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Old 09-26-2004, 04:48 AM   #1
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Default Few problems with new SSEi

I've recently bought a new (to me) '94 Bonneville SSEi. There are a few problems I'd like to get fixed though.

First, and probably most importantly, the backlighting for the gauges is completely out. The compass (although I need to calibrate it) displays fine, as does the Driver Information Center. Luckily the HUD is also working fine, so I'm not driving blindly (without knowing speed) at night. Ideally I'd be able to fix this myself, but I don't even know where to start. The previous owner mentioned to me that it needs bulbs replaced, but it would be somewhat strange for several of them to go out at once. Is it possible that it'* just a blown fuse or something? I have been getting a Tail Lamp warning as well, and upon inspection, one of the license plate bulbs is out. Is this a simple one to replace, and could it have anything to do with the gauge lights? I've read the procedure in Techinfo for removing the cluster, and it'* something I'd want to avoid if at all possible...

The car also doesn't start every time. I think it'* a problem with the security system and not being able to measure the resistance through the chip in the key, or something like that. Sometimes I have to try to start it a few times before it actually goes, but when it doesn't, it still sounds like it'* cranking for a moment, but I guess the fuel pump is shut off immediately or something. How would I go about getting that fixed? I was told that the ignition switch on the steering column needs to be replaced...is that my problem? We (the previous owner and I) did try soldering a resistor between the two ignition wires...but the car wouldn't even crank then.

Next, we have the air conditioning/auto climate control not working quite right. Specifically, the air only blows out the defrost and floor vents (and the vents pointing at the back seat). It seems to heat/cool just fine though, except that the cold air blowing constantly at the windshield creates a lot of condensation on the outside (gotta love the constant 90% humidity ). I was told that this is most likely a vacuum hose issue. Is this the case, and if so, how difficult would it be to check them?

I also get warnings from time to time about low coolant....but the coolant level seems to be fine. I'm assuming this is a sensor gone bad somewhere, but how difficult or expensive of a thing would this be to fix?

The Service Engine Soon light also comes on sometimes. I know I need a new O2 sensor - would this cause that light to be displayed? Also, I'm not sure if it'* my imagination either, but my gas mileage seems to be lower than I expect. Would the sensor affect this as well?

Also, the cruise control doesn't seem to be working...although I do believe it worked one (and only one) time, unless I was imagining something. Where would I even start for that problem? The headlight washers also don't work, any pointers on that? It'* honestly not that important though.

Last but not least, the power locks don't seem to be working. Well...the one in the driver'* door works most of the time, but none of the others do. I checked the codes on the spare in the trunk, and it appears I have keyless entry (just need a remote), but of course I'd need the power locks working first. Pressing the lock buton on the driver'* door is supposed to unlock (or lock) all doors, correct? Does this mean an actuator or something has to be replaced for all of the other three doors? I imagine that would get somewhat expensive. Is there anything else I can look at that could possibly cause this?


I think that'* it!

As always, thanks in advance for the help.
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Old 09-26-2004, 09:33 AM   #2
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Check search feature for most of these questions for more info. Lots of these problems have been discussed and are archived.

Some ideas:

Backlighting - check feed from light switch
Starting - clean resistor on key, clean battery cables and battery ground to engine
Vents- check hoses on vacuum cans under r side of dash
Low Coolant- try cleaning low coolant sensor located on radiator side tank
SES light - pull code (many parts stores will do for free)
CC/HW/RKE- diagnose using factory service manual diagnostics - folks here have 'em
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Old 09-26-2004, 10:36 AM   #3
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You would NOT believe how weird this is. I have the EXACT same problems as you. My lights work though .

I believe it was in '94 they came out with the hybrid OBD 1.5 ECM, which means you can't do the "paper clip" trick. Your '92 would have been able to do that. So, you would need to get a scantool on that sucker when the SES light is on. The o2 sensor will put up the SES light if its not communicating to the ECM, it won't trigger the SES light if it is not giving the right data, the ECM just wants data.

The low coolant situation. Mine comes on occaisonally too. It will display low coolant when its full, and say the coolant level is fine when it is actually low. It could be that it is displaying the right data, and there is an air leak somewhere in the cooling system. Drive the car until it gets up to temp. Then let her cool down for 15-20 minutes, and check the radiator, be careful! you don't want coolant spraying all over you. Make sure it is full to the lip. Then clean the area where the radiator cap bottom touches the radiator neck, and the rubber "gasket" on the cap. Make sure they are both very clean, and both surfaces nice and dry. Then go to the overflow bottle and make sure that is full to the "full cold" level [of course if the engine is not up to operating temp]. See if that helps any.

