Why did my Suburban just die?

Today I drove my 95 GMC Suburban fairly heavily - about 250 miles. Getting home after the last leg (20 miles), I turned off the car in the driveway, then realized I wanted to move it.
I tried to start it - the lights were still on, along with various other accessories. As I turned the key, everything turned on for a fraction of a second, but before I heard the starter turn, everything dropped dead, leaving me with a dark car - no electrical power whatever. Turning the key again got zero, nada, nothing.
I thought about jumpstarting, and hooked up the battery to the jumper cables. Touching the contacts together got a nice fat spark - the battery had plenty of juice. The cables seem to be tightly attached.
Is there some kind of master breaker or fuse that may have tripped? What else could have happened?
thanks,
Peter Trei
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Given that you pointlessly crossposted this to rec.autos.makers.chrysler, I'd guess your '95 Suburban just died of envy when a new Hemi-equipped Ram drove by.
On Sun, 8 Aug 2004, Peter Trei wrote:

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Today I drove my 95 GMC Suburban fairly heavily - about 250 miles. Getting home after the last leg (20 miles), I turned off the car in the driveway, then realized I wanted to move it.
I tried to start it - the lights were still on, along with various other accessories. As I turned the key, everything turned on for a fraction of a second, but before I heard the starter turn, everything dropped dead, leaving me with a dark car - no electrical power whatever. Turning the key again got zero, nada, nothing.
I thought about jumpstarting, and hooked up the battery to the jumper cables. Touching the contacts together got a nice fat spark - the battery had plenty of juice. The cables seem to be tightly attached.
Is there some kind of master breaker or fuse that may have tripped? What else could have happened?
thanks,
Peter Trei
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Peter Trei wrote:

Hi Peter...
Not a car guy; just an old retired electrical guy... :)
Having said that, I'll betcha a dollar against a donut that if you'll disconnect the battery cables at the battery, clean 'em up nice and shiny, and put them back - you'll be fine :)
Should you (or anyone) be interested in what causes this, here we go...
The terminals corrode a little, leaving the connection much like a - if you looked at it through a microscope - like a mountain range of peaks and valleys.
The connection between those peaks is sufficient to let you operate as long as you don't draw too much current. But when you tried to engage the starter, those "peaks" got real hot real sudden, and melted. Blew like little fuses :)
Take care.
Ken
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Cleaning them eh? You just saved me from going out and spending $20 on new terminals!! Thanks!! :-)
--
80Knight
(1991 Pontiac Bonneville SSE Sedan)
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Their are fusible links in the wiring to the starter. First check your fuses, then battery cables, at both ends. Then check the wires at the starter. Next check the starter relay. Then check the fusible links. Charles
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I had the exact same problem today with my '91 Bonneville. It actually happened twice. The car was running fine, I shut it off, and when I started it again, everything turned on for, as you said, a fraction of a second, and then everything went dead. No power what so ever. No radio, no dash lights, nothing. The problem for me was (this may sound stupid) that the positive battery cable on my car had wiggled itself loose, so no matter how charged my battery was, the car was not getting any juice. Now, I apologize if this is not your problem, but it was mine and it has happened to me on a couple of my cars. A quick fix (all you have to do is replace the prong, or in a pinch, tighten the prong again), but it can be a pain.

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