Loss of electrical; intermittent problem
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HT4100 4.1, 4.5, 4.9 Discussion, Loss of electrical; intermittent problem in Cadillac Engine Technical Discussion; Hello everyone. Sorry if this has been covered, I couldn't find anything in the search. I have a neighbor and ...
  1. #1
    Eldorado guy is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Loss of electrical; intermittent problem

    Hello everyone. Sorry if this has been covered, I couldn't find anything in the search. I have a neighbor and friend that lives across the street from me who owns a 1992 Cadillac Deville. Well, something funky happened to it around a month ago.

    He had just got onto the freeway and all the sudden he lost all power. The digital dash went out, the lights, and the passenger side window started rolling up and down. The check engine light and the brake light then illuminated again and he was able to restart it, traveling down the freeway. He took it to a mechanic who I guess he knows and he's had it for a month. He hasn't yet figured it out, but recently it finally did a similar thing to him so he is getting closer.

    If this mechanic doesn't figure it out, my friend said that it's no biggie, he'll just junk it at the Pick-n-Pull around the corner. I've always really liked it so I said "Oh man, I was just telling my girlfriend how I'd love to buy that car off you if you ever sold it!" He then told me that if the guy can't fix it, he would have to consult with his wife, but I can have it, or have it for what the yard will give them for it. The car is in really nice shape, it's been repainted within a few years and it's a metallic blue. It has 165K on the car and around 100K on the transmission, which I know aren't the strongest. It's a car that they use to drive daily, but for a couple years it's been used less than once a month or so. He let me drive it and it has an amazing ride.

    Does anyone know what could be going on with it? I was thinking a short, ground issue, alternator strangely acting up, or even the computer. I really hate to see that car go to the junk yard, and I've coveted it for a long time lol. Does anyone have any ideas? There are a lot of those in the junk yard, so I can get parts real easy if needed. Thanks for your help!

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  3. #2
    MrDobin is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Loss of electrical; intermittent problem

    The fact that it starts up and runs over and over I would say does seem to say a short is evident. What all shuts off during running as you mentioned? Does the engine die or just some electrical components and lights?.... I would say start with the alternator as its easiest to look at then move to the computer and over all wiring. Even if you have to buy a new component or two you will still be getting a slick deal as long as you do the work yourself. I cant be sure but if ALL of the car shuts down as it sounds, during driving, it has to be a major component failure and/or short. Likely depending on conditions too because otherwise you would be getting it EACH time the car warmed, did highway, or turned etc. I am curious what it ends up as. keep posted.

  4. #3
    Eldorado guy is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Loss of electrical; intermittent problem

    Next time I see him out, I'm going to ask him more details. He said that everything shuts off. All the lights, the engine, everything. It dies completely. It starts back up when the lights come back on though. It doesn't seem to do it much either, as the mechanic has had it for a month and it finally did it once. I'm kind of thinking short somewhere...something loose....like maybe it's triggered when it hits a bump juuuust right.

    I'd be willing to go to the junk yard before I actually own it and buy it some parts (they're pretty cheap there) for what I expect it to be, like if after trouble shooting I find it could be an alternator etc. I really don't want to see this car crushed, or in the very least labeled salvage. The deal is that presently I have an Iroc-z that I like, but I currently owe money on it and I miss having a luxury car. I could sell the Camaro and pay my debt way down and have a good running car to drive. I'm 19 and in college so I just really don't need the debt, not to mention it's hard to find a job at the moment. I'm not just trying to snag a free car or something, I'm perfectly willing to pay for it, I just don't want to see it totaled.

    Well, even if I have to save up the money to buy it and then fix it, even if I couldn't keep it, I will, mainly because I can't bear the thought of her getting crushed . What can I say, I've loved Cadillacs since I was a little kid!

  5. #4
    steelybill is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Loss of electrical; intermittent problem

    I kinda doubt that the alternator is the problem. If the alternator died completely, the battery would still have power for all the stuff that went out. Headlight switches usually have a built-in circuit breaker, that re-sets itself after a few minutes, when it cools off.
    If you get this car, invest in a factory service manual.Many are available on Ebay. With the electrical diagrams and trouble shooting information in the manual, you will be able to get it going easier. The window thing is a mystery. Bad grounding points are a usual problem in these cars. A manual will show where all the grounds are at.

  6. #5
    Eldorado guy is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Loss of electrical; intermittent problem

    Yeah I'm leaning toward grounds and the ecu. I was thinking alternator because when the alternator and battery went out in our Taurus when I was a lot younger, everything went haywire, so my parents thought they had to buy a new car lol. Of course, it was totally dead, not intermittently dead.

    Even if I have to buy it for $650, I will, if given the opportunity, and even if I can't fix it, I can get $650 back for it no problem. I'll fix it though, I like projects and I become real stubborn with them . If I get this car, I for sure will get a service manual. I bought one for the Eldorado and it's a life saver.

