1996 Chevy Cavalier Having electrical and starting problems

Tiny
KUROTSUKI91
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  • 1996 CHEVROLET CAVALIER
Electrical problem
1996 Chevy Cavalier 4 cyl Wheel Drive Type unknown Automatic 187000 miles

I took my car to Meineke to have a new battery put in and they changeed that out and put new terminals on it. After I got it back the dash lights kept coming on and off while I was driving, my cd player would turn on and off and my headlights would dim and return to normal brightness while driving. I've also been having problems starting the car on occasion where the engine would turn over and remain running for a few seconds and die. They ran a diagnostic and the engine read fine and my battery and charging system were ok. My friend seems to think it may be a grounding issue, but we're not too sure. Would a grounding issue cause all of these problems?
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Sunday, March 2nd, 2008 AT 9:40 PM

7 Replies

Tiny
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That year caviliars had a problem with the pcm getting contaminated from water. It is located in the right front wheel well area. In colder states, water would get in there and freeze splitting the pcm apart. But the water intrusion could happen in any climate. This is the first place I would look on this one.
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Sunday, March 2nd, 2008 AT 9:44 PM
Tiny
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In the event its not the pcm could it be the grounds or a relay?
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Monday, March 3rd, 2008 AT 1:30 AM
Tiny
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A ground will cause power to act like that. Check the wiring diagram and see if the problem components are all on the same ground. Were there are problems prior to the battery installed at the chain shop?
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Monday, March 3rd, 2008 AT 5:08 AM
Tiny
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Wellwe ended up putting in a new starter and alternatoe before we took it in. It ran fine after that then I couldnt start it one day. Then we took it in and they did the work and then the electrical started acting up.
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Monday, March 3rd, 2008 AT 9:02 AM
Tiny
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That was about a month ago and every now and then it still doesnt want to start right like in my original post.
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Monday, March 3rd, 2008 AT 9:09 AM
Tiny
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You probably did, but I gotta ask. Did you re-check the connections for the cables to be sure they are clean? And tight? At both ends of them?

With this being intermittant it can be a real bear to track down because you need to test while the problem is there. When you took it in to have the alternater checked, if the symptoms were not present, the Alternater would check out normal.

I have seen my share of reman alternaters act like this right off the shelf. The PCM problems were more of a runability problem or complete no start.

One thing you can do it a wiggle test. IF the symptoms are not there, you can wiggle wires/cables and see if any symptoms start acting up. I suspect this is going to be in the charging system.
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Monday, March 3rd, 2008 AT 2:31 PM
Tiny
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We figured it out. Apparently meineke had taken out two grounds. We replaced em and good as new.
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Wednesday, March 5th, 2008 AT 1:16 AM

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