Chevrolet Tahoe Electrical Problems

ksmith5ksmith5 Member Posts: 4
I've been having a problem lately with my 4DR 4WD Chevy Tahoe. Lately it has been completely losing electrical power while driving or sitting at a light. Everything is running fine, then it just shuts off. All lights, everything. When this first started happening, the truck would start right back up. Now, however, it stays dead until I remove the positive battery cable (negative doesnt help). When I put the pos. cable back on, there is enough juice to crank it back up. There is no corrosion on the cables, but I noticed the last time this happened that the positive cable terminal was extremely hot and the stock red rubber around the cable end was starting to melt/burn. Ive had the battery and alternator checked out and they tested fine. Had a general mechanics shop look at it all day today and they couldnt reproduce the problem, so they didn't figure it out either. I've got a nice Optima Yellow-top so I don't think the battery is the problem.

Last summer, the car was doing almost the same thing. The only difference was the terminals were corroding badly. I had the battery check and they said it was bad (another Optima yellow top, only a year old), so I got it replaced. It ran fine until this current problem arose last month.

Lastly, when I bought car 3 years ago, the alternator died and I had it rebuilt to a slightly higher output (to power my sound system, which is now unplugged to eliminate that as the problem). Could this be damaging my electrical system?

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Hopefully someone has an idea of what's going on, but I realize electrical problems are difficult to diagnose, especially over the net.


  • rockman59rockman59 Member Posts: 250
    Hopefully someone has an idea of what's going on
    Anytime you get cables starting to melt and/or burn you have a major problem. Obviously some type of short circuit. You should take your vehicle to a high quality auto electrical shop immediately. You have a strong probability of a fire starting under the hood.
  • ksmith5ksmith5 Member Posts: 4
    Thanks rockman. Its not like the cable is on fire or anything, just some of it looks a little black and the terminal was pretty hot to the touch. I dropped the car off at a dealer this morning, but they say it will be hard for them to find anything unless they can recreate the problem...and this only happens every couple days. I leave for school Saturday so I'm trying to get this fixed ASAP.
  • rockman59rockman59 Member Posts: 250
    I dropped the car off at a dealer this morning
    I know you don't want to hear this...but any dealer who can't find out why something is causing your cables to overheat as hot as they are is not doing their job. Obviously something is causing a huge electrical draw on the entire system. This is not just a tail light or fan problem...this is something much bigger. I still think you should find a top quality electrical shop and get their opinion. They deal with this stuff every might cost you a diagnosis fee but at least you will know the problem. You can then take the vehicle back to the dealer for repair if it is still under warranty. And you better buy a fire extinguisher...make sure you get the kind for electrical fires. Seriously, you may be needing it.
  • arriearrie Member Posts: 312
    You say it is not the battery but for me it sounds that you have your battery shorting out.

    Symptoms often are that without warning it just dies and then on the next moment everything seems to be ok.

    Then you say the battery terminal was hot enough to melt red plastic around it. If you draw that much power from the battery then it makes a huge spark when you re-connect the cable. Did this happen?

    If the short is inside the battery it can get very hot but does not spark when re-connecting terminals.

    Then you said that another yellow top went bad after just a year. I think it is time for you to find something else than a yellow top battery. It all sounds like a $70 Die Hard would fix your problems.

    And then, your problems a year ago appeared also in summer time, right? Well, hot weather is bad for batteries and that is what we have had this summer also.

  • ksmith5ksmith5 Member Posts: 4
    Dealer couldnt find anything today (of course), but offered to redo all of the major power cables. We're desperate (2 days left before i leave for school) so we decided to go ahead and do it.

    The first Optima yellow-top replaced a Die-hard that died. I took the current batter to the same place that diagnosed the previous bad yellow top and they said this one is fine.

    I hate to say but I'm pretty sure the new cables aren't gonna fix the problem. We'll see.
  • ksmith5ksmith5 Member Posts: 4
    Oh and as for the pos cable sparking, i wouldnt know because i take the neg cable off first and put it back on last. But it barely sparks, if at all...

