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Chevrolet Impala Lighting/Electrical Problems



  • Have you tried turning up the dimmer switch on the headlight pull out knob.
    I believe if you turn the knob ;) clockwise your dash lights will get brighter again.

    My 02 Impala does the same thing. I just turn up the dimmer switch.
  • No, the lights don't respond brighter/dimmer whether I turn it clock/counterclockwise, just stay really really really dim.
  • loosenutloosenut Posts: 165
    i am SO glad i stopped driving bowtie stuff a while ago..a friend who makes some extra coin changing brahes and other minor repairs had a friend of his dad's with a-02 impala-the turn signal's stopped flashing after five times..seems the flasher is integrated with the sound system to alert dummies when they leave their signal on for miles..UNFORTUNATELY, to replace the stupid thing requires pulling the top of the dash just to get to it,THEN the flasher was $150. of course,you couldn't just replace it with a regular flasher..
    mom had a-89 baretta,and it was another one where the turn signal and brake lites were always screwed up,and she bought it new!!
    ..i stear clear of G-ENERAL M-ALFUNTION products,and it's a shame,they used to be the industry standard..when they can't turn out a product with the electrical systems any better than the english,it's time to close the doors and go home!!
  • cnwcnw Posts: 105
    I don't know what the cost is, or what the procedures are for replacement, but it sounds like the resistor/rheostat has gone bad. It generally varies the resistance as you turn the knob, and thus decreases/increase the current flow and the brightness of the light. Sorry--I just know the electronics principles; I don't have any practical experience working on the Impala.

    Anyone out there have experience replacing the dimmer switch; any help for intimidator3cs? Thanks, Clark
  • 77067706 Posts: 2
    The multifunction switch was shorted out.The dealer has no idea why niether does general motors.Just had to replace the guarantee it wont do it again.A very expensive repair to keep the headlights on.Its no wonder Toyota has the top spot now.
  • nosirrahgnosirrahg Little Rock, ARPosts: 872
    The car I had before my Impala was a Toyota, and it had as as many (or possibly more) problems as I've had with my Impala, though neither has given me enough trouble for me to consider either of them "bad" vehicles that I wouldn't buy again. Thus far in life I've owned one Dodge, a Buick, a Toyota, two Chevrolets, a Jeep, two Fords, a Geo, and a Honda. Each had their share of problems, but other than one of the Fords (which was actually my wife's car originally), I really couldn't complain about any of the others. The Honda has probably given us the least trouble, but it's only a few years old, so I wouldn't expect it to start having issues at this point. A quick google search will show you that no manufacturer is immune from building lemons; each makes some vehicles that are better than others, but you can't make blanket statements about an entire manufacturer's product line much anymore, since they've all got some good, and some not so good car out there.
  • quietproquietpro Posts: 702
    Amen! Bashing of American makes (which are more and more non-American made) is really getting old. I've owned American cars exclusively (with the exception of the mostly Mazda Ford Probe) since the late 80s. I've had cars that were solid black circles from Consumer Reports and yet, I've had no real problem with any of them.

    The general perception out there, perpetuated by the press, is that American makes are inferior. But, the folks who are parroting those claims usually have no idea about the modern car business nor any mechanical knowledge about how a car "works." Once the seed is planted, owners of American cars will see every minor flaw as proof of the American car curse while owners of import brands will discount any problem as an exception to the rule. If you look for negatives, you'll find them just as you would positive attributes.

    Even though the Impala is an old design underneath its fairly fresh skin, it's a great car for the money. It's packed with features, many of which aren't available on its competitors, and the major technology is tried and true. Are there some recurring problems, sure (the ISS comes to mind). But, most are annoyances rather than REAL problems. In addition, repairs are usually half of what they would be with a Japanese or European brand (and that's being generous).

    Before anyone buys a car, they should feel confident in their decision and have confidence in the company to which they're paying such a large amount of money. If not, then they only have themselves to blame. Wallowing in self-pity and blaming problems on an old truth isn't an effective way of dealing with problems.
  • I have an 02 Impala with a defective combination switch too! I totally agree with your post!

    I can't believe GM doesn't recall this item!! I have driven down the road and my headlights have gone out when switching from high to low beam!!

    Eventually, after someone gets killed, GM may respond after the family of the deceased sues them.

