Electronic Gremlins - Electrical Problems That Are Driving You Crazy



  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    I'd start by pulling the bulbs for things like trunk lights, glove box lights, and underhood lights. any bulb you can't see normally could have its switch failed and be on all the time. I wouldn't think there would often be a short to ground on something that ran a battery down that didn't blow a fuse.

    any aftermarket bumpa-thumpa amplifiers or alarms in there? pull their fuses, too, and make sure they are darn well off when you don't want 'em draining the battery.

    one of these tips should get you farther between charges, and then you can chase the specific issues related to the item between the fuse and the big thingie on the end of the wire.
  • dahuberdahuber Member Posts: 53
    I guess I just don't see how any of these accessories could be draining when I've pulled every fuse (and I do mean EVERY fuse).

    This morning I pulled the B+ cable at the starter-still draining. I've switched out batteries with a known good one-still draining. I don't have any extra stereo stuff and the security system is the factory one. I'm stumped.

    Dave H.
  • burdawgburdawg Member Posts: 1,524
    I had a problem like this on a Taurus I used to own. It turned out to be the voltage regulator. It wasn't a direct short, but a low impedance from battery to ground (about 3.2 ohms if I remember right). It would drain the battery low enough overnight to keep it from being able to start the car. Once the car was running, the battery was still being charged, so I didn't suspect the regulator until I did some further checking.
    I think an easier way to trouble shoot this problem is to remove the positive battery cable and put an ohmmeter from the positive cable to ground, hopefully you will find a low resistance to ground which verifies your problem, then start removing fuses, pulling connectors, removing bulbs, etc, until you find the source. If you have a light under the hood, don't forget to remove the bulb, ditto for the courtesy lights (assuming the doors will be open), so your not chasing ghosts.
    You said you removed the 50A "battery" fuse and that seemed to help. Is that the fuse that feeds the fuse block for the accessories, or is it for the charging system?
    A factory wiring diagram (part of the factory manual of course) is very helpful when trying to find this type of problem.
  • dahuberdahuber Member Posts: 53
    ...is not forthcoming. After driving myself nuts with this, I took it to the dealer today. They say the only drain is by the computer (.1 Amps) and that this is within specification.

    We discussed driving habits and because I drive a lot in town, the battery isn't getting charged enough to offset the computer drain. My solution: I hooked up a Battery tender tonight and I guess I need to do more highway miles! Thanks to all for your input.

    Dave H.
  • mmemme Member Posts: 3
    i've got a problem with my fuse box. I CAN'T FIND IT!
    it's an '81 parisienne.
    one of my interior lights that is supposed to come on only when the door is open won't turn off, even when the car is off. i'm thinking of just finding the fuse for that light, and disconnecting it.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I've sent your post to our resident Parisienne expert. His e-mail is private so I can't give you that but he will probably contact you or respond on this board soon.

  • mmemme Member Posts: 3
    thank you sooo much!
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,393
    hi, mme. I dunno how much of an expert I am on these things overall, but Shifty knows that I have a perverse love for big domestic cars! Anyway, the fuse box should be up underneath the dashboard on the driver's side. Most likely between the steering column and the left-most side of the car.

    Which light is it that won't go out? I don't know if that fuse controls other functions, but it might just be easier to take the bulb out of the light. Anyway, good luck!

    BTW Shifty, I didn't realize my email address got changed to private. Thanks for pointing that out to me...I've fixed it now. Just make sure you guys don't send anything TOO dirty to me! ;-)
  • mmemme Member Posts: 3
    hi, and thanks for replying!
    i'm driving myself nuts looking for the fuse box. it's not where it's supposed to be. wish i had a digi cam.....
    the weird thing is, it's the light under the passenger side of the dash...near the floor. it's supposed to come on when the door is open, and it won't turn off. also, the interior roof light stays on unless i turn the headlight knob to where it's supposed to turn it on! annoying. i hope this isn't an indication of electrical disaster soon to come.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Oh, I think I know what that is. The little pushbutton in the door jam that works the courtesy lights is broken or a wire is grounding out in there. Could be on either side. Usually they pry out. If they stay on when they should go out it's not a fuse problem.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    and since it's screwing up, worth replacing. I personally have had big issues getting a replacement in my older cars to thread in, and maybe that's just me, and maybe it's the old saw that "universal-fit things never really do fit."

