not cause you mechanical issues unless you let it rain in the carburetor or let varmints get in there and nest, lol. Yes a seal might leak but a car running that old leaks also.
Just keep looking. Take the starter off the car and see if it runs fine. Could be a worn out bearing and then some rust inside the starter keeping it from kicking off. You can actually bump the side of the starter with hammer while someone tries to start it.
Try just shorting out the solenoid with a screw driver between the hot wire and the closest terminal coming out the side of the solenoid. That should crank the engine over and has nothing to do with key or safety switch. If that works then look at the ignition switch adjustment on the steering column.
I had electrical issues nothing to see wrong, lol.

When a man is in the woods and talks and no women are there is he still wrong??
WHERE is the click coming from? solenoid or starter? NSS will stop anything from happening, it's clicking so that ain't it.

You've replaced the solenoid and it does the exact same thing? Have you tried jumping the solenoid from the small S terminal to the battery side post??

If jumping the solenoid doesn't turn it over see what the voltage is when you hit START. Since you already put in a new, charged battery my money is on a bound-up starter.


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I would pull all of the spark plugs and then try it.

“If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.”
--Albert Einstein
Thank you guys for all of the replies. I ended up tracing the issue back to the wire connecting the solenoid to the starter, it wasn't connected tight enough.  I tightened it more and it cranked right over.  However, now I have a different issue, which is keeping it running.  I was able to get it to start but it idled very rough and then eventually just died out. So today I just replaced all the plugs (.035 gap, which is the gap I found to be the consensus online for the 302) and the wires, along with the ignition coil, and the distributor cap and rotor.  after replacing all of that, now it won't even start at all.  I dont think I mixed up the firing order but thats the first thing I am going to re-check tomorrow.  Feel free to help me spitball ideas as to why this thing isnt wanting to run smoothly (or at all). in the meantime Ill be troubleshooting and keeping you guys posted.  Thanks again for all the replies.


P.S: There is a wire coming directly from the distributor leading to the ignition coil, is that wire supposed to be on the positive terminal of the coil or the negative? I forgot to take a note of which wire goes where before I removed them from the old coil.
I'm pretty sure it should be on + since it controls spark and the ground or - is a common. You're right, first step is double check all your wires, and make sure they're right, after that its fuel flow, engine turning over, active spark, and the exhaust shouldn't cause a problem unless you have a bent valve.
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