2003 Suburban/Tahoe/Sierra Electrical...

2003 Suburban/Tahoe/Sierra Electrical Problems - Possible Solution

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Houston54

Houston, TX

#1 Feb 24, 2009
Having just fought intermittent electrical issues on my 2003 Suburban Z71 I thought others may benefit from my experience and seeming simple solution.
The background on the problem is that my 2003 sub (82K miles) experienced what seemed to be a major system anomaly one day. I had just crossed over a slight bump when the chimes started going off, the door locks started cycling, the dash lights flashed, the cruise control became inop, the average miles/gallon reading went from 15.2 to 8.1, the ABS light and the parking brake dash light came on, the message center started throwing error messages of all kinds. The engine went into reduced power mode but continued to run. As suddenly as it started everything except the dash lights for ABS/parking brake stopped.

I then spent several days researching the issue on the web. I was not the only 2003 owner having similar issues. I found one thread that pointed to the Body Control Module (BCM) which the dealer wanted $301 for plus $107 for installation.

I also found a thread identifying a battery drain issue covered by a recall. The recall number is 02066. If you are having a problem with the battery you might check to see if your VIN is covered by this. It was 2003 specific. My truck was not covered.

Finally I found a thread that described my exact issues. The solution was not posted so I contacted the person directly. His apparent solution defies logic in its simplicity.

His solution:
There is a thin ground wire located on the back side of the engine block. It is on the passenger side and you have to remove the plastic engine cover to find it. The connection at the block is a bolted ring lug. This connection was loose on the Tahoe of the guy giving me this information. He moved the connection to terminate with the braided ground strap that connects at the firewall on the drivers side of the engine. He claimed this solved all his problems.
I checked the ground wire on my truck and it was tight. I removed the bolt, cleaned the surfaces and re-installed the ground wire. I was recharging the battery during this time. I also checked all the other wires I could to ensure none were loose. The wire bundles I did come across in the engine compartment, under the dash and in the steering column I moved around as best I could on the chance there may be a chaffed wire somewhere causing a short.

After completing the battery hook-up I tried to start the truck and found it started right up. This was done on 2/21 and the intermittent electrical gremlins have not returned. After starting the truck I drove it over some of the roughest roads in the area trying to make it hiccup again but it did not repeat itself.

The truck has started up each time since then.
I know it seems questionable whether one small ground wire/connection could be the source of the problems but the results cannot be argued. If you are having similar issues with your truck you can't lose looking at this solution before tossing hundreds of dollars to your mechanic or more to the dealer.

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walter

South Plainfield, NJ

#2 Jul 22, 2009
I have a 2003 Tahoe 139K miles and still going very strong. Great Car! one day and all of a sudden, I had the EXACT problems occur to my truck. I hit a slight bump when the chimes started going off, the door locks started cycling, the dash lights flashed, the cruise control became inop,the ABS light and the parking brake dash light came on, the message center started throwing error messages of all kinds. The engine went into reduced power mode but continued to run. As suddenly as it started, everything except the dash lights for ABS/parking brake began to work. Each time I hit a bump it would go bad, hit a bump and it would be good, hit a bump and it would be bad and so on. I found your comments on the innternet and did exactly as you suggested and everything works fine. I located the wire and extended it to the ground strap on the engine. The whole job was completed in 20 minutes. I'm sure I was in for a huge issue If I didn't find your post. I'm sure I saved hundreds of dollars. Thank you very much.
Doug

Abingdon, MD

#3 Oct 10, 2010
Wow this is exactly what happened to me hit a bump and the dash and door locks went nuts. It continued for a couple miles every small bump causing the dash and locks to go off until it shut off and would not restart. Checking my ground tomorrow hope it solves my problem.
LaRennia

