1997 Pontiac Firebird No power when key is turned ignition

Tiny
OSRCLINT74
  • MEMBER
  • 1997 PONTIAC FIREBIRD
  • 6 CYL
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 128,000 MILES
1997 Pontiac Firebird, 3.8 v6, fully loaded with power options. Last week I was driving and from out of nowhere, the engine cut out instantly. I coasted off to the side of the road and tried to restart, but when I turn the key forward, nothing on the dash lights up and the starter will not engage. The headlights and horn still work, but there is no power when the key is turned on. I replaced the ignition switch under the dash(which is not an easy job). Since then I have checked all the fuses under the hood and inside the car, none are blown. The ODB tester wont even light up when plugged in to give me a code because there is no power going to the harness. Could there be an inline fuse somewhere that I dont know about? Or could it be the starter? I would think that even if the starter was bad, power should still flow and light up the dash when the key is turned forward. Being a full time college student, I dont really have the money to take the car to a dealer to have the problem fixed. Ive been fixing junk cars ever since I started driving, so I feel confident that if I know what is wrong, I can repair it. I just cant figure out what the problem with this car could be, Im stumped. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.
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Wednesday, August 19th, 2009 AT 10:43 AM

16 Replies

Tiny
JDL
  • EXPERT
Hello, As far as the scanner, I'd check that pin 16 at the datalink connector has voltage, should be hot all the time. If no voltage check the cigar fuse, check the fuse circuit is hot.

There is a theft system that could effect starter. I wouldn't think that would effect your dash? Did you try a different key? I might have to check feed to and from the ignition switch.


http://www.2carpros.com/forum/automotive_pictures/170934_obd11_5.jpg

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Wednesday, August 19th, 2009 AT 11:09 AM
Tiny
OSRCLINT74
  • MEMBER
Ok, I checked the #16 pin, no voltage there. I pulled the fuse for the cigar lighter and it was fine, but no voltage there either when I probed it with the test light. Unfortunately I only have 1 key for the ignition, and yes it does have the chip in it. Maybe the chip in the key somehow went bad? The headlights, horn, and 4 way flashers still work, and I checked the battery, it has more than enough power. Could it be possible that the wire going to the starter is bad, not allowing power to flow through the circuit, therefore not getting power to the ignition switch when the key is turned forward?
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Wednesday, August 19th, 2009 AT 11:26 AM
Tiny
JDL
  • EXPERT
The voltage for the cigar fuse comes from fusible link E. One of the wires from the positive battery post should lead to the fusible links, there may be several, If your not sure which one is E, use your testlite, check them all. The circuit should be hot on both sides of the link, if it is hot on one side and not the other, the link is bad.

Did you try cranking in neutral? The small purple wire at the starter solenoid should be hot with the key in the crank position.
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Wednesday, August 19th, 2009 AT 12:18 PM
Tiny
OSRCLINT74
  • MEMBER
Ok, I will check it later. Unfortunately I have to step out for a few hours and go to a wake for a close friend tonight. I will post my results here tommorrow morning. Thank You again so much for your help.
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Wednesday, August 19th, 2009 AT 2:05 PM
Tiny
OSRCLINT74
  • MEMBER
Ok, I took a test light and checked for power at the cigar lighter in tghe fuse block and there is no power. Also, no power in the #16 pin where the ODB tester plugs in(supposed to be hot at all times right?) Replaced all the fuseable links under the hood. The wire going to the starter is fine, no corrosion or cracks or breaks, the wire was checked with the test light and has no power. The car is equipped with the VATS(vehicle anti theft system) from the factory and the key has a resistor or "chip" in it. I had a new key cut at the dealer thinking the resistor was bad, but still no luck. Upon further reading online, I have seen some people have problems with the VATS system, but nothing says that the dash does not light up like on my car. All I've seen about this is that the starter and fuel pump will not work, but the dash still lights up. I have seen an article on how to bypass this, but I would rather not unless it is the last resort. I climbed under the car and shorted the starter to see if it still works and it does, but the car wont start because the fuel pump is not working because of the current ignition problem. I am totally lost as to what else I can check or replace. I don't see any fuses inline anywhere, and all the fuses inside the dash panel are fine, and so are the fuses and relays under the hood. I go back to college Tuesday morning and am really hoping I can have the car fixed by then. I am totally stumped on this one. Anybody with any help or ideas, I would greatly appreciate any info you might have. Other than replacing the entire VATS system and rewiring the entire ignition system, what else is there left to do that I havent done yet? Looking to save the $130 towing fee to the dealership, and the hundreds they might charge me to resolve the problem. Thank you so much in advance for any helpful info on my problem.
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Sunday, August 30th, 2009 AT 10:09 PM
Tiny
JDL
  • EXPERT
Check the red wire at the ignition switch connector. This is part of the same circuit that supplies voltage to pin 16 and cigar lighter. S200 is a splice located about 20 inches back from the ignition switch connector. Check there also. The circuit should be hot all the time. You may have to backtrack the whole circuit.
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Monday, August 31st, 2009 AT 8:12 AM
Tiny
OSRCLINT74
  • MEMBER
Ok, I checked the red wire at the ignition switch, no power. I followed the wire to the splice, still no power at the splice. Followed the wire thru the firewall to the fuseblock under the hood. After skinning a little casing off of all the red wires in the big cluster, I found 2 that would not show power with the test light, both come from 1 wire and split to go into the fusebox under the hood. 1 goes to the 20 amp ABS fuse, and 1 goes to the air pump relay, neither is showing hot with the test light. Ive been looking at wiring diagrams and it appears that there is a 15 amp fuse somewhere for the car's computer but I cant locate it. Besides the fuseable links by the battery that I already replaced, is there any other fuseable links I should look for, and where would they be located. Is there any fuses on the car other than in the box under the hood and inside the dash by the driver's door? I looked behind the glovebox, and all over under the hood and couldn't find anything, even after I took all the protective tubing off of every wire cluster. The wiring diagrams in the Haynes manual aren't very helpful because they dont show the location of where anything is. Is there anywhere on the web to find wiring schematics like the books at the dealership have, without having to pay for them? Being a full-time college student and paying my own tuition, I really cant afford much and I've already replaced parts that werent even bad. So any help would be very very very much appreciated. Thank you all so very much for all the ideas you've given me so far.
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Wednesday, September 9th, 2009 AT 5:09 PM
Tiny
JDL
  • EXPERT


http://www.2carpros.com/forum/automotive_pictures/170934_pontiac_firebird_pcm_fuse_1.jpg



