Truck died today when driving

Disclaimer: Links on this page pointing to Amazon, eBay and other sites may include affiliate code. If you click them and make a purchase, we may earn a small commission.

sgrinavi

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2022
Posts
52
Reaction score
28
Location
Fort Myers, FL
First Name
Steve
Truck Year
1981
Truck Model
K20
Engine Size
350
81 K20, 5.7, 4 speed, 160k miles

Today I was driving along in 4th gear at around 2k rpm and the truck just died, I depressed the clutch pedal, turned the key and it fired right back up.

It was like the key was shut off, all the gauges went back to the off position so I'm pretty sure it's not a fuel issue.

Ignition switch or lock cylinder going bad? That's wouldn't be an HEI issue, right?

This is the second time it's happened in as many months. Both times it hot and humid, if that matters, but not raining.
 

TotalyHucked

Full Access Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2020
Posts
2,713
Reaction score
8,787
Location
Auburn, Georgia
First Name
Zach
Truck Year
1985
Truck Model
Sierra 1500
Engine Size
5.3
That could be many things. First and foremost, check all of your grounds. After that, I'd inspect the wiring from the dizzy/HEI unit. If all of that looks good, you may have a failing Ignition Control Module. The same thing happened in my '85 when it still had the 305 in it. It would randomly die, always when hot, and it was a crap shoot if it would start back up or not. Pull the ICM out and inspect, clean and put a small amount of dielectric grease on it. I'd try that before I bought a new one (but it's always good to carry one in the glovebox, they're prone to failure)
 

scrap--metal

Full Access Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2021
Posts
678
Reaction score
1,266
Location
MN
First Name
Calvin
Truck Year
'85, '81
Truck Model
K10, K20
Engine Size
305, 350
My first thought was ignition control module as well.

but it's always good to carry one in the glovebox, they're prone to failure)
It's definitely worth having a spare, even if it's out of an old crusty distributor just for emergency use.
 

scrap--metal

Full Access Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2021
Posts
678
Reaction score
1,266
Location
MN
First Name
Calvin
Truck Year
'85, '81
Truck Model
K10, K20
Engine Size
305, 350
If all the gauges turned off its a power issue, not ignition, not fuel. Start the truck wiggle battery cables ignition switch harness etc. see if you can duplicate the problem
I agree that it's not a fuel issue, but the truck wouldn't die while cruising at 2000 rpm from a loose battery cable. It would continue to run off the alternator.

If the op really lost all power to the gauges, maybe it's a connection at the fuse block? Ignition swith connection is also a good thought.
 

Ricko1966

Full Access Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2017
Posts
4,060
Reaction score
5,895
Location
kansas
First Name
Rick
Truck Year
1975
Truck Model
c20
Engine Size
350
I agree that it's not a fuel issue, but the truck wouldn't die while cruising at 2000 rpm from a loose battery cable. It would continue to run off the alternator.

If the op really lost all power to the gauges, maybe it's a connection at the fuse block? Ignition swith connection is also a good thought.
Okay it probably wouldn't die from a loose battery cable,it could,though. Depends on how the alternator is wired,and who wired it. On my 83 someone has the alternator charging lead hooked directly to battery + at the post,my 66 is set up the same way. My 75 alternator charge wire goes to starter plus so does my 86. So on the 83 and the 66 if you lose contact from battery plus to starter plus you lose everything. He needs to wiggle as many power and grounds as he can.
 

Radiohead

Reducing tire diameter 1000 revolutions at once
Joined
Mar 17, 2022
Posts
1,815
Reaction score
5,915
Location
Low Earth Orbit
First Name
Eric
Truck Year
MCMLXXIX
Truck Model
C-20 Silverado Camper Special
Engine Size
454 crazy cubes, or 7.4 luscious litres
If all the gauges turned off its a power issue, not ignition, not fuel. Start the truck wiggle battery cables i, keys,gnition switch harness etc. see if you can duplicate the problem
Yeah, I had to re-read the description of the fault to catch that. Yes, it's an issue at a battery terminal, or at either lug at the starter or ground; could be where the intermittent connection is happening. As well as previous descriptions of things to check.
 

Camar068

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2014
Posts
4,156
Reaction score
3,012
Location
Kentucky
First Name
David
Truck Year
1986
Truck Model
K10/LM7 5.3/4L60e/np208/3.73/32"
Engine Size
10 yrs Air Force
I like to blame the distributor connector.
100% agree, had one wire that had a butt connector on it and it lost connection over bumps. Check those first, takes 3 minutes. If you see a crimp connector at the terminal on the dizzy, close it up a bit with pliers to make the contact better.

Took 2 experiences to learn that one. Only takes 10 seconds under the hood to diagnose once you've been thru it lol.
 

Forum statistics

Threads
42,087
Posts
908,638
Members
33,560
Latest member
bgeise
Top