Kaneohe, HI

#4 Oct 15, 2010
Houston54 wrote:
Having just fought intermittent electrical issues on my 2003 Suburban Z71 I thought others may benefit from my experience and seeming simple solution.
The background on the problem is that my 2003 sub (82K miles) experienced what seemed to be a major system anomaly one day. I had just crossed over a slight bump when the chimes started going off, the door locks started cycling, the dash lights flashed, the cruise control became inop, the average miles/gallon reading went from 15.2 to 8.1, the ABS light and the parking brake dash light came on, the message center started throwing error messages of all kinds. The engine went into reduced power mode but continued to run. As suddenly as it started everything except the dash lights for ABS/parking brake stopped.
I then spent several days researching the issue on the web. I was not the only 2003 owner having similar issues. I found one thread that pointed to the Body Control Module (BCM) which the dealer wanted $301 for plus $107 for installation.
I also found a thread identifying a battery drain issue covered by a recall. The recall number is 02066. If you are having a problem with the battery you might check to see if your VIN is covered by this. It was 2003 specific. My truck was not covered.
Finally I found a thread that described my exact issues. The solution was not posted so I contacted the person directly. His apparent solution defies logic in its simplicity.
His solution:
There is a thin ground wire located on the back side of the engine block. It is on the passenger side and you have to remove the plastic engine cover to find it. The connection at the block is a bolted ring lug. This connection was loose on the Tahoe of the guy giving me this information. He moved the connection to terminate with the braided ground strap that connects at the firewall on the drivers side of the engine. He claimed this solved all his problems.
I checked the ground wire on my truck and it was tight. I removed the bolt, cleaned the surfaces and re-installed the ground wire. I was recharging the battery during this time. I also checked all the other wires I could to ensure none were loose. The wire bundles I did come across in the engine compartment, under the dash and in the steering column I moved around as best I could on the chance there may be a chaffed wire somewhere causing a short.
After completing the battery hook-up I tried to start the truck and found it started right up. This was done on 2/21 and the intermittent electrical gremlins have not returned. After starting the truck I drove it over some of the roughest roads in the area trying to make it hiccup again but it did not repeat itself.
The truck has started up each time since then.
I know it seems questionable whether one small ground wire/connection could be the source of the problems but the results cannot be argued. If you are having similar issues with your truck you can't lose looking at this solution before tossing hundreds of dollars to your mechanic or more to the dealer.
I have the exact same problem and have been trying to figure this out. Please help, where do I start looking for the wires? Pls email me at [email protected]
Paul

Wasilla, AK

#5 Oct 24, 2010
my 2003 suburban died in the drive through and would start then die. no codes were present. had car towed home. researched the internet and found that the coolant sensor could be bad at this time engine would turn over. replaces because sensor tested bad. then car threw a code that the camshaft position sensor was bad,replaced then car would not turn over.
tested the starter and the solenoid went bad replaced starter. car will still not turn over. any suggestions?
Paul

Wasilla, AK

#6 Oct 24, 2010
I found it!!!!:) the final problem was that the starter fuse the 40A.
Allen

Menasha, WI

#7 Nov 3, 2010
i have a 2003 Suburban, i lost all power to my passanger front door, my radio will not stay on for the 10 minutes after turning the key off and before opening the doors, my key fob stopped working at this time also. i have noticed when i hit a bump just right my head lights would flicker and my "service stability" or "service 4wheel drive" message would come on. in mid summer.any suggestions?

Since: Oct 10

Location hidden

#8 Nov 18, 2010
walter wrote:
I have a 2003 Tahoe 139K miles and still going very strong. Great Car! one day and all of a sudden, I had the EXACT problems occur to my truck. I hit a slight bump when the chimes started going off, the door locks started cycling, the dash lights flashed, the cruise control became inop,the ABS light and the parking brake dash light came on, the message center started throwing error messages of all kinds. The engine went into reduced power mode but continued to run. As suddenly as it started, everything except the dash lights for ABS/parking brake began to work. Each time I hit a bump it would go bad, hit a bump and it would be good, hit a bump and it would be bad and so on. I found your comments on the innternet and did exactly as you suggested and everything works fine. I located the wire and extended it to the ground strap on the engine. The whole job was completed in 20 minutes. I'm sure I was in for a huge issue If I didn't find your post. I'm sure I saved hundreds of dollars. Thank you very much.
PLEASE HELP!!! WHERES THE WIRE? WHAT AM I LOOKING FOR? MY DAD TOOK MY CAR IN TO A MECHANIC FOR THOSE EXACT SAME SYMPTOMS, THEY COULD NOT FIND ANY CODES WRONG.$100.00..GONE... MY DAD TOLD THEM TO TUNE IT UP (THINKING THAT WOULD BE IT) ANOTHER $300.00...GONE....NOW IT WON'T EVEN START!!!!PLS HELP.... WHAT KIND OF WIRE AND WHERE EXACTLY SHOULD I LOOK? THANKS
inkellittis

Campton, NH

#9 Dec 13, 2010
I had these issues 2 years ago and the repair was the ground behind the motor to the firewall. Now 2 years later I am having another similar issue, the shift indicator light has gone out and the starter will not engage. I am sure it is another graound issue but not sure which one it is. This just happened today 12/12/10. I rechecked the ground I had reapir before and is fine, along with the hood strap and the block strap, and the battery ground near the radiator pilar. Where do I look next?
Steve

United States

#10 Jan 1, 2011
Allen wrote:
i have a 2003 Suburban, i lost all power to my passanger front door, my radio will not stay on for the 10 minutes after turning the key off and before opening the doors, my key fob stopped working at this time also. i have noticed when i hit a bump just right my head lights would flicker and my "service stability" or "service 4wheel drive" message would come on. in mid summer.any suggestions?
We are having the exact problem. Did you find an answer?
MsEllie

