CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

2004 Olds Silhouette - Starter or Battery?

Okay, here’s the situation… I have a 04 Olds Silhouette. Within the last 3 days I have noticed the following “symptoms”.1. drivers side window rolls up and down a lot slower than before. 2. The fuel gauge has been acting up, shot up way over full just yesterday and we know we had just under half a tank. 3. Speedometer is also acting up, reads at least 5 to 10 miles per hour over. Fast forward to tonight, I was sitting in our van listening to the radio while wife was inside walmart and when I went to start it up to warm it up before she returned, it would not start, only got clicking. We did try jump starting it and all we’ve gotten so far is clicking. Are any of the symptoms I listed above, connected to this issue? Also, what is the issue? Battery or starter or other? Thanks in advance for any assistance.

Well, since the battery has acted like it was low, and it ran down by using the radio, it must be the battery. Perhaps it is not charging while you drive. guess that car dosen’t have a volt meter? If it did you could watch the voltage of the battery.

How old is the battery?
If it’s more than 3-4 years old, it may be on it last legs.
If you can get it tested for free, do it.

Get your alternator checked out, as well.
Check your charging voltage at idle. 14.2-15.2V at idle is about right for a GM vehicle.

FYI: GM has had numerous issues with their instrument clusters. Every gauge has a stepper motor driving it. And those stepper motors sometimes fail, causing implausible readings. My neighbor’s 2005 GMC Sierra was reading 120mph on the freeway. He would have lost all the fillings in his head if he were really going that fast in a 1/2-ton truck.

check your grounds, Ive seen the wild fluctuating gauges and funny electrical symptoms with a weak ground. unless the battery is really dead, like internal damage, the jump should have gotten more than a click. a failed starter should have had no effect on your gauges and window, so either its unrelated or its battery/ wiring (likely ground)

Okay so it WAS the battery. However, of the 3 “symptoms” I mentioned in the original post, the speedometer is the only one that didn’t go away with the new battery installed. It is now saying the vehicle is going over 100 mph whether it’s moving or sitting still. Is there a connection between the two or is the speedometer broken? It worked fine up until about 3 days before the battery was replaced. Thanks in advance for any assistance.

Good news about the battery.

Have you checked that charging voltage at idle yet?

I still believe you may have a bad instrument cluster, specifically the stepper motor behind the speedometer.

A mechanic with a GM-capable scan tool can try to “sweep the gauge.” If it doesn’t pass that test, the cluster needs to be repaired/replaced.