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Old 10-09-2012, 09:34 AM   #1
opticsnake
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Dizzy '09 Saturn Vue Viper Remote Problems

Wanted to post this just in case anyone else runs across a problem like this:

Purchased a Viper 2-way Remote Starter system for my wife's used 2009 Saturn Vue XR (6-cyl) and had it installed at Best Buy. Living in Ohio and not having a garage, I hated when she would need to go out in the cold to start her car during the winter.

Everything seemed to go well for about the first year and a half. Then we started seeing strange electrical problems cropping up. The last two months have been an absolute nightmare. While returning from a weekend trip with the cruise control set, I turned on the signal to change lanes. This action alone shut off the cruise control and turned the radio off briefly. I repeated it a couple of times just to make sure that it happened the same way. It did and then it just miraculously stopped doing it.

Fast forward a week. My wife experiences the same thing on her way home from work (a 25 mile trip). The next morning when she went to start the car with the key in the ignition, the car wouldn't start, no indicator lights came on, no clicking noise from the starter, and the key was now locked in the ignition. Had it towed to our local NAPA repair shop where they removed the key, tested the battery (full charge), checked for any drains on the system (none) and started the car without being able to reproduce the problem. We hazarded a guess that there was a problem with the key being worn or the chip in it having gone bad so we switched her key out with my spare.

Two weeks later, same problem with the turn signal shutting off the radio. A day later, she runs out to do some errands, comes home for a few minutes and gets ready to head out again. Same problem. Car won't start, no lights coming on, no sounds, and key stuck in the ignition. Again, towed to the shop (after the weekend was done). Now they're getting GM techs involved. Car battery is dead this time due to leaving the car sit with the key in the ignition all weekend. Battery replaced, load tests done, left the car with the shop for the week for them to drive around and see if they could duplicate the problem. This time, though, they removed the fuse from the Viper Remote start line running from the positive terminal. Could not duplicate the problem. The GM and Saturn techs are all scratching their heads as well.

Have the car back now and the Viper Remote system fuse is still in my pocket. No problems so far. If it goes for the next month with no issues, I'm going to have the Viper Remote start system removed completely.

Will keep this thread updated.

BTW, have to give a big thanks to the NAPA guys as they only charged us for the towing and gas while they test drove the car!

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Old 10-09-2012, 11:48 AM   #2
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Default Re: '09 Saturn Vue Viper Remote Problems

Original battery? Replaced after going through troubleshooting?

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Old 10-09-2012, 03:28 PM   #3
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Default Re: '09 Saturn Vue Viper Remote Problems

Yep. Got the car at about 6,000 miles. Replaced it after the second time.

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Old 10-09-2012, 04:27 PM   #4
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Default Re: '09 Saturn Vue Viper Remote Problems

There are many that have various Viper remote start systems installed in many vehicles. If done correctly these aftermarket systems should work seamlessly with GM/Ford/Chrysler/Land Rover/whatever without many issues long after their warranty runs out. Its difficult to prove any aftermarket system interferes with factory electronics and staying with known manufacturers as well as reputable shops that deal with these systems tends to promote reliability as well as any problems that can be dealt with afterwards. The last resort is as you found out - removing the main fuse powering the remote system to isolate it from possible interference. By far, most aftermarket system circuitry disengages itself from the factory electronics to leave it as if it were never there for total isolation purposes when troubleshooting. Its wise of you to leave this system disconnected to monitor any more repeat episode. Whether this problem was caused by the remote start or not remains to be seen. Hopefully it isn't and you can reconnect it for use again. If anything, you may still rely on the shop that did the work to call and discuss the possibility of remote start interference for professional help. At the least, its worth a call.

No one can say their Viper or Harry's Bait &Tackle/Alarm shop special is guaranteed to work flawlessly unless they can back it up at anytime for repair/troubleshooting/diagnosis as you would expect from a dealer with a new car warranty. Out of warranty shouldn't matter if a product is reliable with tech support from the main factory. Its the unknown brands we have to watch out for as the discount specials may mean no support 30 days after installation, leaving you with a headache if it ties up the car.............

