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1999 Olds Alero Electrical problems

09-16-2008, 07:47 AM
I just bought one for my 16 yr old daughter and we are trying to get it all fixed up. I'm having some electrically issues - primarily the car acts like it won't start but does turn over. However, I just drove it to work and turned it off and it won't start again. The cruise control won't work - you can push the button in and the cruise light comes on but you have to hold it in. The trunk opens on its own sometimes. The FM radio doesn't work when the rear defrost is on. The dash board lights won't come on when the car is running and same with the radio lights (only sometimes) when the car is running. It seems to be an electrically short somewhere. Does anybody have the same problems and know what the issue could be? Please help!

09-16-2008, 09:05 AM
Modern cars are very difficult to diagnose these days. Start by having someone check the diagnostic trouble codes (DTC) that might be stored in the vehicle. If you don't have a scan tool, take it to Autozone and they will pull the codes for you. It's a start. It might be a ground as you mentioned but it might also be a BCM (body control module) that is crazy. Ignition switch issues are also a known issue with these cars. Any computer reflash or replace is a dealer visit.

The cruise control is probably not related to the rest. The switch has a tiny 3 spoke wheel that rotates into lock/unlock as you toggle the switch. Sounds like you need a new switch. It's easy to install but you need to disarm the air bag and remove the air bag module on the steering wheel to get at it. Once the air bag module is removed it's just 2 screws to remove the switch. Observe safety requirements when messing with the air bag. This switch is about $45.00 if you buy it right. Some people just stick a dime in the gap to hold it in the on position.

Here's what Wikipedia sez:

Answer (

you dont need to "disarm" the airbag, but it is a good idea to unplug the unit so you dont accidentally set it off, you have to remove the steering wheel and pull the steering colum covers off and there should be a couple of TORX bolts holding it in, then you just unplug the leads off the thing and reverse order to put new one in.

09-16-2008, 09:34 AM
Thanks for your help - I will start with Autozone and see what they say. Thanks again.

09-16-2008, 08:10 PM
i would add disconnect the battery first, then remove the air bag fuse. I'd watch for static charge too it can set an air bag off. :eek7:

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