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Pontiac Bonneville Starting/Stallling/Ignition Problems



  • I have a 99 Bonneville, runs great, except on the rare occasion that the security light comes on and decides to stay on. It's done it going down the road, pulling into parking spots and when getting in to try go somewhere, and you're just stuck until it goes off...You can reset it by disconnecting the battery, most of the time, not always...any suggestions please let me know!!
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,387
    Is this the VATS light or is it the security system for the body of the car? I believe there's a trunk connection that people disconnect to get the light to go off. And I just read today about a plunger in the hood lock mentioned.

    If it's the VATS system, it should come on when the key is turned to ON and then go off within a few seconds. If it reads the wrong key chip resistance, the security light flashes for 3 minutes. After that it goes off and the TDM is ready to read a new resistance reading from the key. Vehicle Anti Theft System. Theft deterrent module.

    The reasons for wrong chip readings are dirty chip. Clean with pencil eraser.
    Worn contacts inside the key lock cylinder that contact the chip on both sides of the key.
    Breaking wires where the leads from the cylinder go through the steeering column where it flexes and the thin wires eventually start breaking, changing the resistance of the wires and the key.

    The two thin wires are inside an orange outer cover where the leads go along to the bottom of the steering column.

    Search for VATS on

    Theft alarm installers put in a bypass resistor. I read they buy packs of the 15 resistances and have them. Might be worth paying someone just to bypass it even if you don't install an alarm if you don't want to try doing it yourself
    IF that turns out to be what's happening.

    Addon. My security light on my 98 has been going on and off for years. One of the failure modes of the TDM is to decide it has lost its mind and just quit without blocking starting. I think that's what has happened with mine.

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

  • Your Ignition module that you had checked is probably bad but it does not break down untill it get hot. I had a similar problem with a oldsmobile ignition module. It checked good also but the car would not run with it in. When I replaced it the car ran fine. Make sure you put the silicone goo under the module because it helps to tranfer the heat
  • My 99 bonneville has a stalling problem. I will be driving down the road and it just cuts out. The weather conditions dont matter. It doesn't matter the amount of fuel. The common denominator when it does this is no power to the seats and windows. everything else works. It might take 5 min up to a couple hours to restart. I pulled all relays under hood by fuses and it still staarts I ran a ground from engine to fender and still didn't help Anyone have any suggestions.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,387
    I'd have to look at a factory service manual and figure out some circuits, but I'd sure be checking the battery for a defective internal contact at the time it happens. A few broken posts have made and broken contact while driving for people.

    Then I'd check the positive battery cables, cutting into the plastic near the ends looking at the integrity of the copper. Some people have reported deterioration due to acid from the battery terminal seeping and running down the cables.

    AND pull the parts of the positive cables apart. Inspect the lead piece between them. Clean them up.

    Does the car crank but now start or is there no crank? Power to the starter?

    I'd have to look at power to the seats and windows. I would think those go to the relay panel on the firewall. Check the positive line feeding there for good connection.

    Depending on those symptoms about whether the car will crank and not start or won't even crank.... try to use logic from there.

    A good set of Helm factory service manuals from Ebay for 1999 probably a 3 volume set would help you a lot right now. If you shop, just be sure to get all the volumes and don't buy a substitute.

    you also might use alldata at your local library to search out the wiring diagrams.

    I do know also that some people have had trouble with the ground busses under the door sill plastic right where it meets the A pillar. They corrode due to moisture. They are wrapped in tape and bundled with the wires going along the sill to the rear. There is one on the passenger side also.

    The power seats and window dropping out made me think of that. On my 93 the AC would default to basic with defrost and AC compressor engaged and the pwoer door locks would not work. I figured out it was the buss on the driver side. It rarely happened and I never got to fix it before we traded the car.

    I do not know if there is any ground there for a car that's running that would cause it to turn off. A check would be to hit that area with your foot to vibrate the wires and cause the corrosion to make contact again.--worth a try.

    But I'm betting on cable trouble at the battery. A few Bonneville people have put on new cables to replace some bad positive cables.

