1998 Chevy starts will not run

Back again with the problem of my 6 cylinder 1998 Chevy Malibu starting, and then cutting off after a second or two. I tried the start attempt then leave the switch in the on position 3 times more than once, but that didn?t work. When I turn the switch only the instrument panel lights on the right comes on, then after a few seconds the left side lights comes on. Also neither the interior lights nor the power windows work, but the power locks work as do the exterior lights. I have been told that I may need to replace the Body Control Module. Does this sound right or is there some other solution? Furthermore, the Body Control Module will have to be programmed after it is installed, could anyone tell me how this is done and if any special equipment is needed? Thanks in advance for any assistance.

I suspect something may be going on with the ignition switch as the cause of the trouble. If there is a problem with the BCM and programming really is needed the shop will have to do that. I’m not sure of the design for your car but usually the PCM controls things for the engine and the BCM handles accessories for the car. If you going to attempt repairs yourself I suggest you invest in the factory service manual for the wiring of the car at least.

You might want to check the condition of the battery cables. Especially the positive cable.

Gm uses the side mount type battery cables with the rubber/plastic terminal covers. Under the red positive battery cable cover corrosion can form. This corrosion can cause a voltage drop to the vehicles electrical systems causing all kinds of problems.

Remove both battery cables and peel back the red rubber cover for the positive cable. If it’s found to be heavily corroded replace the positive battery cable assembly with a new one.


A simple PC with the right program (Oh and a Tech II or equivalant) is required for BCM reprograming. Since you have the Tech II now you can use it to diagnoise the “no-crank” condition.

There are many issues involving the ignition switch (and the passlock II module component at the end of the switch) detailed in documentation put out by GM.

This is a case of trying to fix a problem with a "toolkit’ (in both knowledge and materials) from the 60’s but the car is from the 90’s. Neither the knowledge nor the equipment needed are so extreme in technology but they are indespensible.

A bad cluster will cause your problem.

Odd,I fixed many Malibu’s for these issues but the only thing I ever replaced a Malibu cluster for was scratches on the plexiglass. Other manufactures (like BMW) do place the cluster in an active decision making role but I did not view the Malibu as one of these where this technique was also used.

I am trying to sort out the “start and dies” (like a passlock activation would do) not the odd cluster lighting sequence.

I have already replaced the ignition switch but that didn’t work. It may very well be a larger problem than I can handle. Hate to take it to the shop and get ripped off for a simple fix but don’t want to mess anything up worse than it already is. In reference to the PCM being the villain,would that cause the interior lights and power windows problem?

Do the 3x10min re-learn procedure again and this time do it for 3x 1 hr. Make sure you do not have the door open. If that does not work call up one of the Passlock II bypas companies (google Passlock II bypass) and explain your relearn procedure (what I mean is the car may have to be re-programed via the Tech II and the PC since you replaced a part in the systen (the ignition swutch).

I had a friend who merely fixed a fuel leak on a passlock II truck and it took repeated long relarn procedures to keep running. What we could not figure out is how it move into “tamper” mode in the first place. Is the red “security” or “theft” light on?

Thanks to all of you for all of this really cool advice. I will try the longer 3 by 1 hour attempt in the morning. I still have the old switch cylinder with the small module on it, should I reinstall it? Would that help?

Well it is guaranteed you will need to do a re-learn after replacing any component of the Passlock II system, it is not guaranteed that the 3X relearn process is all that is required with your system in its original condition.

What you need to find out is if the 3X relearn will work if a component is replaced. I always did my component replace re-programs with a PC and a Tech II.

Unfortunately cutting the small yellow from the switch didn?t work. Moreover, I think that highlighted another situation, because the anti theft light in the instrument cluster should have stayed on after it was cut but the light went off after the switch was turned off My son contacted a GM trained mechanic who now does freelance work and he has agreed to come over and take a look at it. Will keep you all posted. Thanks again. This is perplexing!!

Why did you never give any of the companies that make Passlock II by-pass gear a call? I am sure you would have come away knowing more about PassLock.

I intend to do just that after I speak to this GM Mechanic. In fact I plan to purchase one of those bypass kits or a remote start kit and install it as soon as I can find out the prognosis. If the repair is too expensive it may force me see if it can be traded in to move up the purchase of a new car from late next year to very soon. The electronics on this car has been problematic from day one.

The Malibu got much better (your car is a second year car). Interior trim was really poor with theses Malibu’s. I must say the car kept me very busy as light line/interior trim was an area I specialized in. I was putting a glove box back in one of those cars (they never fit well) and cut my hand on the dash frame (took 9 stitches). My boss wrote on the accident report that “I was trained to take precautions as the sharp nature of the dash frame was well known”

One thing that happened with the Malibu of that year was the igniton key would not turn. One well placed “rap” with a 12oz ball peen hammaer straight on the key would free it up so you could put a new lock cylinder in. Dealing with a Malibu that you could not turn the key was a nightmare even after you got the car in the shop.

LOL, right now I feel like taking a ball peen hammer to the entire car. Thanks for the laugh, it is much appreciated right now.

Okay, the GM mechanic came and did a series of tests. The verdict, a new BCM is required. I hope that the Malibu runs long enough to get me to the Ford or the Hyundai dealers so that I can test drive a new car. I will order a passlock bypass kit and install it once it is running because I still believe that was the root cause to begin with.

Sorry, forgot to say a BIG THANK YOU to all of you for all of your help. It is very much appreciated.

Last word on this problem, it was not the BCM, the culprit turned out to be corrosion in the fuse box on the driver’s side. Wasted a lot of time and money because of the mechanic’s incorrect diagnosis.

Try a used Impala. (:-))

Thanks, I already got a used one from a local wreck shop & am back on the road.