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Pontiac Bonneville Starting/Stallling/Ignition Problems

boschlerboschler Posts: 6
Hope someone can help me with a real bugger. My son's '96 SSE locked up at a light last Nov. before he shipped off to Iraq. Thinking he ran low on oil, etc. the car sat until I decided to look into it this week. Pulled pan - ok..Found it to be hydro. locked on #1 (egr pipe came out of plenum, which melted through coolant passage). Pulled all plugs & checked compression - all around 150 with fair battery. Replaced intake manifold gaskets, plenum & all other related gaskets. Now, engine won't start. Occasionally get random firing, that's all. I have spark, injector pulses, 45psi fuel rail pressure. Checked & rechecked for a connector I missed. Any ideas? I'm thinking stale gas would still allow car to start. Hoping I didn't jump a tooth on the timing gears, but don't know if I would have this much compression. I should note the security light is on, but it was on with car running ok last year. Any way to disable that? Thanks!


  • rwawvwrwawvw Posts: 3
    I have a 1996 Bonneville that has ran perfect until a few days ago.I started the car aand it ran for a few seconds then died, and would not start(spins over fine). I then noticed that the power windows do not work as well as the door locks, interior lights and daytime headlights.The interior lights will work with the switch and so will the headlights.I don't think the fuel pump is running also.What could possibly be common to all this? I'm lost!!
  • azuazu Posts: 84
    Probably a bad ground. Seems to be a common problem with the Bonnies. I have a 95 and found the 3 grounds under the hood had a lot of oxidation. Two more grounds in the trunk by the top of the wheel wells and two in pass compartment one on drivers side and one in passengers front side just next to the door under the dash. Hope that helps!
  • rwawvwrwawvw Posts: 3
    Thanks for the info, however could not find any ground bad or loose. The positive cable end was coroded but cleaned it and no better. When I hooked up the cable the interior lights worked till the key was turned on, then nothing, It was like the ECM was reseting but still won't start or windows and door locks don't work. Have never ran across this one.
  • azuazu Posts: 84
    Two points:

    1) You said "no start". Does engine crank or not?
    2) Security Light probably not thee issue as you have fuel pressure.
  • boschlerboschler Posts: 6
    Hi, thanks for the reply.
    1. Yes, engine cranks like crazy. If I open up throttle wide, it sounds like it wants to catch, bu no dice. I just bought a can of starter fluid (in case gas is stale) & gave it a shot in the intake rubber between throttle body & air cleaner - no difference.
    2. Yea, I opened up the owner's manual & learned the same thing. Ignition key can't be it either as it cranks.

    I'm starting to worry that the sudden stop of crank either allowed cam to jump a tooth, or perhaps the vibration dampener slipped(?) That is where the tone wheel is for the crank sensor, no? I worked for Oldsmobile up to '88 & remember something about them, but have forgotten a bunch as well...
  • boschlerboschler Posts: 6
    Saw this post. Son's car had same thing. Shut it off & would crank, but no start. Wierd stuff with the indicator lights as well. Turned out to be the "inside" positive battery cable. When you tighten the cable, it makes good contact with the starter cable, but the red insulation material prevents good contact on the inside cable. If you have room, put a regular or lock washer between cables. You might need a longer bolt to try this. If it now starts, best bet is to get new terminal ends. You can leave the lock washer on, but it loosened up on our car after 6 months or so.. Good luck
  • azuazu Posts: 84
    I think you may have answered your own question. I would suspect in order of probability;
    1) Damage to vibration damper
    2) Timing chain and/or sprocket damage
    3) Failed Crankshaft sensor
    4) Failed Camshaft Sensor.
    5) Failed ECM

