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Old 03-08-2021, 04:36 PM   #1
youcanrunnaked
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Default HELP PLEASE - CAR DIED - TCM and SYSTEM VOLTAGE

Hello everyone. I am new to the forum, and hoping this community will help me keep my stepson's 2003 Saturn Ion sedan on the road for a while longer. My stepson has been under-employed since the pandemic began, and the car was a gift to him from his grandmother, who recently passed, so any help is greatly appreciated.

He was driving a few weeks ago when the car suddenly lost power and shut down -- in traffic. He was freaked out but able to coast to safety, My wife met him and they jump-started his car, but it died again as he was driving, with his mom following. The car was then towed to our driveway.

I had replaced the battery in June 2020 with a new Interstate unit, Group Size 75, which is well within spec for the car. Nevertheless, I put the battery on my charger, as I figured the battery might be low due to lack of use since the pandemic. After a day on the charger, I sloughed off the surface charge and then used a multimeter to test the battery and the alternator, at the battery terminals, and both battery and alternator tested good. On the dash, though, the battery warning light and check engine light were illuminated when we turned the key, and they did not go out the entire time we ran the car to test the alternator,. My multimeter showed the alternator was putting sufficient voltage back to the battery terminals while the car was running.

I then used an OBDII reader and retrieved the following stored codes:
P 0700 Transmission Control System
P 0562 System Voltage Low

I have read online that the P0700 code means the transmission control module (TCM) may be bad, the transmission fluid might need changing, entire transmission may be bad, or the voltage from the ECU to the to the TCM might have dropped too low for the TCM to handle. The P0562 code obviously suggests the last problem as most likely, although I am aware that the two codes being stored might be coincidental. The car has an automatic transmission, which is shifting normally.

I am not sure if the car is designed to shut down if the TCM malfunctions, But I think that the car shutting down, the two warning lights, and the two codes are all related to a low voltage situation. However, with a new battery installed in June, the battery and alternator testing good, and all of the wiring and electrical connections visible to me looking okay, I am stymied.

My thought is to make sure the battery is charged, clear the codes, and have my stepson drive the car and see if the stalling condition, warning lights, or ECU codes return. However, he is a relatively inexperienced driver, so he is spooked to drive the car without either of us knowing exactly why the car died in traffic. I would drive it for him, but I am not on his car insurance policy and I would rather not deal with that issue if it can be avoided.

The car has been sitting in our driveway for several weeks and he has relied on friends to get around. I am looking for advice as to what to do next.

FWIW, I have still mages of all of the OBDII readouts at idle, and video of the readouts with the engine revving. I don't know if they can supply any relevant information, but I can try to post them if they are important.
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Old 03-08-2021, 05:18 PM   #2
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Default Re: HELP PLEASE - CAR DIED - TCM and SYSTEM VOLTAGE

*Mileage, maintenance performed, parts replaced?
*Posting snapshots may be problematic unless you're aware of image file size restrictions (150 kb). Virtually every cellphone and digital camera crates large file exceeding this site's restrictions. Reducing file size to less than a megabyte in jpeg format should allow posting. Idle rpm and warm engine temperature stats can help here.

When leaving a vehicle unused for more than a week can discharge the battery somewhat but not enough to kill a relatively new battery. Left standing for several weeks, either disconnecting battery negative or using a trickle charger (less than 2 amps) will keep a battery freshly charged without over charging issues.

The battery light remaining on with the engine running suggests either a mechanical or electrical issue. Mechanical; loose belt drive tensioner allowing belt slippage where the alternator may not be able to supply all the electrical needs of a vehicle while simultaneously recharging the battery after every startup. Belt tension should be tight. Electrical issues may be loose/corroded battery cables to two main grounds and/or battery positive. The two main battery grounds are between battery negative and chassis and engine block. Battery positive between battery and main fuse panel and starter. Additionally, standing battery voltage should be around 12.5v while 14.5v with engine idling. The higher voltage is the alternator outputting power for the vehicle while recharging the battery. These two voltages are important in determining where electrical problems lie. The battery light remaining on suggests something wrong in the electrical system if it's not a mechanical issue.
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Old 03-08-2021, 06:00 PM   #3
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Default Re: HELP PLEASE - CAR DIED - TCM and SYSTEM VOLTAGE

Thanks for the prompt reply.