    I've had American Cars almost all my life- my 1967 Nova with the inlicne 6cyl was more reliable than my 2002 Impala!

    Chevy just doesn't care about quality or customer service any more! :mad:

    The Impala is a complete lemon! :lemon:
    So far my impala had:

    1) Defective BCM (causes "security light to blink and headlights/dashlights to blink)
    2) Defective Passlock sensor (Ignition system- causes delay in the key working properlY)
    3) Defective intake manifold gasket (leaks antifreeze!)
    4) Defective Combination switch (headlights go out while driving at night!)
    5) Steering wheel noise (defective input shaft)

    These items should be part of mass recall!!

    I actually purchase a Japanese SUV last year. 18k miles with no problems!!

    Bye bye Chevy!!
  • To all those with "BCM" issues on the Impala:

    I have an 01 with a 3.4 L engine, and I have experienced many of the same strange electrical problems as many of you on this thread. Specifically, I have encountered the following:

    - Intermittent no start/no click/no crank - no nothing
    - Parasitic drain on the battery that can be traced to the circuit hosting the BCM/CLSTR fuse
    - Radio possessed by the devil
    - Interior lighting that turns on and off whenever it wants to.
    - ABS light on constantly
    - No trouble codes set
    - I honestly don't know how much $$ I have spent replacing perfectly good parts.

    Now, some of the common issues I've seen on this thread that my car has NOT exhibited (at least not yet):
    - Flashing security light
    - Combination headlight switch
    - Four-way flasher switch.

    Here is what I've done so far:

    By last week, I had hit so many dead ends with this car, that I decided to roll the dice and buy a new BCM. I installed it, and much to my delight, my car started right up every time, and there was no sign of the other issues either. This excitement was short-lived however, because about six hours later - all the problems were back.

    So, after I finished an epical temper tantrum in my driveway, matched only by the great Steve Martin, I proceeded to: (1) print off about 100 pages of wiring diagrams and (2) rip apart my dash. I chose to go after the parasitic battery drain first, since I thought that would be easier to find (and I was hoping it was all related).

    After about a week, I finally found it. I actually have 10 volts of power coming OUT of the BCM on the Ignition 0 circuit (#1500) - even with the key off. This is the purple wire in position A12 entering the BCM via connector C1 (the pink connector). If you have access to a wiring diagram for this circuit, you will notice that this wire is supposed to SUPPLY voltage to the BCM, not carry it from the BCM. Also note that there should be NO voltage on this circuit unless the ignition switch is in the "run" position.

    This leads to the parasitic drain on the battery, but the BCM itself is not using the power, it is supplying it to the instrument panel cluster (the "I/P") via the purple wire in position A8 of the I/P connector (Ignition 0, or circuit #1500). This voltage, in turn, powers the servo motors in the I/P that control the guages. However (in my case at least) although it is not noticeable simply by looking at the I/P, these motors are using enough power (about 500+ m/a) to drain the battery in short order. At this point, I cannot place any blame on the I/P itself, because it is just using the power that is being sent to it.

    More (perhaps even MOST) importantly, I cannot blame the BCM either. Although it has a problem, it is not THE problem. You see, I still have my old BCM as well as the new one, and it also has voltage exiting the BCM on the "A12" wire. In other words, there is a short somewhere else in the car that is "blowing" the BCM. So it doesn't matter how many of these things I buy, I will not have a permanent fix until I find the true culprit.

    So in summary, if you have similar issues, you may not want to go blow $400 on a new BCM just yet. Perhaps you may want to instead learn from my rather expensive mistake.

    Now that I know what happened, I am going after the real culprit. This is not easy when you don't know where to begin, so I am trying to locate a company that will analyze my BCM's circuit board. This should tell me which circuit is shorted. Then I will find the problem, and post it here.
  • cnwcnw Posts: 105
    Todd, I commend you for your Herculean efforts in tracking down and posting what you have discovered. You obviously have some exceptional electronics abilities combined with commitment and perseverence beyond the average person. I have read of the dreaded BCM problems for a couple years with fear that it would visit my car. Press on and keep us posted. Clark
  • jntjnt Posts: 316

    What a heroic effort !!!