    Thanks for your help
  • arriearrie Member Posts: 312
    It does not matter which terminal you connect first. There will be a big spark when you connect the last terminal if your car would be pulling that big amps that the plastic around battery terminal starts melting.

    You say that there is hardly no spark if any so at the time you connect the terminals the problem is not present if the problem is not internally in the battery.

    If the problem is not the battery itself I think you need to look at the alternator or starter motor. These two things are the only electrical parts in your car that could cause high enough amps at battery terminals to make temperature raise to a level that starts melting plastic. And from these two I would focus on the starter motor since I really don't think that the alternator wiring is big enough for current to cause that kind of heat, but it could be.

    You could have an intermittent short at the starter motor solenoid, which would ground the positive starter motor wire and heat the battery terminal as the battery drains very fast. Starter motor wire is very heavy duty and does not burn if grounded. Something else will burn instead, like battery itself.

  • caelabcaelab Member Posts: 2
    While driving a city street my '97 4DR 4WD Tahoe suddenly lunged and all the dashboard needles deflected. As the needles settled down, the voltmeter showed a steady continuing drop. When the needle got into the 9V zone the engine quit and would not turn over.

    A kind soul provided a jump but the engine would die the moment the cables were removed. I took the battery to be checked and it wouldn't hold any charge at all. New battery installed the engine jumped back to life but the voltage slowly dropped again to ~10V when a sudden high-pitched noise I'd never before heard kicked in and the voltage climbed back up. Since that time the battery does not charge in the vehicle though it charges fine on a charger.

    Was the sound I heard the last cry of the alternator? Could just the voltage regulator be bad? Any/all thoughts are welcomed.

  • rockman59rockman59 Member Posts: 250
    Was the sound I heard the last cry of the alternator? Could just the voltage regulator be bad? Any/all thoughts are welcomed.
    You need to take your Tahoe to a qualified auto electrical shop for a complete evaluation of your electrical system.
  • caelabcaelab Member Posts: 2
    Thanks, Rockman. Was hoping for a DIY test to try at home but am afraid you may be right.
  • 19tahoe9919tahoe99 Member Posts: 4
    Hi everyone-
    I have a 1999 Tahoe with 134K. I went on a 500mi round trip and returned home. The next day I tried to start the car, motor turned over very well, strong battery and voltage, but it would not fire and has not since.

    First- I had already replaced the fuel pump (and filter) with an AC Delco 3 months prior. The pump still sounded very strong, I checked the shraeder valve at the fuel rail and there appears to be plenty of fuel (50psi+).

    Next step- I checked the spark figuring something wore out. Turns out I have enough spark to arc weld with.

    Next- Poured gas in the throat (a fairly large amount) and the car sputtered to life for approx 2-3 seconds.

    Diagnosis- We figured only when we absolutely flood the injectors with fuel will the car even attempt to fire, could this mean my injectors arent openning at the correct time? If so, we thought possibly replacing the ignition control module might fix this, does that control the firing of the injectors? I know there is a test with a voltage meter to check this, but I do not know the specific test.

    Please help, any and all information would be greatly appreciated- I hate to just throw parts at a problem if someone else has a better idea!
  • curious_gearscurious_gears Member Posts: 60
    it sounds as if you might be having the same problem as my mom's boyfriend's 99 tahoe.
    when the electrics die, what does the amp gauge do? and, does the clock reset itself?
  • arriearrie Member Posts: 312
    It definitely sounds like your injectors stopper working and when it seems that all of them did it at the same time (engine doesn't even try to run)it points out to the injector control module (or what ever controls them).

    In newer cars this all is done with the same PCM but I don't know how your car has it. Perhaps you have a separate fuel injector control module. That said, it also could be a simple fuse or relay problem as usually all separate 'modules' either have a fuse or a relay at power supply.

