Random but consistent electrical issues on cold mornings

Hey friends, I have a 2006 Chevy Malibu Maxx LT with 94k miles. On cold mornings I have consistent problems with the car’s electronics. They can be as benign as a warning bell about 2-3 minutes after starting driving. Sometimes, one of the warning lights will accompany the bell (power steering, traction control, etc), and then return to normal. Some mornings, all of the gauges will not work/stop working for the first 2-3 minutes of driving and then return to normal. The worst case scenario is that the car will not start at all. All lights, radio, etc. will work, but the car will not crank.
I have had the car to a couple of shops where they have tested the battery and starter. Both are new and working fine. No codes are ever generated.
My question is how can I go about isolating what appears to be an electrical (or electronic) fault somewhere in the system that gets aggrivated by cold weather. I read in another forum that the ignition system in other GM cars (the Saturn ION was one example) would trigger a fault in the ignition system in cold weather and the KeyPass security system would shut down the ignition for 10 minutes. For me, it’s only occasional that the car will not start, but there is some electrical issue most every day that it’s below 40 overnight. I have never had an issue after the car has started once during the day - this only happens on the first start of the day. Only once did the car go 2 days without starting.
What would be your suggested order or investigation?

  1. Battery cables?
  2. fuses?
  3. etc.?
    Thank you. K

The first place to check is the power distribution center. Or the main fuse box.

The fuse box can be what is called a waffer design. This is where a piece of plastic is inserted with a conductor then another piece of plastic is stacked and then another conductor and so on. Over time this construction of the fuse box can cause circuits to short or open up.


quirky symptoms like these often can be traced to a bad ground connection. i would get a wiring diagram and check every ground you can find for tightness or corrosion.

In that model, there is a consistent problem with the battery terminals(side mounted). They can work loose, and you lose all but intermittent contact. This can cause random electrical problems, or even keep it from starting.

The areas you mention you are having trouble with are the clues to the answer of the riddle. Like the gauges and traction control. You will be doing yourself a favor if you purchase the factory wring manual for the car so you can look things over and find out what circuits power those things. It may be a single fused line that does. By comparing the clues to the troubles it should point you to possible trouble spots for the cause, like a connection point or the ignition switch. Logical deduction will find the trouble. It sounds to me that the fault area could be with a section of the ignition switch or past it somewhere. Most of the fuses in the dash fuse panel are after the ignition switch so the problem may be under the dash area possibly.

Another good thing to have is a voltmeter so you can check things like fuses and connections. Fuses can be good but you need to make sure power is getting to them to be of any good. Ebay is a good place to find manuals at a good price.