2003 CTS Electrical Ghost- Need Help!
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  • 2 Post By CTSUK
  • 1 Post By Kilowatt
Cadillac CTS First Generation Forum - 2003 - 2007 Discussion, 2003 CTS Electrical Ghost- Need Help! in Cadillac CTS Coupe, Sport Sedan and Sport Wagon Forums; I have seen this discussion on a dozen or so other threads but haven't found one yet where someone found ...
  1. #1
    Brandon03CTS is offline Cadillac Owners Member
    Automobile(s): 2003 CTS
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    Boca Raton, Florida
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    2003 CTS Electrical Ghost- Need Help!

    I have seen this discussion on a dozen or so other threads but haven't found one yet where someone found a permanent solution. Heres the short version of the long story:

    I bought a 2003 cts with 50k or so from a dealer down in Ft Lauderdale about 18 months ago. At the time I thought I was getting a bargain on it and I've come to find out just the opposite. After purchase the driver side functions didnt seem to work, power mirror, seat, and sometimes the window. At the time it wasnt a major issue and it was off and on working. About 6 months after that I was in an accident where I slammed into a lexus that had blown a stop light, this was the beginning of my problems. Damage was to the front of the car and the majority on the drivers side front, Ill attach photos. An insurance deductible, rental car, and 3 weeks later I had the car back from the auto body shop. I began getting the rough idling, rough shifting, and the engine power reduced message on the DIC. I immediately brought it to Cadillac and they replaced the Throttle body wiring harness, battery, a few fuses and relays, and this solved the problem for another 4 weeks or so, and then it was back. I got used to shifting to neutral, restarting, and shifting into drive at 60mph pretty quickly and the issue was so intermittent; there would be weeks it would be perfect ant then one day it would start up and last a week or so.
    Recently, I have been getting the service theft system and service vehicle soon messages. The radio will shut off, doors lock, and a/c turn off, and then the service theft system message will appear. I am able to start the car and drive nromally without any issues for 10 minutes or so until this happens. What is strange is that it almsot goes through a cycle during my hour commute to work. Lasting 20 seconds or so it will go from normal driving operation to the T/C and all other lights in the dash illuminating, radio shutting off, doors locking, theft message coming up, a/c off, etc, and then all click back on for 10 seconds and then it will cycle through again. EVEN STRANGER, is that if I press down any driver power seat button it will reset the cycle on its own and if I HOLD the button it will resume normal operation until I let up, I cant possinbly hold the recline button the entire way to work, but Im working out my thumbs and have been!

    My plan this weekend is to inspect every possible ground and conenction I can find under the hood in hopes that something is not grounded right, melted, corroded, or something. I have seen a lot of people fix their electrical ghosts and Engine Power Reduced issue with a new ECM or TCM but I dont want to start throwing parts at this car just yet. Im hoping that someone here can shed some light onto this headache that is driving me nuts!

    Thanks a ton, Brandon
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  3. #2
    Argent1's Avatar
    Argent1 is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
    Automobile(s): '07 CTS 3.6
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    Re: 2003 CTS Electrical Ghost- Need Help!

    Shouldn't this be blamed on the accident, and have the insurance fix it ?

  4. #3
    Brandon03CTS is offline Cadillac Owners Member
    Automobile(s): 2003 CTS
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    Re: 2003 CTS Electrical Ghost- Need Help!

    I would have thought so but the insurance company wouldn't cover it. It was like pulling teeth having them cover all of the damage there already.

    ----------

    UPDATE: I spent the weekend cleaning every connection I could possibly find and tracing each wire checking for any melting, chafing, or anything. While leaning over the front fuse box I heard a few relays click on and then click off when I let up. I removed the entire fuse box, cleaned the grounding point to the rear and reinstalled nice and snug, much tighter than it was before. Going on day 5 now of this problem being solved!! I haven't had any engine power reduced, check engine lights, or any other codes after clearing them all.

  5. #4
    CTSUK's Avatar
    CTSUK is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
    Automobile(s): 2005 Cadillac CTS 3.6 Sport Luxury
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    Re: 2003 CTS Electrical Ghost- Need Help!

    Sometimes ground points can cause all kinds of issues, always best to routine clean them every year
    TunixComplex and Brandon03CTS like this.

  6. #5
    Kilowatt is offline Cadillac Owners Member
    Automobile(s): CTS
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    Re: 2003 CTS Electrical Ghost- Need Help!

    Congrats Brandon. You just learned and shared a very valuable lesson.

    I was just about to say...GROUNDS. No such thing anymore that 'sometimes' can cause...issues. lol
    I dont believe in 'cleaning' ground points - unless of course they have been loosened - or submerged in seawater or doused with battery acid.
    Cleaning is a noble notion, but most of these electrical 'anchor points' function using toothed washers that cut through and bond the wire terminal and chassis surfaces to the ground substrate. R&Ring these just cuts more of the substrate's anti-corrosion coating away and opens the door to worsening corrosion, which is the ultimate enemy to all metallic structures. These ground points are distributed throughout the vehicle and some are a real bear to access. You would be better off coating them with that red anti-corrosive battery terminal compound AFTER torquing them.

    The more these machines use microcomputers, sensors, displays and servos, the greater chance this kind of gremlin can emerge. Chassis ground is crucial to these systems because if not used as an electrical return path, they serve as a shield against interference or RF leakage and 'ground loops'. This IS rocket science...or more notably a 'black art'. heh heh, dont ask how I know.
    I can not emphasize this enough, boys-n-girls.

    The other gremlin possibility in your case is susceptibility to electromagnetic (radio wave) interference. There is a BIG reason why metal-encased items such as XM/Sirius, ECM and OnStar modules, etc. are in a metal box...I'm a bit surprised that more automobile wire harnesses and fuse boxes are not in shielded enclosures or conduits...its the only way to securely prevent the electrical radiation and ESD from leaking or entering where it can wreak havoc, as you so well illustrated. It is likely this is the reason these modules are located apart from each other the way they are in the CTS. Well...mine anyway.

    I'm a noob here, my very first caddy and second post...I just got a new set of factory manuals for my '05 CTS...oh my goodness - the LY7 engine section alone is a whopping 998 pages. The whole set looks to be upwards of...IIRC 13,000 pages Woo Hoo!!
    k
    k
    Brandon03CTS likes this.

  7. #6
    TunixComplex is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
    Automobile(s): 2003 CTS 3.2 5M
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    Springfeild, MO
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    Re: 2003 CTS Electrical Ghost- Need Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by CTSUK View Post
    Sometimes ground points can cause all kinds of issues, always best to routine clean them every year
    Even so, ill NEVER remove my fusebox again unless I have to. That was the same nightmare this guy is having.

  8. #7
    Brandon03CTS is offline Cadillac Owners Member
    Automobile(s): 2003 CTS
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    Boca Raton, Florida
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    8

    Re: 2003 CTS Electrical Ghost- Need Help!

    @Kilowatt, you are right on with that post. Having such an intermittent problem led me to believe that something, somwhere, was loose, ungrounded, or otherwise not installed properly. As you can see in the pictures, a little re-arranging was done to the front end so there isnt a doubt in my mind that the fuse box, among other things, was removed and reinstalled. I've been kicking myself for months trying to figure this out and hopefully my experience and the replies on this post can help others with the same issue, I've seen A LOT of people with this dreaded engine power reduced and electrical ghost issue that theyve sunk a lot of $$ into.

    THANKS GUYS!

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