For the cruise. Mine refuses to work, due to some vacuum leaks, I don't know how electronically controlled yours is. But mine has a controller, which controls the vacuum operated throttle controller. Make sure all vacuum lines are free of decay, and all securly plugged in. My controller is located just right of the throttle body, and is this round ball, with vacuum lines, and a lever which connects to the throttle.

For the car not starting everytime. You will want to grab some alcohol, and a qtip. Clean the key very well. Then insert it into the ignition a few times, and clean in between each time. If you have a spare key, then try that. If this is VATS related [key not being recognized], then the SECURITY light will come on. For the resister you tried soldering, you could have soldered it in the wrong connection [unlikely], the more likely answer, would be you got the wrong resistance resistor. There are 16 [I think] different resistances for the VATS system, and the key carries only one of these. Check the resistance of the key, that will tell you what ohm rating you will want for the resistor.

The ACC. Yours I believe is also vacuum controlled. There is a controller located on the firewall, it has a vacuum line plugged into it from the engine, and several others going into the interior. The ones going into the interior are hard to get to, unless you remove some parts, but just check to make sure all of them are plugged in, and that the fittings for them all are good and plugged in.

The other stuff I have no idea.

EDIT: I don't believe Auto Parts stores check the hybid ECM'*.. They have no clue what to do with them, but don't quote me on that.


-justin
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Old 09-27-2004, 12:46 AM   #4
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opensourceguy, I tried your suggestion of cleaning the key and inserting it in the ignition a few times, and that seemed to do the trick! Once I did that 6 or 7 times, the car started up just fine, and it has started perfectly every time since then - at least 8 or so starts. Hopefully that problem is gone now. I guess the contacts in the ignition must have been somewhat dirty. Thanks for the help!

I'll try cleaning the coolant sensor at some point within the next few days, when I have time.

Is it possible that the cruise control and A/C vent problem are related, since they're both vacuum controlled (as far as I know)? Bill - when you say "check hoses on vacuum cans under R side of dash", is this just referring to the black panel underneath the dash that you can unscrew? (And is that still where some fuses are that I could check for my lighting problem?) Also, how would I check the light switch feed? That seems like it would be pretty hard to get to/look at.

I'll try to get the codes pulled for the SES light soon as well. The last time I got codes pulled (right before I bought the car), there were three:

-->P162 Antitheft system fuel enable circuit (I assume this one should no longer show up, since the ignition seems to work fine every time now)

-->P0171 Bank 1 System too lean
-->P0131 Bank 1 #1 Oxygen sensor

I assume the 2nd and 3rd codes are related, correct? Would the SES light possibly be caused by either of these? I don't remember if the light was on at the time of those codes being pulled or not. Either way I still have to replace the sensor (which is #1?) - but how much would such a thing cost (parts and labor, because it'* probably way over my head to do it myself)?

Also, the button on the door for unlocking the trunk doesn't seem to work. However, the panel on that driver'* door is somewhat loose - it looks like some of the fasteners aren't fastening to the metal door part for some reason. I may see if I can find a replacement panel, but I'm not sure if that would affect the trunk control or not. It bugs me though because I want to have that working when I fix the power locks and get around to getting a keyless entry remote.

I think that'* it for now....thanks again!
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Old 09-27-2004, 02:27 AM   #5
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Yes, the vacuum cans inside the car are up under the passenger side hush panel. It comes off pretty easily, then you can get your head under there and you will see three silver cans with color-coded vacuum hoses plugged into them. These are the duct control motors that open and close the ducts to send heated/cooled air to the windshield, dash, or floor. You want to make sure the hoses are connected, and none hanging loose. On the passenger kick panel is the other fuse/relay block you referred to, but I don't think (?) the lighting fuses for inst. lights are located there.

For the dimming light feed: If your '94 is like my '92, (?) there will be a gray wire coming from the light switch under the dash going to a splice located in the wiring harness just to the right behind the radio. If you can find it, you can probe it with a test light to see if the light switch dimmer is working OK and producing voltage for all the instrument lights. Yes, it will be hard to get to it. Fuse numbers 14 and 21 are supposed to feed the light switch.

Those plastic door fasteners are only good for a few cycles on/off. You can buy new plastic gripper bolts for the door panel at most part stores in the Help products section.
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