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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'll try not to go too crazy here, but I'm a bit annoyed at the moment.

My parents have a 97 Catera that was overheating, so they brought it to their normal (now ex-normal) mechanic. This was mid week and on the next monday they called them up to get a status check, and the shop calims the battery just randomly died over the weekend. Sure, that can happen, but it's coincidental IMO.

One day later they called my parents back, they replaced the battery but now the car will not start at all. I personally suspect that they may have connected the terminals backwards when putting the new battery in (yes, I've seen it happen more than once and I don't have faith in this local shop) and it fried something when they did so. They ordered a used ECM from some junkyard for $100, problem was not resolved. I suspect that the 97 Catera has a immobilzer system that must be reprogrammed by the dealer, but as I've just learned of this tonight I haven't had time to look into it yet. Anyways, if that's the case, I doubt they went to have it programmed, so in reality that may be the fix.

Now, a week or so later, a local Cadillac dealer calls my parents to tell them they now have the car and that it needs a new ECM, for a small amount of change ($1,800.00 to be exact), but that the ECM may not fix it for sure.

I guess it's relevent now to interject that my parents are retired, and due to some previous problems with my father's health they are on a very limited budget.

Anyways, my father initially told them to order the part to get the car fixed to sell it, my mother called to tell me the story and I had him cancel that order and to get the car towed back to his house (simply because a used ECM would likely fix it and having it towed back for programming isn't $1,700...)

Having said all that, and doing a quick search here, I didn't really see any mention of these ECM's failing, so besides the obvious things that I'll check once the car is available to me, what else should I check, is there a way to determine MIL/CEL codes through an LED (instead of a code reader), etc that could be causing this problem? Also, the old ECM is back in the car now, is there a fairly easy way to check it's functionality?

Since I don't have the car yet, I haven't checked for spark, fuel, etc yet but will when I have the chance. I might have the car towed to my place instead, gotta see about doing that still.

I know I'm asking a few questions here so I hope you all will have patience with me. I have a fair amount of experience working on cars, but only japanese vehicles (save for when I fix something on my parent's catera (hvac control, nothing difficult) or their town cars), so I shouldn't be completely clueless, but I honestly don't know much of anything about these cars.

If there is a service manual available that's not insanely expensive I will gladly buy it to assist me with this task, but my parents simply can't afford to have a dealership run wild with this thing.

Any assistance is greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance!

-Dave
 

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first, what work was done to address the overheat problem? what area of the engine did they work near, some background will give us a diagnostic path to check prior work. Possibly they disconnected something??. You need a scan tool to read the codes, but before you get there you need to see if it cranks etc. there is also an ecm relay position 6. First do the basics....
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
They replaced a fan relay and the battery. Another part was mentioned but my father could not remember what it is. Once the car is towed to their house I'll take a look and get the receipt which should show it.
 

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Yeah, I was going to ask the same thing, what did they replace for the original concern.
What parts have been replaced so far? (complete list)

Also define "won't start". Is this a cranks but will not run condition or won't crank?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Ok, just got done looking over the car briefly.

The new battery was disconnected when I got here, connected it, no power AT ALL through out the car. Of course, I didn't bring my multimeter with me so I can't tell if the battery has any power. The only time I can tell there there is some power is by turning the headlight switch on, I get the chime from that. Other than that, no power door locks, no interior lights at all, no idiot lights when turning the ignition to acc position, etc. I checked every fuse and they all look fine, on the drivers side of the engine bay (main fuses and the smaller ones with the relay) and in the drivers side dash, behind the lower dash panel.

I did see that the MAF was disconnected, but that won't matter at this point. I believe my father has a set of jumper cables in his other car so I'm waiting for him to get home so I can hook them up to see if it gets power then..

I've seen bad ECUs cause a car not to crank over, but never cutting power to the entire car. Can the ECM, which obviously should only be for engine control, really cause that?

Thanks again for the info, I'll update once I can confirm that the battery is good, or what it does with jumper cables hooked up to it.

Also, I don't have access to those receipts yet, but I should once my father arrives so I'll include that in the next update.

Thanks again for the replies so far!

-Dave
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
OK, Update..

The battery was dead, with jumper cables attached the car will crank over with no problem, it just never even pretends to catch, so obviously there is no spark, fuel or the timing is way off (CPS problem?).

The previous work to the vehicle from the first place was: replaced heater control valve, relay and temp sensor. Installed replacement ECM, starts and shuts down, needs reprogrammed.

That's word for word..

The cadillac dealerships service ticket says: "diag needs ecm before further diag $1565.00+tax installed" Also, the battery was $125.00, and was dead already, but I'm assuming something was left on, after having the jumper cables connected for a bit the battery was holding some power.

Now for my favorite part, the first place REMOVED the replacement ECM (they didn't charge for it at least) before sending it to the Cadillac dealer. Now, if I was the shop and believed that the ECM was the problem, and I replaced it and knew it needed programmed (as noted by their receipt), I think I'd leave that ECM installed, old ECM in the backseat, and then send it to Cadillac to get the programming done. Why remove the replacement ECM?!?!