While this problem seems to be resolved, I'm inclined to believe all of this came from a dead/dying battery. Battery voltage and capacity is probably more important nowadays with advanced electronics that depends on a reliable source of steady 12v power. If the battery was the original then it lasted 4yrs. Lately, members have posted that GM has shortened battery warranty from 5/6 yrs to 3yrs. Perhaps your battery was a 3yr one and was on borrowed time? If so then it can be presumed the battery was causing all the issues since battery power is relied on for everything including starting, before the alternator comes into play to take over power supply duties. A faulty battery with very low voltage (<11v) at start up will tend to cause electronic panic attacks that can be translated to major gremlins that are not easily explained. Everyone assumes 12v battery reliability except when they fail, gradually or immediately. Most car batteries announce their end of life in various ways; poor/non-existent starting, dimming lighting while driving, loud 'clicking' coming from the engine while attempting to start, etc.. Not being familiar with basic battery facts and simple troubleshooting can result in more confusion if a battery is failing. Simple tests like measuring voltage before and after starting or going to any auto store selling batteries should allow a free battery diagnostic to determine battery capacity and when to replace it.

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Old 10-09-2012, 06:03 PM   #5
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Default Re: '09 Saturn Vue Viper Remote Problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by opticsnake View Post
Wanted to post this just in case anyone else runs across a problem like this:

Purchased a Viper 2-way Remote Starter system for my wife's used 2009 Saturn Vue XR (6-cyl) and had it installed at Best Buy. Living in Ohio and not having a garage, I hated when she would need to go out in the cold to start her car during the winter.

Everything seemed to go well for about the first year and a half. Then we started seeing strange electrical problems cropping up. The last two months have been an absolute nightmare. While returning from a weekend trip with the cruise control set, I turned on the signal to change lanes. This action alone shut off the cruise control and turned the radio off briefly. I repeated it a couple of times just to make sure that it happened the same way. It did and then it just miraculously stopped doing it.

Fast forward a week. My wife experiences the same thing on her way home from work (a 25 mile trip). The next morning when she went to start the car with the key in the ignition, the car wouldn't start, no indicator lights came on, no clicking noise from the starter, and the key was now locked in the ignition. Had it towed to our local NAPA repair shop where they removed the key, tested the battery (full charge), checked for any drains on the system (none) and started the car without being able to reproduce the problem. We hazarded a guess that there was a problem with the key being worn or the chip in it having gone bad so we switched her key out with my spare.

Two weeks later, same problem with the turn signal shutting off the radio. A day later, she runs out to do some errands, comes home for a few minutes and gets ready to head out again. Same problem. Car won't start, no lights coming on, no sounds, and key stuck in the ignition. Again, towed to the shop (after the weekend was done). Now they're getting GM techs involved. Car battery is dead this time due to leaving the car sit with the key in the ignition all weekend. Battery replaced, load tests done, left the car with the shop for the week for them to drive around and see if they could duplicate the problem. This time, though, they removed the fuse from the Viper Remote start line running from the positive terminal. Could not duplicate the problem. The GM and Saturn techs are all scratching their heads as well.

Have the car back now and the Viper Remote system fuse is still in my pocket. No problems so far. If it goes for the next month with no issues, I'm going to have the Viper Remote start system removed completely.

Will keep this thread updated.

BTW, have to give a big thanks to the NAPA guys as they only charged us for the towing and gas while they test drove the car!
Just have to throw a couple of thoughts ...

Cruise and radio steering wheel controls use resistor trees - this isn't a bad deal but there are small differences between selecting desired results and otherwise.

Moving the turn signal lever induces semi-large surge currents in wiring while heading out to power the turn signal lamps. I could see since turn signal wiring is co-located with cruise and radio wiring in steering column you could have a bit of electromagnetic interference (EMI) on your hands.

We reduce this in aircraft installs by shielding known susceptible wiring and also by increasing physical separation between known emitters and receptors. You didn't have a problem for 18 months so I doubt if the remote start install is to blame.

Were you by-chance towing a trailer at the time? This would account for increased current draw by turn signal wiring (or failing bulbs or corroded sockets).

I noticed where fdryer zeroed in on the battery - perhaps the first one was bad but I'd also make darn sure the large red wire leading from the battery to the underhood relay and fuse block is pure as driven snow. A corroded terminal on either end of this feed cable - or internal corrosion where the wire joins wiring going to starter and generator - will effectively shut you down.

