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Author Topic: De-Mothballing a Red Line  (Read 488 times)

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Offline ChrisPrice

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De-Mothballing a Red Line
« on: August 06, 2017, 10:58:19 PM »
Getting my Saturn Sky back on the road... finally. After a long-running dispute with the body shop, a trial, and a retrial/appeal, the court ordered the car be returned to me. I didn't have to pay anything for the bad repaint, except for eight months and seven court appearances. The judge noted it was clearly stated what color I wanted... but we had to retry the case due to the first judge recusing herself, she made a judgement that was incoherent to everyone involved. A new judge decided the case in a few minutes... seven months later. Three weeks after that, the body shop finally agreed to release the car.

A professional electrician has test data confirming what was the community consensus - the voltage regulator in the alternator failed, causing the car to spin out. The voltage regulator's power surge took out the ECU, causing the car to shut down up, and simultaneously a faulty throttle surge from the ECU caused the spinout as the motor cut, killing traction control, steering and braking.

This is pretty concerning - as our cars age, the alternators will fail at a higher rate. We don't have voltage meters on our cars. A new defect petition may be brewing... at least to get a voltage meter added to the DIC because of this problem (which quite literally, nearly killed me).

The alternator is being preserved, and will be tested externally. Mostly because I still have to fight with insurance over the accident's cause back in November. But I also want to send the data on to NHTSA. BCM error data has been captured already, and confirms the voltage issues in the logs.

(Battery tested fine, but will be replaced regardless.)

I digress. The car has sat for eight months due to the said aforementioned being painted in the wrong color by the body shop during repairs from this mess. What should I tell the dealership to do to it?

First things to be done are fuel injector cleaner, and an oil flush before it even cranks. Alternator and ECU are being replaced at the dealership that does the most Solstice/Sky service in town. Battery and battery terminal cables will be swapped too for safety due to the alternator spikes.

Later stuff will include coolant flush. Trans flush is less than 25,000 miles from being due, so I may do it early too (but it's so invasive on our cars, I probably will delay that). Thought about brake fluid, but may test the brakes on the road first. Tires will be replaced after we're sure it runs right.

Thoughts? Other stuff? I'm not planning on a fuel flush, it has only been eight months, but I will top it off as soon as I get the keys back.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2017, 03:23:45 AM by ChrisPrice »

Offline ChopTop

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Re: De-Mothballing a Red Line
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2017, 08:00:03 AM »
Wow, what a lousy experience, but I'm glad it was resolved in your favor.  The only thing that comes to mind is video documenting it's inspection.  Since I'm a cynic it's not hard for me to imagine the body shop sabotaging something.  Then again, after spending months in litigation that might have served as a deterrent.

I'm not sure if you post on the big board, but the cause of the accident might make it worth it to do so, if for nothing else that for safety awareness.  Though I have to admit that I don't remember reading any post about the voltage regulator causing accidents or power surges taking out the ECU throughout the years, and I started hanging out at SF back in early 06.

What should you tell the dealership, well you might not want to mention the litigation part, at least not until it's back in running condition.

Offline elff

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Re: De-Mothballing a Red Line
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2017, 05:32:35 PM »
Wow!!

I sure would not want anything to do with that car after all that.  I have a feeling it's going to have  on going issues for the rest of the time you own it.   

Offline ChrisPrice

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Re: De-Mothballing a Red Line
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2017, 03:19:08 AM »
Wow!!

I sure would not want anything to do with that car after all that.  I have a feeling it's going to have  on going issues for the rest of the time you own it.

Nobody that has worked on the car is feeling that right now. For one, there's a CNA Major Guard policy on it. It was only in mothball for eight months, well within GM maintenance guidelines. Oil is being flushed before it cranks as a precaution, not because of any signs of engine rust.

So, any mechanical failures not related to the crash, are going to be covered by CNA. CNA even has to fix the stuff that caused the crash like the alternator and ECU. I've got 40,000 miles and two years to diagnose any lingering stuff. And believe me, I will.

:)

When you peel back all the Murphy's Law (and you don't have to tell me that there's a storm cloud over my motoring life today), this really probably boils down to one single component causing the failure of another single component; the alternator and the ECU (respectively).

All the rest is litigation and logistical crap. I've already paid the best electrician in town to check for "sabotage" from the body shop - there doesn't appear to be any.

I will say this, I would be feeling that way if I didn't have a CNA extended warranty on it. Best money spent this decade.