Is that the fuse your looking for, I/P fuse block.

Also, at the cigar fuse, make sure neither leg is hot, pull the fuse. Check for continuity between the terminal for the right fuse leg and terminal 16 on the datalink connector. Do an ohms test, if continuity is good, use a jumper wire connected to battery voltage to the right fuse terminal, use inline fuse on the jumper. Then, pin 16 at the data link conector should be hot, maybe you can check codes??

As far as data bases, the best info are premium sites, It'll cost you. Large libraries carry automotive databases, If you live in a county they serve, I believe the info is free.

With any testing I tell you about, if you get something hooked-up wrong, that is your responsibility.
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Thursday, September 10th, 2009 AT 10:03 AM
Tiny
OSRCLINT74
  • MEMBER
Where exactly is the fuse panel that you provided the diagram of? I am looking at the cover for the fuse panel that is inside the drivers side door right now, and it has some of the same fuses, but there is no pcm battery fuse listed on mine, or pcm ignition fuse. In place of those 2 fuses is STG WHL CNTRL 1 amp fuse in each slot. The car has the radio controls on the wheel, so I'm guessing that's what those fuses comtrol? The diagram you provided must be for a car without the steering wheel controls. Is there possibly another fuse block other than the one inside the door and the one under the hood, and if so, any idea where it might be located?

Thanks so much for the help so far, I appreciate it very much.
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Wednesday, September 16th, 2009 AT 8:52 PM
Tiny
JDL
  • EXPERT
I looked at every database I had access. They all showed the pcm bat fuse?
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Thursday, September 17th, 2009 AT 9:15 AM
Tiny
OSRCLINT74
  • MEMBER
I still havent been able to get the pontiac working. I forgot to mention this in earlier posts tho. Right before the power quit on me, I had used the cigarette lighter around 1 minute earlier. Just for the heck of it today I took the test light and the lighter has power when the key is inserted but not turned(and when there is no key in the ignition). When the key is turned forward, there is no power to the lighter. It should still work when the key is forward as if the engine was running correct? So I'm starting to think that maybe the wiring that goes to the lighter is somehow connected to the ignition switch? Doesn't seen right tho. I've been loking at the wiring schematics and can't even see the lighter circuit anywhere to see what wiring it is tied into. I am still completely stumped on this. What happened to the good ol' days when cars didnt have 5 miles of wiring in them. Well if anyone has any new ideas now that I added some more info on my problem, I would love to hear them. Thank You.
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Saturday, October 10th, 2009 AT 6:52 PM
Tiny
OSRCLINT74
  • MEMBER
Ok, here's what I did today trying to figure out what is wrong. I was told that my problem is probably that the PCM is not burned out but that it is not getting power because whan I check for power on the 2 fuses at the fuse block(PCM BAT and PCM IGN), they are both not lighting up the test light. After looking at the wiring schematics, as far as I can tell, there is only 3 wires going to the PCM that provide power. Orange is labled POWER(Battery) on the schematic and goes to the PCM BAT fuse and from there to the fuel pump relay. Then there is a pink wire labled POWER(Ignition) that goes to the PCM IGN fuse and also branches off to the evap emissions canister vacuum switch, the evap emissions canister purge valve, and the transmission 2-3 control sol. The 3rd wire that shows power on the schematic is brown and labled POWER(Ignition) and goes from the PCM to the actuators fuse under the hood and the exhaust gas recirculation vacuum control signal solenoid valve. The orange wire is the only one that is hot at the PCM. So I guess my question is, where do I go from here? The fuses are all good, could my problem be that one of the components that the pink or brown wire is bad and not allowing power to continue through the circuit and causing the whole problem? I dont want to replace these parts if I don't have to.
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Sunday, October 11th, 2009 AT 8:37 PM
Tiny
JUBALSCHILD
  • MEMBER
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Wednesday, July 21st, 2010 AT 3:35 PM
Tiny
JUBALSCHILD
  • MEMBER
I am having the exact same problem. The fuel pump had been making a loud whine. When I turned off the car last nite the dash lites would not come on again and the there is no power to the starter or fuel pump. I have horn, headlights, ding ding when you insert the key, but I dont have any way of testing lighter.
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Wednesday, July 21st, 2010 AT 3:52 PM
Tiny
97FIREBIRD
  • MEMBER
Were either of these two similar problems resolved? I'm having the same dilemma. Replaced battery and ignition switch. All fuses good. No power except to horn and headlights.
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Monday, August 9th, 2010 AT 5:04 PM
Tiny
94 FIREBIRD
  • MEMBER
I'm having exactly this same problem anyone ever figure out whats causing this no power no start conditions it's a 94 firebird 3.4 liter bypass the vats system good battery headlights work no cluster on dash not working turning the ket and nothing please help single dad gots to work need car going thanks in advance. Brett
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Wednesday, May 25th, 2016 AT 10:31 AM

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