Electrical Problem?

Greetings-- Our 98 Saturn SL2, (standard transmission) has the following intermittent , occasional symptoms which occur simultaneously: Radio locks out, all dashboard lights flash, sound alerts ring, RPM & MGH guages drop to zero, with an accompanying regular ‘clicking sound’ . These symptoms last a fraction of a second— These symptoms occur when the car is moving, often (but not always) at clutch engagement.

These symptoms are occurring with increasing regularity.

During the symptoms (one-two seconds)…If the car is moving, popping the clutch stops the symptoms. If the car is pulling to a stop when the symptoms occur, sometimes (but not always)-- the car is electrically dead. Moving some wires under the hood sometimes (but not always) returns the ignition juice.

We would be thankful for your thoughts. -

I appears to be an electrial problem alright. There is a bad connection somewhere. The first thing I recommend you do is to clean the battery connections with a battery post cleaning brush, even if they ‘look ok’. Make sure the wire that leads from the battery to the main power panel is ok along with the chassis ground wire from the battery. The trouble could also be due to a faulty ignition switch or bad wire connection in a terminal connector. By tapping on suspected areas with a screwdriver handle you may be able to locate where the trouble is.


In addition to the probable bad electrical connection, I want to throw out another situation that could be related to the problem.

Since the problem seems to coincide with the use of the clutch, I think that you should also investigate the possibility of bad motor mounts and/or transmission mounts. Bad mounts allow movement of the engine/trans and this movement could be the “make or break” key to the bad electrical connection. Every time that you use the clutch, there will be engine/transmission movement if you have bad mounts.

Thanks VDCdriver!!

Another item to look at is the grounding of the engine to the body. The ground cable from the battery usually goes directly to somewhere on the engine. The ground then has to be transferred to the chassis/body. If this ground is breaking when the engine is moving around as you engage the clutch and while driving, you could well get intermittant operation of body devices.

Hope that is what it is. Let us know when you finally find the solution to this problem.

What a helpful set of responses… thanks all!