Ignition switch relay?

MikeSS

New member
16
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Buick Ownership
1995 Park Avenue
1995 Olds (same as '95 PA).

Just got this car recently. It started easily with no hesitation when at the dealer's. Now that it's home, I find I sometimes have to turn the ignition switch numerous times before the starter will catch. The obvious thought is that it needs a new solenoid but before I pull the starter I thought I'd ask if anyone knows if the ignition switch runs through a relay? If so, it could be a bad relay. It's very strange that it had no problem at all at the dealer's lot but soon as I got it home, this ignition switch problem started. Immediately. How weird.

All connections are tight, although the connector from battery to solenoid was loose. I figured that was the problem but nope. It's probably the solenoid but thought I'd ask - is there a relay in the circuit somewhere?

It's also got a battery drain so I'll be tracking that down. It would be nice if the drain is caused by a solenoid that is shorting out and causing the leak . . . but that would be just too easy.
 

bluiewest1

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Georgia
Buick Ownership
01 Park Avenue base
Have a similar problem. Sometimes I turn key and nothing happens, mostly after car has been sitting overnight. On rare occasions it happens after I've been driving around. The starter solenoid is hanging up and doesn't engage. Keep a hammer in the trunk and tap the starter a few times when it doesn't want to work. I've been doing that for a couple of years even though I have a new starter from Rock Auto sitting in the garage.....
 
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2007 Lucerne CXL, 1995 Lesabre currently, past 1973 Riviera, 1968 Riviera
If the starter sounds like it needs a jump and the battery is fully charged more then likely the starter is going, but you could pull it and have the parts shop check it.
As it's a new car for you, if they gave you another key try it and see if the security lights are on when it's not starting. The chip can make it go a little buggy, if you use a pen eraser on both sides of the key chip if will clear it up. Hood, glove box and trunk lights all are the easiest suspects battery drain. If you have a aftermarket stereo from the previous owner also a good idea to check if it's draining the battery. Check the negative cable side and make sure it's grounded, cheap things to start with.
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MikeSS

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16
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3
Buick Ownership
1995 Park Avenue
Thanks for the ideas. The starter doesn't grind, the solenoid just clicks. I'll try the hammer idea.

Could this be related in some way to the factory installed security system? It's got a digital dash and one of the lights and icons that come on when going through the key turning/starting process is one that says SECURITY. It's definitely factory, not aftermarket. Above the factory CD player is another light that comes on that says "anti-theft something". It just occurred to me today that this might not be a solenoid/relay/starter problem at all but something related to the factory security system that I know nothing about. But intend to learn. I hope it's not something only a dealer can address :-(

What is a pen eraser? I know about pencil erasers but this might be some electronic gadget that I know nothing about.

I only got ONE key with the car - one ignition with the VAT chip and one regular key for doors and trunk. Another project to follow up on. I need to find the resistance of that chip in the key and order some on eBay. Locksmiths want a fortune to duplicate these keys so I'm going to try the eBay seller.
 

HotZ28

Full Member
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1996 Roadmaster Limited Collectors Edition 58k - 1996 PAU
If when you turn the ignition switch to the ON position, the security light should flash for 3-sec the go out. This is what they call the bulb check test. If it stays lit solid after the bulb test, you would have a security issue. However, if the starter solenoid is clicking, but not engaging the starter I sounds like it is not a security issue. Does the security light flach for 3-sec then go off??
 

MikeSS

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Buick Ownership
1995 Park Avenue
If when you turn the ignition switch to the ON position, the security light should flash for 3-sec the go out. This is what they call the bulb check test. If it stays lit solid after the bulb test, you would have a security issue. However, if the starter solenoid is clicking, but not engaging the starter I sounds like it is not a security issue. Does the security light flach for 3-sec then go off??
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Thanks for taking the time to send that info. I haven't gotten into my Owner's Manual nor the Shop Manual I have from the '94. So some of my ignorance, maybe all of it, is my own fault.

Your question about the Security light. With key on it stays lit for three seconds and goes out. The check engine light stays on and a couple other things but when the engine is running (I didn't start it just now) there's no warning lights or icons other than the seatbelt light.

I took a close look at my center console with the factory radio and CD player. Just below the CD slot is a divider that says "Oldsmobile" on the left side and on the right side it says Theftlock. Immediately to the right of this word "Theftlock" is the little CD logo that's just a badge for something. It's not a button or switch.

I had said earlier that with the key turned on a light came on just above the CD player that said "theft" or anti-theft or whatever it was I thought I remembered seeing. Going out just now, nothing illuminates over there except the time of day on the radio screen. My mind somehow connected the word Theftlock with the security light on the instrument panel. There yet may be some connection - I need to find out what Theftlock means and how to turn it off or on or disable it or whatever. It's on the same flat divider as the word Oldsmobile so it's a factory device, whatever it is. It's possible it applies to the CD player and radio console? I can't imagine thefts of factory installed combo radio and CD players were such a problem that the component has it's own anti-theft system and if so, where is it? It may be in the Owner's Manual. Or you may know.

