Grounding problem? Or is my car possessed?
I have an issue with a 95 SSE that'* been posted before as "crazy electrical problem" back in 2004 and as "My 96'* going crackers - Couple questions / wierd issues." in 2005, but I didn't ever see a good resolution for either. I have the same symptoms, and my gut feeling is that it'* a grounding issue. Basic facts are 95 SSE, 230k miles. Engine replaced with one from a wreck at 130k (I don't know how the guy I bought it from cracked the head, but I got the car cheap), tranny rebuilt about 200k. Neither of these two major operations seem like they have anything to do with the problem.
Basically I just got out of the car at the airport one afternoon this week, and when I clicked the key fob to lock the doors the yellow security light did not come on, and I couldn't unlock the doors or the trunk with the remote. This had happened once before many months ago, but after I restarted the car it never occurred again, so I blew it off. This time, I restarted the car and stopped it again, then tried the remote, with the same symptoms. The doors locked, but the security light did not, and I could not unlock it with the remote. But the plane was leaving so I left it in the parking lot. Last night I flew back in to town, wondering what I'd find in the parking garage. Much to my surprise, the doors and trunk opened with the remote, and I thought all was well. After loading up my stuff I started the car fine, but the traction control off light was lit, and punching the traction control button didn't do anything. Then I noticed that the antenna was not extended, and when I got out and shut down the dome light did not work, and the fog lamps are glowing dimly (and they're in the parking lot glowing right now!!).
Basic troubleshooting (on a cold night) was that the door switches must work as the open door shows up on the control center, but the dome light does no illuminate. The power antenna does not extend and retract. The key remote does not do anything. The traction control light off warning light stays on (and I'm guessing that traction control is truly off). An oddity is that if I open the trunk with the door switch, which does work surprisingly, the fog lamps will extinguish and the security light will start to blink as it should (but it appears dim). But as soon as I release the button it goes back to it'* possessed behavior.
The battery terminal voltage is fine, and the alternator recharges the battery fine while driving (since the fog lamps did a fine job of discharging it overnight last night).
Obviously, applying and removing the ground for the trunk release button manipulates the ground in a way that affects the problem. But I don't know where all of this stuff comes together in a common place. I have a 2002 Saturn that went electrically berserk and I got a lesson in the "body control module" from that experience, but I don't know if this 95 SSE has one of these. Obviously there'* a controller somewhere, but it appears to be more distributed that the one centralized module in the Saturn.
What I have done, so far, is dig out the ground bus connector on the drivers side, but frankly it looks good. Does anyone have any more suggestions?