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Old 11-16-2007, 11:25 AM   #1
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Default 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?

Thanks,
Michael
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Old 11-16-2007, 11:46 AM   #2
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Check that same connector on the passenger side. It will also probably be good. It'* step #1 though. Check your battery cables for corrosion and good connections.

With those out of the way, it'* time to look at the body control or mall module as it'* called in the FSM'*. There are a few tests in the FSM that we can give you is someone with a 95 manual is willing to post it up.
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Old 11-16-2007, 12:57 PM   #3
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Pull the fuses for that circuit and make sure the spades are clean and go in tight. I have seen intermitten electrical faults caused by simple fuse connections as well as the harness connector to the mall module.
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Old 11-16-2007, 04:08 PM   #4
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OK, problem solved. Well, it isn't really fixed yet until I tear it out and clean it up, but it most certainly is the grounding harness on the passenger'* side. I can create and eliminate the problem at will by which way I twist the connector now that I have it pulled out from under the carpet.

Of course, we've had to invoke the 50/50-90 corollary of the supreme law of the universe to get to this. For those who do not know, Newton'* Laws of Motion nor the Law of Gravity, nor any of the other Laws of Nature you see in scientific journals are the One True Supreme Law of Nature. The One True Supreme Law of Nature is Murphy'* Law. And the 50/50-90 corollary states that if you have a 50 percent chance to guess which one it is, you'll guess wrong 90% of the time. So, since I have two sides to pick from, I now have *BOTH* floor mats pulled up to find the problem.

Such is life. At least my fog lights are off and the keyless remote works now. Oh, and I know what I'll be doing this weekend.

Michael
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