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Old 11-29-2019, 11:29 AM   #1
LastL4Banger
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2004 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
2005 VUE 2.2L
Default Possible ground issue

First Happy Thanksgiving. So my cousin's 2003 L 4cyl seems to have a loose ground. The heater/fan control works intermittently. It seems to related to the instrument panel lights and dimmer.. She drives with the map lights so she can see the speedometer. Once when she was driving then the instrument panel lights and fan came on at the same time. I was thinking the dimmer switch could just be "stuck open" but cant figure out how that would affect the fan control. So I figure they share a ground point. She says the radio doesn't have issues. Haynes diagrams are not helpful. Alldata shows the dimmer switch connected to the IP Splice Pack with a "refer to Ground Distribution". Of course I cant find what it's referring to. The "ground distribution" has no diagrams. Just this message

Ground Distribution contains schematics and locations of all grounds on the vehicle. This information can be a time-saver when troubleshooting a ground circuit problem

Any help would be appreciated.


On a sorta related note, my first thought was to replace the Heater Fan control module but its some fancy one without the dials. I look at RockAuto and I cannot find it. They have the same part number for all of the control modules and are the ones with the dials. See pic.
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Old 11-29-2019, 03:00 PM   #2
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2002 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
2002 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
Default Re: Possible ground issue

On first thought it may be bcm related. How is the odometer working on this car. I have a 2002 manual and there are some changes between the early and late cars.

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Old 11-29-2019, 07:02 PM   #3
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Default Re: Possible ground issue

And a Happy Thanksgiving to you, LastL4Banger!

So your cousin's A/C system has the automatic HVAC control head. You're correct regarding RockAuto.com not having anything other than the manual climate control head.

1) Are you and/or your cousin certain that all of the dash console lamps are working?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LastL4Banger View Post
.. She drives with the map lights so she can see the speedometer. Once when she was driving then the instrument panel lights and fan came on at the same time.
2) Will your cousin get any response from the dimmer wheel when it is moved up or down? If yes, then I'd suspect that the two problems are unrelated. If not, then pursuing the grounding of these parts may be necessary. (It is well known here in the L-Series forums that this particular switch's dimmer wheel does not hold its detent position well no matter where it is set. Further, the lighting can go dark as the wheel is rotated in one direction or the other. The looseness of the wheel and the poor electrical contact are related to each other. BTW, whenever I adjust the dimmer wheel I always add some pressure against it to cause the lighting change to be a bit more even.) fdryer has a thread posted where he shares is remedial repair for that issue.

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Old 12-01-2019, 05:11 PM   #4
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Default Re: Possible ground issue

As pierrot stated, the snapshot shows the auto climate control head. One main chip controls the hvac system for automation - left dial adjusting temperature, right dial selecting AUTO fan speed@12 o'clock position or selecting manual fan speeds. The digital display shows pertinent info. Manual hvac controls use levers, cables and switches without a display to show temperatures.

If erratic lighting seems to be related to the blower motor, it might be coincidence. There may be two separate issues. Back lights used in the hvac panel and instrument panel are tied together and controlled by the bcm. The dimmer circuit uses pulse width modulation, switching on/off dc voltages at a high rate, varying the pulse width to increase or decrease power to vary lighting. The bcm takes input from the dimmer dial and varies backlighting. The blower motor is controlled by the hvac panel electronics. The blower speed has no direct relationship to backlights.

Several possibilities here; loose, corroded main power grounds (one between battery negative and chassis and the other between chassis and engine block), faulty hvac control head, faulty alternator, loose drive belt. If this is a power issue, battery, battery cables, their connections, drive belt system and alternator are suspect. A faulty hvac control would affect blower speed only. If this is a blower problem, power and ground are suspect. Blower wiring seem to place strain on either its power or ground connection. Power is usually any wiring color except black and if burned, would exhibit discolored or melted insulation. Black wiring is usually reserved for ground connections and a little more difficult to tell if cooked but terminals would show melting of plastic and discolored terminals from overheating. Diyers would have to crawl around under the right side of the dash board to find blower wiring and examine them for overheating.

Ground splice pack is a general description for various ground connections throughout the vehicle where electrical grounds are gathered and terminated into one of several terminal strips with one large ring terminal that's bolted to the chassis. Chassis grounds to battery negative. Examples of ground splice packs below.
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File Type: jpg ground splice pack.jpg (100.9 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_1485.jpg (70.8 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg gsp1.jpg (64.8 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpg gsp.jpg (82.0 KB, 5 views)

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Old 12-02-2019, 01:40 PM   #5
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2005 VUE 2.2L
Default Re: Possible ground issue

thank you pierrot and fdryer. pierrot was right, there was no connection between the fan and dash lights. I drove 250 miles this weekend to see my cousin. First thing I found out is the temp control knob was out of whack. You could feel it when you turned it. I carefully got the temp setting up to 74 from the 60 it was on so she has heat. it goes down easy but getting the temp up was took some effort. Had to go down up down up until I got it up to 74. So it needs a new heater/fan module.

