Car Trouble (? electrical ?)

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120inna55

120inna55

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Driving home from work today, the CD I was playing seemed to be dropping out (not really a skip), and I don't recall seeing the display do anything weird.

I initially assumed it was related to the extreme heat in the car affecting the way it was playing and that it would resolve when it cooled off, so I started to push eject...this was happening while I was getting on the ramp connecting to the loop. While shifting (it's a standard), the car just died. I was able to steer, the cluster gague lit up and the AC was still on. So I turned the ignition off. I'd assumed that being distracted with the stereo perhaps I had mis-shifted and stalled out.

Anyways, it cranked right back up without a problem, and the trip home (about 12 miles) was uneventful except the CD player continued to have occasional dropouts albeit progressively fewer.

So I've been home for several hours...wondering about it....so I went back out to the car to see if the stereo was still having dropouts (doubting this is really a stereo problem). I turned the ignition just to the "aux" part which usually gives electricity, but not far enough to crank her up. At which point nothing powered up and I only heard a click. So I turned the ignition on around to attempt to start it...and nothing.

So I turned it to the off position (freaked out), and tried again. This time it started right up, the stereo worked, the lights worked, AC worked, etc.

What is this likely to be?

I assume its not battery since it cranked up without any problem on the second attempt.

Details: 1998 Trans Am, LS1 engine, manual 6-speed, 80K miles, no mods.
 
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Van

Van

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Could be a bad ingition switch, the switch has pins or contacts in it and much of this can become loose and worn, I had to replace the ignition in a car I had for the same issue. Its really not hard to do unless you have a securakey system wich you will want to take it to a dealer or to a local lock smith that can work on these systems wich so far as I know there are only around 4 or 5 in the country that can do it. ( this wont be cheap, $500 - $800 if what I had read a while back is correct )

With your car running and in neutral try moving the key around in the ignition and listen to the radio and watch the lights, this will most times tell you if there is something going on with the switch. Chiltons or haynes manual will go over how to take out the switch and replace it, you can order a replacement switch and its key from napa.
 
120inna55

120inna55

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Van said:
Could be a bad ingition switch, the switch has pins or contacts in it and much of this can become loose and worn, I had to replace the ignition in a car I had for the same issue. Its really not hard to do unless you have a securakey system wich you will want to take it to a dealer or to a local lock smith that can work on these systems wich so far as I know there are only around 4 or 5 in the country that can do it. ( this wont be cheap, $500 - $800 if what I had read a while back is correct )

With your car running and in neutral try moving the key around in the ignition and listen to the radio and watch the lights, this will most times tell you if there is something going on with the switch. Chiltons or haynes manual will go over how to take out the switch and replace it, you can order a replacement switch and its key from napa.

Thanks for the info. I suspect I have one of those "securakey" systems to which you're referring. The key has the raised "chip" on it. That's discouraging.
 
thiggin2

thiggin2

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The ignition switch on that car is seperate from the lock cylinder. I have seen burnt ignition switches on camaros which have the same system. I can possible email the repair pages and schematic's(factory) to you. I work for GM dealer and have access to the factory online books.

Edit: I attached the replacement pages for you. I would check the connector first, that would for sure tell you if the switch it burnt. It might also need a new connector if it is.
 

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120inna55

120inna55

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thiggin2 said:
The ignition switch on that car is seperate from the lock cylinder. I have seen burnt ignition switches on camaros which have the same system. I can possible email the repair pages and schematic's(factory) to you. I work for GM dealer and have access to the factory online books.

Edit: I attached the replacement pages for you. I would check the connector first, that would for sure tell you if the switch it burnt. It might also need a new connector if it is.


Man, you rock. Thank you so much.

So far, no repeat problems, but I anticipate them.

