99 Cutlass with Starting Issues

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Jul 12, 2008
Pink Hill, NC
Hey everyone, My father in law has a 1999 Olds Cutlass with the 3.1 V6 that he's been letting me drive for a while and recently its been suffering from some intermittent electrical problems. They started when suddenly all of his instrument panel warning lights ceased to work, except for the service engine and airbag lights. Then the brake lights went out, and finally it started cutting off on him. The interior and exterior lights flicker then the engine will die. But, when you come back to the car after its been off for a few hours/a day, it will fire right up and run a while then do the same thing. He's convinced it needs a new alternator, I'm thinking a bad ground, etc. What do you guys think? Thanks!
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I think you are on the right track. You might check out the battery as well. I had one that had an intermittent battery issue, (don't know if it was an open or short) but the replacement of the battery did the trick. This was after checking the cables, etc.
Well I took the battery out and cleaned the terminals both on the cable and the battery itself, and now I'm charging the battery and going to give that a try. I tried tracing the cables but I got lost in the maze of wires and hoses that make up that crowded engine compartment. I'm going to see what she'll do with a full charge on the battery and then go from there. Do you think I should take off the alternator and have it tested (father in law's idea)?
Sounds like a loose connestion or ground somewhere. I would check all the electrical plugs for tightness, and look to see if the battery cables are corroded through. This can happen inside the insulation near the battery post so beware of that. I presume that this is a side post battery. They cna develop some odd problems in my experience. I'd have the battery load tested if you can get it in somewhere REPUTABLE where they can do that for you.
I vote for bad solder somewhere, like in the BCM or dash cluster. Sometimes surface mount resistors fall off. Get the codes from the computer; I bet they are body network related.
I would make sure that the power wire that runs to the main power relay box is tight, I had an Oldsmobile acting funny and the power wire going to the main power accesory box under the hood was just not tight enough.
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It sound to me like it is probably the battery or its connections and you are on the right track. Advance Auto and Autozone has a tester and they can test the battery and alternator on the car for free.
Update- I had the battery tested and it was bad, so we replaced it. After putting in the new battery, she starts and runs, but now the electric cooling fans do not come on. And none of the dash instrumentation (save the speedo and tach) work still. I've checked the relays for the fans, they're good. So, what do I need to look at next? Thanks!
That sounds more like an alternator/electrical problem to me. I don't think that new battery cured the problem.
Was there any hint of acid leak from the old battery? If so, the acid has probably leaked down the inside of the positive cable. You can't see it from the outside, but it can cause all kinds of problems.
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