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Old 07-15-2018, 08:54 PM   #1
BV22
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Default Silly Electrons

Strange evening. I got back from two days out of town. The Saturn had sat for those 2 days. Jumped in to go to the local store and it started normally, but the gas gauge was off the scale empty. I thought I had some gas in it. Added some more and drove home. Two hours later, I went to go somewhere else and got crank but no start. I could not hear the fuel pump prime, so I started troubleshooting. Swapped the fuel pump and a/c relays, cleaned the connector in the trunk - still no joy. Jumped 87 and 30 in the fuse panel and when I tried to crank it, I got complete electrical failure. I checked the battery terminals and the positive was loose. Tightened it, put the fuel pump relay back in and the car fired right up, gas gauge read 1/2 tank and it ran fine. But for the first time ever, I can no longer turn off the rear window defroster. Guess I'll just disconnect it!

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Old 07-20-2018, 01:56 PM   #2
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Default Re: Silly Electrons

An update and plea for advice. The car has started and run fine since I tightened the battery terminals. I'm using it daily.

The indicator on the rear window defroster button stays lit constantly, even with the defroster physically disconnected and the relay removed. Dome light works normally, but chime is gone. On initial start, when I release the hand brake, DRL's come on for a second, then flash rapidly for about 5 seconds, then go off, never to return until the car is turned off and restarted.

I can live with this for the few months I intend to keep driving this car, but if there is a simple fix, I'm all ears.

Thanks

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Old 07-20-2018, 06:01 PM   #3
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Default Re: Silly Electrons

Saturns from '00 and up use body control modules (BCM) to drive the instrument panel lights, indicators, gauges, Passlock theft deterrent, interior/exterior lighting, monitor diagnostics to pass info to the OBD II port, remote door lock/unlock, rear trunk release,gear shift unlock, rear defrost, battery rundown protection and horn. ABS and airbags have their own module and indicators on the instrument panel. The bcm controls the DRLs to run high beams. If the drl light flashes several times then turns off, manually turn on high beams and check for a blown high beam light or corroded connections to each high beam light. Since the defrost control starts with a push button command, either the button is sticking or you may have the beginnings of bcm failure with symptoms pointing to the bcm. Symptoms are lack of defrost control, chime alerts missing.

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Old 07-20-2018, 06:54 PM   #4
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Default Re: Silly Electrons

JY and get another BCM out of a Saturn with the same number of connectors and the same options. The 30 min security relearn will marry it back to the car. The engine/transmission does not matter but the other options do as well as mileage. The year is not critical.

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Old 07-21-2018, 09:01 AM   #5
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Happy Re: Silly Electrons

It is a GM. 99% of your problems, with a GM, are electrical problems. You could have a flat tire and it will somehow be related the "Service Engine Soon" light being on for a failing engine sensor, on a GM product....

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Old 07-21-2018, 01:02 PM   #6
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Default Re: Silly Electrons

Thanks guys. I suspected the BCM also. Honestly, I think it is trying to tell me that after 17 years and 313,000 miles, it might be time for a new car. There are so many things worn out on the old girl, it is just not worth the time or money to fix them anymore.

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Old 08-08-2018, 07:43 AM   #7
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Default Re: Silly Electrons

Just an update to this bizarre story. Yesterday, thanks in part to the non-functioning chime, I left the headlights on all afternoon at work. Starter would barely turn when I went to leave. Got a jump from a coworker and it fired right up. Chime works, rear defroster switch works, and DRL's work.

Got to love a car that fixes itself!

...
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Old 08-08-2018, 08:00 AM   #8
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Default Re: Silly Electrons

The BCM has a small embedded processor in it. One of the only user possible fixes for a flaky BCM is a system cold boot. By leaving the lights on you succeeded in cold booting the system(BCM). The other way to do this is disconnect the battery negative and then turn on all electrical loads and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. Be sure the battery is fully charged. Then turn everything OFF and re-connect the negative. The system cold boot does not fix all of them but it fixes many of them.

GM control systems act a lot like Windows .... periodic reboot required.

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Old 08-08-2018, 08:20 AM   #9
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Default Re: Silly Electrons

GM should have put CTRL, ALT and DEL buttons somewhere

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Old 08-08-2018, 10:06 AM   #10
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Default Re: Silly Electrons

I used to explain how to do this reset when the system went sideways but got tired of the arguing about how it all functioned and why it may or may not work. Low battery usually sets you up for this failure as a true hardware failure is permanent.

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Old 08-08-2018, 08:37 PM   #11
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Default Re: Silly Electrons

The general principle here is a cold reboot, not just a warm reboot to clear a software issue, but a full shutdown by disconnecting the battery and powering on all the accessories to bleed off any capacitance that holds the PRAM settings in place so it can reset itself. This is good to know as Iím likely to own another Saturn with a BCM at some point. Troubleshooting things like this drive people nuts.

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Old 08-08-2018, 09:24 PM   #12
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Default Re: Silly Electrons

A cold reboot usually occurs; when battery dies of old age/disconnected to replace it with a new battery, battery negative cable is disconnected for any reason, pcm/ecm/bcm fuse(s) are removed for electrical repairs/work/replacement. Even mistakenly boosting a battery with reverse polarity may create a momentary short/reversal of voltage to create an unusual condition to drop/reverse voltage enough to have electronics reboot on its own.

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Old 08-09-2018, 12:28 PM   #13
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Default Re: Silly Electrons

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
The BCM has a small embedded processor in it. One of the only user possible fixes for a flaky BCM is a system cold boot. By leaving the lights on you succeeded in cold booting the system(BCM). The other way to do this is disconnect the battery negative and then turn on all electrical loads and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. Be sure the battery is fully charged. Then turn everything OFF and re-connect the negative. The system cold boot does not fix all of them but it fixes many of them.
Interesting, thanks.

Seems like the kind of thing you can do every so often. For example, when a new battery is needed every 5~7 years, disconnect the negative first and turn everything on in car.

Then fiddle with those little 10mm bolts/nuts for the hold down strap, remove the positive, put in the new battery, bolt in the positive and the hold down strap. Take a beer break, turn everything back off, then hook up the negative.

Quote:
GM control systems act a lot like Windows .... periodic reboot required.
Oh, good lord, your car running on Windows, I don't see what could possibly go wrong

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Old 08-09-2018, 01:28 PM   #14
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Default Re: Silly Electrons

Generally a battery swap does take long enough to get a good cold start. Most of these failures trace to a chronic low battery condition and a hard start drops voltage low enough to cause data stream corruption.

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