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Old 11-29-2015, 07:54 PM   #1
1995SW2
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1999 SL
Default Electrical Issue and Starting Issue

Thinking they might be related, this post is about two separate problems on a 1999 Saturn SL, manual, 225K.

First problem is that the dash lights intermittently brighten and then dim, as well as flicker at times. There is no correlation that I can find between idle/driving, brake lights on/off, headlights on/off, certain RPM, etc. It is intermittent and random that they just brighten then dim again, sometimes flickering a lot before calming down. No other lights in the car are affected - radio, dome or HVAC. I've tried changing the setting of the dash light switch from the lowest (where I keep it) to other positions and that makes no difference. Is the dimmer switch itself going bad?

Second problem is an intermittent starting issue. I can drive the car, park it and some time later (whether a few minutes, hours or overnight) it will not start - it's totally dead without any attempt at turning over. I can pop start it easily and every time after the pop start it will run, even if pop started and turned off again right away. There is no specific length of time that the car has to sit before it does this. It has done this when it is both warm and cold outside. It does not happen every day, or even once a week. It's very intermittent and random. The battery is about a year old. When I do get the car started again the radio is completely reset if that means anything.

Could some electrical gremlin be causing the dash light problem and thus draining the battery causing the starting issue? I've not noticed more or less dash light issues when the car has its starting problem.

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Old 11-29-2015, 08:49 PM   #2
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Default Re: Electrical Issue and Starting Issue

The starter issue is probably a well corroded battery cable inside of the terminal end crimp at the battery. Disconnect both cables, remove the terminal bolts and look, if you see a white powdery deposit hot water and soap will take it off, sandpaper, wire brush is neither required or recommended. If you see a whitish-green corrosion in the actual wire and crimp the cable is finished. If you need new ones go to the JY and get new to you cable that passes this inspection. The green corrosion is caused by battery acid and nothing stops it once it is in the cable.

The dash light dimmer is a solid state device behind that dimmer knob and I would replace that first. You can get one out of any Gen-2 along with the battery cables you may need.

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Old 12-01-2015, 10:25 PM   #3
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Default Re: Electrical Issue and Starting Issue

Thanks for all the great information and help! The dimmer switch - is it obvious how it comes out/off to replace?

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Old 12-02-2015, 12:57 AM   #4
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1998 SC2
Default Re: Electrical Issue and Starting Issue

Sort of, you have to pop it out from behind the cluster surround and do not lose those pins or break off the locating tabs on the bottom. Dropping wheel is a good idea if you have no idea how it is all put together. Use the drawing for your specific car to get at it. Scroll down to instrument cluster removal. http://www.differentracing.com/tech_articles/index.html

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Old 12-02-2015, 12:36 PM   #5
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Default Re: Electrical Issue and Starting Issue

The starting issue might be the F-5 terminal on the inside fuse block melting. Might want to check that. Usually when radio presets get dumped it could be caused by that.

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Old 12-02-2015, 07:55 PM   #6
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1998 SC2
Default Re: Electrical Issue and Starting Issue

That as well. F-5 is for Gen-2 cars and is different for the other 2 but is very obvious once you disconnect the connector and look.

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