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Old 05-04-2018, 06:29 AM   #1
imaddicted2u
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2008 AURA XE
Default Engine no start resolved

Long story but just wanting to relay my experience with a recent starting problem in hopes it can help others fix it if it happens to them.
It began as an intermittent start condition. The engine would crank but sometimes stop cranking and felt as though the starter got stuck. Usually after a few tries the engine would run.
It never threw any trouble codes. I figured the starter was getting bad. It gradually got worse so I removed the starter and bench tested it. It worked perfectly with no load.
I cleaned up the connections and lugs then reinstalled it. It started perfectly in the driveway 20 times. Went to Walmart, came out, no crank, no start. Had a helpful Walmart customer turn the key while I tapped on the starter. No start but it tried a few times.
Got a taxi home, borrowed a neighbor's car and went back with some tools. Hit the starter a few times and got it going...must be the starter...picked up my wife so I could get both cars home. Put the Aura up on ramps, removed the starter again while removing the nut holding the lug feeding the starter motor the Bakelite broke, now I needed a replacement starter or at least solenoid.
Auto parts store wanted $250 Canadian. Rockauto wanted $85 Canadian for a new, not rebuilt starter but I couldn't wait a week for delivery. I found a local re-builder, he charged $130 and had it ready in a couple of hours and it looked good as new. Installed it and it is obviously much stronger, started 20 times in driveway and off I went to the grocery store...came out, damn no crank, no start. Turned key a few times and it started. Hmm, could the starter rebuild be bad?
My Son sent some wiring diagrams. From them I rigged up a jumper wire on the starter relay so I could jump the starter solenoid to the battery to crank the engine. It cranked like a trooper, strong and fast but when I put the relay back in and cranked, it started. (Later I found that the ECM is programmed to check for a failed relay and won't turn on the fuel pump if it''s failed.) At least I had a way to get it started now. The info my Son sent mentioned to check the PNP switch to ensure it showed Park/Neutral...it did when key on ACC and when on RUN it would sometimes flip to "In gear" when it wouldn't start. Now we are troubleshooting the Transmission range switch. I tapped on it 3 times and it started. I set my scanner to watch the PNP switch status. Now it showed park/neutral and it started a bunch of times. The showed in gear. I set my scanner to the Transmission control module and went through the gear, it was giving good feedback but the ECM showed "in gear". I took the electrical connector apart and cleaned it out in hopes there was a bad connection but nope, same problem.
The last diagram my Son sent showed me that the Transmission range selector has 2 parts, one feeds the gear selected to the TCM and the other feeds the neutral safety signal the the ECM. I was all set to go buy a Transmission range switch when to my shock...my elbow hit a bundle of wires and the doors locked...I wiggled the wire bundle around and the door locks would cycle. I set my scanner to watch the PNP switch, low and behold as I moved the wiring around it would toggle between park/neutral and in gear. Now we're on to something. I traced it to a ground lug on the side of the transmission, below the throttle body. It came apart as I wiggled it. There are 6 wires in the bundle that attached to the ground lug, two grounds come from the two halves of the Transmission range switch, lucky for me the one for the transmission side decided to go bad just then, made the car think it was put in gear and it locked the doors, made it easier to find the root cause. I took the lug off, it was green and corroded. Being barely attached as I was tapping on things it was remaking the connection so it would sometimes start. I cleaned it up and soldered a heavy gauge wire to it and soldered the 6 wire bundle to the heavy wire and it's all good now.
It always seems so easy...once you find it...
Greenie ground lug (below throttle body)

Ground lug location

The Starting circuit

The full switch diagram

...
2008 Saturn Aura XE 3.5L 4 spd
2000 Saturn SL1 1.9L SOHC (Retired)

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Old 05-04-2018, 11:52 AM   #2
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2008 AURA XE
Default Re: Engine no start resolved

Just an FYI, this is the scanner I use...it works great, they keep the software updated. It can read and graph every system in the car from your phone or tablet. When I got it no carlines were included, now it comes with two and you can purchase more if you want. I only bought the GM carline and it can do all GM vehicles.
https://launchtechusa.com/easydiag2plus/