  • damntruckdamntruck Member Posts: 2
    Help!!!!! Recently my 1999 Tahoe began to have an unusual
    electrical problem. When I turn left, the automatic door locks actuate. I have checked the voltage on the battery (12.4V ignition off and 14.5 engine running).I have checked the grounding from the negetive to the block and everytrhing seems to be in order. I also disconnected the battery to reset the ECM/OCM. I have checkec the fuses and the fuse box. Any thoughts on the possible problem. The battery does not drain and the car seems to run fine. Thanks Mike
  • damntruckdamntruck Member Posts: 2
    Problem fixed. Once I disconnected the battery, both positive and negetive the computers ECM/OCM seemed to "re-boot". There have not been any problems since.
  • victoryurtolavictoryurtola Member Posts: 1
    I have a 97 Chevy Tahoe and after I run it for awhile it just shuts off, while i'm on the road. I check the fuse box and the fuel pump relay is hot. I pull the relay off just to see whats happening where the terminal is and the socket area of the fuel pump relay is partially melted. I wait till the fuel pump relay cools off and I can start it up again...What do I do to fix the problem pls need help
  • mpeirce2mpeirce2 Member Posts: 1
    The CD player had an error message...and kept ejecting a CD even when there wasn't one there..the motor kept going...even when the Tahoe was turned off. It eventually drained the battery. I removed a fuse from the electrical box under the hood that said radio and recharged the battery and the Tahoe will run. But the speedometer and other gauges are not working and must be run by the same fuse ??? Where do I go from here...did the CD player cause this?
  • joey2695joey2695 Member Posts: 1
    We have a 99 tahoe and out of the blue the electrical shuts down while driving and the clock does rest. Do you know what that could be.
  • mbramblettmbramblett Member Posts: 1
    I have a 03 tahoe and on my cluster my temp, and oil pressure gauge will not reset? when i start my car the gauges start from where they are as if they are at zero? so they are just going in circles, but other gauges are fine..any help will be greatly app. thanks
  • biglubiglu Member Posts: 7
    2002 Tahoe.

    1) Red left side and right side brake lights are ON.
    2) Red light on top of rear hatch door NOT on.
    3) When I brake the passenger side red light gets brighter.
    4) When I brake the driver side red light does NOT get brighter.
    5) There is only one fuse for the turn lights and I figured since the lights are ON then it must be the wiring?

    Any suggestions or help would be appreciated.
  • kiawahkiawah Member Posts: 3,666
    Take the bulbs out and check them carefully. Dual filament bulbs have two filaments in them, a bright filament, and dim filament. The dim filament should be lit when the running lights are on. The bright filament should lite when you put on the brake lights. The bulbs only fit in the socket one way, with the prongs on the bulbs at different heights, so note the difference when you take it out and put new back in.