The dash lights were clearly not working but if you touch the wheel they would come on. so I found the video to fix that and promptly broke off the tabs off the wheel. I tried to bend them both with my fingers. So I swapped it out with my dimmer switch (I drive an 04 L). So her's works. the good news is when I put the broken one back in my car the dash lights still worked. They're just on bright.

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Old 12-02-2019, 02:10 PM   #6
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Default Re: Possible ground issue

Good to know you solved the problems. I have the auto climate control head in my L300 and as it aged the temperature dial began acting strange the same way as yours. During winter season I would try remembering to dial up max heat before shutting off the engine so the next day's cold start would have heat. As the cabin heated up the temperature dial would work. this was a hint of slow degradation of the panel. I lost backlighting and made a mod using two led lights to this panel. A member gifted me a replacement hvac control panel and I've been using it since. The original is sitting in a box as backup.

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Old 12-02-2019, 03:53 PM   #7
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: Possible ground issue

This may be a dumb question but with the variable temperature switch could it just be acting up from nothing more than a build up of dust on the contacts?

I have two examples of dust; one was the master switch for my power windows on my Sub. The drivers switch would not work, even pressing hard on the button. I removed it, stripped it down and cleaned the whole shebang with Electronics Cleaner and q tips. The switch works fine now.

The other is a little off center but I noticed my electric toaster was not working properly with the variable knob. I like my toast a particular brown and as I'm the only one using it, the knob is set to my reference and never gets changed. the toaster then started by over cooking the toast so it was coming out burned. I simply held the variable knob and swiveled back and forth a good few times and the toaster works fine again. I reckon it was nothing more than a build up of dust.

I know the L series auto temp units can be cranky at best, but maybe a clean up with electronics cleaner might be a first step and cheaper than rushing out and buying a new head unity? If it doesn't clean up and continues to be flaky, then that would confirm it was toast (excuse the pun!)

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Old 12-02-2019, 04:30 PM   #8
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Default Re: Possible ground issue

The temperature control is a sealed unit. When I removed mine for repairs to the backlights, I noticed how small it is. Since it doesn't have end stops, I'm guessing its an optical or infrared type. I didn't risk desoldering it from its circuit board and attempt disassembling as there was a good chance of destroying it during disassembly. The knob is actually bigger than the control unit.

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Old 12-03-2019, 11:20 AM   #9
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Default Re: Possible ground issue

Instead of disassembling, why not squirt the electronics cleaner where the knob is and let it flow into the insides, then wiggle the rotary control around. It's electronics cleaner so will not do any damage, nor do you have to disassemble. I remember my ex wife's Sebring had trouble with the volume control on her radio. I couldn't get any further than removing the knob. I squirted the cleaner in and around and wiggled. It fixed it. Just dust. With any fix you can go low cost simple or complicated & expensive. I prefer the former first. My fix on the window switch for my sub saved me over $200.00 as the switch is all singing & dancing (thank you GM!)

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Old 12-03-2019, 05:22 PM   #10
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Default Re: Possible ground issue

I don't know where anyone can spray anything into a sealed pot.
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Old 12-03-2019, 06:23 PM   #11
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Default Re: Possible ground issue

Ah yes, the ever so unpopular auto hvac system. The system where if you change the temperature by more than two degrees at a time, it over shoots the temperature setting. An engineer actually told me this one time at the shop. It's the same reason Saturn only used this system long enough to find out what a problem child it was going to be and they quit using it.

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Old 12-04-2019, 10:57 AM   #12
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Default Re: Possible ground issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
I don't know where anyone can spray anything into a sealed pot.
On the middle image there are the 2 rotary switches that when knobs are attached change temp on the left and fan speed on the right. My suggestion would be to spray electronics fluid down into those 2 rotary switches and before the fluid evaporates, rotate the switch stems to hopefully free them up a little. The poster did say that he could feel that something was amiss when turning the knob.

I know from several comments on this forum and elsewhere that the auto control unit has a bad reputation. Why Saturn couldn't just use an auto temp unit from the GM general parts bin is a mystery, but Saturn like Saab were renowned for doing it 'their way'. We all know how it ended for both brands!

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Old 12-04-2019, 02:23 PM   #13
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Default Re: Possible ground issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluesl2 View Post
Ah yes, the ever so unpopular auto hvac system. The system where if you change the temperature by more than two degrees at a time, it over shoots the temperature setting. An engineer actually told me this one time at the shop. It's the same reason Saturn only used this system long enough to find out what a problem child it was going to be and they quit using it.
So that's what I've been doing all these years, dialing the temperature knob up and down with the computer overshooting when attempting to adjust by a degree or two didn't work. On a long drive after a sweaty day outdoors, I would take a bird bath and leave the ac on 60/cold and varied the blower speed so I would dry out with the low humidity. With heater use, its always a battle to get it just right. The temperature actuator must get exercised a lot when the computer can't make up its mind as I try to get the best cabin temps.

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