    Good Luck!
  • boschlerboschler Posts: 6
    I guess I was hoping for a solution other than my suspicions. I'm having a hard time believing timing chain jumping just one tooth. Normally, the cam gear strips & all hell braks loose.
    One thing I'm going to do is pull the dampener to check the crank key. That would seem to be the weakest link in the picture to me. I'll post whatever I find. I'm taking the night off of this one...:)
  • bozblbozbl Posts: 2
    I have a 97 Bonneville. I tried to start it. The security light flashes, but it will not crank. I have checked the battery cables, the park-neutral security switch. I have jumped the starter and it works fine. I bought a new key, but it still will not crank. I read an earlier post that it could be a starter enable relay control switch, but I can't locate that under the dash. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 24,099
    The flashing security light should go off in 3 minutes. Then you can try the key again. It means it read the wrong resistance from the chip in the key. And when you try to turn the key to start three times it locks down everything for three minutes.

    It would be broken wires in the steering column, it could be dirty contact wires in the ignition lock, it could be...

    You can put alcohol on the key chip area and put it into the ignition lock several times to get alcohol in there to clean the contact wires. It may help.

    There is a way to cut the wires going up into the the steering column and replace the key at the top with a resistor at the bottom to make the box read the right resistance.

    Was the tilt column moved up and down a lot? How many miles on the car?

    The resistance system is called VATS if you want to search for info on the web.

    2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT, 2015 Cruze 2LT,

  • rwawvwrwawvw Posts: 3
    I have looked at all the grounds I can find, none bad. I would like to know if the BCM could have blew, because the positive battery cable was bad corroded? Vehicle turns over fine but will not start and power windows,door locks interior lights and daytime headlights don't work. Any help will be savored forever. Thanks
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 24,099
    Do you have spark at the spark plugs while cranking?
    Do you have fuel injectors working during cranking?
    Do you have fuel pressure?

    Next door neighbor just had a 97 Monte Carlo with 40K that lost its fuel pump. It had sat a lot in the garage and was driven on low fuel levels most of the time since he inherited it from his dad.

    2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT, 2015 Cruze 2LT,

  • bozblbozbl Posts: 2
    Thanks you for the information.
    The car has 117K.
    I did try the alcohol with no result.
    It could have been the tilt wife was the last one to drive the car... I know should not have let her get behind the wheel...
    I will check out the VATS system on the internet.
    Thanks again...
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 24,099 - icle.pdf

    These two links may help.

    Send me an email and I can send you some other links to help you learn how to do it yourself it you're interested in on the floor work! Email is in my profile info; click on my name in the message title line to see the profile.

    2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT, 2015 Cruze 2LT,

  • bderisbderis Posts: 2
    maybe some of you can help w/ this...

    I stopped to make a left turn a few days ago & my engine died while idling. & now it won't start again & the power brakes & steering won't re-engage when I turn the key (the other things come on -- lights, fuel pump, radio).

    The engine has been having problems idling & cruising (+ acceleration hesitation) for some time now whenever the gas goes below half a tank. It wasn't always this bad, it used to last a whole tank & gradually started showing problems w/ more fuel in the tank. now it's up to half. Before, the car has killed once or twice w/ the same problem but has restarted & been fine after I refilled the tank.

    I think the problem began a few yrs ago when I left the gas cap off for an extended period of time (for maybe a week or so). Immediately after that my engine would start whistling when the gas got within 1/8 of a tank or less. At the same time, my gauge went out of whack & seems to be off by as much as a 1/4 of a tank, depending on whether I'm cruising, accelerating, or idling. This time after it died I was able to add 12 gallons before it was full, although the meter said gas was just under half full.

    I can hear the fuel pump come on and it was replaced w/in the last 40k mi, so it should be working...
    I just changed the fuel filter hoping it would help, but the thing still won't start. I think my fuel may be contaminated.

    Does anyone agree? I think I should drain the tank & refill it (at the same time maybe add an engine/ignition system cleaner). But before I drain the tank, are there some easy things I should check? The Haynes manual has a few suggestions for erratic idling, but my problem is pretty specific w/ the broken gauge & the car crapping out when fuel level is not high.

    just for the record I have 184k mi on it. Oh, 1 more thing - the car is parked behind a gas station, so I'm trying to fix it before it gets towed (or before I have to have it towed).