    What you will probably find, is a filament burnt out and/or laying across the other filament, connecting inappropriately the two circuits together with a resistance.
  • 2thebeach2thebeach Member Posts: 6
    Returning to Va from NY City 5 hrs on return trip I-95 65mph when vehicle lost all power however all lights radio DVD remained on. Dash GaugeWarning lights all indicating electrical & power drive issues. Vehicle would not restart Nothing when key was turned to start. Emergency flashers worked for 2hrs until wrecker arrived and then battery was totally dead. Dealership could only advise the battery must have failed while driving computer system shut down. Replaced battery .
    No confidence in this not occuring again.
  • ret03ret03 Member Posts: 1
    the grand champion of an automobile is giving me a headache. the past couple of days while driving or while it is idlling in the am, my radio loses power(goes dead) my gauges all turn off with the exception of the tach and speedo and the service 4wd comes on in the driver information, sometimes happens when driving. im thinking that it is possibly a bad ground because i can bang on the dashboard and everything comes back on like normal. getting a little ridiculous hitting it every day. any help would be greatly appreciated.
  • urdaddyurdaddy Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2003 chevy tahoe and everything worked perfect until one day when i tried to adjust the passenger side mirror i realized that it wasn't working and the same happened to the door window on that same side, anda even the lock doesn't work nothing on that door works i tried to look for a fuse that could me damaged but all of the fuses are good. and also the remote control doesn't work any more. i'll be glad if someone could please help me.
  • linwillardlinwillard Member Posts: 1
    Thank you in advance for any help. My 05 Tahoe's (LS) right back window quit working, and my driver window seems slower. Also, on the air conditioning panel, where you slide the buttons (dual air) up and down for cooler or hotter, the light on the left went out (not a big deal except I'm ready to resell), also the air/heat blower works fine on 1-4 (although it has always blown a little on 0--irritating at times), but turn it to 5 and you get nothing. A couple of times the doors wouldn't unlock, I thought it was the keypad battery(didn't change it), but then it worked fine again. Can I fix these on my own (warranty out) and/or what do you think the dealer would charge? Thanks again.
  • rcariagarcariaga Member Posts: 2
    One day my a/c start's to act up we were going out and I got stuck at a light my rpm's drop and s my battery start's to drop she died on me 3 times while driving any suggestions I took it to a shop and there telling me and it's the bulletin board please help
  • kiawahkiawah Member Posts: 3,666
    I don't know what you mean by 'bulletin' board.
  • rcariagarcariaga Member Posts: 2
    not sure that's what the mechanic said he took all day try na fix it and he said that only the dealer ships can fix it
  • rogelioevoxvirogelioevoxvi Member Posts: 1
    i HAVE A 2001 tahoe. and it has this problem when hurricane rita came a knocking it stalled in the freeway. complete dead was the battery. with some how messed up the fuel pump system. Now the fuel pump fuse breaker goes a 60 degree angle because if it put at it normal estate it will not turn on or cut off in middle of driving. has any one had this type of problem with other version of 2nd gen tahoe?
  • wyerivermarinewyerivermarine Member Posts: 1
    Did you find out what was happening? My 2003 Suburban is doing the excact same thing. Please let me know.

    [email protected]
  • claybird51claybird51 Member Posts: 1
    my cargo door ajar light will not go off, there is no obstruction and I dont know what sensors might be malfunctioning
  • noshadetreenoshadetree Member Posts: 1
    Any ideas? I attempted to start my tahoe this afternoon. It barely turned the engine a smidge and then clicked a few times. I heard the vehicle speakers clicking, quickly turned off the radio, and it continued to click for a minute or so. Tried to start vehicle and got absolutely no power. With a jump, go it to start, pushed on break and put in reverse and it died before it started moving. Couldn't get a good start after that. I few hours later, came back with high quality(4gage) cables, started it, backed it out and drove it home (3 miles). I tried to reproduce problem with loading electrical (AC/ back window defroster, lights, etc.. It continued to work, but periodically the RPMs would drop by half and lights would dim. Then, suddendly died and absolutely no power. (battery is new and tests good.) It is as if a master switch of some sort was shut off. If I provide an external jump, I believe it will start or get power in the vehicle again...ran out of daylight. Any ideas would be appreciated.
  • kiawahkiawah Member Posts: 3,666
    The symptoms sound like either a bad battery, loose/corroded terminals or wires connectors to the battery, a bad alternator which isn't charging the battery up, or something is defective and is draining the battery down while it sits.
  • help22help22 Member Posts: 1
    I have an identical problem in my 03 Tahoe with only 49,000 Miles , HELP PLEASE , How did you correct the problem?
  • nwpnwp Member Posts: 1
    I have a 1999 Chevy Tahoe Z71. I recently replaced the 5.7 with a GM Performance HT383E engine. The engine is touted to have 322 HP and over 430 lb ft of torque when mated with OEM injection, exhaust intake, parts. While the engine is stronger, it is not representative of the claimed increases. I had already fitted the 5.7 with edlbrock headers, a flowmaster cat back system, an AEM Brutforce Intake, and a SUPERCHIPS power programmer. These additions made significant and noticeable gains on the OEM engine with 160K miles. When I put the new engine in, I was able to mate all those bolt-ons in the swap. However, it doesn't produce the neck snap one would expect with almost 100 more HP and 100 more lb ft of torque from factory specs. It just seems to be starving. It sounds really mean and has a noticeable lope with the stroker configuration, and it is a little more peppy, but opting for a $5k upgrade instead of a $2k upgrade is simply not being realized. I'm wondering if I need a high-output igntion system to aid in the burning of the fuel. I've noticed that the residue leaving the tailpipe is leaving a good bit of soot, indicating unburned gas escaping.