    the other thing you could do is take out the one (or sometimes two) bolts that hold that lamp socket assembly on, and take the goldarn bulb out.

    hint: if you really want to chase the fuse box, whose location will be in the middle or back of your owners' manual, start the emergency flashers. GMs in the late 70s often had the e-flasher on the fuse block assembly, and since the parisienne was the old pontiac bonneville with new badges out of the ontario assembly plant, there's a good chance that will help you find it. follow the clicking noise. some of these GMs in the era, like my 76 skylark, had a little ring to pull that unlocked the fuse block, which you could then swing down. the fuses were facing the sky, and you saw the back of the fuse block, in cars so equipped.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,393
    to my grandmother's dearly departed 1985 LeSabre, which really isn't that different from a Bonneville/Catalina/Parisienne, and it says "The fuse block is located under the instrument panel above and to the left of the brake panel". So, that's where it *should* be. Unless GM did something different on Pontiacs and/or Canadian models! ;-)

    Now, here's a bit of a kicker. At least, going by the manual in my grandmother's LeSabre, that fuse controls the "Dome, Sail Panel, Trunk, Reading, Vanity, Theft Deterrent, Powr MIrrors, Illuminated Entry Interior Lights, Automatic Door Locks, Rear Lighter, Memory Seats, Power Door Locks, and Tailgate Ajar".

    The diagram lists the spot the fuse occupies as "13", and says it takes a 20-Amp (yellow) fuse. On the actuall diagram, it's toward the lower right-hand side of the fuse block, and has "DOME CTSY" stamped underneath it.

    Keep in mind though, this was for an '85 LeSabre. So while similar, your mileage may vary!

    Now I never had to mess with those courtesy lights under the dash on a GM car, but my '79 Newport had those same lights, and so does my '79 New Yorker. They're not hard to reach. I'd just pull the bulb out, instead of yanking the fuse and disabling all sorts of other lights and features your car might have.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Look and see if the little pushbutton in the door jamb has fallen into the A or B pillar and is grounding.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    by taking a couple screws out, and removing the kick panel on the outside of the foot area. generally you have to loosen the door sill screws and take the first one out to insure you can slide the panel sideways or forward and get its long "foot" out from under the sill. if it punched out of the screw-in housing, you'll have to do that to pull the switch up by its wire. shouldn't have to fiddle with anything else.
  • marshellamarshella Member Posts: 11
    Hello all,
    Hoping you can help me with this one! I have a 93 Clubwagon. BestBuy put in a basic alarm system for me in 96. Van is hardly driven. Couple weeks ago, battery died. After jump start and driving around, died again. Since battery was a few years old, replaced it. Decided didn't need alam anyway, so turned alarm off by toggle switch, then pulled inline fuse under dash. Still, when I put new battery in got a pretty good spark when connecting black cable.

    Van ran fine for a few days, then didn't use it for about a week. This afternoon tried to start - nothing but a few chirps from alarm(!?). Later in evening decided to try and pull plug to siren - but at siren no way to do so unless cut wires. Found under dash siren wires spliced into other wires - decided that if I unspliced them I might disconnect something important. So didn't mess with them. Tried again to start. This time, series of about ten rapid, short chirps then STARTED! Turned off, did again and again, chirps then delay, then start. ?? I can't figure it out. Anyone?

  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    remove that damn thing, don't put another one on. you will have to tape up the wires where the hacks scarred things up with 33+ electrical tape. I hope you don't have to do anything else to correct the "installation" job.
  • SylviaSylvia Member Posts: 1,636
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  • ronrrrronrrr Member Posts: 1
    My directional flashers fail on occasion.
    The emergency flashers work all the time.
    When I start the car and either blinker fails, I turn the ignition off, then restart again, and they work. I already replaced the whole turn signal lever. Still fails on occasion.