I need to go do the hammer trick and see if it works. I'd be relieved to discover it's a bad solenoid . . . but it was just too strangely coincidental that the car started easily, several times on two or three different days at the dealers. It was only when I got it home and went to start it that this behavior started. I figured it for a bad battery initially, coming from a used car lot . . . but no, the battery is from Costco and is dated 2017 and took a full charge and holds it for days - unless it's connected to the car. I wire cleaned all the connectors to the battery and at the solenoid. Surprisingly, the connection at the solenoid was quite loose so, tightening that and cleaning it up, I figured I'd solved the problem. But no. It has continued to act like this every time I go to start it. At least I know if I'm patient and turn the key enough times with a solenoid click each time, it will eventually engage the starter. But the last thing I want to do is wear out my ignition switch so I've just let the car sit. I use my bike for just about everything, but sometimes I do need the car for out of state trips so getting this solved needs to be done. I know a good electric shop but I hate turning it over for things I could have done myself. Sounds from your post that it's probably a bad solenoid/starter. I assume it would be the solenoid but it could be something with the starter as well . . . but why would it only start doing this after leaving the dealer's lot? They're Middle Easterners, probably Iraqis. It was probably dumb of me to let them know I didn't much like Arabs but I give off that vibe I guess, especially if they're selling me something. One of them maybe put a curse on the car since they sensed I didn't trust them an inch.

It's awful fishy . . . starts and runs fine on two or three days while I was scouting this car and on a couple of those days they had no idea I was coming. It was stuffed way in the back and dusty. Looked like they'd given up on selling it for $2800, their price when my car was stolen last October. Surprisingly, I got it back but with all my goodies taken, including the keys. The bastards took something like a jaws of life - hydraulic cutter of some kind, and tried to steal the full tank of gas that was in it but they failed. Sure screwed up my filler tube though. My '94 had been severely violated and I knew I needed a new car - especially after I bought another Costco battery booster and put it on the floor in the back seat, doors diligently now locked, and found it missing next time I looked for it. For many years I use to leave the car in front of the house, windows down and keys under the seat. I had a nice 35mm camera, a dash cam, a GPS, a charged Caterpillar battery booster, box of tools in the trunk, the donut and two jacks, especially my Cadillac jack I kept when I sold that car. Best rachet-type jack I've ever had. So all of that was stolen. I hadn't considered that the thief keeping the keys was anything to worry about. When they opened the car and stole my new battery booster I realized I have a thief in my neighborhood. It's always been so safe here . . . but my missing car and missing everything else was a rude awakening that I haven't been paying attention to what's going on around me. Population density has probably doubled from what it was when I bought my property in 2001. Lots of changes going on around me but I've been living my life as if it's been the same neighborhood I've known since the mid-80's. Nope. I'm starting to be more diligent about locking things up and to not advertise things to steal by leaving them all over the place, as I always have. Experiencing these two attacks on my property has served to wake me up. Expensive lesson, but it could have been worse. I could have left my wallet under the seat along with the keys, something I used to do pretty regularly. It's been THAT safe of a neighborhood . . . until now. Also a factor with my careless concern regarding thieves is knowing there's inherent protection in driving an old car. Who would think there would be valuables in an old Oldsmobile? Somebody who lives or works around here thought it was a good target. Most thieves wouldn't see much value in stealing a '94 Oldsmobile. That's generally true and is of some value. Driving an older car is good camouflage. I must have a real lowlife around here.

It's expensive as hell to get all the car locks changed. Plus it didn't feel like my car anymore. I sold it to a fellow in Ft. Lauderdale who had one same year, same color, and wanted mine since it looked nice and his was looking pretty ragged. So he's driving mine and using his old one for any parts he might need. I only got $800 for it but he paid for my trip there and back so the '94 had a happy ending. The junkyards here only thought it was worth $300 and I couldn't sell it in California since it had Oklahoma plates, so it worked out well considering the limitations I had to work within.

Going back to the '95 I'd found on Craigslist while thinking I'd never see my '94 again, I discovered the dealer still had it, back in the back and all dusty. This was two months after I'd first went to look at it. So my visit was unexpected. The car started fine, everything appeared to work, so I offered him 2500. No dice. He wanted 28. It looked and sounded and felt like a very nice car so I bought it a few days later after taking it for a short test drive. I plugged my code reader into the OBDII receptacle and found nothing of concern. Once I get the kinks worked out - like with this electrical problem(s) - it'll be a keeper. The paint is nice. It's been garaged. I'm the third owner. I talked to the service manager where the previous owner had it serviced so I knew some history. Like my first Oldsmobile, the '94, this '95 started life in Arkansas. Quite a coincidence!

I drove the '94 from East County San Diego to Ft. Lauderdale in 2½ days and even managed to visit friends in Naples, after I'd delivered the car. I was going 90 to 110 for much of the distance. Quiet. No road or wind noise. Felt like I was going 45. Even with 191K on the engine, I averaged 29 MPG for the complete trip of 2800 miles and used half a quart of oil. These are really wonderful vehicles and they were expensive as hell when new, so if a person finds one that's been well taken care of, paying $2800 for what was a $30K car back in 1995, is a damn good deal. They're easy to work on too.

