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Electronic Gremlins - Electrical Problems That Are Driving You Crazy

Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,042
Got a short? Headlights flashing? Let's talk about your electrical maintenance and repair issues here.


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  • spokanespokane Posts: 514
    When an auto battery fails, it may weaken over a period of days to provide some warning or it may fail suddenly without warning. It seems to me that "instant failures" are more likely than they were ten years ago. Is this so, or have I just had bad luck? Do others agree that paying to replace a battery that is getting weak, even if it occurs a few months before the warranty ends, is preferable to the inconvenience associated with a sudden failure?
  • yrmacyrmac Posts: 134

    I have exactly the same dilemma right now. I have a '95 Camry that has 132,000km and I still have the original battery in it. The battery is ok so far since my car always start properly without any hesitation. The winter here in Toronto is a little bit on the nasty side (temp goes down to -20C sometimes). Now, since my battery is 6.5 years old, I am thinking of replacing it although it seems that there is really nothing wrong with the battery. I am more inclined to replace the battery since it is more than five years old but also at the same time I do not want to throw a good battery.
  • spokanespokane Posts: 514
    I share your dilemma, Yrmac, but think it would be wise to go ahead with replacement. It seems to me that after about 125% of the warranty period, you are on "thin ice". Don't you agree that the cost of the hassle associated with a failed battery is likely to be greater than the ~$65 for a good replacement? Of course, if you have standard shift, and can thus bump-start the car, you are slightly less vulnerable than with an auto transmission.
  • My Explorer has an intermitant problem. The pwr windows, pwr moonroof, interior lights, & windshield wipers all stop working.Used to occur once a week, now 2-5 times per day. Sometimes, turning motor off & re-starting will fix problem. Sometimes, hitting a pot hole will fix. Dealer just charged me $85.00 to tighten the ground wire on the GEM mudule. Could the GEM module be bad? How about the key swich? I'm lost as to where to go. Not sure dealer knows how to fix.
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,668
    There is a list of part numbers for this TSB, if you want them, e-mail me. Click on my name and it will show my e-mail.
    One of the mentioned relays is likely the problem, whether it be the relay itself or the connector.

    Intermittent 4x4 System, Power Windows, Rear Wipers
    Article No.
    This TSB article is being republished in its entirety to correct the Service Procedure Steps.
    A flashing 4X4 lamp and/or a intermittent or loss of:
    ^ Power windows
    ^ Interior lights
    ^ Rear wiper (if equipped)
    ^ Moon roof (if equipped)
    ^ 4x4 system (if equipped)
    may occur on some vehicles. This may be caused by an intermittent Battery Saver, Accessory Delay or One-Touch-Down Relay operation and possible chafing of vehicle wire harness.
    Repair the affected circuit, and/or replace the Battery Saver, Accessory Delay, or One-Touch-Down Relay. Refer to the Diagnostic/Service Procedure for details before replacing any components.
  • I tried to email you for the part numbers for this TSB, but it would not go through. I really appreciate your help. My dealer told me there were no TSB's for this problem. I Have an appointment on Monday with a different dealer. I will show them your response to my problem. Hope they can fix before the snow starts to fly. Thanks Again. :)
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,668
    Ok, don't know why you couldn't send to my e-mail.

    The info is on another page and all you have to do is click here
  • I have a 1986 Honda Accord with 257,000 miles on it. It has started to have intermittent electrical problems like:
    * Lights flicker when brakes are applied
    * Dashboard door open indicators activate randomly - no doors are open
    * Brake light failure indicator light comes on intermittently - all brake lights work fine

