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Buick Forum: Factory Grounds? Big 4 Electrical Upgrade w/ Deep Cycle Battery 220Amp Alt
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  1. #1
    GunnyP is online now Junior Member My Buick(s): Buick Park Ave Ultra 1993
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    Factory Grounds? Big 4 Electrical Upgrade w/ Deep Cycle Battery 220Amp Alt

    Having killed the AAA battery thru serial abuse, decided to upgrade the problematic power/ground distribution system. 93 PAU with 87K miles but 4K in the past month as I began using it for work. The power antennae had been detached as parasitic draw a couple years back. The battery voltage never topped 12.3V without surface charge and took several turns to crank. Power seats, locks and sundry worked intermittently at best. The rebuilt alternator from god-knows-when managed a paltry 13.1V with full electrical load at highway speed.

    Had to jump start it 10 times since November. Heavy use of electrics with vehicle off for hotlogic mini ovens, desktop tower (12 harddrives), laptop, router & heater necessitated deep cycle battery upgrade and robust alternator. The ground behind the battery: combo ground of the passenger headlights and engine to chassis had high resistance.

    Could only find 3 factory grounds: (1) negative battery post to engine block beneath ignition system, (2) engine to chassis from beneath ignition system w/ pass. headlights and (3) driver headlights to chassis. The alternator body seems to be grounded via a bar to the engine block. Beyond that I've not found any engine grounds to frame or firewall.

    Bought a 34/78 Northstar AGM deep cycle battery w/ 880CCA, 2/0 welders wire, tinned copper terminals, heatshrink tubing, 16ton hydraulic crimper, 220amp DB electric alternator and lucked into an Eaton commercial 1000W true sine inverter. So far I've completed the Big 4 with substantial improvement in cranking (now immediate), had to dim the dashboard which suddenly glowed feverishly and powerseat memory and exit now work. Battery voltage at 12.8V and holds at 14.8V with full electrical load. Used Dremel to wire brush cleane the ground surfaces; still need to apply dielectric grease.

    93 PAU Big 4 Upgrade.jpg

    I don't see any grounds from engine to frame but then again I don't know whether the frame and chassis electrically isolated one from the other necessitating further grounding. I think I should add more grounds to be sure any suggestions.

    Removed dashboard trim and glove box thinking to run power cables to the pure sine inverter through the firewall grommets behind the glove box but can't quite figure out how best to manage that yet.
    Last edited by GunnyP; January 12th, 2018 at 09:06 PM.

  2. #2
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    Re: Factory Grounds? Big 4 Electrical Upgrade w/ Deep Cycle Battery 220Amp Alt

    Between the two of us we can bury our Park Avenues in the junkyard with our electrical upgrades.

    I had the misfortune of finding a series of Youtube videos produced by Buick for their dealer service mechanics circa 1991 to 1994.

    There we're two flavors of Buick Park Avenues which rolled off the assembly line. One flavor was a decent car if the owner took it to the dealer and had a son or nephew that worked there and it wasn't badly cursed from the onset.

    The other flavor of which included most of them we're electrical nightmares with peeling paint and no start conditions or if it did start, the stress of when it would quit on the road took a few years off the remaining years of thousands of kindly Grandparents as they drove to their daughters home for Christmas 2 hours away with their eyes twitching...

    This wonderful car left the owners hating the car, the smart ones bailed out early, the loyal Buick owners we're left bloodied and bleeding as they hung on to the life raft like Jack in Titanic, finally loosing their grip and slipping beneath the waves with ice in their noses and a depleted retirement account.

    Few are still alive and those are the ones we have, the others we're dropped into the jaws of the crusher primarily due to electrical problems that could not be repaired.

    Buick admitted that the electrical harnesses we're too short requiring the assembly line workers to muscle the connectors until they heard a snap. The harnesses under the steering column required the workers to jam the column into place. Sharp screws stabbed wiring causing positive and negative shorts, fun stuff. Checking continuity must be done with a load, two strands of copper will ohm out but won't carry a load, according to Buick. What I've noticed is that Buick told the truth, the wires are too short and bend at right angles and a "Knee" is observed where there can be a break in the copper that conducts and then goes open whenever it pleases.

    Buick specifically warns against messing with the grounding scheme since high current load circuits like seats and windows can interfere with low current loads circuits like computers and sensors. The reason for this is that the OBD1 hybrid pile of joy was engineered by Satin and piggy backs sensors and their signals through other devises like the cruise control and the EGR.

    If the EGR signal is disturbed the car will barely run and the torque converter won't release which will stall the engine at a stop light drawing sympathetic stares from motorists watching you struggle to start the old dated car. "See that poor man in the car that won't run, he has no money because he didn't go to college" a father driving a new Mercedes will say to his wide eyed son. The light turns green and the son turns around to take one last glance at the loser with his head down twisting the key trying to get it started. That be me last month. Embarrassing and degrading.

    Next time I have a plan. A signed pink in the glove box and no personal effects onboard and if it croaks on the road I get out and briskly walk away, the sound of wailing horns fading as my former fellow road warriors blocked by the pig beast begin to remember what a POS it was for Grandpa and the raw hatred for the Buick is rekindled.