  7. #6
    MrDobin is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Loss of electrical; intermittent problem

    Agreed with Steely, after thinkin about it the fact it starts up a short while later is not symptom of alternator. The battery couldnt start back up if in fact the alt was not doing its job. Plus like my alt as of recent, it would rip itself apart essentially if in fact was the issue and dying. Start with the manual. Its a running car and even with occasional shut down annoyance what can it hurt. Enjoy

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    Eldorado guy is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Loss of electrical; intermittent problem

    I don't know when it will be back. I assume it will be back if/when the mechanic says that he can't fix it. I'll just have to see. I'll get a book if that happens and I'll go over all the grounds, inspect, and clean them.

  9. #8
    steelybill is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Loss of electrical; intermittent problem

    Some grounds are on the engine. One is on the alternator mount bracket, and one is usually on the front fender well near the battery. These cars are loaded with multi-wire connectors too, and if the grounds are serviced and inspected to be good, you may have to look into some of the connectors in the wiring harness. The suspect items would be on or around the engine I believe.

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    Eldorado guy is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Loss of electrical; intermittent problem

    I saw him today and the only new development is that he suspects a short in the negative on the battery. He came to this conclusion after consulting with my neighbor, who is like a master mechanic. Actually the owner of the Cadillac is a mechanic, he just doesn't have time for it. Anyway, this other neighbor is a retired bus mechanic, so my friend went and talked with him and mentioned that he had just installed a new battery. He told him that he could be surprised about how that could be it, referring to his experience with the buses. I don't know, but it's worth a try, I guess. Unless the ground area of the battery (connection or internally) is actually shorting or something, I don't see how that could be it. Actually, as long as the car's running, can't you remove a battery and have it continue? So couldn't the neg be disconnected while running? Hmm, I don't know, we'll just see how it goes. That would be good if it was something simple like that, mainly so it's not up to me .

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    steelybill is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Loss of electrical; intermittent problem

    I really don't understand the term ground short. Maybe an intermittent ground, like it's not a good or reliable connection of the ground cable to the engine, which would explain a lot about your problem, if in fact it is a loose ground bolt on the negative battery cable, at the engine.
    The simple things, like above, can be a real pain, because we are always looking for something complicated, and it turns out to be simple.
    It's like we can't see the woods because the trees are in the way!!

  12. #11
    Eldorado guy is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Loss of electrical; intermittent problem

    That would make a lot more sense. It's just that my friend has a 280zx turbo and when his battery was too low to start the car, he fired up his old truck, took it's battery out, and put his in to charge it. When he was done, he removed it and reinstalled the trucks battery. I don't remember why he didn't just use the trucks battery in his car, I think it was on the verge of being shot or something. The point is is that I'm pretty sure a good alternator is suppose to be able to support everything while running, with or without a battery.

    That's a good lesson; take the small, simple things into consideration first. Consider the more difficult options when the simple ones didn't solve your problem. That's something that I really need to learn lol.

  13. #12
    MrDobin is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Loss of electrical; intermittent problem

    Ill add to that especially with cars. OCD and paranoia will drive ya mad if you dont keep cool and look at truly simple things. Start small, its cheaper and the best way to be sure you found the ultimate issue.

  14. #13
    Eldorado guy is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Loss of electrical; intermittent problem

    I'm going to try my hardest to start with little things. If I have to I'll disconnect and clean every single connection under that hood. In the event that I end up having to purchase a wiring harness for it, I'd bet the junk yard has 10 4.9 cars right now. Parts shouldn't be an issue. Of course, this is all assuming this mechanic doesn't figure it out first. If I do end up with this car, I'm going to get kicks out of the digital dash .

  15. #14
    cadillac_al is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Loss of electrical; intermittent problem

    There are a lot of basic things that need to be checked on this car like load testing the battery testing alternator output and checking all connections. I don't know how many serious problems I have fixed in my lifetime by just cleaning battery connections. Some people have a hard time with those double positive cables; getting them positioned and tightened correctly. In any event I wouldn't offer $650 for it right away. I would offer what the pick apart place would offer. I guess scrap metal is going up again so they may pay $200/ton for it but they may not offer top dollar either.

  16. #15
    Eldorado guy is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Loss of electrical; intermittent problem

    Yeah I think I'd definitely start with simple things like the battery connections first off.

    I don't truly know what they'll give for it, but it's actually the dmv. Here in California they'll give you $650 for you to scrap your old car. They send me a notice for my Eldorado every year with my registration or something.They turned in a different run-around vehicle a while back and got that for it. As far as I know, the only requirement is that it has to drive. Pick-n-Pull here will give you $650 for it right there because of that.

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