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Very strange electrical problem.


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I was driving my 93 STS today when all of a sudden the tach and speedo went crazy along with the fuel gauge. My brake light and airbag light lit up and my fuel range went to low. I pulled over and turned the car off and restarted it. Everything was fine. Continued driving and a few mins later the same thing happened but this time the car started to almost stall on me every few seconds. Turned it off and tried to start it again and I got NOTHING. NO POWER TO ANYTHING. Right about the time I was going to call for a tow it started again. Started to make my way home and it started acting up again but this time I kept driving it even though it almost stopped running a few times and after a min or two all of the gauges stopped their erratic behavior and went back to normal and my message center read MONITORING SYSTEMS or whatever it says when you first start the car. The car was acting as if I had just restarted it. Made it home and rolled up the windows and I noticed that as I did that my tachometer went way up. Way more than usual. The car was really laboring to get the windows up. Anybody know what could be wrong or am I in for a bit of fun?

EDIT: saw no codes but I will look again when I can stand to be near my car. Im pretty upset atm.

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I would start with inspecting and cleaning the battery terminals and cable ends. Remove the battery if necessary to get to the negative cable to chassis connection.

Jim

Drive your car.

Use your cell phone.

CHOOSE ONE !

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My guess is you have a short somewhere, perhaps between the instrument console and the PCM. All wires lead the the PCM eventually, so it's hard to say. Once I had an intermittant fuse issue that turned out to be a short-circuit in the seat heater, so it can be tricky to track down.

Bruce

2016 Cadillac ATS-V gray/black

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I would start with inspecting and cleaning the battery terminals and cable ends. Remove the battery if necessary to get to the negative cable to chassis connection.

I agree, I'm thinking a battery problem. I kept having problems with my suburban and one day I parked somewhere and 5 minutes later it wouldn't start at all. Checked the battery and the positive cable pulled right out. It had corroded all the way through.

-Dusty-

- 02 Seville STS, white diamond

- 93 Sixty Special, Tan with vinyl top

- 79 Coupe DeVille, Tan with Tan top

- 06 GMC Sierra Z71, Black

- 92 Silverado C1500, black and grey

- 83 Chevy K10 Silverado, Black and Grey

b80385550.jpg

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Could it possible have something to do with my aftermarket stereo or do the symptoms point to something else? I have a 1600w sub amp and a 420w x4 to run aftermarket interiors so it draws a lot of current. Dont see how it could affect the instrument cluster unless the voltage dropped way too low (it didnt) and even at that I dont think it would be that intermittent. It happens when the stereo is off too. PLEASE LET IT BE THE BATTERY CABLES.

BTW,...if my problem is a short between the console and the PCM, can anybody ballaprk what it may cost to have inspected and fixed at a shop? Is that kind of a job in the couple hundred range, the $500 plus range or more?

EDIT: What should I use to clean the battery cables?

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I've heard coke cleans them very well. I've actually tried it once and it does work. Then just put a little grease on the end of them to keep them from corroding again.

-Dusty-

- 02 Seville STS, white diamond

- 93 Sixty Special, Tan with vinyl top

- 79 Coupe DeVille, Tan with Tan top

- 06 GMC Sierra Z71, Black

- 92 Silverado C1500, black and grey

- 83 Chevy K10 Silverado, Black and Grey

b80385550.jpg

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First things first. Disconnect the negative terminal, then disconnect the positive terminal.

Remove the battery.

A wire brush is all the tool you need to clean the battery connections and the cable terminals (ends).

If you see corrosion (green growth) on the cable ends, you can expect there is corrosion where you cannot see it. As in under the cable insulation.

Corrosion can be neutrallized with a pasty solution of baking soda. Be sure to remove the baking soda solution completely by flushing with tap water. Several times.

Inspect both the positive and negative cables as far along the cable run as you can reach. The farther you get from the battery connection, the less likely it becomes you will find greenish/grayish corrosion.

If there is any corrsion present at the battery cable ends, that is an indicator of the presence of sulfuric acid fumes. And a leaking battery case or battery vent caps is the only source of sulfuric acid.

Jim

Drive your car.

Use your cell phone.

CHOOSE ONE !

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Could it possible have something to do with my aftermarket stereo or do the symptoms point to something else? I have a 1600w sub amp and a 420w x4 to run aftermarket interiors so it draws a lot of current.

How long have you had the aftermarket stereo? If you just installed it, I would suspect it could be the cause of the trouble. If you've had it for a while and the problem just statred, it's most likely something else.

photo-36.jpg

Happiness is owning a Cadillac with no codes.