  • azuazu Posts: 84
    Based on what you stated I would think there is debris in the tank blocking your fuel. Unless your fuel pump has come loose. Do you smell gasoline vapors from the rear?
  • bderisbderis Posts: 2
    I haven't noticed any unusual gasoline smell before, just the normal fumes. But then again, maybe I was just used to the smell... I wish I could start the engine to try to smell again but I can't now.

    It rained at one point when the gas cap was off so I suspect that dirty rain may have gotten into the tank.

    It's always been strange that when I refill the tank all the way there is no problem, but only when the fuel becomes closer to 1/2 or 1/4 full there is a problem.

    If I drain the tank what should I do with the gas that comes out? It's probably bad (or illegal) to just pour it down a normal drain).

    thanks again
  • boschlerboschler Posts: 6
    Problem Solved!
    Well, after spending this morning pulling timing cover & finding everything ok (all steel cam gear btw), I put (front 3) fresh plugs in & removed the springs from the cat. convertor pipe just in case the antifreeze got in & plugged the catalyst. Engine started right up, ran rough for a bit, then cleared. Re-connected cat. & still ran good. Even though they looked good & having checked plugs on two cylinders outside the engine while cranking, I figure the electrodes were shunting in the cylinders. Rule of thumb - never ignore the simplest measures......
  • I have a 97 bonneville with 151k. Engine turns over fine but will not start. Checked spark, ok. Fuel pump is turning on. Changed fuel pump relay, it ran fine for about a week. Replaced relay again, ran long enough to get into garage, put in new fuel pump drove ok in the evening, next morning same thing. Have got it started 1 time since, runs fine once I get it going.
  • azuazu Posts: 84
    I had same problem with my 95. After I replaced fuel regulator, relay and fuel pump, the problem was the crankshaft sensor.
  • azuazu Posts: 84
    Suddenly had this problem with my 95 Bonny SE. Battery is fully charged and will not crank. When I go to start I hear the solenoid kick on and starter moves the engine "one notch" and then nothing. Either the starter crapped out or I may have a bad ground suddenly. I'm betting it's the starter. I just had the serpentine belt replaced hours before. Maybe a connection? Anyone have any thoughts. Usually when a starter goes it does nothing or just runs without rotating the engine. The engine does move when cranked but only few inches. No warning symptoms! :confuse:
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 24,099
    Check battery cables and battery post. If you have the double layer positive battery cable be sure the washer between the top and bottom cable is good. Clean removing all corrosion on the cable connections and retighten well.

    Check into the ends of the cables for corrosion down in the copper wires beyond the ends. Some acids from batteries have corroded cables down in.

    It sounds like you're getting reduced power as in poor connection. Occasionally a battery post has broken inside the battery causing a make and break contact situation.

    Is your battery good? Have you tried jumping the battery?

    I replaced starter on 98 and it had given weakened sounds occasionally for a year like I had a weakening battery or poor charg9ing. Turned out to be the starter. Rebuilt by Delco authorized local store. Guy mentioned that solenoids die because of oil leaking into them and their contacts from oil hanging on the edge of the oil pan... Mine had very little but there was some. I never get a drop on the driveway...
    135000 miles and lots of short trips on the car so lots of starts.

    2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT, 2015 Cruze 2LT,

  • azuazu Posts: 84
    All the posts are clean and infact I recently replaced the connectors to the battery. Battery is about a year old.(I had a ground problem a few months back). I'll have to check the starter cable when I get a chance. Car has 190,000 miles and when it runs it rides and runs better than some new cars. Thanks!