    Now...onto other new issues...the truck idles with a slight surge, sometimes elevating to a rise in RPMs, countered by a reduction that almost mimicks dieseling. In addition, my wipers only work randomly and start and stop on their own. My AC blower is also not working all the time. Sometimes all the settings work and sometimes only some of the settings work, and sometimes none at all. previous engine lost oil pressure and the gauge moved a bit back and forth for a few minutes. When the truck was returned to me after the swap , the oil pressure gauge was stuck on a wide open (far beyond the highest pressure reading) position. It does not fluctuate or bounce at all regardless of engine speed.

    So...that's about it... I love my truck. I was eagerly anticipating the performance beast I put under the hood. It seems I didn't get much of a bang for my buck and I now have "gremlins or ghosts in the electrical system". Any ideas?
  • not2l84u2not2l84u2 Member Posts: 6
    I have a 2003 Tahoe and I am unable to turn off the headlights at night when the vehicle is parked. I have had people tell me to hit the dome over-ride button three times in a row and it will shut them off, however it does not. Someone also told me to set the emergency brake. I have done that as well and it still does not turn them off at night. I called the local dealer and they do not have any other information. Does anyone have any other suggestions?
  • kiawahkiawah Member Posts: 3,666
    Well not sure how you are keeping your battery from going dead, until you figure out the cause of this problem. Consider pulling the fuses for the lights, or the relays. Be sure to put them back before needing to drive at night.
  • not2l84u2not2l84u2 Member Posts: 6
    Sorry I just realized that it seems as though the lights are staying on when the ignition is turned off, but that is not the case. What I am asking is how do I shut the headlights off at night while the vehicle is still running and it is in park
  • kiawahkiawah Member Posts: 3,666
    In our 97 Burb, that was done by putting the parking brake on. In our 07, you turn the headlight switch from "auto", counterclockwise to the "O" position.