Thank you both so much.
 
thiggin2

thiggin2

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Here is the schematic of the radio feed from the Ign./BCM . As you can see there is the wipers and windows on the same ckt. as the radio. If the problem acts up again check those components and see if they give you problems also.
Let me know if I can help you any more.:)
 

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120inna55

120inna55

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OK, more symptoms have presented themselves, and I therefore tend to think this may not be ignition/starter related.

The car starts up just fine. While driving various instrument lights flicker and then go off, the needles on the gagues bounce then return to normal positions. The engine remains running. Once the trip-odometer reset itself, but the odometer is unaffected.

I tried wiggling the key in the ignition while the car was idling, and nothing unusual happened.

Now this may or may not be related, but back in March, my AC belt was replaced secondary to typical wear and squealing. Since then, if the car is idling at low RPMs, or if I'm coasting/cruising through a parking lot, and I turn on my air conditoner, I feel it bog down the engine temporarily. Almost as if turning on the AC is putting a strain on it, but it picks right back up once the air starts blowing. I'd assumed this was related to a belt that no longer slips as I'd become accustomed.

Any more ideas?

Now, I don't expect to fix this myself, but I'd like to have your guesses as to the problems, so I don't get ripped-off by the shop.

Thanks.
 
Van

Van

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Well bogging down happens when your engine goes under a load, it also happens when the air fuel mixture is off, I believe it will also happen when the spark is weak.

Your cars a V8 so changing the a/c belt would most likely involve removing the alternator wich charges your battery and is a part of your overal electrical system. Pop the hood while the car is off and check the electrical connections on the alternator, also check to see if the belts feel loose.

If everything looks good then you can run over to autozone, they will do a free diagnostic wich should help you out before you have to take it to the dealer if its something that isnt easily done by you.
 
120inna55

120inna55

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If this weren't so frustrating, it'd probably be funny...

The occasional cluster panel flickers and gauge bounces have continued, and have unfortunately progressed to the car actually dying on me. I turned the ignition off, then back on and it cranked right up. It got me to my destination. Then after sitting for a while, I attempted to start it back up and it was a no go. Just a click. After several attempts, it finally started right up. I drove it to a shop and left it in their parking lot (after hours). I'll call 'em in the morning and ask 'em to check it out.

I suppose this could be so many things that speculation will probably just lead to more grief. I just hope it's not a huge problem. Although, the magic number on this car seems to be $500. Sheesh.

Keep the ideas coming, though. I'd like to be armed with as much insight as possible.

Thanks.
 
Van

Van

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The ignition switch really does control alot of the electrical system of your car including power going to the instrument cluster, radio, windows, engine controls, ecm, ect ect ect and can cause these issues as can a loose connection on the alternator or now that Im thinking about it a faulty engine bay ground.
 
thiggin2

thiggin2

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You probably already checked but make sure the "ground" cable at the battery is clean and tight.
I would also still look at the ign. switch connector for signs of problems.
I will ask around the shop and look at previous problems that GM might have in there data base to see if it might be something else.
 
120inna55

120inna55

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thiggin2 said:
You probably already checked but make sure the "ground" cable at the battery is clean and tight...

I feel like such an idiot!!!! The shop called and told me that it was just a corroded (decimated) contact bolt on a cable to the battery (don't recall if it was ground or hot). They didn't charge much, probably because I bought 2 tires from 'em at $236/ea.

I just never would have contributed it to a battery connection since the car would die while running. I'm just ignorant of these things. I thought the battery's job was to get the fire going, then the alternator took over after you have combustion.

Apparently it was the problem, though, as the car runs beautifully, now. It doesn't bog even the slightest when I turn on the AC, either.

OK, you may all commence in ragging on me, now.;)
 
Van

Van

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The bolt may have been in a location that you would not have seen easily such as where it connects to the starter or to the body.
 
thiggin2

thiggin2

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Well Gm/Delco has LOTS and I mean LOTS of battery problems. 90%of those problems are batteries leaking at the pos cable. I just never saw all those problems occurring because of the battery but any things possible. Just glad it was something simple and easy.
 
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