Owasso, OK

#11 Jan 30, 2011
Allen wrote:
i have a 2003 Suburban, i lost all power to my passanger front door, my radio will not stay on for the 10 minutes after turning the key off and before opening the doors, my key fob stopped working at this time also. i have noticed when i hit a bump just right my head lights would flicker and my "service stability" or "service 4wheel drive" message would come on. in mid summer.any suggestions?
Having the same problem. Did you figure out what is wrong?
Darryl

Lawton, OK

#12 Jan 31, 2011
I had the same problem, my 2001 suburban instrument cluster did not work for a while.I knew it was not the instrument cluster, because I connected it to my truck and it work fine. when I push the brake or turn or hit a bump the dash will light up and then go.
Thank you for the tip.I look for ever to locate the small wire and I found a couple of grounds on the bottom of the engine and I cleaned them up. Still the same problem until I looked closely from the bottom of the engine toward the top and there it was 2 black and white wires together hanging down. I reconnected them together and the dash came to life. I still need to find out where they need to be connected.
Thanks again.
Houston54 wrote:
Having just fought intermittent electrical issues on my 2003 Suburban Z71 I thought others may benefit from my experience and seeming simple solution.
The background on the problem is that my 2003 sub (82K miles) experienced what seemed to be a major system anomaly one day. I had just crossed over a slight bump when the chimes started going off, the door locks started cycling, the dash lights flashed, the cruise control became inop, the average miles/gallon reading went from 15.2 to 8.1, the ABS light and the parking brake dash light came on, the message center started throwing error messages of all kinds. The engine went into reduced power mode but continued to run. As suddenly as it started everything except the dash lights for ABS/parking brake stopped.
I then spent several days researching the issue on the web. I was not the only 2003 owner having similar issues. I found one thread that pointed to the Body Control Module (BCM) which the dealer wanted $301 for plus $107 for installation.
I also found a thread identifying a battery drain issue covered by a recall. The recall number is 02066. If you are having a problem with the battery you might check to see if your VIN is covered by this. It was 2003 specific. My truck was not covered.
Finally I found a thread that described my exact issues. The solution was not posted so I contacted the person directly. His apparent solution defies logic in its simplicity.
His solution:
There is a thin ground wire located on the back side of the engine block. It is on the passenger side and you have to remove the plastic engine cover to find it. The connection at the block is a bolted ring lug. This connection was loose on the Tahoe of the guy giving me this information. He moved the connection to terminate with the braided ground strap that connects at the firewall on the drivers side of the engine. He claimed this solved all his problems.
I checked the ground wire on my truck and it was tight. I removed the bolt, cleaned the surfaces and re-installed the ground wire. I was recharging the battery during this time. I also checked all the other wires I could to ensure none were loose. The wire bundles I did come across in the engine compartment, under the dash and in the steering column I moved around as best I could on the chance there may be a chaffed wire somewhere causing a short.
After completing the battery hook-up I tried to start the truck and found it started right up. This was done on 2/21 and the intermittent electrical gremlins have not returned. After starting the truck I drove it over some of the roughest roads in the area trying to make it hiccup again but it did not repeat itself.
The truck has started up each time since then.
I know it seems questionable whether one small ground wire/connection could be the source of the problems but the results cannot be argued. If you are having similar issues with your truck you can't lose looking at this solution before tossing hundreds of dollars to your mechanic or more to the dealer.
Darryl i n oklahoma

Lawton, OK

#13 Jan 31, 2011
I had the same problem, my 2001 suburban instrument cluster did not work for a while.I knew it was not the instrument cluster, because I connected it to my truck and it work fine. when I push the brake or turn or hit a bump the dash will light up and then go.
Thank you for the tip.I look for ever to locate the small wire and I found a couple of grounds on the bottom of the engine and I cleaned them up. Still the same problem until I looked closely from the bottom of the engine toward the top and there it was 2 black and white wires together hanging down. I reconnected them together and the dash came to life. I still need to find out where they need to be connected.
Thanks again.
Danny in Columbus

Columbus, OH

#14 Feb 1, 2011
2004 Z-71 - Electrical problems? Where do I start? Had a tranny rebuild two years ago; never attributed it to the grounding issue, hmm-m-m-m...

Windows are super slow, speedo only works when it feels like it, heated seats have a mind of their own. If I accelerate, the headlights dim. If I brake, the headlights dim. Random dash and steering wheel lights flicker. Sometimes the sunroof won't open or close.

The A/C and heat "flappers" engage and disengage at their convenience thus providing ample heat for our trek through southern Florida last summer.