    On the BCM problem, I have read somewhere in this forum that one of the culprits is the BCM vehicle connector itself of being intermitten. There was a TSB on this subject that stated some connector terminals are not making stable connection to the BCM module. That may explain the reason for your new BCM not working just like the old one since they are not the real problem.

    Ways to check for this problem:

    1. Visually inspect every wire in the BCM vehicle harness to see any one of them work its way out of the connector housing. You may want to gently pull each wire to see that problem. This may be caused by:

    a. Lousy terminal blocking mechanism design of the connector housing
    b. The cable is not long enough and causing natural pull on the wire
    c.Manufacturing defect: wire not inserted fully into the connector?
    d. The connection terminal (metal piece that is crimped onto each wire) is not crimped properly

    2. Electrical continuity check (aka. Ohmmic check, resistance check) between every wire on the vehicle connector and the circuit board connection of the BCM module. For this step, you need to open the BCM module so that you could probe the main mating connector on the BCM's circuit board. Note that a lot of Automotive circuit board use "Conformal coating" (a coating that protect circuitries moisture built-up problem) so you may have to probe past that coating layer to get to the connector pins. This will tell of there is intermitten problem. While doing that , you may just want to wiggle the vehicle cable a bit to see if certain wire(s) has the problem. For this step, you do need to connect the BCM module with the vehicle harness and ignition off. Be careful with ESD (Electrical Static Discharge) since that will zap and damage electrical circuits. So to avoid that, you use Ground trap between your body and the metal part of the car. If that that is not practical, then at least touch a metal part inside the vehicle (while holding a key) first before touching the BCM module. In the winter, ESD occurs more common due to dry air

    Good luck

  • pbotapbota Posts: 2
    I have a 2000 Impala with an intermittent headlight problem. They fail to come on automatically and even when I pull the manual switch. The automatic turns on the taillights, but not the headlights. If I leave it run for a while and cycle the manual headlight switch they usually light up, but I am worried that they are going to stop working altogether and then I am done. I have had it into the dealship and they could not find the problem as it wasn't doing it when it was there.
  • My boyfriend owns a 2002 Impala, its got about 120K on it so its starting to get up there. We have been experiencing electrical problems within the past 6 months with the wiperblades, turn signals and the change oil prompt on the dash. I used to have the same problems when I owned a 2000 Cavalier, lights inside would work wiper intermittent would get stuck.... His car is starting to do the same. His windshield wipers get stuck in the middle of the window when on intermittent and then after a few seconds start to go again, but if you just tap it to go once they are fine, go all the way without getting stuck. Also, occasionally his turn signals won't turn on and the only way to fix it is to tap the hazards and then they start to work again. Lastly, his change oil light keeps coming up even thought the oil was change about a month ago, that light just started to show in the past 2 weeks or so. What the heck is going on? Is there anything we can do to fix these problems, or is this just something because the car is getting old and it's end is near...??
  • pbotapbota Posts: 2
    I had my car into the dealership to talk through my lighting problem, he asked about other wierd conditions, like false warning lights, lights shutting off or not coming on, etc...he said the BCM (Body Computer Module) controls all of that stuff including the headlights, unfortunately they are a couple hundred bucks, but at least it should fix the problem. These newer cars with all of the computers, you never quite know what they are controlling on the vehicle any more.

    My headlight problem ended up being the relay...$8 versus $200+ for the BCM or $400+ for the turn, dimmer, switch assembly.

    Good Luck
  • nosirrahgnosirrahg Little Rock, ARPosts: 872
    I think you've got separate problems instead of one major one. I don't know about the wipers, but the turn signal not working and being able to jump-start them with the flasher button is a sure sign that your hazard switch needs to be replaced. You should be able to dig around online and find the part number fairly readily; replacing it does require removing the front of the dash, but it's actually pretty simple as I recall (removing some screws, and then popping the face plate off).

    On the oil change light; does he know for certain that the oil change light was reset when the oil was changed? The light comes on based on time/usage since the last time it was reset, but it doesn't actually examine the oil to know if it's dirty or not. You can reset the oil change light via the radio controls; I'd try that first and then if it comes back in within a week or so then you've probably got a problem.
  • Thanks for all that information... how do you reset that through the radio controls?
  • nosirrahgnosirrahg Little Rock, ARPosts: 872
    I sold my Impala last month :cry: but I do still have a pdf of the 2000 Impala owner's manual on my computer, so I looked up the details.