Mileage is 180,000. I have a stack of maintenance records in a file from my mother-in-law, but have not gone through them. I do not know how complete they are. My guess is the cam belt and serpentine belt were replaced at the appropriate point under her ownership, since my MIL was not one to neglect such things.

Since taking over ownership of the car two years or so ago, the oil has been changed regularly and the battery was replaced in June.

When I tested the charging system, I only did so at the battery terminals. The multimeter showed 12.5v standing; 11.5v starting; and 14.5v idling, which are all normal readings and why I am perplexed.

The alternator is beneath what I think is the intake snorkel or plenum, which I did not remove, but from what I could see, the belt tension and condition looked good, and the electrical connections at the alternator looked fine. The battery terminals are clean and the cables to the battery are firmly attached.
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Old 03-08-2021, 06:21 PM   #4
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Default Re: HELP PLEASE - CAR DIED - TCM and SYSTEM VOLTAGE

Looks can be deceiving, especially vehicle wiring connections. Underneath every electrical connection hidden from view may be severe corrosion. There's a true account of one L-series car with mystery electrical problems and using a hands on approach, discovered severe battery positive cable terminal corrosion hidden under the heavy insulation GM uses in battery cable terminals. Peeling back the red terminal insulator, a damaged side terminal battery post leaked battery acid into the cable terminal, eating away copper wires crimped at the terminal. Intermittent electrics issues until finding the damaged battery cable, replacing it to solve mystery electrical issues. Never having a hands pin approach can but anyone when things appear fine. This particular problem cost the owner over $400 in repair bills from mistakenly over tightening one side terminal battery connection and a dealer discovering it.

If you are assured all main electrical connections are fine then move on with more diagnosing. A fuel pressure test may help. Replacing the fuel filter every 100k miles ensures a filler isn't choking from contaminants and llowing fuel pressure. A worn out fuel pump is a possibility too but advanced testing using a fuel pressure gauge is needed.
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Old 03-08-2021, 06:52 PM   #5
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Default Re: HELP PLEASE - CAR DIED - TCM and SYSTEM VOLTAGE

This link is to the OBDII data:https://drive.google.com/drive/folde...TS?usp=sharing
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Old 03-08-2021, 07:01 PM   #6
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Default Re: HELP PLEASE - CAR DIED - TCM and SYSTEM VOLTAGE

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
Looks can be deceiving, especially vehicle wiring connections. Underneath every electrical connection hidden from view may be severe corrosion.
I will attempt to lay hands on all of the electrical connections.

Quote:
If you are assured all main electrical connections are fine then move on with more diagnosing. A fuel pressure test may help. Replacing the fuel filter every 100k miles ensures a filler isn't choking from contaminants and llowing fuel pressure. A worn out fuel pump is a possibility too but advanced testing using a fuel pressure gauge is needed.
I am not sure how fuel flow or pressure would be involved. Are you suggesting a coincidental engine running issue not related to the low voltage or transmission control module warnings?

I uploaded the full OBDII report to here. Maybe it shows something else; something that I am missing:
This link is to the OBDII data: https://drive.google.com/drive/folde...TS?usp=sharing
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Old 03-08-2021, 09:44 PM   #7
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Default Re: HELP PLEASE - CAR DIED - TCM and SYSTEM VOLTAGE

EFI injection systems can be complicated or easy to troubleshoot depending on knowledge and practical experience. In general, engines need fuel, air and spark to run. When an engine dies on its own, with or without error codes, one of three things may fail so testing for fuel and ignition are easy to perform. Faulty electrical issues presents their own set of troubleshooting procedures. I don't believe the tcm error code points to a tcm issue since it requires a regulated voltage supply. I can be mistaken so addressing main power and distribution either reveals the source of this problem or not. Tcm troubleshooting leans on advanced knowledge of how TCMs work and symptoms of tcm failure. Easier to troubleshoot main power issues than a xmission computer.
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Old 03-12-2021, 10:54 PM   #8
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Happy Re: HELP PLEASE - CAR DIED - TCM and SYSTEM VOLTAGE

Welcome to the club

My recommendation is take the car to a specialist and get it repaired. Save yourself the insanity and your time. Sometimes you just need a specialist.

Glad to have a new member and please keep us posted on the results.
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