I'm being diligent about keeping this one locked - or I will once I start using it anyway.

Re the dealer who sold me the '95, I had shown up at least twice unexpectedly and each time the car started right up. Now that it's in my driveway, the battery that's in it will go flat in two days, three for sure. Except for my first visit when I saw it advertised, my subsequent visits were random and I found the car looking neglected and parked behind two or three rows of other cars, so obviously they weren't expecting me yet the car's battery was not flat and it started instantly, each time. Upon arrival at my home, half an hour from the dealer's lot, it suddenly started this key turning behavior.

I need to go do the hammer trick. Thanks.
 

MikeSS

New member
16
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Buick Ownership
1995 Park Avenue
The book says the "Theftlock" is just for the radio/CD player. It may be somehow connected to the ignition system though so I need to fool with it. I haven't done the "hammer trick" yet.
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Buick Ownership
Buick
I hear ya about "Used To Be Safe" Where I used to live I had my work van which was a Dodge Maxi with windows all the way around. I had over 10 grand in tools in plain sight on shelves and racks. I has my stereo and some big speaker boxes hanging from the cieling right behind the front seats. I would go to the Mall to my fav greek place sometimes for lunch to get a Gyro, some deep fried mushrooms and a couple longneckBuds. When I got back to my rig way out in the parking lot, there were my keys, hanging right in the ignition as always. Nothing missing, nothing meddled with. One time id did get stolen, as a joke, by some associates who wanted to drive it across the mall parking lot to fetch their lunch. When I got done with my meeting with the Contract Sales Dept and went to leave I noticed my vehicle was GONE. I didn't panic at all, I just scanned the perimeter until I saw it and started walking to fetch it. The two funny boy cohorts were walking back to the shop and when they saw me they almost crapped themselves (By the looks on their faces) and started apologising and begging forgiveness for their misdeed, I just shook my head and called them dumbasses and asked what made them think they were worthy to drive MY rig?? Told them that Even the vehicle knew they couldn't handle it and probably stalled out on purpose just to be rid of their foolish asses. And it worked. They stood there watching as I walked up to it, got in, looked at them with disgust and pitty, cranked the key and just like it always did, with the timing set just off top dead center, Fired Right Up with what I liked to call a Quarter Click of the key. Their jaws dropped in amazement as they watched me aproaching, I laughed on my way by, reinorcing their unworthiness and as I got to the end of the lot I dropped into low gear, hooked a left turn and lit up a mighty fine brodie on my way to the exit.Ya, my work rig was a bored out high perf small block 360 pumping out 400 ponies with a shift kitted 727 Torqueflight pushing a Dana 60 Suregrip in a 1 ton maxi van and even the local mustangs and camaro's hated me and wouldn't tell that story to their buddies EVER.lol (I Got Spanked By A Maxi-Van, boo hoo)
What I didn't tell the two yutz's was that toggle switch on my dash is the fuel pump LMAO Foolish Mortals !
 

MikeSS

New member
16
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3
Buick Ownership
1995 Park Avenue
On my way out of town in my Mazda 323 with trunks on a platform on the roof and the inside stuffed with boxes and bags, I dashed into a drugstore to buy something quickly, something for the road. I was on my way to Nairobi and had stopped in Harare for a few days after leaving Johannesburg. I knew better than to EVER leave my keys in the ignition anywhere in Africa, so I hadn't done that . . . but still, when I came out of the drugstore, maybe five minutes at most, three or four Africans were pushing my overloaded Mazda out of the parking lot and onto the road. They scattered when they saw me coming and so I didn't lose the car, although they had gotten into it and stole a bunch of easily-grabbed stuff. The ignition wires had been jiggered so they'd tried to start it and if I had not had a kill switch in the car I would have lost the car plus everything in it and on it.

The point of this story is that a switch like you had to your fuel pump or to anything that will keep the car from starting, can mean the difference between losing your vehicle or keeping it. If I had put one in my '94 Olds I could have continued to leave my keys under the seat and windows down as always. I might have lost a few things from the interior on the night my car was stolen, but the larger things like the spare, jacks, toolbox . . . heavier things . . . wouldn't have been stolen. It's such a simple strategy yet can make all the difference.

Your post reminds me to keep this project (installing a kill switch) at the top of my list. Until I get this solenoid situation sorted out I'm not driving the car but once I start using it, it's going to have a kill switch. Do you have a suggestion, with these electronic-packed cars (as opposed to your relatively simple Dodge) regarding what component to connect it to? Fuel pump still?

If my ignition switch runs through a relay before it lets the battery connect with the solenoid . . . if it has such a relay, which I still don't know if it does or not . . . seems like that would be a good place to connect the kill switch?

You know, having a simple kill switch is better theft protection than all of the fancy systems that blow horns or sirens, flash the lights, and make all the noise when they go off for no reason like they seem to do all the time.

My anti-theft system that's worked so reliably all these years here in the States, has turned out to not be very foolproof. Driving an old car that nobody in their right mind would steal has been my rationale. It turns out that there are some thieves so low as to even steal an old car!
 
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