    Basically turn the key to the ACC or ON position, but don't turn on the radio. Push the DISP button for 5 seconds, until SETTINGS is displayed on the radio. Press the SEEK button up or down until you come to OIL LIFE. Press the PREV or NEXT button until RESET is displayed, then press the DISP button. You should hear a chime and DONE will appear on the radio. When you're done just keep scrolling with the SEEK button until you come to EXIT, and then hit DISP.
  • Thanks a lot. We figured out the main problem as to why the relay isn't working properly. He has a security system installed a few years back and the wiring is all messed up. They are going to remove it for him and rewire the car correctly and see if that helps any. But thanks for letting me know how to change the oil light. I'll definatly try that next time I'm in the car.

    We are going to be trying to see his Impala as well in the spring any suggestions?
  • nosirrahgnosirrahg Little Rock, ARPosts: 872
    Does "see" = "sell"? If so, I ran mine in the local paper, and got maybe 4-5 calls, but all from people who wanted to know if I'd take about half the price I had listed in the paper. I'd pretty much decided to keep the car around for a year and let my 15-year-old daughter drive it when she turns 16 in 2009, but then I tried listing it on craigslist. I only had one response, but I sold it to that person. I didn't get what I was asking for it, but I did get more than people were offering from the newspaper (and at least this guy came and test drove it before he started negotiating the price). Considering the money I saved on insurance and the partial refund I got on the sales tax (for selling it within 45 days of buying my new car), I pretty much got what I was asking for the car. My only other advice is to get the car detailed; I meant to but really didn't think I'd have any luck selling it...if I'd had it thoroughly detailed I'd have probably gotten several hundred more dollars for it.
  • My wife has an 07 impala that has some intermittant problems that i was wondering if anyone else experiences. While driving all guages shut down, still drives fine but is scary. It wont start at times, either by remote or key. When that happens, windows and lights work, onstar guages and radio do not. Been in shop 4 times, cant figure it out.
  • I have 2003 police edition impala. I recenetly had a problem with the power windows. I went down, but not up. I took it to a mechanic, and he checked the switch, cable, and motor, and it was none of faults. He said it was electrical problem. i been to other shops and no one seems to know how to mess with the electrical system. What can i do?
  • nosirrahgnosirrahg Little Rock, ARPosts: 872
    I had a 2000 model and had the window quit in the down position at one problem was the switch; I'd had some warning signs previous to it's failure though...found at time I had to hold the switch a certain way for it to work and such. I'd say if you were having some similar signs you should probably consider the switch, especially if it was only one window (likely the driver's side).

    FWIW when mine went out I couldn't leave it down, because I was going to a conference the next day and would have to leave the car parked overnight downtown. I went to Radio Shack and bought a set of small jumper wires (with alligator clamps on each end); I removed the switch from the door, unplugged the wires, and then jumped the wires for the driver's door to the adjacent switch for the passenger window, and was able to use that switch to roll the window up. Then I left the switch out of the door, so I wouldn't absentmindedly open it again by mistake (the switch would open fine, but not close).
  • :cry:

    I have been struggling with a problem with my 2003 Impala Sport over the last 6 weeks, and there seems to be no solution.

    It started when my impala lost the ability to spray washer fluid, it just stopped, and the whole arm unit with the wiper controls that sticks out of the steering column was the culprit, so that whole unit was replaced. $800.00 later, I could spray washer fluid. I went to pick my car up from the dealer, and the battery was completely dead. After a boost I was on my way home. This was Friday, and on Monday my battery was dead again.

    I took the car back to the dealer, and they put a new battery in, and worked fine for almost a week, and then it died. They replaced it with another one, and another week later, died again. I made an 'x' on the batteries, so knew that they were replacing them for sure.

    I decided to take the car to another dealer, and they had it for days, saying in the end that no problems were found with anything like alternator, starter, trickle power draw, and the battery itself. Eventually, when the battery had died again, they declared the faulty battery was the cause. cry. So they put another battery in, and I went home (40 minutes north) and 2 days later (yesterday) it was dead again.

    Initially, the dealer assumed it was my satellite receiver, but that is never plugged in overnight, only when I am in the car. That was ruled out after leaving it at the dealer for the weekend after they put their new battery in (all batteries have been delco), and was dead in their lot over the weekend.