    Any suggestions ??
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    or check on what you have for flashers. some cars will use a separate flasher for emergency lights. and, you guessed it, since you use the blinkers more than the four-way flashers, you wear out the blinker flasher first.

    either will work, but replacing the flasher is cheaper ;)
  • blackwoodblackwood Member Posts: 2
    I have a 2002 Lincoln Blackwood with 30K miles. A 5amp fuse keeps blowing that prevents shifting from park to drive. Mechanics are having troubles figuring out this one. Any help or suggestions would be appreciated.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    There's no easy solution to problems like this except dogged determination and an accurate wiring diagram and lots of patience. There's a rational electronic circuit that controls this device and the mechanic has to start at A and go all the way to Z if he has to.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    I would say there has to be some chafing on insulation if the darned control wire's fuse keeps going away. this one's going to be found by the tech running his fingers along the darned wire every inch of the way. will be fixed by cleaning it up, using some silicone over the damaged area or splicing it out and siliconing up the splices, then taping lightly over it so the silicone doesn't get munged up... and tying the wire back so it can't reach whatever chewed it up.
  • blackwoodblackwood Member Posts: 2
    My 2002 Lincoln Blackwood has been at this dealership for days checking out an electrical problem. The mechanic says the problem is fixed, keep in mind I have no idea what the mechanic did, because this dealership tells me the mechanic has to write a story and I'll be mailed a copy. I never heard of this before. I pick-up the truck and guess what another electrical problem. This time there's an ABS warning light on and the left/right turning signals are inop. I go back to the dealer and have several employess confirm my truck's problem (Sat). Come Monday am the mechanic calls to tell me there's nothing wrong, everything is ok. I suspect I'm being lied too? Mechanic told me he'll check out the fuses, and jiggles some wires around to attempt re-creating the problem If the mechanic tells me he found a bad fuse, I know the turning signals could not have worked and I was lied too. Any thoughts to my nightmare experience with this dealership's service department. Am I off base. Thank you in advance for any comments. -dave
  • zebrazebra Member Posts: 1
    A couple weeks ago I wanted to air out my car so I left the doors open, basically all day. The only light that is on when the doors are open is the dome light which I turned off beforehand. That afternoon my battery was dead and I cannot figure out what drained it. The battery is old, but worked fine before then, and after I got a jump start it has worked fine. Does anyone have any ideas on what might have killed it?
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    and you should speak with the general manager about this as well. they're flailing and not being up front with you about it.

    and when you go across town with the truck, I'd use the approach of "you know, I've had these problems, and here's what I think they did with it... and I'd just like a fresh set of hands and eyes to walk through it again. the problem seems to move around every time I've been in."

    rather than cuss until you stop turning purple, of course.
  • kwkkwk Member Posts: 1
    99 Intrigue interior lights above rear passenger doors and bottom of r/v mirror do not go off after shutting doors or starting engine. Ignition switch lamp and lamps beneath dash go off with "theatre" dimming as described in OM. Have pulled 15A fuse from panel for the time being. Any thoughts? Thanks.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    If the lights you mentioned USUALLY go off instantly when you close the door, then I'd suspect the switch that is activated by the door itself---might be grounding.

    If the lights you mentioned are on some kind of delay and normally stay on after the door is closed, then you have to hunt down the relay that controls that I would guess.
  • alric1alric1 Member Posts: 2
    1992 MB 300D. When engine is started the tach. dose not move; engine idles roughly, then tach. moves after 5 min. and engine resumes normal speed. Sometimes there is no problem at all, it starts and runs normally. Also indicator light signal on dash board never gose off (right side). Cruise control almost never works.
     Thanks for your help and suggestion.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I don't think your tachometer is electric is it? If a mechanical drive, check the cable. Could be broken inside and catches sometimes, sometimes not.