    I think your 03 is more like the 07, but I believe it's written up in the owners manual one way or the other.
  • cholomikecholomike Member Posts: 1
    I have a 99 tahoe. my dome like , gauge lights headlights, pertty much all lights flicker all together very. any ideas?
  • foxtailfoxtail Member Posts: 1
    2007 Tahoe 20,000 miles doors lock on their own after I have left the vehicle. the low fuel light comes even if I have more than a half of tank. the radio lights go off. again this is not a regular occurence and don't happen at the same time. The dealer says they cannot duplicate the problem. I'm concerned these problems are symptomatic of a larger problem that won't show up until after the warranty has expired. For what it's worth this is the first American vehicle I've purchased in years and may be my last. The hassle of taking the car in and arranging transportation is really irritating
  • 2thebeach2thebeach Member Posts: 6
    I also have 2007 Tahoe and experienced electrical shutdown of my vehicle traveling @ 70 mph and lost all power however lights and gauges remained on but in failure mode.
    Received warnings of drivetrain failure. Had to have vehicle towed to dealership with them unable to duplicate problem. They replaced my battery and said that was most likely the problem. Never had a dead battery experience while driving @ 70 MPH. Would seem if battery was dead how did it just die while on the highway for over 4.5 hrs and no warning of alternator or electrical issues other than just drivetrain shutdown.
    That was Dec of 2007 never got good reason.
  • ahpahp Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2007 Tahoe with 35,200 miles. A couple weeks ago, while driving down the road, the interior lights would come on and then the door locks would click. I took it to the dealer and was told that it was caused by the security system. The dealership we purchased the vehicle from, which is now closed, installed a "clifford system" to the car. The dealer charged me $100 to disconnect the clifford. This was not under warranty because even though we bought the car with it, they consider it an after market part. If the dealership was still open, they would have taken it off for free. Well they take that off and the car locks are still unlocking/locking while driving and now the interior lights will not turn off. The battery started draining. We had to get onstar out for them to jump start it. I go back to the dealership and now they say it is the door module. They order the part and I make my third trip back there. That didn't fix the problem, so they switched out the bcm module. They then proceed to tell me that it could be the DVD player, which they also consider as an after market product, could be causing this. Now they want $150 to disconnect the DVD player to see if that is the problem. Also, the engine hours were reset and the horn doesn't work when you lock the doors. Basically, the dealership doesn't have a clue what the problem is. My question to you all is, has anyone had issues like this before? I have called Chevrolet about this but they are no help. They keep blaming it on the dealership that is no longer in business. I feel like if I bought the car with the clifford and the DVD player, why shouldn't it be under warranty? None of the paperwork we had signed said anything about the parts being after market.
  • chris151chris151 Member Posts: 1
    We have an 07 Tahoe with no aftermarket equipment at all. 52,000 miles We have the factory DVD player and are also having intermittent electrical problems. It started with the headlights and interior lights flickering. It has progressed to failure to crank or stalling while running and it will not restart. Sometimes accessories will stop working properly, the radio will not turn off, or we cannot call Onstar. All of this is intermittent and of course the dealership has no clue. We spent $150 for them to change a faulty ingition switch only for the trouble to continue. It leaves us stranded, requiring a jump start around once a week or once every other week. Damn thing has already lost half of it's value. I'd much rather fix the problem than have to trade it in. This is getting old though.
  • grandbayoulabsgrandbayoulabs Member Posts: 1
    My daughters 99 tahoe/350 2 door dies sometimes while driving down the road. It will always restart and go on. I have heard that corrosion on an electrical harness or a sensor on the timing assy could cause this. Where is this harness and what would you try 1st? Andy
  • Houston1954Houston1954 Member Posts: 3
    To any Tahoe/Suburban/Sierra owners who are experiencing undiagnosed or intermittent electrical problems involving the ABS light/Parking brake light /door locks/ message center/ 4wh drive buttons/ chimes/ etc etc I will identify the simple fix. This fix was suggested to me by a Tahoe owner who was experiencing the "Dashboard Disco" as I was on my 2003 Suburban Z71.

    The fix seems too simple to be valid but it has solved the issues on my truck so far.

    There is a black/yellow wire that is grounded to the top rear of the engine block on the passenger side of the engine. This ground connection evidently gets compromised by corrosion or oils over time, or it becomes loose. I cleaned the surfaces on my truck and reinstalled the ground. I have not had any electrical issues since doing this.

    Regardless of whether you believe this could fix the problems you may experiencing it is certainly worth a try.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    Great tip, thanks!
  • tracifulptracifulp Member Posts: 1
    Have you ever found out the problem? My 03 tahoe is doing the same thing and noone can seem to figure out the issue. thanks!
  • jayaveryjayavery Member Posts: 4
    Don't know if you solved this or not; I just started here. But on my 2001 Tahoe you have to hit the dome overide 4 times not 3 as someone else suggested. Its also how my manual explained it.
  • jarbaughjarbaugh Member Posts: 1
    2003 Chevy Tahoe...two days ago "sound" on the radio gone, yesterday door locks quit, now the ignition is down. Two more payments and it is ours and I had a knot in my stomach about this until I read this message and am hopeful it is my issue too.

    It is definitely worth a try as it is dead-in-the-water. If I cannot do the work myself I will take this suggestion to my mechanic.

    Thanks for posting a possible remedy.
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