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Old 03-13-2010, 06:04 PM   #1
COBALT
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'99 Tahoe Starting problems

Well, our more reliable vehicle (our 1999 2wd 5.7l tahoe) suddenly experienced some starting issues in the Costco parking lot last week. My wife got a jump thinking it was the battery (or someone told her that) and she was able to bring it home. After getting here she tells me it just clicked when she tried to start it (no slow starts winding down to nothing or flickering or weak lights). She says this initially happened when she made an initial stop somewhere, but then it started right up. Then LATER in the Costo parking lot is when it wouldn't start again. Ok, sounds like she didn't need a jump and the battery isn't the problem.

The next day I checked the battery and sure enough - good voltage with around 13v terminal to terminal (just about a year old) with a better-than-fair specific gravity for the fluid in each cell. I have power to everything, and decided to check the alternator. I fired the tahoe up (no problems starting) and the alternator is doing its job pushing ~14v down to the battery. Check.

Next the starter. I check to make sure it has power (check) then put a test light on the terminal from the ignition and have the wife turn the motor over - bright light. Check. The starter (at least right now) appears to be ok.

So, I conclude it might be the starter solenoid that's in the process of failing. I've experienced this before, and assume this is a reasonable guess since everything else seems to be ok. I have to take the whole starter out of the rig to replace it, so I just replace the whole damn starter. That's what I did, and the thing fired up like a dream.

Today she calls me and says the same thing is happening again. She's already had someone try to jump it (I cringe when I hear this) and now she says she's got nothing - no power to the dash, no clock, no ignition, no power locks. She hears this weird clicking under the dash next to the e-brake handle. Now she thinks the battery is dead as a result of the jump. I start thinking fuses and relays.

I'm thinking the starter relay was probably going bad and now that it is completely dead we have a blown fuse to the voltage regulator isolating power from the battery to the rest of the vehicle. However, I'm wondering what the hell the ticking sound is she says she's hearing. The failed relay???

I don't have the vehicle in front of me yet - it's being towed by AAA to the house apparently thanks to one of my wife's friends. Soon as I do I'll be giving it a look.

Does anyone else think this sounds reasonable or had this experience?
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Old 03-13-2010, 06:58 PM   #2
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Re: '99 Tahoe Starting problems

Ok new twist. They managed to get the tahoe home, and the story is the AAA guy "managed to get it started". It was parked on an incline and he made some comment about how the engine might not be getting the right amount of fuel, because it aparently died. Then he let it coast to level ground and it started right up.

Quite a mystery, but I'm thinking the relays in that relay center (driver's side under the hood) are most likely all experiencing some degree of failure. I checked out the battery and the alternator - they're fine. So, I'm going to replace the fuel pump and starter relays.
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Old 03-13-2010, 07:55 PM   #3
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Re: '99 Tahoe Starting problems

please make sure you sure an ac delo pump or one from the gm dealers
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Old 03-14-2010, 05:00 AM   #4
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Re: '99 Tahoe Starting problems

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Originally Posted by truckdude239 View Post
please make sure you sure an ac delo pump or one from the gm dealers
You're suggesting the fuel pump is going?

I managed to squeeze the right info out of the wife, and she clarified the situation. Today the thing wouldn't start. Turn the key and click just like before. She gets another jump from someone and looses all of the power to the rig - lights, clock, locks, everything. She turns the key and nothing. The only thing strange is that she can hear a very loud and distinct clicking going on down by the e-brake handle under the driver's side dash (since I wasn't there I was on the cell with her at the time and I could HEAR the clicking over the phone).

After she hangs up with me the AAA guy shows up and remotes starts the rig directly at the starter, but someone has to sit in it and keep their foot on the gas to keep it running (my wife). The idea is the guy wanted it backed down the hill to a flat spot. It doesn't get far enough and the engine dies. My wife (the one in the driver's seat) decides to try and start it again before the AAA guy can reconnect the remote starter and....it fired right up.

I think the clicking noise was the relays under the hood. That's where the fuel pump relay and the starter relay are located. However, I have people telling me that those relays are probably fine - the fact that I lost power to the cab is most likely the core of the problem. Someone mentioned the Body Control Module (in the center console???). I have an OBD II scanner and I'm going to take a look at the codes tomorrow. Hopefully they're still in there. Otherwise we'll be waiting for this to happen again.

I don't think it's the fuel pump. However, I did buy a spare starter relay to plug in just in case.
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Last edited by COBALT; 03-14-2010 at 05:02 AM.
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Old 03-14-2010, 07:22 AM   #5
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Re: '99 Tahoe Starting problems

no i miss read it you ment the fuel pump relays
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Old 03-14-2010, 03:50 PM   #6
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Re: '99 Tahoe Starting problems

Sounds like connection problems at the battery. the clicking your hearing is the starter is trying to engage but there is no AMPs to spin the engine.

Cut all the rubber off the battery cable ends and clean the connections.

This is a very commen problem.
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Old 03-14-2010, 05:12 PM   #7
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Re: '99 Tahoe Starting problems

check that the battery termails are good. The threads do wear out and wont make good contact. you can buy the termails there easy to replace. I have seen this before on alot of gm cars and trucks.
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Old 03-14-2010, 05:14 PM   #8
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Re: '99 Tahoe Starting problems

Battery, terminals and wires are all fine. I replaced both the terminals and the negative battery cable when I got the new battery just over a year ago. Specific gravity in all 6 cells are fair-to-good.

I just got in from checking the computer. No fault codes whatsoever. Per usual everything checks out fine.
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Last edited by COBALT; 03-14-2010 at 05:15 PM.
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Old 03-14-2010, 05:31 PM   #9
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Re: '99 Tahoe Starting problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by COBALT View Post
Battery, terminals and wires are all fine. I replaced both the terminals and the negative battery cable when I got the new battery just over a year ago. Specific gravity in all 6 cells are fair-to-good.

I just got in from checking the computer. No fault codes whatsoever. Per usual everything checks out fine.
You have a bad connection somewhere, check the battery cable at the starter, Are the starter bolts tight? Check the ground on the engine.

Whats the voltage at the starter when the problem occurs?
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Old 03-14-2010, 07:09 PM   #10
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Re: '99 Tahoe Starting problems

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Originally Posted by clinebarger View Post
You have a bad connection somewhere, check the battery cable at the starter, Are the starter bolts tight? Check the ground on the engine.

Whats the voltage at the starter when the problem occurs?
I replaced the starter last week, and both the main connection directly from the battery and the smaller crank wire are both tight. After this happened I was getting a solid ~12V at the starter both before and after cranking. Unfortunately I haven't been there when this has happened, and I don't expect my wife to crawl under there and test the starter.
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Old 06-27-2010, 06:36 PM   #11
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Re: '99 Tahoe Starting problems

Figured it out after having this happen a couple of times I finally found a short in the positive battery cable. Once I replaced it I haven't had a problem since. I'm probably going to retire this batter earlier than the 5 years tho...
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