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Old 11-07-2012, 09:57 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Shorted Ignition Switch to Ground

While trying to put together a visual walkthrough on how to replace the turn-signal switch, I ended up shorting out my base/NA Solstice. For some reason GM put the 4-lead ignition wiring right across where a screw travels to hold the bottom steering column cover. It was dark outside and everything was pretty status quo, so it turned out to just be a very dumb mistake.

The consequences:
  • Turned key in ignition
  • Heard a 'pop'
  • "Door open" rear-view and console lights immediately shut off
  • Lights in cabin began behaving unpredictably as if I had driven through a lake

After an inspection, I noticed that the ignition fuse in the BCM blew. Since that's 2 amp and I didn't want to chance anything, I mail ordered 2 amp fuses (no one in town had these) and swapped it out. Still had problems. I also unhooked all aftermarket items which need power (Aeroforce gauges and shift light). Same problem.

I've been driving around in my truck for the past few weeks, so an example from today after hooking the battery back up:

Turned on car, nothing, but saw anti-theft light. After a while, the rear-view mirror lights came on since the door was open and the chimes began to sound since the key was in the ignition. Turned the wiper switch on and then everything died again. Unhooked the battery. That's the sort of odd behavior I'm seeing.

The car refuses to start and acts unpredictably, but I'm not ready to blame the ECM yet. If anything I'm thinking either the nearby anti-theft board is toast or the BCM took a hit before the fuse blew. I'm more inclined to blame the former since it's unprotectedly hooked to the single wire that was grounded, but plan to pull the BCM.

For reference and for others who are interested, here are some photos of the antitheft setup. Notice the copper wire antenna that's wrapped around the ignition cylinder keyhole which triggers/identifies the chip in our keys (click for larger imags).

^ Anti-theft assembly


^ Anti-theft PCB top



^ Anti-theft PCB bottom

^ Found this image which shows how to remove the cylinder. Nearly pulled my hair out searching the web and service manuals only to find this one by chance.


I'll keep this thread updated with photos as things progress. I realize that a GM TechII and $$$ might be involved, but at least I get a first crack at it.

-Jeff

Last edited by ToxicGumbo; 11-07-2012 at 10:00 PM.
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Old 11-07-2012, 11:20 PM   #2 (permalink)
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^ Photo of the 5-pin theft-deterrant cable taken at night, though none of the damage can be seen here.

The black/white wire (ground) shows blatant trauma from the screw. There was some mild charring on the brown wire, so it's likely punctured. I'll take a closer look in daylight.

Pins:
  1. Red/White, circuit 1540, battery positive voltage
  2. Brown, circuit 4, accessory voltage
  3. Black/White, circuit 651, ground
  4. Light Green, circuit 5060, GMLAN Low (serial)
  5. Unused

The GMLAN one really scares the poop out of me.

For comparison against the PCB, pin 1 sits closest to the angled notch in the bottom view.


-Jeff
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Old 11-08-2012, 05:14 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Sorry you have to go through this but with all that apart I have to ask why you didn't disconnect the battery?
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Old 11-08-2012, 12:21 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sly Bob View Post
why you didn't disconnect the battery?
Thanks for the response. If you're asking why didn't I disconnect the battery to reset the various computer modules, I did, but this behavior's indicative of a short circuit, though perhaps coupled with anti-theft mode.

More photos as things come apart:

^ BCM removed from footwell. Took about 5 minutes: 3 screws total on top, right, and bottom; two screws holding cable connectors on front and back.

^ BCM enclosure front.

^ BCM enclosure back.

The two anchor posts for the cable connectors mentioned above also hold the case together. If their rear, flared, ends need to be ground off, then a short bolt with washer should work to hold the post cylinders in place and there-by keep the connectors pressed tight in their docks.

EDIT: One major point of concern is that circuit 4, which pin 2 of the theft-deterrant circuit gets its power distribution from, is also tied directly into the BCM and ECM. So anything discrete could be dead. Alas.


-Jeff
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Old 11-08-2012, 12:30 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Just bought a spare BCM off eBay for $50 to test with. Even if it's unnecessary, that's a great deal for a backup unit. I plan to keep this car for the long haul.


-Jeff
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Old 11-08-2012, 01:40 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Go back and check ALL the fuses (if you haven't already) both in the BCM and the underhood fusebox. It seems (as identified in a recent thread) that some fuses are multi-use but not identified as such. Could just be that another blown fuse is causing your problems (crossed fingers).
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Old 11-08-2012, 02:05 PM   #7 (permalink)
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What I was referring to originally when I asked why you didn't disconnect the battery is if you had the steering wheel off and you were in there with a screwdriver, disconnecting the battery would have been prudent.