You probably realize that if the battery is dead - or removed - the ignition switch will grab the key (by design). Here's an extract explaining this little gem (last two sentences sums it up):

Ignition Lock Cylinder Control Actuator

If the vehicle is equipped with a floor mounted console gear shifter, it has a ignition lock cylinder control actuator system in the steering column. The ignition lock cylinder control actuator's purpose is to prevent the ignition key from being turned to the OFF position when the transmission is in gear and the vehicle may still be moving. The column ignition lock system consists of a ignition lock cylinder control actuator , and a Park position switch that is located in the automatic transmission (A/T) shift lock control switch. The ignition lock cylinder control actuator contains a pin that is spring loaded out to mechanically prevent the ignition key cylinder from being turned to the Lock position when vehicle transmission is not in the Park position. If vehicle power is lost, and/or the transmission is not in the Park position the operator will not be able to turn the ignition key to the Lock position and will not be able to remove the ignition key from the column.

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Old 10-09-2012, 08:55 PM   #6
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Default Re: '09 Saturn Vue Viper Remote Problems

A couple things worth noting.

1) The Viper Alarm will be tapped into a few wires at the BCM for different functions. The turn signals, however, will not be one of those, as they will instead have tapped the hazard lights (which lets you get both sides with 1 wire).

2) At 3-4 years old that OEM battery was certainly toast. It's possible that it could have been causing you a large amount of these issues as when the battery gets weak it loses its ability to filter out the ripples from the rectification in the alternator, which can wreak havoc on electronics. As I recall, the 09s had a big problem with batteries as well as many of them sat on dealer lots unsold, or in ports, etc. while Saturn was being spun down.

3) Corroded battery terminals are far more devious than people realize. Not only can they keep the vehicle from starting from the battery, but they also will cause your alternator to work harder to try to charge the battery, and can limit the amount of charge the battery receives. This is especially a problem for vehicles that aren't driven very long distances, as they need all the ability to charge the battery in a short period of time as possible.

4) I'd put the fuse for the viper unit back in (or rather, take it to your local Best Buy and have them do it) and see if the symptoms return.

FWIW, in my 5+ years of installing electronics, I can't say I ever saw a properly installed alarm ever just break itself internally. That said, I saw MANY instances of poorly trained or lazy dealership techs look for anything aftermarket to blame for faults in the vehicle.

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Old 10-11-2012, 12:02 AM   #7
NJ FRR
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Default Re: '09 Saturn Vue Viper Remote Problems

Check the bypass module.... it might need to be reprogrammed i had a similar issue with my remote start, when my bcm went it messed up my module and need to get a new one and re-flashed

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Old 10-11-2012, 01:27 PM   #8
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Default Re: '09 Saturn Vue Viper Remote Problems

Mechanic #1: Whattya think? It's the by-pass line, right?
Fletch: I think it's the by-pass line, yeah.
Mechanic #2: Told ya...
Fletch: I'm gonna need some pliers, and a set of thirty weight ball bearings...
Mechanic #2: What?
Fletch: Yeah.. and... I'll tellya what. I gotta go to my truck. If Fred gets here before I'm back you can tell him to start without me.
Mechanic #1: What the hell you need ball bearings for?
Fletch: Oh, come on guys! It's so simple maybe you need a refresher course. It's all ball bearing nowadays. Now you prepare that Fetzer valve with some 3-in-1 oil and some gauze pads. And I'm gonna need about 10 quarts of anti-freeze. Preferably Prestone. No... no...make that Quaker State.

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Old 10-11-2012, 01:44 PM   #9
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Default Re: '09 Saturn Vue Viper Remote Problems

^ Huh? ^ What channel are you watching? Country? I'm in NYC and don't get the Country channel.....................Damn stupid politics!? I wanna' watch this channel!

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Old 06-19-2015, 11:50 AM   #10
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Default Re: '09 Saturn Vue Viper Remote Problems

Sound Guy,

That is one of my favorite movies. I still use the Fetzer valve line. I have to add the thirty weight ball bearings to my lingo. That scenario is exactly what I thought of when my car was acting like a freak! Thanks for the laugh!

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