Start, no start -bad ground? - GM Forum - Buick, Cadillac, Chev, Olds, GMC & Pontiac chat


1992-1999 Series I L27 (1992-1994 SE,SLE, SSE) & Series II L36 (1995-1999 SE, SSE, SLE) and common problems for the Series I and II L67 (all supercharged models 92-99) Including Olds 88's, Olds LSS's and Buick Lesabres Please use General Chat for non-mechanical issues, and Performance and Brainstorming for improvements.

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Old 01-04-2004, 04:46 PM   #1
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Default Start, no start -bad ground?

Okay guys, need some help, My 94 SSEi has me in checkmate, need to figure out where to move from here. I acquired this car awhile back and have been working it into "daily driver status. New tires, alternator, Ign-module, computer, plugs, wires, tranny fluid/filter, oil/filter, cleaned throttle body, replaced one vacuum line (suspect of other- will do it also) 180 thermostat cross drilled .093, cleaned battery terminals,and ground connections (behind battery, and under Ign-module).The previous owner did replace the Ign switch short time before me, and did not tighten the steering column very well, still needs tightened?. I have noticed that when I turn the key on - my "SES" light would come on in "self test" mode, but would flicker rapidly until the gages would complete their sweeping, then would stay on solid -it would start okay, but occasionally, the light will not come on at all -no start. Wiggle Batt cables, and quick connect for computer (on ground cable) and got it to stabilize, but not confident . I realize after reviewing my service manual, that the PCM is lacking adequate ground for SES light. That is what prompted me to clean the grounds that I mentioned earlier (behind battery and below Ign-module) This fixed it temporarily, then the other night, I get a volt indicator light up on dash. Got out the scan tool and checked volts -running around 10.1 to 10.6. Dont know if its all related, but wanted to share. Put another battery in, and got back to 11.4 volts but SES light is flickering again upon turning the key on, sometimes not at all, with the same results, start- no start (see a pattern?). Is there another ground that I'm not seeing in the manual that I can check? I love this car, but getting tired of dicking with this problem. Appreciate any feedback of similar probs/cures you all have had.
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Old 01-04-2004, 06:46 PM   #2
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The voltage does sound low. Is it possible your alternator is not operating correctly?

When the SES light is on solid, I would expect there to be some codes. Are there any present?

Are you saying that you believe power to the PCM is intermittent or too low?
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Old 01-04-2004, 07:08 PM   #3
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I feel the voltage it too low, wanted to hear what some of you guys get. When I refer to the SES light, it is only when the key is only "ON" and not running -system check mode -so to speak, no real codes. I did have some, but I think they were due to the intermittent power. One was "Spark Reference", and "Ignition Toggling", and "System Voltage High/Low" but went away when I cleaned the PCM ground connections. I think the power to the PCM is intermittent, that'* affected when I play with the ground wires. Would'nt low voltage play these kinda games, or even poor ground connection? The only thing that I didnt mention was it has a slight miss at an idle, since I did a good tune up, AC plugs/wires, checked injectors I feel the ignition underpowered. My older cars would act funny when the alt was going out and the alternator was taking a big dump. I think its time to get the "NEW" alternator checked.
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Old 01-04-2004, 10:52 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkinney
I think its time to get the "NEW" alternator checked.
I agree. Pull the thing, take it in and have it bench-tested for output and load. When system voltage drops too low, all sorts of weird things start happening because all the system controllers (including the dash displays and gauges) are running undervoltage, and the slightest dip below the minimum will trigger a reboot (e.g. gauge needles do their startup sweep, etc.).

Regardless of any exotic computer codes stored or whatever, getting full system voltage is really basic: you either have it or you don't, and in your case, you don't, so fix that first, then see if any other problems remain.

Also check your battery cables at _both_ ends, and the MaxiFuse/Relay center on the firewall, especially the top center cable connection feeding in from the battery.
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Old 01-04-2004, 11:17 PM   #5
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Thanks Willren, and Andy- good idea. I'll check the cable tomorrow. BTW, what are you guys seeing as far as voltage goes? I noticed in the Service Manual that it wouldnt set off a code until it dips under 9.0 volts (or above 17) -P1630, but the volt light will still come on before that.
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Old 01-05-2004, 11:38 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkinney
Thanks Willren, and Andy- good idea. I'll check the cable tomorrow. BTW, what are you guys seeing as far as voltage goes? I noticed in the Service Manual that it wouldnt set off a code until it dips under 9.0 volts (or above 17) -P1630, but the volt light will still come on before that.
Unfortunately the SSEi doesn't have a voltmeter (let alone an ammeter, which I would prefer anyway) so I can't give you a number, but these cars are known for eating their alternators, so you _really_ need to eliminate that possibility with a proper alternator output test before looking elsewhere.
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Old 01-05-2004, 11:42 AM   #7
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Wasn't me. It was Fuddy, but thanks anyway

I agree with the suggestions. Fix the electrical first. That can cause all sorts of problems, including ignition undervolts. I had that prob about 4 months ago. Got a much beefier alternator from Domestic Performance, and a new Optima Red Top. But get it tested first to make sure.
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Old 01-08-2004, 11:19 PM   #8
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Okay.....update, I think I have narrowed down the "Area" of my underpowering. Took the Alt in and had it checked ,... low and behold, it'* putting out 15.5 volts. I had the guy disconnect the ground while testing, and it went down to 11.2 (about where I was seeing it) That told me I had a bad ground. Hmmmm, I cleaned all of my ground connections again "thoroughly" and fired it up,....again 11.2 - 11.4 I ran a dummy cable from the ground terminal on fender to the alt bracket, but no change. Found out in the service manual that the PCM actually supplies juice to the alt when the key is on - through terminal "L", which is what feeds the regulator, and monitors output voltage. I dont know for sure what that voltage supply is supposed to be, it is fed off of the Ign switch to the PCM, and then out to alt, it measures .45 volts (to the alt), WAY too low. Any of you guys know off the top of your head what it'* supposed to be? I'm starting to suspect the Ign switch (or harness) more and more, the guy I bought it from said he put one in it just before I got the car from him. I'll keep you posted.
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Old 01-08-2004, 11:59 PM   #9
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Service manual doesn't say - but you're right, there'* supposed to be voltage there from the PCM when the engine is turned on.
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