2008 Saturn Vue Electrical Problem with

Tiny
LMO1021
  • MEMBER
  • 2008 SATURN VUE
  • 133,350 MILES
Long list of disappointments with this car. I have a 4 cylinder FWD 2008 Vue. Issues began about a year ago. My battery went dead and I replaced the battery. A couple of months later, while driving at high speeds, the steering wheel would decide to lock up. In time, it would happen at lower speeds as well. I just happened to leave my car running for 4 hours by accident one day and magically I never had a steering issue again. A couple of more months down the road, my car's radio just completely stopped working; with one exception. You can pop a cd in, hear the disc spinning in the player, but with no sound, then hit the eject button and cd pops back out. About a week later, the car began to not start and will only start with a jump. I had my cousin, a mechanic for Honda, take a look at the car and he noticed that the lights that show where the headlamp switch and the light in the button for the hazard lights were constantly on when the car was turned off (they are supposed to go off automatically after 15 minutes. Safety feature that GM placed in these cars). The engine light indicates that the camshaft position actuator solenoid need replacement. My cousin also told me that it could be a couple more issues as well. Because he didn't have the tools needed to check my GM made vehicle, he suggested that the PCM could be bad as well on top of possible faulty wiring. But the electric is draining my brand new battery daily and I don't have the money to keep putting into this car. I'm highly upset with the purchase of this vehicle.

What would be the best route to take from this point?
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Sunday, August 18th, 2013 AT 5:04 AM

6 Replies

Tiny
LMO1021
  • MEMBER
I also forgot to say that the car doesn't pick up like it should when trying to get on the highway or needed to get out of the way quickly. It's beyond sluggish. It's been that way since a bit after I had bought the car used (September 2010) but but it wasn't noticed because it is a 4 cylinder and the car I had before this one was a 6 cylinder so I just figured that it was supposed to feel that way. I noticed, however, that that issue has progressively gotten worse down through the years.
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Sunday, August 18th, 2013 AT 5:22 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
The issue is not the car, it's the lack of attention to when it needs service. You aren't going to have better luck with any other car brand. All batteries fail in about five years, give or take a little. That isn't designed in by the manufacturer. They know how fast the lead is going to deteriorate and flake off the plates and they provide a warranty to take advantage of as much of that expected life as possible. You can't blame a battery failure on the car.

For the steering to feel like it locked up, only at higher speeds, suggests it has speed-sensitive steering. You will not notice that designed-in lack of power assist at highway speeds. If you were unable to turn, as in changing lanes, a binding upper strut mount would be a better suspect. If this happens at lower speeds too you might suspect a slipping power steering belt or a weak power steering pump. A slipping belt is almost always accompanied by a squealing sound. A weak pump will resume working when you increase engine speed a little. Binding strut mounts can happen on any car but they can fail in other ways. The frustrating part for a mechanic and car owner is that often the failure can't be seen or felt until after the struts are removed for maintenance replacement, then the mechanic finds they need to be replaced and has to tell you more parts are needed than what you expected.

The radio problem could be nothing more than a blown fuse, especially if you have been having to jump-start the engine. The surge from using jumper cables or a battery charger often causes fuses to blow for no other reason. Has anyone actually checked the fuses? There will always be two of them. The fuse for the station preset and clock memory will usually be listed as the circuit that it is tied into, like interior lights, horn, cigarette lighter, or something like that. You said, "radio just completely stopped working; with one exception, ... ". So it didn't completely stopped working. Does the display still work? If not, suspect a radio fuse. If the display does work, your car might use a separate amplifier that has a blown fuse. That will cause no sound but all radio functions will work meaning the display, tuning, switching between AM, FM, and CD.

Those lights you mentioned that are staying on are not supposed to stay on for 15 minutes. That safety feature you referred to has been around a long time and is controlled by a highly unreliable Body Computer. Those lights should still turn off with all the other lights. That 15-minute timer is only a backup for when the regular circuit malfunctions or you do something to leave those lights on. Since a computer is needed to turn the lights off, it is also used to turn them on, hence the inherent unreliability. To add to the problem, GM cleverly built the Body Computer into the radio so you can't go to Best Buy and buy a high-quality aftermarket radio. To add to the insult, they will not allow us to buy radio service manuals so you are tied to the dealer and their two grossly over-priced repair centers.

You must understand too that when diagnostic fault codes are read, they never say to replace parts or that a part is defective. They only indicate the circuit or system that needs further diagnosis.

