2001 Saturn SL1 Total System Shutdown

Tiny
RUSTBUSTER21
  • MEMBER
  • 2001 SATURN SL1
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 85,000 MILES
The car totally shutdown while my daughter was driveing down a city street about 15 miles from home. After a series of being powerless and having power, she was able to restart the car and drive it home. The problem appears to be intermittent. What happens is a total loss of electrical. With ignition key on, there are no dash lights, no accessory electrical, and nothing to the starter circuit - totally dead. Then, for no obvious reason, everything will work: the car will start without difficulty and run for who knows how long. Yesterday afternoon, with the engine warm and no apparent power, I checked under the hood and smelled hot electrical insulation (like Bakelite); this may be normal. As I lingered under the hood, I heard a click (like a relay) and turned the ignition key on and had full electrical. I started the car and it ran for about 30 seconds and everything went dead. I have not traced circuitry to see where all the relays related to the ignition circuit are located but wonder if the problem could be in the ignition switch or if there is a relay anywhere outside the starting circuit (alternator, perhaps?) That could shut power off to everything if it is acting up. Any suggestions? I have basic mechanics tools and volt-ohm meters. I do have a fault code reader which I cannot find! If I found it, is there a fault code to be aware of for ignition switch problems? Thank you for your input.
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Monday, August 23rd, 2010 AT 12:23 PM

4 Replies

Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
First thing I would do is make sure the battery cable's are clean and tight then have the battery and alternator tested. Let me know what you find.
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Monday, August 23rd, 2010 AT 12:33 PM
Tiny
REBELDI
  • MEMBER
I am having the exact same problem with my 2001 SL1. I've had the battery and alternator checked, and they are both fine. I'll be driving down the road, and everything electrical in the car will just quit working, then a few seconds later, come back on. About a week ago, it started cutting out like it was going to die when I lost electric. Now it is dying. It's not consistent, but it is happening more and more.
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Monday, August 30th, 2010 AT 9:29 PM
Tiny
RUSTBUSTER21
  • MEMBER
First, I must correct the model number - our car is an SL2 (16 valve engine). The problem seems to be gone now. I followed the recommendation to check the tightness of the cable connections to the battery. I was able to turn the positive "bolt" about one-third of a turn. In addition, I pulled a couple of the 30-amp fuses associated with the starting/ignition circuit, etc. - Checked them and replaced them securely. Before attempting to start the car, the battery voltage read over 12 volts. During starting, the voltage barely dropped as the car started immediately. With the engine running, the voltage went up to over 13 volts (or 14 volts but I don't remember) which told me the alternator was functioning properly. To date, there has not been a reoccurrence of the shutting down problem. I will be checking the battery connections again to insure they are still tight. Thank you for your advice, as well as the advice of my local Saturn dealer's service personnel.
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Tuesday, August 31st, 2010 AT 11:38 AM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
Sound's like you may have gotten the problem resolved good to hear good luck to you.
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Tuesday, August 31st, 2010 AT 11:43 AM

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