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Old 12-16-2004, 02:30 PM   #1
dnmoreno
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Default Electrical problem 99 SL2, Dying Guages and/or Radio

Hi All,

I've got a thread in the S-Series forums that I think is actually more suited to the Tech Talk.. Sorry... <Insert Newbie Excuse Here>

99 SL2 Electrical issues (Gauges and/or Radio)?

So, I'm pleading for help here...

Basic background:
99 SL2, ~172K mileage, Auto trans, California Smog.

The problem is this:
When I tap the brakes, (or occasionally if I use the turn signal), I get electrical problems. These include the Speedometer and Tach dying and then coming back in about 3 or 4 seconds, The radio turning off and coming back in 3 or 4 seconds, the E-Brake light coming on and then going off in 3 or 4 seconds, the LED Odometer flickers and gets marginally dimmer, or some combination of the above.

BUT, the problem is that 99% of the time, the car runs fine. That is, I can use the brakes, turn signals, etc with no problem. The problems show up something on the order of once a week.

This morning is the perfect example... The car had been fine for 9 days, since I took it to the local mechanic, and he could find nothing wrong. So, with headlights on, fan/heater on, radio on, I'd been driving for better than 1/2 an hour, with no problems... I'm getting off the freeway, using the brakes, and the gauges die. This happens several more times, alternating between the gauges failing, and the radio dying, (or both). So, I figure I'll turn off the headlights to say power, and and the problem got WAY WAY WORSE! Everything went screwy... all dash gauges and indicator lights freaked out, the radio turned off... just completely screwed up. The engine started to surge somewhat, but was running OK. (Note that until now, the engine has seemed uneffected by this other nonsense).

I also heard some sort of clicking noise (like a relay) near the passenger side kick-panel, or in the engine compartment, near the firewall on the passenger side...(But I think it was in the cabin).

I'm desperate for help... I'm fairly mechanically savvy (Have rebuilt engines), but don't know one end of a voltmeter (Multimeter?) from the other.

Please chime in with ideas..
Thanks,
Dave

Last edited by dnmoreno; 12-16-2004 at 02:38 PM..

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Old 12-17-2004, 09:14 AM   #2
Dach
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Default Re: Electrical problem 99 SL2, Dying Guages and/or Radio

Alternator problems can cause flaky things like those to happen. Most shops can't check it correctly w/out a diode tester. You can search on diode test(ing) to find a post by Wolfman detailing this. I would also re-double check the battery terminals and cables to make sure they are making solid contact. You can also search for intermittent voltage or ground problems and find numerous tips. One is the connector under the hood fuse holder getting corrosion in it and one other is a ground bar with the same issue but the location escapes me at the moment. I'm assuming you don't have an aftermarket stereo or alarm that could be causing this also. Good luck, and post back your findings.

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Old 01-18-2005, 07:59 PM   #3
dnmoreno
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Default Re: Electrical problem 99 SL2, Dying Guages and/or Radio

OK,
So I believe that I've solved the problem, but I've waited several weeks to post becuase as you all know, as soon as you claim to have fixed it, it comes right back.

Basically, I beleive that the culprit was the positive battery terminal and cable. Upon first look I didnt think there was a problem, but I took another look, and the corrosion was a darker, harder variety than I had seen in the past. A few minutes with a Dremel tool, and I got nice shiny copper back on the cable side.

The Negative side was OK, but you could see evidence of arcing or sparking... So I made sure that both terminals and cables were cleaned up, bolted them back on tight (but not too tight), and have been fine for better than 3 weeks now.

So... Thanks to one and all for the assist.

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