Anyone can stand next to a car they aren't familiar with and say it needs a new Engine Computer, (PCM is Chrysler's term for Power Train Control Module), or it has "faulty wiring". Unless someone snuck in there and switched a couple of wires around, there can be a corroded splice or a wire rubbed through on a sharp edge of a metal bracket but those aren't common occurrences on such a new car. Those ARE the kinds of things your mechanic will rule out first when he addresses the diagnostic fault codes. You have to analyze this statement yourself:

"Because he didn't have the tools needed to check my GM made vehicle, he suggested that the PCM could be bad as well on top of possible faulty wiring".

That means if he DID have the tools he could diagnose it properly, then there would be a different cause. Way too many people fall back on blaming the computer when they don't know what else to check. That is because GM DID have a huge computer problem years ago and so many mechanics are experienced at replacing GM computers to solve problems.

GM DOES have a huge problem with their generator design. That should be one of the first things that is checked. A professional load test will determine if it is capable of developing its full rated output current. If it can not, the battery will have to make up the difference and that will run it down gradually. That results in low battery voltage which computers are very intolerant of. The lights staying on could simply be due to the Body Computer not turning them off because it is confused by the low voltage.

The place to start is by taking the car to a mechanic to have the list of issues properly diagnosed. If the Check Engine light has been turning on and you kept on driving, ignoring what the Engine Computer is trying to tell you isn't going to make the problems go away.
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Sunday, August 18th, 2013 AT 2:07 PM
Tiny
LMO1021
  • MEMBER
To answer some of your questions and elaborate on some points that you made.

1.) "The issue is not the car, it's the lack of attention to when it needs service. You aren't going to have better luck with any other car brand. All batteries fail in about five years, give or take a little. That isn't designed in by the manufacturer. They know how fast the lead is going to deteriorate and flake off the plates and they provide a warranty to take advantage of as much of that expected life as possible. You can't blame a battery failure on the car."
* I failed to mention that a little over a year ago, I replaced the battery with a brand new ACDelco brand battery.
* Car ran fine for about 3 months and THEN the issues began again.
* Car gets regular maintenance as far as oil changes and brake pads. Just bought some new tires also this past week,

2.) "The radio problem could be nothing more than a blown fuse, especially if you have been having to jump-start the engine. Does the display still work?"
* All of the fuses were checked and checked out. And in this case, the radio blew before having to get the jumps.
* No. The display does not work at all.

You gave me some great points to check out and I greatly appreciate your help regarding the matter! I will take your advice and have these possible issues checked when I get paid next week. If after reading my response to your questions you have some more insight, please feel free to advise me some more!

Thanks again!
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Monday, August 19th, 2013 AT 10:59 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
That clarifies the timeline in my mind. The battery that is going dead now is a year-old battery that was installed long before the other problems started. That's pertinent to the story but nothing to hold against the car. GM has had a real big problem with their generators but the biggest thing you must do to prevent repeat failures is to replace the battery at the same time as you replace a defective generator, unless it is less than about two years old. Your battery failure a year ago was just that, but it is good insurance against a generator failure in the near future, so we can cross that off our list of things to worry about.

GM decided in '94 to stop allowing us to buy radio service manuals because they wanted to lock up all that lucrative repair business for themselves. Since their two authorized repair centers are so grossly over-priced, most people installed high-quality aftermarket radios when their GM radio developed a problem, most commonly a failure of the CD laser assembly which had a 100 percent failure rate. To combat that, the engineers started building in the Body Computer into the radio so when it failed you HAD to have it repaired through the dealer. Given the two seemingly unrelated problems of the radio with no sound, and lights staying on that are run by the Body Computer which is in the radio, I would start with having the radio repaired, then see if the lights are still staying on. My guess is the light problem will be solved once a replacement radio is installed and programmed to the vehicle. If that problem is not solved, nothing has been lost as it was a different problem to begin with.
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Monday, August 19th, 2013 AT 2:08 PM
Tiny
JEFFOEHLER
  • MEMBER
I have the same issue @lmo1021. What was the solution. What fixed it. Email please or anyone that sees this at jeffoehler33@gmail. Com
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Friday, January 1st, 2016 AT 4:17 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Along with waiting for a reply from LMO1021, you should post a new question. When you piggyback on this one, we are the only two other people who will get an automated e-mail directing us back here, and we're the only two people who will see it. That does you a disservice.

When you post a new question, all of the experts here will have the chance to read it and respond. Once one of us adds our reply, your question goes "off-the-list" and no one else will be able to help.
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Saturday, January 2nd, 2016 AT 11:45 AM

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