That doesn't matter at this point anyway. I just hope you get it fixed quickly and with a minimum of fuss.
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Old 11-08-2012, 02:39 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Toxic, put things back together, then in the underhood fuse block, find the large purple wire that goes to the starter or make access to that wire at the starter. Put the ignition switch in 'run' and jumper the purple wire to battery+. Car should start and run. Without shutting it off, drive it a few miles and then erase any codes you have, and you have codes if the security icon is lit. You have to use a scanner for this as battery disconnect won't work. It may sound odd but this procedure works on SRXs all the time.
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Old 11-11-2012, 08:11 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Hey, guys. Thanks for the all the great responses. I few things I didn't mention:
  • All the fuses in the BCM and under-hood fuse boxes are good except the ignition fuse that blew (#8 2-amp). I've seen relays do crazy things though in some cars, so I'm not sure yet about those.
  • The battery was unhooked and it wasn't clear that a screw went through a wire. I was torquing everything, it was dark, and the anti-theft wiring was directly in the path apparently. It wasn't until the battery was hooked back up and the key was turned to "run" that it was clear something went wrong. Putting the screw/bolt in felt a little spongy and there was that voice in the back of my mind thinking I should stop and check, but I thought I had just messed up a plastic anchor it was screwing into.
  • The jumped-starter idea's pretty freaking clever and can see that working in some situations, though I doubt it will help in this case. The fuel pump doesn't get primed and the injectors are disabled per the design of this car's startup procedure. Everything's dead except for occasionally erratic electrical behavior in the cabin.
I'm going to await the spare BCM, hook it up (despite probably not being encoded properly to work with my ECM), and see if any shorts occur. If not, then I know the source of the trouble. If so, I can hook up a test ECM I've got off to the side.


-Jeff
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Old 01-16-2013, 09:10 AM   #10 (permalink)
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This actually became quite a cat-and-mouse game which was finally resolved a few weeks ago. The wrong assumption was that something logical was damaged and without a Tech-II, that sort of mindset makes life incredibly complicated. The reason for this thinking is that the passkey/theft-deterrent light always came on at vehicle start. Other odd things involved the car computer resetting after pressing the door lock button, etc.

After testing with a spare BCM, trying different combinations of fuses and relays along with driving 800 miles with a jumpstarter (thinking the old battery would start charging properly following some tests), and trying different combinations with fuses, the final problem turned out to be the battery and only the battery.

While the alternator was pumping out 14VDC and the battery held at a charge of about 12.5VDC, it wasn't providing enough cranking amps. Without a tool to test this, I unhooked the Solstice battery and led jumpers directly from my Tacoma and tried to start off that. The Solstice nearly started and that was more than it had done at any other point since the initial error.

So before being absolutely sure and with the battery only being 3 years old, I went to Walmart, picked up a Maxx (these are Johnson Controls batteries and are a safe purchase), and swapped out the AC Delco. It's been running great since and no codes despite all my crazed antics above. The one caveat is that I had to rip off my taped-on Norm sideskirt and splashguard to get to the battery.

The end result looks like when the ignition fuse blew, it might have happened just after a cell was damaged in the ageing battery from the voltage short. So anyone who has really quirky electrical problems that seem sporadic, one item on your checklist should be to consider the age of the battery and the nature of the problem that occurred just prior.

On the plus side, this provided a lot of eye-opening information on GM's security protection system (which is absolutely unnecessary, added-expense at purchase and more seriously with maintenance, somewhat fragile in construction, and fairly easy-to-override by any auto thief who takes some time to figure it out). It also revealed some of the mechanisms in place during the keyed ignition stages which are classic in nature vs. overly-complicated. I'll also remember which bolts are 18ft lbs for the rest of my life.

Thanks for the help and support, all. Appreciated.

Edit: fixed some misleading wording

-Jeff

Last edited by ToxicGumbo; 01-16-2013 at 09:58 AM.
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Old 01-16-2013, 09:30 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Glad to learn that you got it fixed. Interesting challenge. Well done.

More lessons learned.
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Old 01-16-2013, 10:38 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Great feedback Jeff. I think we've all gone down a longer path than necessary a time or two. You sure don't forget those lessons!
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