  3. #3
    GunnyP is online now Junior Member My Buick(s): Buick Park Ave Ultra 1993
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    Re: Factory Grounds? Big 4 Electrical Upgrade w/ Deep Cycle Battery 220Amp Alt

    Quote Originally Posted by 94buick123 View Post
    Between the two of us we can bury our Park Avenues in the junkyard with our electrical upgrades.

    I had the misfortune of finding a series of Youtube videos produced by Buick for their dealer service mechanics circa 1991 to 1994.
    Ha!Ha! My daughter is always berating me to just buy a new car! This was my dad's although my brother-in-law was responsible for most of the miles and none of the upkeep. Frankly it is a better bit of kit than many from both my days of vehicular exuberant youth and understated elegance. It has shown no demonic tendencies so far and, treated responsibly, I'm wagering will be worth the parts expenditure as long as the elbow grease is shouldered by me and that knowledge I can't suss from google by you stalwart lads

    In fact, your YouTube vid comment led me to look again at the Rivlanta https://www.youtube.com/user/Rivlanta Buick "Know How" series. I had begun watching that series but stopped, thinking "What do they know?"

    Well, they have one called the 1993 Product Overview. She presents what's new on the revamped 1993 GM 3800 engine. Well, wouldn't you know, they changed the O2 Sensor for 1993 from single wire to a three wire heated version.

    I've changed that damned O2 Sensor twice since April as the Service Engine Light kept claiming the O2 Sensor was faulty. Although Rock Auto shows both three wire and single wire for the PAU, what I took out, and hence believed to be original, was a single wire unheated O2 Sensor so that's what I put in. Clearly this was wrong! I'm pretty certain that the mating harness appeared capable of multi wire input. I'll look again but hopefully a three wire will stop the intermittent

    Daughter: Dad, your check engine light is on!

    which is particularly disturbing and perhaps damaging to parental authority.

    Thank you much! And remember: We must endeavor to persevere!

    PS: Drat! The 3-Wire O2 Sensor is for the base model only. I'll have to see if the Service Engine light comes on still despite the enhancements.
    Last edited by GunnyP; January 15th, 2018 at 07:04 PM.

  4. #4
    GunnyP is online now Junior Member My Buick(s): Buick Park Ave Ultra 1993
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    Re: Factory Grounds? Big 4 Electrical Upgrade w/ Deep Cycle Battery 220Amp Alt

    Noteworthy information on grounds:

    Automotive Society of Engineers classify ground numbering by location.

    100's (g101, g102, etc..) are located under hood in the engine compartment.
    200's (g201, g202, etc..) are located around passenger compartment kick panels
    300's, 400's, 500's, 600's are inside door panels. FL FR RL RR
    700's and 800's are in trunk or hatchback.

    Chassis grounds are described in most wiring diagrams by orienting the nearest component assembly i.e. "by strut tower".

    As esteemed colleague 94buick123 points out below this suggestion: "Typically all you need to know is where the ground is and then add a redundant ground where you know it will return to battery negative unresisted." could cause a world of hurt if high power grounds are combined with computer component grounds.
    Last edited by GunnyP; January 18th, 2018 at 09:11 AM.

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    Re: Factory Grounds? Big 4 Electrical Upgrade w/ Deep Cycle Battery 220Amp Alt

    A 5 volt reference is low voltage and normally it's okay to run extra grounds as long as you stay away from the computer grounds since the body shell offers the lowest resistance to the battery. Any wire has higher resistance than the chassis because 14.4 volts ain't a lot of pressure.

    Run a 20 amp load from a amplifier 17 feet to the trunk from positive and run a 1 SAE cable to the negative battery and get the drop. Then use the chassis and the drop is minimal, the positive will be the 2 volts you see.

    Now peek at the sill plate grounds wrapped in a mess of electrical tape and plastic bits for support. Three ground wires are soldered to a harmonica reed one of which runs to the kick plate as a primary ground. The reed is used as a noise filter flux field so the various little gremlins running around hit a electric fence to keep them in line, some of the time.

    Run your new grounding scheme and it's likely you will experience hells fury as I did. Don't believe me?

    Run a nice 4 gauge engine to frame ground from the EGR stud to one of the three bolts on the shock/strut mounts. All you need is a 13MM socket 10 inch extension and a three foot cable. I dare you!

  6. #6
    GunnyP is online now Junior Member My Buick(s): Buick Park Ave Ultra 1993
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    Re: Factory Grounds? Big 4 Electrical Upgrade w/ Deep Cycle Battery 220Amp Alt

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    Quote Originally Posted by 94buick123 View Post

    Run your new grounding scheme and it's likely you will experience hells fury as I did. Don't believe me?

    Run a nice 4 gauge engine to frame ground from the EGR stud to one of the three bolts on the shock/strut mounts. All you need is a 13MM socket 10 inch extension and a three foot cable. I dare you!
    Oi! Thank you very much but not a challenge anyone should be taking up!

    Thanks to your reference, I was able find this topic covered in this Buick Know How vid https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOfAawnWzhE

    They do explain that the ground current flows from larger power components like windows and doors dwarfs the small ground current flows on which the computer equipment relies to properly take action as shown below:

    Attachment 11325

    Corrected the erroneous advice posted earlier. Thanks for making clear this important point!

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