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

  • bigboy11bigboy11 Posts: 8
    edited October 2010
    bigboy11, What if you smell unburned gas in between the fuel filter and the tank? Also what or where would I find the A curcit , it says on mine A curcit Mass or Volume Air Flow Inificent?????? 1500$ later, not buying MAF either!!! I clean it and it will run better but after it sit's and then started it runs rough or will stall with a harder shift as it goes along...
  • bigboy11bigboy11 Posts: 8
    edited October 2010
    B :confuse: ig boy 11, sorry I forgot to mention my 1999 3.8 non super will stall and start right back up , stalled and started so much I had to change the starter....
  • I'm curious if you ever solved your problem. My car is doing the exact same thing, but regardless of the temperatur oustide. Mine is a little newer, too (2000). I've had some say it is either the crankshaft or camshaft sensor or the ignition module. :sick:
  • Did you ever get your's fixed?
  • carp210carp210 Posts: 2
    edited November 2010
    Having this problem for a year. No codes, mechanic says he does not want to just start changing parts, hit or miss. Car dies at highway speeds but will start back up and run fine for months. Wife afraid she will get rear ended. Also the car stutters then tach drops to zero and stays there but car continues to run fine. When engine is re started tach works fine. Read some where to try the power windows when engine dies to see if they work but not had a chance to try that. Not sure if this is related but twice the car would not start in park but started fine in neutral. How can I narrow it down without just replacing parts. Car only has about 46,00 miles.
  • Finally we have it fixed. Died twice with in 10 minutes but started right up. Took it to my local mechanic and he drove it it for a few days (40 miles) and it finally died on him. When it re started he noticed a slight miss which told him the timing was not right. Turned out to be the crankshaft sensor. Everything is working fine now and I did not have to waste my money on a hit or miss approach. Nice Christmas present.
  • i have a 2000 pontiac bonneville that wont turn over at all at first it was makeing a clicking sound once and awile when i tryed to start it but not everytime ... i changed the starter and the battery in it and its still doing the same thing i have no idea what the problem is anyone have any ideas?
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,387
    Is there a light that comes on if the key transponder does not match the security information? That's one possibility.

    If you can have the car up to get at the positive lead on the solenoid that comes from the ignition to be sure that the ignition is telling the starter to throw the solenoid to engage the full power to the starter that would be the good check.

    Then you would know the problem is in the starter or the power cables to it.

    That would determine that the starter switch is actually making contact to engage the starter as well.

    NExt I'd check the ground cable at the battery that grounds to the floor. Loosen, clean, and retighten to get good connection. Then start checking the connections on the line for the starter--the positive red cables. I'd leave the ground cable off while I was troubleshooting the connections on the positives in case you ground a wrench to the frame while tightening, etc.

    Check the connections on the red positive battery cable at the fuse block in the engine compartment. I assume that's where the most likely poor connection might be.

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

  • godslove4ugodslove4u Posts: 3
    Will try your above suggetions. My 96 Bonneville seems to have a mind of its own. At times, it will start just fine. Then, when it feels like it, I get nothing. The lights and gauges work, but the engine acts as if there is no starter. I get nothing. I loosen the positive battery terminal, wiggle the battery cables, tighten the cables, and about the 3rd or 4th time of doing this, the car will start. I never know how many times it will start before I am again stuck. So far the above process has netted a start, but am afraid sometime that won't work anymore.
    Any additional suggestions? Thanks for any input. :confuse:
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,387
    edited May 2011
    Locate the starter motor by looking under the front exhaust manifold. Then use a heavy wrench or lightly tap it with a hammer. This can verify your starter is the problem if you have someone turn the key to crank when nothing will happen. Then you hit the starter with a hammer to vibrate it and it clicks into connection and the starter turns.

    The random seeming to work when tightening or loosening the cable connection can be the starter motor itself making connection or not.

    Check inside your connectors at the battery to see if the cable is corroded by acid seep down the inside of the plastic covering (cut the plastic with a sharp knife).

    The cables on a 92-99 are different than a 2000-2005+

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

  • My 2000 Pontiac Bonneville wont even turn over! I replaced the starter and alternator, I also had the battery checked and charged. I turn the key to the "ON" posistion and everything reads good, then I turn to start it and nothing clicking noise or anything. So I messed around with the relays and the fuses to check them and when I squeeze to "START 1" relay the engine turns over but it wont run. I tried having my wife turn the key and pump the gas while I squeezed that starter realy with some pliers....nothing happened. I talked to a Mechaninc and he said to try and put it in neutural and start it because there is a sensor there or something so I did....nothing happened. Another Mechanic told me to turn the key to the "ON" position for 10 mins so the security codes could reset and then try to turn it on. He said if it doesnt work unhook the battery for 30 mins then try it again....nothing happened! :confuse: :mad: :cry: I still need to check the ignition switch, if its not that then one of the mechanics said I needed to take it to a GM dealer to have my computer reset! Does anyone have an idea or suggestion?
  • Same problem with my 96 Bonneville. Discovered two problems. Replaced battery cables, positive and negative. When we bent them, you could hear the corrosion crackle.

    Second solution was security sensor. Don't where it is located on your 2000, but on my 96, it was located under the carpet near the door on the drivers side. It is about 2" long and narrow., Took cap off and clean diodes. They had picked up moisture from being under the carpet.

