1998 Pontiac Grand Prix Starting Problem

Tiny
J_OLINSK
  • MEMBER
  • 1998 PONTIAC GRAND PRIX
  • 3.8L
  • V6
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 60,000 MILES
I have a '98 GrandPrix. I put they key in, I go to turn the key, and nothing. My lights on the speedometer come on. My battery is good. I just replaced the starter. I'm not sure if it can be the alternator or not. I start it by using a screw driver touching the two prongs on the starter. It starts that way. When I was on my way home earlier, my battery light came on also. Everything dimmed, and my music got distorted. If someone can please help, that wouI'd be very appreciated.
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Monday, July 28th, 2014 AT 5:44 PM

28 Replies

Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
I think you have a couple issues here. First, you need to check the starter relay. Locate it in the relay box under the hood. Switch it with another relay with the same part number. See if that makes a difference. If it doesn't, you need to see if there is power to the relay.

Let me know what you find.
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Monday, July 28th, 2014 AT 6:25 PM
Tiny
J_OLINSK
  • MEMBER
In the fuse box, correct? I checked them. They were fine. How would I see if I was getting power to the fuse? I have a test light also. Should I see if I'm getting power to the starter with it? Would that work? Thanks Jake!
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Monday, July 28th, 2014 AT 6:49 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
I have a couple questions. First, I looked at the starting system wiring schematic. On all cars, the positive from the battery is always hot at the starter. What engages the starter is the solenoid. For power to get to the solenoid, it has to go through the transmission range switch. Basically, that is what prevents the car from starting in gear. Tell me this, is the gear indicator showing you it is in park? If you try to start it in neutral, does it make a difference?

Also, I need to know if you have a volt meter.
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Tuesday, July 29th, 2014 AT 7:09 PM
Tiny
J_OLINSK
  • MEMBER
I do have a volt meter. I'm starting to get convinced its the ignition switch. I tried putting it in all gears, and starting it. It says its in park, reverse, etc. I tried using a test light, and it didn't light up when I had someone turn the key. How could I tell if its a bad ignition switch? Thank you!
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Tuesday, July 29th, 2014 AT 7:37 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Before we consider the switch, check something for me. Under the hood in the power distribution box, there is a 40 amp maxi fuse that is wired direct from the switch. Check to make sure it is good. Even if it looks good, remove it and check it for continuity.
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Tuesday, July 29th, 2014 AT 8:15 PM
Tiny
J_OLINSK
  • MEMBER
When I looked at it, it seemed okay. Should I switch one of the non important 40 fuses, and see if that works?
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Tuesday, July 29th, 2014 AT 8:29 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
No, don't remove any. If you do, it could cause other problems. Remove the one on the schematic and check it for continuity to make sure power is flowing through it. I have seen fuses that look fine but are actually bad.
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Tuesday, July 29th, 2014 AT 8:32 PM
Tiny
J_OLINSK
  • MEMBER
Looks fine, right?
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Tuesday, July 29th, 2014 AT 8:49 PM
Tiny
J_OLINSK
  • MEMBER
It looked fine. I tried to post a pic via my cell phone but didn't work.
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Tuesday, July 29th, 2014 AT 8:50 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Hey. I got the pic, and it does look fine, Can you check it for continuity? I have another question, I reviewed our conversation and the first post says the battery light came on, the lights dimmed. Are you sure the battery isn't bad?
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Tuesday, July 29th, 2014 AT 9:29 PM
Tiny
J_OLINSK
  • MEMBER
I'll be honest here. I don't know what continuity exactly is. Actually I realized I left my lights on while I was at work. I didn't know cause it was daylight.
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Tuesday, July 29th, 2014 AT 9:32 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
No problem... All that is meant by continuity is if there is a continuous flow of power through a conductor. In this case, the fuse. Basically, a multi meter puts power on one side of the fuse and if there are no breaks internally within the fuse, power will come out the other side. Thus, the continuous flow of power exist. (continuity) If there is a break in the fuse or wire, then power will not come out the other end. Thus, an open circuit.

Here is another way to check a fuse using a test light: You basically check both sides of the fuse when it is in the box. If power is on both sides, the fuse is good. If there is power only on one side, then it is bad.

http://www.2carpros.com/articles/how-to-check-a-car-fuse

At this point, something tells me the fuse isn't the problem but rather a dead battery. Remove the battery and take it to a local parts store and have it load tested. That is the first thing we need to do. If the battery is dead, nothing we do is going to work.

Let me know. Also, if you don't understand something I say, please feel free to ask.

Joe
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Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 AT 8:57 PM
Tiny
J_OLINSK
  • MEMBER
This happened before it drained my battery though. I just bought the battery a month ago. I'm going to take it down my local auto zone, and have it charged. I may also change my ignition switch to see if it helps. I'll keep you informed. I very much apperciate your help Joe!
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Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 AT 9:36 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Don't change the switch until we have exhausted all other avenues. It isn't as simple as just a remove and replace. It requires that the new key be programmed to the vehicle security system. That will have to go to a dealer to have done.

Just for the heck of it, have the battery tested. If it is good, we'll check other things. However, something tells me it is weak.
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Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 AT 9:41 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Before you have the battery recharged, have it load tested at the store so we know if that is the problem or not.
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Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 AT 9:42 PM
Tiny
J_OLINSK
  • MEMBER
I'll do that then before buying an ignition switch. I'll have it tested then charged. Hopefully it solves it. I'll get back to you on that one!
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Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 AT 9:46 PM
Tiny
J_OLINSK
  • MEMBER
Hey, just got my battery tested. The battery was bad, but I installed it. Still didn't work. Its doing the same thing. I don't believe I'm getting any power to the starter.
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Sunday, August 3rd, 2014 AT 7:33 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Did you put a new battery in it?
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Sunday, August 3rd, 2014 AT 8:31 PM
Tiny
J_OLINSK
  • MEMBER
Yes. I'm going to do some testing on the starter wires to exactly know what's getting power to.
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Sunday, August 3rd, 2014 AT 8:34 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
On the starter, the larger wire from the battery will always be hot, 12v. What you need to do is have a helper turn the key to the start position while you check for power to the smaller wire. It should have 12v in the start position. That is the wire that engages the starter.
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Sunday, August 3rd, 2014 AT 8:52 PM

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