A Sunfire possessed

My 2001 Pontiac sunfire has a very sporadic electrical problem. This has happened two different times about a year apart. Each episode lasted a couple days.

Here’s the types of things that happened.

I know it’s going to happen when i turn on my headlights and it sounds like my driver’s door lock was activated. “click”

the sequence includes wipers making one normal swipe and then going very very slowly or getting stuck mid swipe

When i turn the handle, the headlights go on, then won’t go on. The high beams won’t respond. The auxiliary lights go on.

the first time this happened, i manually moved the wipers when they wouldn’t go, and they started but went slowly.

the weirdest symptom was when the wiper fluid toggle turned on the headlights and the door wouldn’t lock when the door lock toggles were depressed.

this happened once when it was raining, then when it was snowing.

If i turn off the car and (reboot) back on, the problem persists. generally, the problem mostly goes away overnight.

the issue is i can’t rely on my wipers or my headlights.

When this is happening, things respond to the wrong buttons and don’t respond to the right ones.

Sounds like moisture inside the fuse panel, hence conjoining unrelated circuits, which would need disassembled, cleaned and dried out.
Next, to prove the source of the moisture if there is one. Could just be the weather , age of the vehicle, and accumulation of dust over that time which would hold the moisture in place.

A rubbed through, or chewed through, wire harness would join unrelated circuits also when moisture is introduced.

Wow, that was fast. I will certainly take your suggestions to my mechanic. He said i would have to bring the car in when it was acting up, but it happens so rarely and remedies itself overnight, so that that was impossible.


I think you have an intermittent bad ground somewhere. When the ground fails, the electric current is finding another path back to the battery, through other circuits, with strange results. There used to be a trick you could do on some older GM cars (I don’t remember how now), but I think you could make the wipers work with the horn button in certain circumstances.

The next time this happens, look under the dash and wiggle wires. Do the same under the hood for the wiring harnesses. See if you can either make the problem stop or occur. Same with the ignition key–gently wiggle it when the problem occurs and see if it stops.

Another possibility is a bad Body Controller Module or “BCM”, but I don’t think that this unit handles the items you mention, so I wouldn’t necessarily suspect it.

BCM handles Lights and door locks, but not wipers. Sounds like bad ignition switch. Check out this diagram. It shows the BCM and windshield motor tied to the same point of the ignition switch. Alot of people have tons of crap hanging from their key chains. This can cause problems with the ignition switch. If you are one of these, empty your key chain and hopefully this will solve the problem.

Thanks for sharing your ideas. Could it be the ignition switch even if i’m not one of those who has lots of crap hanging from their key? I heard that that can be a problem, so my key chain is a key on a ring with one of those mini advantage cards. that’s it.

A bad ground? i’m guessing the devil is in the details. I’m surprised it only happened twice so far and they were at least a year apart. Thanks for your ideas. I’m going to share all of these with my mechanic.