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Thank you guys. I will get on that first thing tomorrow. If that doesnt work I cant decide if it would be easier to take it to the shop,....or buy a 96 Impala SS. : ) j/k,...kinda

EDIT: Ive had it for a while. Although I just put the sub amp back in this winter. I definately need a battery or two in the trunk bc I have a 200A alternator that was made for me at precision power in lansing MI and several one farad caps and its still not getting enough power somehow. I blame the high current 1600w amp. Lights dim and the voltae still drops if I dont turn the bass way down on my HU.

Jim are you saying that if there is corrosion on the battery cable ends, my battery is leaking and needs to be replaced? IIRC there is some corrosion on the ends but im not sure. Can an Optima yellow top leak?

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I'm with Jim, Baking soda & water solution will do the best job of cleaning any corrosion. When ever I had any on a battery terminal, I would mix up a cup and dip the cable end into it. It will fizz like Alka Selzer.

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Well I oculdnt wait. I grabbed a flashlight and went out to take a look. I knew there was a problem when the car didnt respond to the key fob. Unlocked the door manually for the first time in ages and as I suspected no lights nothing. All dead. I popped the hood and immediately found that when I roted the poitive battery cable my interior lights came on. Then it dawned on me that I shouldnt be able to rotate the cable at all. Im hoping that this little problem is taken care of. I didnt get a chance to try to start or drive it but I would imagine that when I tighten the cable back down it will solve everything. Like I said,...dead untill I moved the battery cable then it came back to life. Thank god. And you guys too. :P

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....Jim are you saying that if there is corrosion on the battery cable ends, my battery is leaking and needs to be replaced? IIRC there is some corrosion on the ends but im not sure. Can an Optima yellow top leak?

The type of corrosion you see exclusively on battery cable end connectors always indicates the presence of sulfuric acid fumes. Always. You do not see that type of growth on "dry" connections.

I have no experience with Optima brand batteries. But if the yellow top series is a lead-acid type construction, the case can leak.

It's worth saying again about side terminal batteries; the single largest cause of case leaks is over-torquing the cable bolts. Recommended torque is 13 lb ft.

Jim

Drive your car.

Use your cell phone.

CHOOSE ONE !

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I see that on a lot of cars. I had no idea that it was from the sulfuric acid in the battery. Makes sense. You learn something new everyday. Thanks.

Found this on the Optima site.

"Due to its completely sealed case, the OPTIMA Yellow Top battery is extremely safe and corrosion resistant. Acid can't leak or spill, making them clean, user-friendly and environmentally sound. In addition, the maintenance free sealed case design eliminates the need to add water or clean terminals."

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Coke does the same thing as baking soda and water, seriously! :P Try it some time, it fizzes too. It's really strange. It also prevents corrosion.

Glad to hear you found the problem! At least it wasn't something really serious like...something really serious! :lol:

-Dusty-

- 02 Seville STS, white diamond

- 93 Sixty Special, Tan with vinyl top

- 79 Coupe DeVille, Tan with Tan top

- 06 GMC Sierra Z71, Black

- 92 Silverado C1500, black and grey

- 83 Chevy K10 Silverado, Black and Grey

b80385550.jpg

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Found this on the Optima site.

"Due to its completely sealed case, the OPTIMA Yellow Top battery is extremely safe and corrosion resistant. Acid can't leak or spill, making them clean, user-friendly and environmentally sound. In addition, the maintenance free sealed case design eliminates the need to add water or clean terminals."

Optima batteries are "gel" batteries, thus they are less prone to leak through tiny cracks caused by over-torquing side post termianls. However, I doubt that they are "completely" sealed though, they must have vent holes even if very small ones. Red Tops are for cranking, Yellow Tops for cranking and some deep cycling (by the boat-load of added electronics).

An alternative to Optima Yellow Top is East Penn's Deka Intimidator http://www.eastpenn-deka.com/assets/base/1143.pdf

which are of AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) type, dual post, normal looking batteries and are less expensive than Optimas.

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Coke does the same thing as baking soda and water, seriously! :P Try it some time, it fizzes too. It's really strange. It also prevents corrosion.

Baking soda or commercially available battery corrosion cleaner should be used. Coke is a weak acid where baking soda and the commercial solution is a base which neutralizes the sufuric acid from the battery corrosion.

Kevin
'93 Fleetwood Brougham
'05 Deville
'04 Deville
2013 Silverado Z71

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