: Electrical Problems? Anyone have this problem?

02-01-06, 06:08 PM
Weird things happening electrically.
1997 Catera - 90K miles. Have had it for over 5+ years, 60K are my own miles. Have put $$$ into it, love the car, but I just want it to be reliable.

1) My climate control unit... It went dead about 4mos ago. Replaced the fuse, no problems. 6 weeks ago, it died again, it wasn't the fuse this time. Took it to a place, they cleaned the connectors, reinstalled it, and presto it worked, 2 weeks later, same thing, dead again. Any ideas? PS it is not the fuse, as the same fuse controls the heated seats/lighter. Fuse is okay. I will note, when the lights are on, the climate control buttons all light up with the exception of the FAN & MODE switch. Don't know if this is related but the interior dome lights works sporadically? Sometimes they come on when I hit the remote unlock, sometimes not. Sometimes the dome light work in the car when I'm driving, sometimes not. Like I said weird electrical problems.

2) I was having a battery drain problem. I would constantly have to recharge the battery every 4 weeks. Took it to get checked, they replaced the ignition switch in the steering column. Said it was broken, causing the car to remain on, even though the key was removed. Perfect. Car ran fine for a couple weeks. Have a new problem. At times (has happened 5 times in last 6 weeks). The car will not start, Put the key in, all the lights light up, but when I turn the key nothing (not even a clicking sound). I wait an hour or so, go back to the car, put the key in and presto, the car starts. Gonna get the starter checked, but curious if this has happened to anyone else. Last occurred yesterday, left work, drove about 10 min to the grocery store, spent about 15 mins inside, came back out, car would not start, everything was lit, the battery was fully juiced (jumping not the issue). I would turn the key, and nothing. Walked home, went back about 3 hours later, got in and presto, put the key in and the car started no problems.

I am taking it to a different repair shop Friday, hopefully a different set of eyes can help me out. But any suggestions you guys/gals have would be appreciated.

May have to sell this 97 and get a certified 2000 Catera sport.

PS, for those that have a battery problem, check the power cable from the alternator to the battery. It took about 3 visits, and 2 alternators to finally realize the cable was frayed and damaged. While the battery was good and the alternator was good, the battery wasn't charging because that cable was bad.

02-04-06, 08:34 PM
Had a similar problem with the climate control, all lights on the climate control panel went out and no heat (December in MI). I pulled out and replaced every fuse and relay (with the same ones) and it has worked ever since. Not sure which one was the guilty one but my guess was something came loose or corroded a bit and caused a bad connection, pulling them out and replacing them seemed to do the job.

02-19-06, 11:52 PM
i have diffetent kind of problems..my transmission light is on most of the time and so is the tc and abs light on the dashboard, and my car seems to start in 3rd gear and when it gets colder like in the 20's (chicago) the transmission light goes out and transmission works and shifts good and smooth. ok and when it gets really cold like in the 10's or even 0 deggres the "tc" and "abs" light goes out too and then the speedometer works well ...does any one have this problem and how can i fix it ? is it a wiring problem? i dont think its the transmission contro module some one help!!!

02-19-06, 11:57 PM
its a 99' by the way

02-20-06, 04:59 PM
Your comment about the fuses is interesting. I have a 98 Catera. I had an intermittent no start problem - would crank but not start, come back later and it would start. Ran perfectly after it started. This went on for a few months. It finally gave out and wouldn't restart - towed to dealer - they replaced the fuel pump (for like $750!!!). It was fine for about two weeks then started having trouble again. This time it took 2 weeks to die completely - and luckily the car was at home this time. Anyway, tried some stuff - was getting no spark from the plugs for whatever reason. In a Hail Mary attempt I pulled all the spark plugs under the hood and cleaned with sandpaper. When I cranked it the engine was sputtering - which it hadn't really done before - and it finally fired up after a bit of sputtering and alot of cranking.

I was thinking coincidence with cleaning the fuse contacts - could this actually have been the problem? I also chared the battery that day - it was nearly dead from all the cranking. This was just this weekend - I've only driven it once since then. I guess I'll find out as I drive it wether it dies on me or not - thankfully I have AAA. I'm going to take it to Autozone to have it scanned for any codes.

02-20-06, 11:44 PM
I had a similar problem and I put a post up.
My car never cranked. I ended up replacing the starter and 4 days and no problems. Again, in my earlier post, I mentioned having the battery cable that runs from the alternator to the battery is not corroded or damaged. When the alternator and battery are good, it could be the cable. Have the techs look at that. Just an idea

02-21-06, 11:03 AM
OK, I was a bit hasty in my hopefullness. My Catera now won't start - same thing. I guess it wasn't the fuses. I'll mess with it today. I'm now thinking crank position sensor.

Does anyone know if an intermittent bad cranks pos sensor will set a code that can be read by the "basic" OBDII scanners?

02-22-06, 10:13 AM
Yes it does have a code. The only reason I know is because after owning my 98 for two weeks now I had to have it replaced. Mine would start but the die on me and would have to sit for 20 mins before it would start again. This happened constantly. It cost me 250 at the dealer to get it fixed. Hope this helps Good Luck

02-22-06, 01:14 PM
Thanks. My father-in-law and I did some checks again yesterday - fuel pump seems to be working. He disconnected the intake to the filter and it pumps when cranking, but the manual says the fp stays on 2 secs after cranking - we weren't seeing that.

We were not getting spark when we checked it. Here's the interesting part - after all the cranking the battery was low, so I put it on the charger for about 3 hours. Low and behold the car started with the slightest bit of sputtering. Let it idle, reved it up, turned it off, restarted fine - I never drove it though. My father-in-law has above average mech know how - he was surprised.

Any ideas why the car would crank perfectly fine, all accessories work, but not start - then recharge the battery and it would start? I did disconnect the pos bat cable to charge it - was it this or the fully charged battery?