...
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2000 Saturn SL1 1.9L SOHC (Retired)

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Old 05-04-2018, 03:46 PM   #3
imaddicted2u
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2008 AURA XE
Default Re: Engine no start resolved

These are the items attached to the G107 ground lug


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Old 05-04-2018, 04:17 PM   #4
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Default Re: Engine no start resolved

Interesting thread as engine ground rarely corrodes to give serious power issues. I state this only from a near total lack of threads with this problem, severe engine ground corrosion preventing normal battery electrical connections. As you found out from extensive troubleshooting, the two main grounds connecting to battery negative are chassis and engine. The engine not grounded properly can prevent every electrical component on the engine from working since they all need a ground to complete a 12v (or other voltage) circuit. Chassis ground also allows all other electrical or electronic connections to operate. In my neck of the woods (NYC), I blame salted roads in premature alternator failure some years ago as it neither exhibited low voltages below 14 volts nor overcharged the battery. It did fluctuate as lighting dimmed and brightened periodically until I replaced it. I think I found engine ground and noticed it secured without signs of any corrosion to suspect it.

Any chance your engine ground is near the battery where venting allows battery vapors to disseminate, deposit and corrode bare metal? Its not well known to many that battery acid, dried or wet, eats copper wires. Examples are in two forums here where dried battery vapors deposit onto battery terminals and slowly eats away copper wires to undermine the positive cable. Early L200's suffered from this from too short a cable, breaking off the positive bolt from the battery, slowly leaking battery acid into the the cable terminal, destroying the cable. One member some years ago paid around $400 to his dealer with a mystery problem. It was a broken battery positive post requiring a new battery and cable (longer than stock). A service bulletin was put out for early L200's suffering from the short battery cable. Engine movement did the rest.

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Old 05-04-2018, 08:15 PM   #5
imaddicted2u
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2008 AURA XE
Default Re: Engine no start resolved

Nope, the battery to engine ground lug and the lug that gave my troubles are bolted together on the same stud on the engine to transmission bell housing, about a foot away from the battery. The battery terminals are like new, no corrosion.
Funny you mention the + battery terminal. My old Saturn SL1 had the + battery terminal become disconnected intermittently inside the battery behind the terminal. Didn't leak acid but sometimes wouldn't start...That was hard to find.


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Old 05-04-2018, 09:11 PM   #6
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Default Re: Engine no start resolved

Quote:
Originally Posted by imaddicted2u View Post
....the battery to engine ground lug and the lug that gave my troubles are bolted together on the same stud on the engine to transmission bell housing, about a foot away from the battery. The battery terminals are like new, no corrosion....
You answered the question. The battery terminals do not have to be corroded to show battery venting. Since airflow is free to move around, battery venting occurs whether the engine runs or not. With more sophisticated electronics demanding accurate voltage regulation from alternators, batteries made with less electrolytes from better design to use less while creating more power from improved design, still allows venting to occur. While way less than older style batteries with caps that are removed periodically to replenish low fluid levels, batteries made in the last twenty years or so are sealed and do not require distilled water replenishment. These batteries still vent and its this vapor that corrodes bare metal and leaves powdery deposits on battery terminals. The vapor simply travels as the air current carries it. The nearby ground lug without any insulation may have been slowly attacked over the years to end up as you found it. This isn't a fast acting type of corrosion but slow and steady. No one can see or smell battery acid vapors unless a nose is stuck close to old batteries with caps removed. Not recommended but there will be a strong hint of it similar to vinegar when it stings the smelling senses. A simple test to find dried battery acid is a simple solution of water and baking soda.