    P.S. I did try to jump as at first I thought it was the battery.
  • stewcstewc Posts: 12
    Easiest way to see if its the starter is pop it off, "not hard to do." Take it to a local AutoZone, Napa, or TopLine or some other auto-parts store, and see if they can test it. They'll test it and see if its bad or not. I recently had to replace my starter in a 94 Bonneville.
  • azuazu Posts: 84
    I had someone look at it and said it was the alternator. He took the belt off and it started after he attempted with fail with the belt on. As always with old cars, once you fix one thing, something else will fail after that! I guess I am off to either the junk yard or auto store for another!
  • stewcstewc Posts: 12
    So the alternator was bad? Hm, that's weird. I don't see why the alternator failing would keep the car from starting. It would just pull from the battery...
  • azuazu Posts: 84
    Well it wasn't the alternator. After taking the advice of my daughters friend, I went to the salvage yard and installed the alternator. It actually is the a/c compressor pulley has seized. I'm off again to the salvage yard! :mad:
  • guestguest Posts: 770
    Thanks for the info. Wouldn't that have a code? Do you have any idea where it is located?
  • azuazu Posts: 84
    I guess you don't know what the OBC is. It is an on board computer that controls and monitors your engine and transmission performance, especially emissions control. This computer will store information, especially emission sensor status. Should an event occur, such as stalling, the computer usually will store a "code" that will pin point what sensor(s) or problem caused it. Usually the check engine light will come on, but not always. In order to "read" these codes, you would need a diagnostic computer to extract the code. Most garages use them and you can buy them at a local auto parts store. I hope that helps you. Good luck!
  • I'm sorry, I meant where the crankshaft sensor is located on the Bonneville. I thought the crankshaft sensor should generate a code if it was failing. I checked no codes. Thanks for replying.
  • azuazu Posts: 84
    The sensor is located behind the crankshaft pully by the timing chain cover. Good luck. I had mine replaced and solved my stalling and no start problems. It also did not set any codes.
  • I have a 1997 Bonneville that just won't start sometimes. It won't crank at all. Lights, radio, everything works. I wait about 10 minutes and it will start. Now I have been having to wait even longer. I can get it jumped and it will start. It started out just doing it every few months, then every few weeks, then every few days, to now many times a day. I was told the battery needed replaced so I put in a new heavy duty battery. Still having problems. I was also told that it could be the control module by the asst mgr at an auto parts store. He said that he has heard of other bonneville with the same problems. Can anyone help? You know how car repair shops can be when a female walks in. Thanks
  • stewcstewc Posts: 12
    Well, you can try the starter. It could need replaced. Or just have the shims realigned on the bolts. I'm having the same problem right now with my 1994 Bonneville. Does it seem to only happen when it's cold out?
  • Thanks for your help. It does it whether it is hot or cold. Have you changed your starter yet? Did that help?
  • I have a 92 bonneville sse and it when it heats up it dies and wont start til it cools down, its not over heating but when it dont start there is no spark to the plugs or anywhere it still turns over. we at first thought it was the fuel pump we changed that the fuel filter the spark plugs and the ignition control module and it is still having the problem. please help me?
  • it only does it when its hot and the starter works perfect
  • tempatures outside dont seem to affect it only when the car gets warmed up it sometimes dies and other times when i turn off the car i cant start it it happens about 15 min of driving or idling after that i shut it off and then it wont start til it cools down between 5-10 minutes of it being off
  • if anyone can help me please email me at, [email protected] my pc is having troubles loading this site
  • tamwatamwa Posts: 1
    My husband was driving our '96 Pontiac Bonneville when it shut off in front of our apartment. He said that it had lost acceleration and smoke was coming from the muffler. Well, when he tried to start it again, it wouldn't start. Everything works (lights, radio, locks,etc.). It sounds like its about to start and them it just clicks thats it. Can anyone give me an idea of what may be wrong.
  • I've been having troubles keeping my car running. I drove it yesterday afternoon, and it started and ran fine. Yesterday evening, it would barely start. After a jump, it was stalling for a few miles, then ran fine. It sat over night, and would not turn over at all this morning. The battery is good, the alternator is good, and the starter is good. It seems like there might be something draining my battery, but I can't be sure. My turn signals went out, so i replaced the bulbs, finding water pooled inside them. When the car dies, the power locks, windows, or any indicators don't work. If anyone's dealt with this, please let me know of some of the possible solutions. Thanks. I appreciate it.
  • azuazu Posts: 84
    Had same problem with my 95. Found it had a bad ground or two. Checked all grounds (I think there are 6) and found one touching where it shouldn't and two that had oxidation. Cleaned them off and that problem stopped! The two I would check first are under the hood as these are the ones I believe where I had the problem.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 24,099
    I've seen reports of the interior things you're commenting ork and don't work traces to ground buss bars in the lower wire bundle in the A pillar next to the parking brake near the floor and back along the driver's door under sill/along sill there's another connection. They're wrapped inside lots of electrical tape usually. Moisture causes corrosion there. Remove, clean, protect, replace.



