Oldsmobile Achieva will no longer start. Out of ideas. Do you have any?

Recently purchased this 1996 Achieva. Had trouble starting it from the “get go”. Had to turn the key and if the lights came on it would start when one turned the key further. If the lights (dash lights) didn’t come on one would have to turn the car all the way off and try again. This process was getting longer and longer until it would not start at all. Mechanic says the computer is telling it that it is stolen. Also, it has a Pontiac steering column.

My guess would be you have an igintion switch problem of some sort.

Sounds like a battery’s last years on earth.
Have the battery and charging system tested.

Hard to believe the theft system controls all the poles of the ignition switch.
Since it is so intermittent and the dash lights don’t even show unless you fool around with the keys, I think @ledhed75 is right in saying it is the ignition switch.
Of course, check the battery and the connections first but that’s likely the problem.

Perhaps I should have listed the things we have ruled out. Sorry about that. The problem is the security module. The circuit board has built up resistance and is only allowing 7.5 volts through to the module instead of the required 12 volts. This is causing the security module to shut off the injectors. We cannot find a new instrument cluster with proper resistance. Also, cannot find anyone to repair the original cluster.


Is it possible for the shop to simply remove or bypass the security function from this car? To get you back on the road I mean? It seems like that is the first thing to do.

A circuit board has power and ground going to it. If you don’t see 12V, it means that the resistance is so low that the current is way too high - that would cause a fuse to blow.
That’s not happening so are you sure it has been diagnosed correctly? Hate to say it but what you’re saying doesn’t make much sense. The fuel injectors are controlled by the power train controller. It talks to the dash by means of a serial port.
What voltage are you talking about?

Looking at the schematic, it seems that the ignition switch has a pole that tells the dash (it contains the alarm circuitry) that a valid key is inserted. That schematic says that when a key is inserted, the yellow wire is not connected through a resistor to ground.
Seems to me all you have to do to disable that car disabling circuit is to cut the yellow wire going from the key switch to the dash - I bet you’re having an issue with that switch or the yellow wire going to the dash.

Cut it and see what happens. I bet that thing will start with that yellow wire cut.
In lieu of that, put a voltmeter across that yellow wire and ground. I bet it is stuck at one level whether you have the key inserted or not.

You might consider the possibility of a corroded or scaled over junction terminal. All electrical power except for the starter motor windings go through this terminal and a problem there can cause some odd problems including an erratic no start condition.

The terminal should be on the chassis of the car near the battery positive terminal and will be covered with a plastic cap. Follow the lead from the battery terminal, pop the cap, and you should see a nut holding the entire shooting match together. Remove the nut and clean all of the terminal mating surfaces and see what happens.

If the problem is indeed with the Passlock system you would have full functioning warning lights and a constantly illumimated or blinking security light. Try this, when the car starts normally, I bet the security light comes on for 2-5 seconds and then goes out. If the car detects a possible theft situation all the other warning lights will illuminate normally and the security light also stays on or flashes.

Your ignition is in the dash and not in the steering column, right? I’m betting you have a failing ignition switch. Your mechanic can test for this at the fusebox, testing for voltage at any of the fuses that are only “hot” with the key in the run position. I think he’ll find that when the car won’t start many of these fuses will not be energized.

That’s what I and ledhead were thinking as well, but he said he ruled that out.
I’m not sure what that car’s dashboard does when it doesn’t have the right passlock condition (whether the dash lights up or not) but @asemaster is probably right. That certainly makes sense to me too.
To rule that passlock thing out as an issue, I think you can cut that one yellow wire and see what happens.

I have searched the internet for solutions and the “cut the yellow wire” trick is supposed to work to correct this issue. The problem is that you must cut the wire while the engine is running. If you do it that way the security module is fooled into believing all is well. You will get a flashing security light forever but the car will supposedly start. The installation of a switch in the wire allows you to override that flashing light. You just have to remember to disconnect the code wire (yellow) before you turn the car off. I have cut and reconnected the wire for that eventuality. The “cut wire” is a solution that was developed by consumers who were victims of this common problem among passlock1 cars of the era. It was such a good solution that GM sent out a service directive concerning the installation of remote start systems in pickups. gmupfitter.com/publicat/bull/bull26.pdf
Since the car won’t start I can’t try the cut wire trick.

The truly ironic thing is that I had the wire cutters in my hand and had gone out to cut the wire.
But the car wouldn’t start. It’s been almost 4 weeks now.

As for it shutting down the injectors, that is how it works. It will turn over. It will fire. Then it dies because it can’t get fuel. The security routine shuts down the fuel system. If the dash lights come on it will run. If they don’t, it won’t. Currently it won’t. The lights aren’t on and everybody’s home. (figuratively)

I purchased a used cluster. The shop I took it to said it was showing 3 volts at the module. The original is showing 7.5 volts. It needs 12.

It has a column ignition, not dash.
It has a new battery and alternator.
I did the “disconnect the battery and let the computer reset” trick. It didn’t work.
The mechanic checked the voltage going in to the board. It is getting 12 volts.
By the time the power gets to the security module it shows 7.5 volts.
Is it possible that the voltage drop is occuring in the various gauges that are in the system?
The mechanic said that the security module get’s “info” from several spots.
I get it that it doesn’t make sense that the circuit board is building up resistance. But remember, this IS a GM car.

I appreciate the suggestions and will check the junction terminal. Ty ok4450. Luckily we had extra keys made and the shop it is at is next door to my store. I will update sometime tomorrow after I check the terminal.

Thank you.

This security module is something mounted onto the instrument cluster, then?
For a supply voltage to drop, it can mean that whatever is being hooked up to that supply is drawing way too much current or the supply just can’t supply the current.
It can’t draw more current than the battery can supply - you’d pop fuses and burn that PC board up. That’s not it.
That leaves that there’s got to be something in between the supply coming into the cluster and where it goes to the security module. It probably is some sort of transistor or solid state switch, if I had to guess.

Can you trace the board’s connections?

Sound like my problem I’m been having for a year and. A half can’t find the parts what did you end up doing