When a solution of baking soda and water is sprayed on battery terminals and immediate area, foaming is the tell tale reaction to sulphuric (battery) acid being neutralized by baking soda. Its the best recommended way to neutralize dried battery acid from continuing attacking bare metal. Its also known to eat copper wires. Spraying this solution anywhere near the battery may show how battery venting contacts any part of the engine area. While I can't provide proof, there may be youtube videos showing how quickly this chemical reaction occurs. I know this because I use it on any car battery showing dried powdery deposits on battery terminals and anywhere around the battery tray. Water rinse. This simple home brew is also sold in spray cans as battery cleaner. Labeling may show ingredients containing......baking soda. The rest are solvents and petroleum products to coat battery terminals from future build up of dried acid. Severe deposits are simply sprayed down with this brew, using a tooth brush to scrub away layers as it dissolves without effort.

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Old 05-05-2018, 07:45 AM   #7
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2008 AURA XE
Default Re: Engine no start resolved

Since the battery is completely covered, there is little air flow to the outside of the battery case, it seems logical that any corrosion caused by venting would occur on the terminals under the cover on the battery and fuse box, although it has its own cover. You can see in the photo that the lug connection point is bare so the connection to ground would not be inhibited.
After thinking about it, I'm more inclined to believe the green corrosion is related to the east coast environment. I see the same green on copper pipes in houses around here.
Corrosion may have weakened the wire strands but the wiring vibrating most likely broke the strands off one at a time, explaining why only one of the items, the ECM half of the PNP (neutral) switch, connected to the ground lug exhibited any problem. If the entire ground lug had lost connection, the ECM would stop functioning along with, the TCM, Mass air flow sensor, Intake air temperature sensor, intake manifold tuning solenoid and the transmission half of the PNP (neutral) switch.

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Old 05-05-2018, 11:43 AM   #8
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Default Re: Engine no start resolved

I had a fleeting thought of wet road spray contributing to this ground connection corrosion but went with battery venting and forgot about it. It's odd, now that you mention it, for green corrosion on plain copper when I thought every terminal is plated to prevent corrosion.

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Old 05-09-2018, 10:52 AM   #9
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2009 AURA XR
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Default Re: Engine no start resolved

Quote:
Originally Posted by imaddicted2u View Post
Nope, the battery to engine ground lug and the lug that gave my troubles are bolted together on the same stud on the engine to transmission bell housing, about a foot away from the battery. The battery terminals are like new, no corrosion.
Funny you mention the + battery terminal. My old Saturn SL1 had the + battery terminal become disconnected intermittently inside the battery behind the terminal. Didn't leak acid but sometimes wouldn't start...That was hard to find.

This reminds me of a loose sparkplug terminal I once found by accident. Plug was in perfect shape, but lift it up vertically, and the electrode disappeared into the plug!
It was only sheer luck that I found it.

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Old 05-09-2018, 10:54 AM   #10
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Default Re: Engine no start resolved

Quote:
Originally Posted by imaddicted2u View Post
Just an FYI, this is the scanner I use...it works great, they keep the software updated. It can read and graph every system in the car from your phone or tablet. When I got it no carlines were included, now it comes with two and you can purchase more if you want. I only bought the GM carline and it can do all GM vehicles.
https://launchtechusa.com/easydiag2plus/
How much did this run you?

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Old 05-09-2018, 03:51 PM   #11
imaddicted2u
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2008 AURA XE
Default Re: Engine no start resolved

Quote:
Originally Posted by SL2 Ride View Post
How much did this run you?
It was given to me by a friend. At the time he bought it no carlines were included so it only performed basic engine code scanning/resetting functions. I downloaded the GM carline for $39.95 and it does everything I need, so far.
I see it currently selling for as low as $89.95 on Amazon and includes 2 carlines.

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2000 Saturn SL1 1.9L SOHC (Retired)

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Old 05-09-2018, 09:00 PM   #12
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Default Re: Engine no start resolved

Quote:
Originally Posted by imaddicted2u View Post
It was given to me by a friend. At the time he bought it no carlines were included so it only performed basic engine code scanning/resetting functions. I downloaded the GM carline for $39.95 and it does everything I need, so far.
I see it currently selling for as low as $89.95 on Amazon and includes 2 carlines.
Thanks again. I've been wanting to get something like this.

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