    2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT, 2015 Cruze 2LT,

  • azuazu Posts: 84
    This car is awesome when it is running. I have had it since February and it seems to be down more than it's up. The continuing problem is starting. It will run flawless but then after you park it and come back or the next day it will crank and not turn over. When this first happened it was bad grounds. Cleaned them and problem went away for a month. Then it wouldn't start again. Fuel pump not turning on. Replaced fuel filter, relay, regulator and fuel pump. Fuel pump was not bad but replaced it anyway since we had the tank off. Replaced crankshaft sensor and it started. Then I decided to replace serpentine belt as it was worn. Well the compressor pulley seized and had to replace that as well as the harmonic balancer which went because of the pulley. Car ran great for the past 6 weeks and all of a sudden it wouldn't start again. Now I was parked on a hill and the fuel was low so we added about 5 gallons. We got the car to turn over and moved it to level ground. Now the car will turn over and run for maybe 30 seconds and die. Had mechanic hook up computer to on board computer and could not pull any codes. I am wondering now if it is the on board computer as certainly it should have set some codes. Any thoughts?
  • ph71ssph71ss Posts: 1
    I had a 92 SE until New years day and somebody totaled it when it was parked. Anyway, I had the same problem about 2 mos. ago. the problem in my car was the ignition module under the coil pack. It cost 107.00 at advance auto parts. Changed it and car was running sweet with 166000 miles on it till it got smashed. good luck
  • hi, im new here, i was just wondering, i went to start my 93 pontiac bonneville and it wont turn over at all, no clicking or cranking-nothing. the lights still work so does the door chime, i tried having it jumped. its got one of those remote starters-can anyone give me an idea what it might be, cant tow it right now im broke so i kinda hoped it would be something i could get at the store and bring home to fix it. HELP!
  • I have a 1993 Pontiac Bonneville that won't start. All the lights come on and the power windows work but it won't start. It has chip in the key for the ignition, could that be it? I want to take it in to the mechanic but would like to have some idea what what might be wrong with it first.
  • marialomarialo Posts: 1
    My 93 Bonneville wont start. it turns, but wont catch. I was at a light and when i tried to take off, it cut off. I've replaced the crank sensor, harmonic balancer, icm, fuel is getting to the engine, and the starter is good. what's next PLEASE HELP
  • fabriennefabrienne Posts: 1
    Hi, OK, My car is turning but it refuses to turn over and start. When I turn the key it just turns, it seems like it's not catching a spark OR getting gas to somewhere. Then again it might be electrical, it's almost like I'm trying to steal my own car! I could get a diagnostic check if I could start the car and actually drive it to a shop. I've heard things like ignition coil/module, key pad battery, (keyless entry) and alot of other things that dont sound promising. Though now and again it will start when it feels like it. To me it sounds like something is off set (electrical) :mad:
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