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97 DeVille has total electrical failure then restarts okay!

1874 Views 6 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Dan_in_AL
My '97 DeVille will occasionally just die while driving along and is it frustrating! I have had it to the dealer who said there were no codes. They took it for a test drive and, of course, found nothing, but did charge me for an hour!

What mine does: Drive along at turnpike speeds -- total electrical failure and engine dies. Pull to side of road. Restarts just fine. Dashboard, clock, radio, trip odometer, Avg mileage -- all reset to zero! It is like someone completely disconnected the battery/alternator while I was driving along. This also happened a couple of times when I slowed down to make a turn. It happened when I bumped a curb. This morning, I went out, tried to start the car. Absolutely dead. Just like the battery was disconnected. I opened the hood, fiddled with the battery connections, moved a couple of wires. Did not really do very much. Car started right up! So, I suspect it is electrical and a loose or "going bad" something or other. The cranking was strong so I doubt it is the battery. The battery connections look good on the battery side. This is very sporadic -- happens maybe twice a week and randomly. There are no codes listed -- maybe they are zapped when the electrical disconnect occurs(?). Anyone have any ideas? Thanks! --Chuck

Also, I posted this elsewhere but it was suggested I post this in the electrical forum. Tonight, I was parked with the engine idling, talking on the cellphone. After about 5 minutes, the car just died -- same symptom. It would not restart immediately -- it was like the battery was dead. I left it for a minute and the electrical power came on/went off/came on/went off -- very weakly. I now suspect the battery (about 4 years old) is dying. I am surprised, though, that if the battery is dying, that it would cause the car to shut-off and all digital instrument cluster values to reset to zero! I would have thought with the engine running that there would be no electrical problems even if the battery were stone dead(?) -- I'll head to Sears tomorrow for a battery check/replacement. Sound reasonable?


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If the battery dies while you're driving, the generator ought to cover the electrical loads. It sounds a lot like the battery/system ground is loose. Start the car and systematically shake/wiggle connectors and harnesses until you repeat the symptoms. Take your time and do this in a well-lighted area, taking notes as you go through the checks. Good luck!
Thanks for the suggestion! I took the car to Sears, had them run their $12 test on the electrical system and discovered the battery was in bad shape. It was 4 years old so I did get my money's worth from it. I had the battery replaced with the top Diehard. The electrical system was retested and all checked out fine.

It has been two days now and, so far, no recurrence of the problem :bouncy: !!

I am a bit ticked at the dealer. I had to make an appointment, drop off the car for 24-hours (cost of a rental for me) and then have the technician drive it. The report: "Cannot duplicate the problem." I got a charge of $55 for one-hour that told me nothing. With the car rental, I blew $100, got nothing determined, and wasted my time.

Sears, on the other hand, had me tested, in/out, in 45 minutes (on a Sunday, no less!) and gave me a credit toward the old Diehard -- total cost: $83.00.

New finding!

After much ado, I took the car to a local, old timer, who runs a real gas station with real repair bays! How many of those do you see these days? Anyway, he told me about built up corrosion inside the battery cable connectors and that rarely does Sears or anyone get inside the cable connections to clean them.

He charged about $10, disconnected and separated all the individual wires that connect to the battery posts, cleaned them, reassembled them, and reconnected the whole affair.

That was 6 weeks ago. So far, no problems at all.

Just an FYI tidbit!

Happen to me,volts on alt. according to dash was high and wouldn't go down until car died and started back up.
Another common fix for similar issues can be the battery cable to generator bracket bolt can be slightly loose... It has been noted that even 1/8 turn being loose can cause several electrical intermittent issues, due to heavy electrical demands as most Cadillacs need to operate correctly
A similar thing is plaguing my '93 Deville.

I tried to start it, and nothing. Interior lights were very dim.

I tried jump starting it, and now interior lights won't work at all.

Voltage at the battery was low.

While connected to the jump-start vehicle, none of the electrical components came to life. :thepan: Voltage while jumpered was 12,5. When I connected the negative to the battery, the voltage dropped to 8.5. Telling me there is a short somewhere, but I would have thought that 8,5 would be enough to dimly light light bulbs.

The car seems dead. I'm searching for a main fuse that isolates the battery from everything, but I don't know if such a fuse exists.

In these forums, I read that I could push the power and the warm buttons on the climate control, and that might give me obd codes. If this system is getting power that is.

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