    Rough running in a diesel could be a number of things. When was the last time you replaced the glow plugs? They DO wear out. Also dirty injectors and/or a valve adjustment are periodic maintenance issues on diesels.

    Cruise control problem is probably the "amplifier", a little brain buried somewhere under the dash (used to be behind the glove box on older models but I don't know on yours).

    Which "indicator light" are you talking about.

    Sounds like your car is asking for a little better TLC. I think it's time for you to invest some money in a major maintenance effort. MD diesels are very forgiving but they do give you signals that they are in need of attention and I think that's what's going on here.
  • athicks1676athicks1676 Member Posts: 4
    The lower two HVAC blower speeds on my Sunfire do not work at all (the two higher ones work fine). The dealer told me the blower relay was bad and would cost about $200 ($160 labor) to replace it. I declined and got the part number instead. I ordered it on-line for $5 plus shipping, but I don't have any information on where it is or how to get to it. The dealer claimed the front dashboard must be removed to replace it (which is how they justified the $160 labor). Can anyone help me with a schematic or instructions on how to access this part. It's a 1"x1"x1" cube with 4 heavy pins on one side.

    Any help is appreciated.
  • sgrd0qsgrd0q Member Posts: 398
    I got this problem for the first time this morning (2001 Maxima):

    The yellow ABS, Traction control Off, and Slip lights came up as I was driving! Tried to turn the car off and on, and then the brake light and another one (cant remember which one) came up!

    What is going on?

    Now only the ABS and the Traction Control lights come up. What is interesting is that if the revs are below about 1500 the lights go out and all seems normal. Step even slightly on the Gas and they come on!

    Also, afetr driving for 30 mins all was back to normal. At my lunch break - same problem, for a while and then it fixed itself.

    I am thinking maybe I have a problem with my alternator?

    Any ideas?

    Any help will be greatly appreciated!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Sounds like maybe a goofy speed sensor on one of the wheels???
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    The blower resistor is next to the blower motor, under the centre of the instrument panel. 3 screws to remove the blower motor, then 2 more to remove the resistor.
  • athicks1676athicks1676 Member Posts: 4
    alcan - thanks for the information. As soon as my son returns with the car I'll try to locate it. By the way, the dealer gave me incorrect information on the failed part. As you point out, it is the resistor that is the problem and NOT the relay as they told me (and what they wrote on the invoice).

  • athicks1676athicks1676 Member Posts: 4
    alcan - I found the blower motor, but I don't see the resistor plug. Is it inside the housing the motor is bolted to?

  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    Nope, right beside the blower motor. The GM manual says to remove the motor for access, but you might be able to sneak it out and in with the motor in place.
  • dennis6dennis6 Member Posts: 6
    In my 2003 Venture Van the "Park-Aid" system fails approx. 50% of the time, flashing it's red warning light when it does so. The dealer acknowldges the problem and approx 12 attempts over 3 months at repair have failed. Now I'm told to wait for an "Engineer" to come out from back East. My repair they say doesn't affect "safety", so his or her arrival is at the
    whim of GM. Any ideas on how to get GM to honour their Warranty in a timely manner would be appreciated.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Well if a field representative is actually coming out to the dealer that could be good for you as the rep can authorize a warranty repair that the dealer normally might not get approved for. So look on the bright side.

    Of course, I'm presuming this engineer as they call him is not a fantasy action figure and therefore a stall on the part of the dealer. You could call the GM Zone Office and find out more about this scheduled visit and make sure it's real.

    Generally, the field rep comes when the dealer doesn't know what else to do.
  • athicks1676athicks1676 Member Posts: 4
    Thanks again, alcan. It must be on the back side against the firewall where the wiring harness is - I couldn't see back there very well.

  • perry1perry1 Member Posts: 1
    Good day,
    I'm having a problem with my 1983 Toyota Cressida and my knowledge of electrical systems is quite limited. The battery was killed twice due to the key being left in the acc position overnight. It takes a boost fine and the battery(which is quite new) holds the charge. I tested the alternator(which also appears new) and it puts out fine. After boosting the car I let it run for 20 min to charge up. I then pressed the power locks and the car immediately died and had insufficient power to restart. Boosted again, let it run again, hit the power windows.....died. I'm left scratching my head. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    You probably need a new battery.

