My car's gauges aren't working



My cars gauges aren’t working properly…

I recently got a car this last december in Tacoma. My dad spent $3000 on a Pontiac Grand Am 1999. We tested it out when we first went up to see it and everything worked fine except for the steroe and the lighter thing. That was all easily fixed though. About 3 weeks ago while being picked upi from school by my dad we were on out way to get gas. As we pulled into the gas station all the gauges (the spedometer, gas tank level, RPM gauge, and the other two things) all just turned off. Along with that the heater/AC went off as well. My car didn’t turn off though, it was fine. While driving home all the gauges and the heater jsut randomly turned back on. This has been happening ever since, sometimes when I turn my car on the gauges dont turn on but ill wait a few seconds and they’ll eventually flick on.

Also another two weird things is when the car is completely on (engine running/ while driving) I’m able to remove my car key from the ignition key hole.

Also when my gauges DO decide to turn on when I turn on the ignition the little arrow/needle things flick ALL the way up then back to the beggining then slowly raise to whatever rate im going and to however much gas I have.

Is this an ignition problem?

Does it have somthing to do with my heater/AC system??

If you need more clarification please ask me.

Thank You,



Your probably having a failure in the electric gauge cluster. This gauge cluster is just a series of indicator lights and electrical meters that run the needles. They get electrical signals from sending units and the ECM to tell you what is going on with the car. There are no mechanically operated meters and gauges anymore, it is all electrical and electronic.

That being said, it could be as simple as corrosion on the electrical connectors on the back side of the gauge cluster. This car being 11 years old, electrical corrosion is a common issue. Another issue may be a failure or break in the circuits on the backside of the gauge cluster. You’d be amazed at the plastic and copper circuits that run the gauge cluster. A replacement from a salvage yard could be acquired inexpensively and the entire panel replaced quickly.

It could be tied to the ignition, but an auto electrician would need to diagnose that. The ignition switch may have a separate switch circuit for the gauges and the ECM and ignition. This switch circuit could be bad, causing the weird gauge behavior. BTW, the lock cylinder and ignition switch are separate items connected with a mechanical link. The key removal problem is a lock cylinder problem, not an ignition switch problem.

This problem has nothing to do with the heating control or A/C. Does it also act weird at the same time as the gauges? This would support a possible ignition switch problem.


It is possible that the spring in your ignition switch has gotten weak and isn’t returning the switch to the run position from the start position, especially if someone has had a large bunch of keys, charms, and trinkets hanging from the switch, The next time it happens try turning the key slightly to the left and see if that fixes it.


Since the engine is running ok it would seem the ignition switch is alright though the key shouldn’t be able to be removed from the lock. I would suspect there is a intermittant problem with the power lead to the gauges. You can verify that by checking the power connection to the gauges with a voltmeter.


I would suspect there is a intermittant problem with the power lead to the gauges.

Or the ground connection.


I’m re-leaving the same comment I left for your other post for the same issue:

A lot of circuits are completed by the ignition switch when you turn the key on. I would look at the possibility that the switch is faulty before digging any deeper. The next time the gauges go out you might try wiggling the key or gently turning it back and forward (not enough to turn the car off or engage the starter) and see if it has any effect.


The fault might be with the ignition SWITCH, or the ignition LOCK CYLINDER. Spray a lock cleaner into the key hole and work the key. If this doesn’t help, you might take the ignition LOCK CYLINDER and ignition SWITCH out and lubricate them.
IF you replace the ignition LOCK CYLINDER, you must have a scan tool perform a re-learn program. So, try the lube, first.