    Hope this helps you.
  • david2k11david2k11 Posts: 1
    I'm having the same problem how do i fix this issue
  • bfaulknerbfaulkner Posts: 5
    Here's one for only the imaginative! My '03 Bonneville has an attitude. Every now & then I get in, key the ignition & NOTHING. Turn it back off, turn on 1 notch, wait for the "Security" light to go out and AWAY WE GO!
    Last Saturday she decided to take the rest of the day off after my wife & I came out of a store. Tried all the usual solutions but no dice.
    Came back the following day, gave my wife the key, she gets in and VOILA! Running like a top again.
    The car is the entry level Bonne W/nice options, 3.8 L,120K prox.
    Anyone got an idea????
  • Exact same problem with my 96 Bonneville. I turn the key, wait for the Security light to go out and know it will start. If security light doesn't go out, I know I'm in for a wait. Usually, if I patiently wait a minute or two the light will go out and i can start the car.
    My question becomes, what part of the anti-theft system do I need to replace? On the 96, there is a some type of fuser module on the driver's side by the door, just under the carpet. I have cleaned that, and it seems to work for awhile.
  • bfaulknerbfaulkner Posts: 5
    Hi Folks, Please see my post from today. I have the Bonneville Ignition ghost that you were discussing. The car took the whole day off last Saturday, started first thing Sunday when I gave the keys to the bride.
    Other times it's just short-term and veru intermitent. Has anyone found a solution yet?
  • bfaulknerbfaulkner Posts: 5
    Hi Folks, Please see my post from today. I have the Bonneville Ignition ghost that you were discussing. The car took the whole day off last Saturday, started first thing Sunday when I gave the keys to the bride.
    Other times it's just short-term and veru intermitent. Has anyone found a solution yet?
  • bfaulknerbfaulkner Posts: 5
    Hi Folks, Please see my post from today. I have the Bonneville Ignition ghost that you were discussing. The car took the whole day off last Saturday, started first thing Sunday when I gave the keys to the bride.
    Other times it's just short-term and veru intermitent. Has anyone found a solution yet?
  • bfaulknerbfaulkner Posts: 5
    Well, I talked with my mechanic yesterday & laid it on the table, I'm a real estate broker & cannot be skeptical of when my car is going to decide to take a break. He's gonna get it for a while AFTER he does all the research he can & decides what he's going after. Hope to be posting a solution soon!
  • i just want to say if you put a lot of miles on that 2003.. my 1989 has less than that and so does my 96.. my 89 was really babied by her first owner and we have done the same. i am having some problems with her thats why im scanning this site because i just don't know whats going on. Not surprised everything is orginal in that car except for 4 parts and the regular maintnace items in her.. So 22 year old things tend to start falling apart..
  • Im having basically the same problem with my 96 i drove it to my son's school one day no problems we go in come back out she wont crank just clicking noise i automatically think ok starter out we get that off there back on then she does the sputtering. Its not my fuel pump that i had just had replaced 3 months before. I have no clue what it is but she just won't fire over as for you getting inside lights but the second you try to key it kills don't laugh at me but try shaking your car as you try to start it. If that works well then you have a loose wire somewhere. (Also own a 89 pontiac bonneville) and sometimes i have to do that with her.
  • kavrinakavrina Posts: 1
    edited September 2011
    i have a 3.8 v6 bonneville with approx 158mi on her. i started her up the other day and she started but her rpms kept jumping between 1 nd 2 grand..i tried gasing it then the needle dropped to zero. kept trying (kept my foot on the gas while driving to get her home) and it kept fluctuating then would drop to zero and die. eventually she just stopped and would not start at all..oh btw the accelerater would not work..was just like pumping air..right before she died. my buddy towed it home nd we put new plugs wires and all three coils in. didnt help. took it to a garage (mechanic) and he replaced the ignition module. also did not fix the problem. when hooked up to the computer nothing shows. so now the mechanic says he does not know what the problem is so he cannot fix it(obviously). i need to find out whats wrong with my girl!! can ne one help at all please?
  • @kavrina i had pretty much the same issue, but also had a fairly dark puff of smoke out the back, turned out to be the mass air flow sensor, right on the top of the motor, replaced that.. never looked back.

    that said i am currently having the issue of not starting on my 2000 bonne sle. I have tried tapping the starter to no avail, tomorrow in day light i intend to check the fuses as well as having the battery tested (tho)ump starting did not do the trick)

    put the key in, it says "driver 2" so the key is being recognized (i think?) all gauges work just fine. Turn and you hear a strong "click" but nothing after just silence.

    over the past year the fuel pump, fuel filter, air filter, mass airflow sensor, coil packs, plugs, and wires have all been replaced with new components. Any ideas??
  • the engine will suddenly die while driving it already replaced cam sensor ,cranksensor,fuel pump ignition control module ,and checked the buse bar for corrosive connections is there a low oil pressure safety shut off for this model car any help would be greatly appreciated at this point
  • also the car has a mind of its own it will start and then it wont
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