    The car has been very reliable, and I would like to fix this somehow. Any suggestions? Thanks!!
  • spokanespokane Posts: 514
    257,000 miles? Probably cardiovascular problems associated with old age. Seriously, the door-open indicator-lamp is likely to be associated with one of the door switches that's worn or out of adjustment. With the engine running, crack each door open very slightly and see if one door causes the light to come on just as the door begins to open. The flickering when the brakes are applied could possibly be associated with a short in the brake/tail light assemblies. When it is dark, have someone activate the brakes, turn signals, and tail-lights while you watch carefully to see that they work OK and that each bulb has the same light intensity as its counterpart on the other side. If there are any right-to-left differences, a corroded bulb-socket is likely to be the problem. These ideas may not help but they are easy to do and could lead you to the problem source.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    sour grounds are often a point of failure that affect multiple systems. unfortunately, the ground point for systems F, Q, X, Y, and AA7 are often some distance away from any logical point the circuits would go to. fixing them is pretty easy, remove the nut and associated spade lugs and lock/toothed washers, clean up any oxidation or corrosion or reterminate the wire involved and replace the hardware, coat all parts lightly with grease, and reassemble tightly. finding them is not easy without a manual -- even the Haynes/Chilton series will often have enough of an electrical diagram to find the most likely grounding point. I really marked up and dirtied the manuals for my Mopars, Buick, and Ranger.
  • edchenedchen Posts: 31
    I have a 1988 Acura Integra LS. The brakes lights have shorted out or something and won't turn off. This is causing the battery to rundown very fast. I've the pulled the fuse and it uses less than 25ma so the brake light seems to be the only problem. Any ideas where I should go from here?
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    Start by checking the brake light switch adjustment. It's usually on the brake pedal support bracket. The plunger should be fully depressed when the pedal's in the released position.
  • edchenedchen Posts: 31
    Hey, that was the cause of the problem. There were some broken plastic-like pieces lying around under the brake pedal. There is also a hole in the brake pedal where it would have made contact with the plunger. Is this piece easily replaceable and does it need to be adjusted to the correct position? Thanks a lot everyone.
  • My 98 GS Eclipse has a weird problem. The brake lights turn on when the temp gets cold. When the car warms up after a day of driving.. the light turns off. I brought it to the dealer and he said I needed new brake pads. I changed the pads, the problem went away for a month and came back. The brake fluid is fine, emergency brake is not on, new pads.. What is the problem? My friend has a 97 Eclipse Spyder and he has the same problem. So I know it's more than a coincidence. I hate the dealerships and my car is out of warranty. Any suggestions?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,856
    You mean the brake warning light on the dash, or the brake lights themselves?

    If it's the light on the dash, I would suspect the little level indicator on top of the master cylinder reservoir. It sounds like it's getting stuck. Other than that, maybe some wear sensor is misreading. You might try disconnecting the level sensor and see if the light goes out.

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  • I was trying to check my cigarette lighter with a cheap 'prod' tester when i accidently grounded it out. i heard a fuse snap (rather loud i thought). My radio,lights & horn went out, it would turn over but would not start. Some other electrics work ie. windshield wipers and interior lights, which i unfotunately left on over-night. now the battery is dead. i pulled most fuses for components that were not working, they checked-out ok.
    this is a '93 S-10 Blazer, 4X4,automatic.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,856
    Hmm....your truck may have a "fusible link" that runs in a circuit coming right off your positive terminal on your battery. It's been a while since I looked at an S-10 but maybe that's the problem. Also, there are sometimes additional in-line fuses on cars that don't run through the fuse box.

    Maybe one of the techs who drop in here can offer further suggestions.

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  • spokanespokane Posts: 514
    I agree that it sounds like one of your fusible links has burned out.
  • Here's a real puzzler. I have a *very* intermittent problem with my 1986 Pontiac Parisienne Safari which appears to be electrical in nature. It hasn't happened in months, but it seems like just when I think it's fixed itself, it happens again. The problem is this: When it's cold out (below 50 degrees, usually) and I start the car up for the first time in the morning after it's been sitting for at least 12 hours or so, it will seem to run fine at idle. But when I put it in Drive or Reverse and start moving, the engine speed will seem to drop way way down, the battery light will start flashing, and the car will stall out as soon as I give it gas. Sometimes it stalls almost immediately after I shift out of Park, other times it will seem fine until I give it gas trying to pull out of an intersection, and then it will do this power loss/battery light/stall routine. It will always restart immediately after the stall, but sometimes it will stall 2 or 3 times in a row. This absolutely only ever happens during the first two minutes of driving on cold mornings. Nothing like it has ever happened under any other circumstances. The distributor cap and plug wires are only a year old, and the plugs looked good last time I checked. The thing is, just before it stalls, the car behaves as though there is a fuel delivery problem (hesitation, no power), but the battery light coming on makes me think otherwise. This problem is so rare that I can never hope to be able to demonstrate it for my mechanic. Because it rarely ever happens, I'm not going to go nuts replacing parts to try and fix it, but if anyone has any brilliant ideas about this, I'd love to know what they are. Thanks!

    -Andrew L
  • ngprongpro Posts: 8
    The next thing to check on this is cheap. Check the alternator output when the car is stone cold. NOT JUST VOLTAGE! Load it up and check the amperage output. Sounds like not enough amps until alt warms up.

    Good Luck!
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