    SO, here is my conclusion, which I mentioned to the dealer:

    The replacement of the Wiper control arm is the cause of the subsequent power problems. Somehow. Not sure how, but could it be faulty? Or put in wrong? A short maybe? Could it be something else completely?

    Although the dealer agreed this could be an issue, they just keep replacing batteries, and I am getting very frustrated.

    If anyone here has any thoughts, would appreciate it. I am planning on just going to another dealer, and asking them to go right to where I believe the problem is, and paying them to check the part and reinstall it. I really don't know what to do, but I commute 40 mins to work, and having a constantly dead car is causing me and my wife a lot of headaches.

  • emx72emx72 Posts: 3
    Check for a parasitic drain, the way its done is below you can use a test light or volt meter, I also would be concerned that if its not a grain it may be BCM related (but rare). Let us know what happens

    1. Remove the negative side battery cable from the negative battery terminal.
    2. Attach an ammeter(this measures amperage) between the negative cable and the negative battery post. wait a few seconds to several minutes for the car to go into sleep mode. i.e. when you make the contact with the test light the cars computer systems "wake up" after a bit of time they will go to "sleep".
    3. If the ammeter is reading over 25-50 milliamps, something is using too much battery power.
    4. Go to the fuse panel(s) and remove fuses, one at a time. Pull the main fuses (higher amp ratings)last.
    5. Watch for the ammeter to drop to acceptable drain. The fuse that reduces the drain is the draw. Consult the owners' manual or service manual to find what circuits are on that fuse.
    6. Check each device (circuit) on that fuse. Stop each lamp, heater, etc. to find the drain.
    7. Repeat steps 1&2 to test your repair. The ammeter will tell you exact numbers.

    EDITERS NOTE: The original author listed this repair using a 12v test light. As an ASE certified mechanic, the best place for your test light is the trash. A test light doesnt measure voltage; it shows if enough voltage is present to light the lamp.

    1. An ammeter meaures current (in amps), and that is what you are fighting against if you have a parasitic drain problem.
    2. Harbor freight sells a $3 digital multimeter (dmm) that has an amps setting. I use a Fluke, but it's whatever your trying to spend your dollars on.
  • I have a 3.8 01 Chevy impala c3 and its driving me crazy here some of the symptoms

    1. Security warning light lights up( head lights flash without warning)
    2. Power locks do not work
    3. Low tire air warning light
    3 Check engine soon light does not shoot off
    4 head light go from low beam to high beam by themselves
    5 ABS light does not go off ( break pedal gets stuck)

    Please help me guys I'm about to drive it into a canal....
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,375
    I looked up the symptoms and it says to drive it into a canal.


    Ay, ay, ay--what a mess we have would have to assume this is computer-related because I can't imagine all these different circuits actually short-circuiting by being adjacent to each other.

    Can you have the alarm system totally disconnected and see what happens?

    I really don't know where to start with this one....ay, ay, ay.... :sick:

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  • and to add problems to the list now it won't start i have to disconnect the battery wait like five minutes then connect the battery back up for the car to start..

    sorry for the added troubles

    besides that the car is in good shape..
  • lbrooks4lbrooks4 Posts: 4
    WOW, sounds like the same problems i had w/ my door locks etc and all the accessories in the car! it was the BCM then and i had that done back on November 26th, 2006 and guess what? Now having problems where the heat and rear defogger won't work. also the driver information center doesn't come on right away and during this time the sunroof won't open. When all finally does decide to come back on, the radio goes blank until i change the current station and go back. Nice huh??? i am beginning to think that my BCM is going bad again or it's something else, who know's, i'll find out today! it's CRAZY :P
  • lbrooks4lbrooks4 Posts: 4
    Well went to the dealer today for the mentioned problem with my car (message #274) and low and behold, they told me it is the ignition switch (the electrical part of it) nice. Went to another dealer and purchased the part for $116.00. Luckily hubby has the know how to install himself! Dealer told me they were looking at approximately $500.00 plus or minus. the dealer gets $110.00 an hour!!! :sick:
  • lbrooks4lbrooks4 Posts: 4
    April 23, 2008 having the same issue, just took my 01 impala ls to the dealer and they told me it was the ignition switch. bought the switch today and will probably change this weekend!! will keep posted if interested on how it goes
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