    You unintentionally dealt your battery two mortal blows.

    one, TOTAL discharge is very bad for a battery. Two, charging a dead battery with the alternator can harm both battery and alternator.

    So have the battery load-tested. I think this will solve your problem.

    Next time, use a very small trickle charger, maybe 1 amp, and very slowly recharge a dead battery. Never never NEVER use your alternator to charge a totally dead battery. At best, you'll harm the battery, at the middle you'll fry your alternator, and at worst the battery will explode especially if it's run low on electrolyte or if the plates warp, overheat and touch. Remember, inside that battery is hydrogen gas (remember the "Hindenburg'?)
  • llp22169llp22169 Member Posts: 2
    I just picked up my 1997 Toyota Camry from the auto body shop after being hit in the side rear.

    I noticed my stereo does not get good reception when the rear defroster is on. My car has the antenna built into the rear windshield so obviously something is clashing back there. The body shop says they didn't touch the rear windshield so I'm wondering if anyone has any suggestions on what the problem could be. Could something have been knocked loose when I was hit?

    Please help !
  • tallictallic Member Posts: 2
    I have a Problem with my 1995 Pontiac Grand Prix. It does not seem to work at all for the turn signals. They do not work. What are the possible problems? Also, where is the flasher located on this vehical because this is one of my possible reasons for its malfunction. One light bulb i checked and it does work. I do not ge any signals of a burnt bulb. The fuse is also good.
  • sgrd0qsgrd0q Member Posts: 398
    Mr Shiftright - could you please have another look at my original post - 185?

    I doubt it is a sensor, as various light would come up when the car was parked, and I revved the engine past, about, 1500 rpm.

    Interestingly enough, this lasted for a day, and now two weeks (and 700-800 miles) later I haven't seen the problem once.

    What worries me is that I will be going on a long trip soon, and want to be fairly sure the car won't break down on me.

    I'll be going to the dealer for an oil change soon, is there anything I should ask them to check?

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Well you can't check something that isn't happening usually, but the dealer could do a scan on the main computer and also the ABS system and see what's up. But you might end up paying for a "we didn't see anything". Besides, if your TC or ABS is acting up, that shouldn't actually strand you anywhere. Sometimes you have to approach these problems by looking at the car and not the lights, that is, what is REALLY happening, if anything, or is this a false alarm?
  • sgrd0qsgrd0q Member Posts: 398
    Thanks Mr Shiftright - will post if they find anything.

    I suspect the alternator was producing out of spec power particularly when the car was revved. Or maybe some computer was acting up.

    If I remember correctly I was getting all sorts of warning lights - not just the ones related to the brake system.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Well computers don't generally act up. The failure rate is pretty darn small. So I'm always looking to diagnose from the "most likely" to the least likely. Your speculations about the computer and the alternator, while certainly valid, seem too far out to cause these symptoms.

    However, a very funky battery might. Computers tend to go nuts if voltage falls just a bit. I think it's worse than even a little spike now and then.
  • tallictallic Member Posts: 2
    Ok, I tested every bulb and they all work and my dad tested the fuses, unless he missed one that we are unaware of i am positive they all work. He tested the fuses on the passenger side. Also, I bougth a new flasher to test it out and see if maybe my flasher was dead. I still got nothing. I do not hear a clicking noise eaither!.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Do your emergency flashers work at all?
  • dahuberdahuber Member Posts: 53
    Our '01 Maxima's climate control system had one of its interior lights go out last night. Everything works fine otherwise. I took the unit apart this morning and the light is one of those that's integrated into the circuitry-i.e. not a light that you can buy at an auto parts store.

    Anyone have any experience or suggestions on getting this kind of repair done? The car is out of factory warranty so I'm trying to avoid having to pay the dealer anything. Thanks.

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