Can all this be attributable to a faulty ground? I'd behappy if only some of it was@
LISA00

Quitman, TX

#15 Mar 7, 2011
We are having serious electrical issues with our 2003 Chevrolet Suburban 1500 Z71. It started with the seat warmers only workiing occasionally, then when I was trying to start it one day the ds automatic power seat deployed me and smashed my chest and legs all the way into the steering wheel and dash I was pinned against the steering wheel and dashboard until my husband heard me screaming and came to get me - It did this on its own, I hadn't touched a thing other than turn the key to start position. Then the ds power seat buttons starting working in reverse i.e. pushing forward on the button sends you backwards and pushing back sends you forward, then the service 4wd light came on the DIC and stayed on for awhile, the seat warmers started to work again on occasion and then quit altogether...again., Now the cluster panel ...speedometer, rpm and other gauges are incorrect more often than not. We are having to use a GPS to maintain speed limits.
Danny in Columbus

Columbus, OH

#16 Mar 8, 2011
Turns out the ground was NOT the issue. Looks like the car is just a piece of junk. $1000s will have to be spent in an ATTEMPT to repair things that should never have broken in the first place.
Tien

Fremont, CA

#17 Mar 10, 2011
03/09/2011

I took the engine cover off and was trying to look for the ground wire you were speaking of towards the passenger side of the engine (back). I could not find it. Not sure if it's the same on a Suburban. Is this ground coming off a bundle? Having battery issues and wanted to single this out. Battery and Alt tested good and I disconnected alarm and stereo I installed previously.

Thanks in advance!
Houston54 wrote:
Having just fought intermittent electrical issues on my 2003 Suburban Z71 I thought others may benefit from my experience and seeming simple solution.
The background on the problem is that my 2003 sub (82K miles) experienced what seemed to be a major system anomaly one day. I had just crossed over a slight bump when the chimes started going off, the door locks started cycling, the dash lights flashed, the cruise control became inop, the average miles/gallon reading went from 15.2 to 8.1, the ABS light and the parking brake dash light came on, the message center started throwing error messages of all kinds. The engine went into reduced power mode but continued to run. As suddenly as it started everything except the dash lights for ABS/parking brake stopped.
I then spent several days researching the issue on the web. I was not the only 2003 owner having similar issues. I found one thread that pointed to the Body Control Module (BCM) which the dealer wanted $301 for plus $107 for installation.
I also found a thread identifying a battery drain issue covered by a recall. The recall number is 02066. If you are having a problem with the battery you might check to see if your VIN is covered by this. It was 2003 specific. My truck was not covered.
Finally I found a thread that described my exact issues. The solution was not posted so I contacted the person directly. His apparent solution defies logic in its simplicity.
His solution:
There is a thin ground wire located on the back side of the engine block. It is on the passenger side and you have to remove the plastic engine cover to find it. The connection at the block is a bolted ring lug. This connection was loose on the Tahoe of the guy giving me this information. He moved the connection to terminate with the braided ground strap that connects at the firewall on the drivers side of the engine. He claimed this solved all his problems.
I checked the ground wire on my truck and it was tight. I removed the bolt, cleaned the surfaces and re-installed the ground wire. I was recharging the battery during this time. I also checked all the other wires I could to ensure none were loose. The wire bundles I did come across in the engine compartment, under the dash and in the steering column I moved around as best I could on the chance there may be a chaffed wire somewhere causing a short.
After completing the battery hook-up I tried to start the truck and found it started right up. This was done on 2/21 and the intermittent electrical gremlins have not returned. After starting the truck I drove it over some of the roughest roads in the area trying to make it hiccup again but it did not repeat itself.
The truck has started up each time since then.
I know it seems questionable whether one small ground wire/connection could be the source of the problems but the results cannot be argued. If you are having similar issues with your truck you can't lose looking at this solution before tossing hundreds of dollars to your mechanic or more to the dealer.
LISA00

Quitman, TX

#18 Mar 10, 2011
We checked all grounds and wiring under the hood with no results. Then, I took the seat control cover off of the ds seat and inspected wiring, didn't see anything, put cover back on and seats started working again. ds seat forward/reverse button still working in reverse but it did work. Then it stopped working again. So, went out this morn, took cover off again...put it back on and oolah! it all works again...who knows for how long though. The speedo quit working before right after we had mechanic get in there to see which BCM we needed (evidently there are three different ones.) It worked fine up until that point so I will remove cover and check that wiring next. Maybe the mechanic knocked something loose while he was in there.
CT 2003 Z-71

Glastonbury, CT

#19 Mar 11, 2011
Same exact issue with the dash going haywire - but it does seem like a grounding issue as the bad cluster's I have seen on pick ups tend to not work at all or are pegged to beyond a readable position on everything, will ck this weekend on the ground and report back.
GIL

San Jose, CA

#20 Mar 16, 2011
2003 suburban-seat problems,heater doesn't work to warm the seats and the adjustments don't work either.Checked the circuit breaker and it's fine. Also checked all the wire connections as well. No luck

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