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1995 Cadillac Etc "short in instrument cluster"

Thank-you for taking time to help.



My wife has a beautiful 1995 Cadillac Eldorado which she dearly loves. Over this summer it occasionally would not start – it made noises as if the battery was dead but it was not. Sometimes it would start fine, other times not at all. Trying two or three tmies usually resulted in successful starting. This condition gradually worsened until now it will not start at all and the instrument needles float randomly back and forth. Like it’s haunted.



I looked for this problem on the Internet and found lots of references to the Eldorado and some other similar models having a factory recall for a “short in the instrument cluster” which causes this problem BUT there is no description of what is actually wrong. A “short” in mechanic-speak could be any electrical problem: a short, or an open, or a loose ground for that matter. Usually someone somewhere gives more information, but on this problem it is like the CIA was out there erasing details. I tried calling the only cadillac dealer I know of in Fort Wayne but the guy I talked to said there’s no recall and he seemed more interested in seeing how much money he could get out of me than in fixing the car.



I worked in aerospace engineering for years and I can probably repair a “Short” involving any wire or circuit board Cadillac has ever made. I can’t pay this guy $1,000s to tighten a loose ground wire or push a loose connector back together. Where is this famous “short” and how can I fix it so my wife can enjoy her car again?

A quick look at the NHTSA database does not show a Recall for an instrument cluster problem; only 2 Recalls with one being for airbags and the other for a fuel line.
It’s possible that many of these internet references you mention may be miscontrued as many people think that a campaign or Technical Service Bulletin is the same thing as a Recall. This is not the case and Recalls generally only cover a direct safety issue. (airbags, fuel lines, fire hazards, suspension, brakes, door latches, etc.)

The Cadillac dealer is not trying to rip you off. You will no doubt get upset with me for saying this but you call those people on the phone looking for free advice about how to fix an electrical problem and there is no way they can tell you over the phone what the problem nor should they. Why should they help you cheap out?
The people you talk to on the phone are not mechanics and few of them have any real mechanical abilities at all.
They are not in the business of providing free info or service because I can assure you that can be done 10 hours a day.

I see a reference to an instrument cluster problem that can cause a disruption in the Pass Key system and since you do not want to pay anyone to solve this problem about all I can suggest is get a wiring diagram and rip into it; preferably after making sure this problem is not due to a faulty battery cable, junction terminal, fusible link, ignition switch, etc, etc, ad nauseum.

When the problem has affected as many vehicles as it has, it must be a well known problem. I have found references to this problem from 1992 models up through 1996 models. Mine is a 1995.

When I ask how much for them to fix it, not how to fix it, and their answer is “Welll, let’s start at $100 and see where it goes from there” then they are not being honest with me they are setting me up for a rip off. I don’t treat people that way and I won’t let people treat me that way.

I sought technical information as a last resort BECAUSE the only dealer I could find in Fort Wayne apparently cannot be trusted to do the work. If you don’t know the answer then kindly let someone else who knows answer. Or at least bother to google it before you get on your rant about how I am so cheap.


Recall Date:
NOV 30, 1995

Model Affected:
1996 CADILLAC ELDORADO

Summary:
THE ANALOG INSTRUMENT PANEL CLUSTER ON THESE VEHICLES COULD HAVE AN INTERNAL SHORT CIRCUIT DISRUPTING THE PASS KEY SYSTEM, CAUSING FAILURE OF THE INSTRUMENT PANEL GAUGES AND TELL-TALES, AND A POSSIBLE NO-START CONDITION. THIS DOES NOT CONFORM TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF FMVSS NO. 101, “CONTROLS AND DISPLAYS;” NO. 108, “LAMPS, REFLECTIVE DEVICES, AND ASSOCIATED EQUIPMENT;” AND NO. 208, “OCCUPANT CRASH PROTECTION.”

Consequence:
CONSEQUENCE OF NON-COMPLIANCE: IF THE SHORT CIRCUIT OCCURS WHILE DRIVING, THE INSTRUMENT PANEL CLUSTER WILL GO BLANK, CAUSING LOSS OF GAUGE FUNCTION AND ALL TEEL-TALE INDICATORS EXCEPT FOR ABS, SIR, PARK BRAKE AND SERVICE ENGINE SOON. THE LOSS OF ALL TELL-TALES FOR SEAT BELTS, TURN SIGNALS, HIGH BEAM, HAZARD, OIL PRESSURE, COOLANT TEMPERATURE, AND OTHERS RESULT IN NONCOMPLIANCE WITH THESE SAFETY STANDARDS.

Remedy:
DEALERS WILL INSPECT AND, IF NECESSARY, REPLACE THE INSTRUMENT PANEL CLUSTER.

Potential Units Affected:
1408

Notes:
GENERAL MOTORS CORP.