2002 Oldsmobile Silhouette Potential short in the system

Tiny
CLARKMEC
  • MEMBER
  • 2002 OLDSMOBILE SILHOUETTE
  • 6 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 135,000 MILES
I have a 2002 Oldsmobile Silhouette mini van and I think I have some sort of electrical problem. This morning I drove the van to work and it ran fine with no indications of trouble. When I went out to start it after 30 minutes of sitting, it would not start. No lights were left on. When I turned the key to the start position nothing happened, but then when I turned the key back to the off position, all of the gauges jumped and I could hear the electric locks clicking. I was able to get the car jumped by a friend and drove it a short distance to an auto hobby shop where I attempted to replace the battery myself. I replaced the battery but not without struggle. The positive battery post was so corroded I had to break it off so I also had to replace the battery post connection and again this was done myself. With the new battery in, the car still would not start and when I wiggled the wires and rechecked the battery connection, I would get an occasional spark but not anything sustained. Is it possible to have a broken wire in the electrical system? Could that occur so suddenly without some induced trauma to the car? It was a sunny day and no rain. The battery was original so I was assuming that was the culprit, but now I'm wondering if there was some other short somewhere. Any suggestions on how to troubleshoot this? Many thanks for any thoughts. Mike Clark Michael. Clark@hanscom. Af. Mil
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Wednesday, March 10th, 2010 AT 9:58 PM

5 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Without going into a lot of detail, battery terminals won't develop corrosion unless the battery is on its last legs. It needed to be replaced.

Sparks indicate there's a bad connection in that spot. The cables need to be cleaned. Check the wires under the insulation for hidden signs of corrosion.

Be aware too that batteries give off explosive hydrogen gas. Sparks can cause an explosion. It doesn't happen often, but protect your eyes.

Caradiodoc
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Wednesday, March 10th, 2010 AT 10:10 PM
Tiny
CLARKMEC
  • MEMBER
Thanks for the quick reply! The sparks were only after disconnecting the postive terminal when the car failed to start with the new battery installed. I did a visual on the wires, but they have those plastic encasements so it's hard to tell if anything is really broken. Is there any other way to check the wiring or any indication of another fault in the system? I thought a new battery would do the trick and it did not so I'm trying to figure out a next step. Thanks again and thanks for the safety tip! Mike
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Wednesday, March 10th, 2010 AT 10:16 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Look at the metal part of the cable end that contacts the battery terminal. That part must be nice and shiny. The bolt does not make the electrical connection. It only holds the connection tight. If the metal part appears dull reddish or rust-colored, it must be shined up with sandpaper. In a really bad case, the terminal will have to be cut off and replaced. Those universal ends were never meant to be a permanent fix but they do hold up pretty well.

If the system is still dead, turn on the headlights, then wiggle the cables, (watch for those pesky sparks), and observe what you're moving when / if the lights come on. A better way to find the problem is to use a cheap digital voltmeter to find the bad connection. I can walk you through that procedure, but everything you've mentioned suggests there's nothing more wrong than just the cable connections.

Caradiodoc
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Wednesday, March 10th, 2010 AT 10:28 PM
Tiny
CLARKMEC
  • MEMBER
I appreciate the feedback and am hopeful that it is just my terminals. I will check those first thing tomorrow and see if that resolves the problem. I was worried about something much worse going on inside the wires. I'll let you know if I need to use the voltmeter to check the wires. Thanks again for your help! --Mike
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Wednesday, March 10th, 2010 AT 10:38 PM
Tiny
2CARPROS LINSEY
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Friday, March 19th, 2010 AT 1:26 PM

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