However, I do believe that the ECM is bad. I'm assuming that the Check Engine light comes on in these cars when the key is put into the ACC position with the rest of the idiot lights. This occurs in every car I've ever owned that I can think of so I'm assuming that's the case here as well.

I did switch the ECM relay (pos 6) with the relay in pos 5, no difference.

Anything else to check before I go ahead and buy a ECM on ebay?

FWIW, the security light does flash after you take the key out of the ignition, is the immobilizer a different box outside of the ECM? I'd guess so, but my only previous experience with a non-Japanese car with an immobilizer was a VW. On the VW, you had to pull the immobilizer code off the old ECU to program the new one. Is that the case with these cars? They are german designed right?

Just want to make sure I take the right steps on this thing.

-Dave
 

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I think you need to look furthur before you buy another ecm, i doubt both are bad? check for spark and fuel first, also, near the heater cont valve is the connector for the Crank Sensor, the connector to the coil and the injector connector, are they all in place, they are on the DS behind the valve cover..... ?
 

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I think you need to look furthur before you buy another ecm, i doubt both are bad? check for spark and fuel first, also, near the heater cont valve is the connector for the Crank Sensor, the connector to the coil and the injector connector, are they all in place, they are on the DS behind the valve cover..... ?
you mentioned the coolent temp sensor, did they hook it up, if you put in another ecm you will probely have to reprogram it for the theft control mod. you need scan tool for this. Did you try to start it with the original ecm, and you do have the correct ign keys???
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
CPS, and other plugs around it are all plugged in. Where is the temp sensor, I'll check it next time I go look at the car.

Sorry for not being clear before, but the car has the original ECM in it, the replacement that was installed by the first shop was removed before they sent it to the cadillac dealer, I have no idea why they removed it. It's got some nice dents in it though (the original one). Anyways, the notes on the slip from the first shop said it "starts and then shuts down" with the replacement ECM. It was never reprogrammed, they made a note that it needs to be reprogrammed, then for some reason they removed the replacement ECM and shipped it to a cadillac dealer.

Is there any reason, besides a bad ECM or a burned out bulb, that the check engine light would not illuminate when the key is turned to ACC? When the other idiot lights come on..

Thanks.
 

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The MIL should come on in "run" with all the other lights.
If it does not then you have another problem.
The bulbs do go out.
Cranking with no start on Catera usually means a bad crank sensor, but there are other things that can happen.
The security light will flash when you take the key out on most cars with content theft deterrent until the alarm is armed with the doors closed.

If it flashes while you are cranking or with the key on then there is a problem.
 

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yes a CS is a very good possibility. You need to eliminate or address the CE light, disconnect the ecm from the harness, turn on switch, jumper from term 8 on the harness to ground, if the light comes on check your harness connectors if ok you may need an ecm??? the fact that the other lights come on says the supply to the bulb is good. Or possibly try this first....
a quick bulb check could be done by disconnecting the idle air valve connector at the plenum, test light from the middle term to ground, if the test light comes on bulb is good.
 

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The dead battery is an indicator of a power drain. My '98 was draining the battery at irregular interverals. I replaced the alternator and cured this problem. The no run can be caused by a fuse in the main fuse block, located on the positive battery cable. All fuses good? Use a noid light while cranking, to sense a pulse at the injectors. Good signal at injectors? Then check ignition. Remove one plug wire and use grounded spark gap tool, to verify spark is present. Have you checked for fuel pressure? All the methods are old school, but still effective help locating your problem. You could also buy a $150.00 OBD2 scanner at AutoZone or tow the car and they will scan your car free of charge.
Tech Tip:If your car has a rough shaking at idle speed, replace the serpentine belt and TENSIONER!! This was the problem on mine. Also had a tire that always lost pressure, but had no nails. NTW finally stopped my leak by applying a silicone sealer on the rim bead where CHROME had flaked off, allowing a slow leak.
My name is HERB, I work at Precision Engine in Houston. ASE certified Master machinist and proud Catera owner.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Sorry for the looong delay since the last update. I went on vacation for a few weeks and was expecting a replacement (used) ECM to arrive before I left that never arrived. Later found out that the part was tested to be bad and the seller refunded my money, I just wasn't paying attention.

Anyways, fast forward to yesterday, recevied a used ECM and plugged it in, the Check Engine light now illuminates when you put the key in the ignition. That, to me anyways, indicates that the old ECM was at least failing at some point as it would never illuminate the CEL. Tomorrow I plan on having the car towed to the Cadillac dealer to have it reprogrammed and then I'll see what happens and I'll update this thread.

Thanks again for all the help, gives me some things to troubleshoot in case there is a power draw, etc. I left the battery hooked up yesterday to test for that to see if it's completely dead again tomorrow morning or not..
 
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