Offline 2kwk4u

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Re: De-Mothballing a Red Line
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2017, 05:08:37 AM »
I kind of agree with elff.  I'd worry about damage to EVERY module in the car if there was truly a voltage spike that cooked the PCM.  Did it also weaken electronics in the BCM?  TCM?  VCIM? Radio head unit?  How about all of the switches?  Fuses/relays?  Power window motors?  Power lock motors?  Windshield wiper motor?  How about the gauge cluster?...  The list is endless.  Also, how many of the little components that might have been affected would be under your deductible on that CNA warranty?  It might nickel-and-dime you to death and get annoying real fast having to bring it in all the time.

Then there's the issue of burden of proof.  Is your extended warranty tied only to this incident?  For your sake I hope not.

Finally, there's the matter of finding a shop that's willing to work on the car at all.  If you're in a small town, and have already dragged one place through court for nearly a year - then at least your CAR has a reputation.  No doubt you won't give that particular shop your business anymore, but people talk...

Offline ChrisPrice

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Re: De-Mothballing a Red Line
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2017, 02:37:11 PM »
Thankfully we have tested all the components that the car can run without cranking, and they all seem to work fine. Windows, radio, BCM, etc. Everything reports back on Tech 2 just fine so far.

At the end of the day, if the car did get voltage damage to the point it's a lost cause, that's something CNA will write the car off over. Either it will be fine, or it will be a writeoff. Highly unlikely it's in the middle with only two components having confirmed issues - and all other electrical components working fine on battery power.

Like I said, had I not bought the extended warranty, I would be a lot more unnerved. I am going to have to make some tough calls about keeping a Kappa in my stable after there are no more warranties though. I mean, I don't mod these cars, at all, and this stuff happens to me.

Same thing with the car's "reputation" - either it will get fixed, or it will be beyond economic repair. But again, nobody that has looked at the car directly really is fearing that right now.

Offline 2kwk4u

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Re: De-Mothballing a Red Line
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2017, 03:59:58 PM »
Specifically, I'd worry about damage to capacitors on circuit boards.  Over-voltage or reverse-polarity can cause capacitors to bulge and leak. At that point they become corrosive little time bombs. 

Offline ChrisPrice

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Re: De-Mothballing a Red Line
« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2017, 04:39:36 PM »
Specifically, I'd worry about damage to capacitors on circuit boards.  Over-voltage or reverse-polarity can cause capacitors to bulge and leak. At that point they become corrosive little time bombs.

I mean, it's always a concern with any car.

:)

I remember a W-Body that I had to part ways with, we never found it, but it would swell in the summer to the point that when it got over 110, the car wouldn't start. The BCM capacitors likely got swollen from the heat, preventing the security module from cranking. When the temperature hit 90, the car magically would start again.

On a more assuring note, the electrician and I found no blown fuses. His opinion was pretty close to TS's that this happened suddenly, and very briefly. So that minimizes the risk. Had there been a lot of blown fuses, I would share that concern a lot more.

Right now my big concern is just doing everything to de-mothball this car properly. I know the electrical stuff is causing people concern (and rightly so - considering the stock nature of this car!) - But really my concern is just recovering from the eight months it sat idle in a climate-controlled garage. Fluids that should be changed, checks, stuff like that.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2017, 04:47:39 PM by ChrisPrice »

Offline Gentleman Jack

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Re: De-Mothballing a Red Line
« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2017, 09:16:33 PM »
8 months?
Just get in and drive it. Get new gas and be on your way.
Car sit way longer than that all the time and people just get in and crank it over till it starts.
May the Schwartz be wit you

Offline ChrisPrice

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Re: De-Mothballing a Red Line
« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2017, 04:19:08 AM »
So far... so good.

Done a couple of gas tanks with fuel injector cleaner. New ECU installed, and dealer wrote conclusion that the voltage regulator in the ECU failed.

The only real lingering evidence the car ever had a problem, is the left turn signal bulb is out. Which is surprising considering I had an LED bulb in there. Just got a new set, so that'll be fixed later today.

It's good to have her back. I've put a few hundred miles on the car, and done considerable testing. Can't get any stallouts or loss of power. The LSD does kick in off the line, but sadly it's already slightly wet out from thunderstorms - so a bit extra slide is expected.

Now I'm mostly just trying to avoid PTSD from the experience. Voltage meter installed via a DC splitter - something I encourage everyone to deploy - but it'll be awhile before I feel comfortable enough to take it on mountain roads without guardrails.

Offline ChopTop

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Re: De-Mothballing a Red Line
« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2017, 10:54:35 AM »
Good to hear, hopefully this will be nothing more than a bad experience if a few years.  Safe driving.

 

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