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1997, 3.1l Lumina - ignition mystery?

Artem F
01-11-2007, 10:53 AM
Hello everybody, I had to find this forum due to mystery that happened yesterday to my Lumina.

The starter wouldn't start without any previous signs of dying.
Since there were absolutely no sounds from under the hood, I went the following way:

A. +12V directly to the starter - works, starts the engine, everything is OK
B. Starter's relay fuse - the fuse itself is OK, but there's no voltage at this point when I turn the key to the "Run" position. +12V to this point - the engine cranks and works.
C. OK, it looked like the ignition switch (or the chip in the key) had died. Replacing the key didn't help.
D. Since I needed to go to work, I started the engine as described in "B" and rode.
What I noticed was that the "Service Engine soon" indicatior was lit all the time I drove.
E. Came to work. Turned the ignition off. Tried to start normally just because I'm curious :). The engine cranked, the "Service Engine" was off. Turned off, turned on - cranks, works. Once again - works. It's a kind of mystery :)

The question is - what happened?

Many thanks for all possible variants, I don't like to buy a new ignition switch and
disassemble everything without knowing for sure what was wrong.

01-11-2007, 02:56 PM
Sure it was the service engine light, and not the security light?

01-11-2007, 02:57 PM
Sounds like the relay was stuck to me....

Artem F
01-11-2007, 04:07 PM
Thanks for answering.
Yes, I'm sure it was "Service Engine Soon" since it was quite unusual to see it while the car was on the road.

I can't believe it was a relay if the scheme in Haynes is correct - there was no voltage on the fuse that is closer to ignition switch than the relay is.
BTW, where is this relay? Is it an IGN relay on the passenger side under the hood?
I didn't see any "theft deterrent relay" listed on the scheme - may be it doesn't exist at all?

Once again - if I bypass everything the starter works, if I bypass ignition switch, it also does. I didn't disassemble the ignition switch but it is the most likely source of the failure since I don't believe in disappearing wires but I do believe in intermittent contacts :)
The only thing that bothers me is the "Service Engine Soon" light and the strange nature of the failure - it pops up then disappears without any sign - I went outside and tried it once again - everything works.

Blue Bowtie
01-11-2007, 10:06 PM
Scan for trouble codes - Whatever caused the MIL to turn on will have stored a code. That may lend clues to the problem.

Artem F
01-25-2007, 11:35 AM
OK, the story continues...

Now the failure is permament and I like it because it's better than an intermittent one :)

I've got the codes scanned and it is P1655 - I've already looked for the interpretations and it is either "EVAP purge solenoid control circuit" (very unlikely to cause such a failure) or a "Starter disable circuit malfunction" (seems to be a good excuse for such a behaviour).

The question is, what is the most probable reason for this malfunction - ignition switch, some relay or fuse (checked all) or what?
It's definitely neither PNP (neutral safety switch) nore the relay behind it. Something around the ignition or some hidden control circuit that is not shown on the diagram.

01-25-2007, 01:33 PM
Your problem is most likely in the two thin wires that come off the ignition key cylinder to the security module. The wires are very thin, and over time break contact. It's possible that occasionally, the wires reconnect and everything works for a bit until they separate again. You'll have to replace the ignition key cylinder to fix the problem. You cannot splice or repair the afformentioned wires.

Artem F
01-25-2007, 02:08 PM
OK, many thanks for the info.

BTW, where is this security module located?
I disassembled the steering column but I can't remember anything besides
the ignition module, the ignition lock and the turn switch.

The second question is why can't I fix the wires if they are simply broken somewhere?
I'd prefer to keep the current igniton lock because otherwise I'll have to take care about the "security resistor" in the key and all the other stuff.

01-25-2007, 03:40 PM
repairing the wires changes the resistance, which will cause the security module to not recognize the key chip. The other thing you could do is find a resistor diode at Radio shack that matches the key's resistance and solder it in. This bypasses the key and makes the car easier to steal, but is easier and cheaper than repairing the problem correctly. 97 Lumina's aren't real high on theives lists, so I think you'll be ok.

Artem F
01-25-2007, 04:47 PM
Oh, I can't believe that the resistance of the soldered wires will be different from that of a new wire in comparison to the resistor built in the key (several KOhms).

Let me ask once again - do you think that the failure we are talking about is similar to that when there's no contact in the key's "resistor chip"?

Thanks again.

Artem F
01-25-2007, 08:46 PM
OK, before disassembling anything I decided to check the failure once again.

I erased the code and tried to start the engine with the key.
Then I re-scanned the codes but found nothing.

OK, to be on a safe side I switched everything off, disconnected the scanner, turned the key to ON/RUN, then to OFF, plugged the scanner in - no DTC codes.

I assume that the security failure P1655 appeared once in the dark past and then it was stored till I read and erased it.
So now I have a vehicle that doesn't report any errors but the starter circuit is somehow blocked.

Where does the "final starter wire" come from? From the ignition lock or from the ignition module? The former requires the steering wheel removal, the latter can be reached by steering column unmounting and Haynes' circuit diagram is too general in this part.

Blue Bowtie
01-25-2007, 11:26 PM
The last device in the starter circuit before the solenoid itself is the theft deterrent relay. The yellow wire from the ignition switch routes through the relay to the starter solenoid. From the relay N.O. contacts ti routes directly to the starter via a purple wire.

The source for the ignition switch is from the battery. The ignition switch will power each of TWO yellow wires in the START position. One is the aforementioned wire to the relay contacts. The other yellow wire routed to the interior fuse panel, through Fuse 11, and on to the operating coil of the theft deterrent relay. The relay coil is grounded by the theft deterrent module to complete the circuit.

You can start with the easy stuff, and check Fuse 11. Then check for power at Fuse 11 while attempting to start the engine.

I'm not sure where the theft deterrent relay would be on your '97. I'd have to scan the body manual to be certain. They are frequently in the left kick panel area, but could be anywhere.

One note of Caution - Be very careful probing any wiring under the dash, especially anything yellow. That is frequently used for the inflatable restraint system, and inadvertently shorting or powering any SIR wirign with a meter may result in air bag inflation.

As for splicing the key sensor wiring, that should be acceptable so long as the wires remain flexible after the repair. The typical tolerance for key pellet resistances are ± 20%.

10-05-2010, 05:04 PM
I have a 1998 Lumina and also have and ignition Mystery mine only occurs when it rains or on a slant. If i am on a slant i push the car until its on flat ground rock it back and forth and eventually it starts. Today it was raining and 4 times i had to wait until car started, i'm at a loss as to know whats going. Last year the battery and altinator died at the same time i drove away from the mechanics thinking the problem was solved but it happened again the next rain. When it happens and i turn the key the lights and radio work fine, sometimes when i rock the car back and forth i think i hear something click and then the car starts. Any ideas as to whats going on

10-05-2010, 06:44 PM
This is a very old dead thread, in the future start a new one. When it won't start does it crank but not fire, if so do you have spark? If it will not crank go over the battery and ground connections.

10-05-2010, 07:19 PM
No crank at all then after a few minutes car will turn over

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