1996 K1500 Electrical Issues

Discussion in 'GM Electrical Tech' started by SilveradoBrett, Oct 16, 2008.

  1. SilveradoBrett

    SilveradoBrett Rockstar

    Hey guys I am new to the forums and have been seeing a lot of electrical problems so I decided to post this issue in hopes that it may help someone out in the future. I am the PROUD owner of a 1996 K1500 Silverado Z71 and last week she started acting up on me. This is what she was doing, I would be driving down the road about 25 miles an hour and would turn my turn signal on and apply the brake to slow down for the turn. All of a sudden the truck would just shut down as if the negative battery cable had come off. I would coast to a stop turn off the headlights and put the truck in park. Then I would restart it and it would start fine. Well so the first thing I did was clean the battery terminals and the battery cables to make sure it had a good conection. That had no effect and the problem persisted. My next thought was the alternator so I took it off and went to good old checker auto parts to have it tested and it passed the load tests. So that was not the issue and then while sitting and having coffee on saturday it hit me. There has to be a short in the brake lights that is causing the problem since it was only occuring when the brakes were applied. So I crawled under the truck and I discovered that the owner before me was running trailer lights but then for some reason just cut the wires and took the connector. So only bare cut wires were hanging down where the connector would go. I could see where the brown (power) wire for the trailer lights has touched the frame and arced to forn a ground in the power system. So I put on a new connector and wired everything up right again and bam, that was the problem and I haven't had another one yet. I thought it was going to be a nightmare pulling all of the tail light wiring out and checking for bad connections but I started with the simple things first and that was the way to go. So if anyone has a similar problem, just start with the basics and work up, because sometimes the solution is right under your nose.
  2. GaryL

    GaryL Epic Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 1000 Posts Platinum Contributor

    Nice fix and great information. Thanks.
  3. MWright936

    MWright936 Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    Thanks for the info! Glad you found the fix and it wasn't a big pain.
  4. moogvo

    moogvo Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    Glad nothing smoked because of the short!
  5. SilveradoBrett

    SilveradoBrett Rockstar

    Yeah I am glad nothing smoked as well. It only did it a couple times before I took a look at it. However you could see where the wire arced and kinda left a weld bead on the frame. It was like a little flux bead. It was not good but I am glad I got it all figured out.
  6. Scott MacDonald

    Scott MacDonald New Member

    Good Find...

    I appreciate you posting this. I have a 96 Tahoe that seems to have been butchered by the previous owner. It has one of those trailer brake controllers hooked up that doesn't work and have had issues where if I hit a pothole or bump, the power goes out and comes right back on. But most recently, it started shuddering and wanting to stall, tach jumps around if I drive through a puddle. I'm curious to see if its the same problem.

    Are electrical issues with these years common?


  7. SilveradoBrett

    SilveradoBrett Rockstar

    Hey Scott,

    I haven't had time to be on this forum for a very, very long time. I just got an email saying you had posted something on this topic so I decided I would come check it out. So if I can remember right the only issue causing this particular instance was the trailer light brakes. If yours are not working it would be a good place to start. Look for any bare wire that could be hanging down and possibly grounding on something. On my particular truck the brown is the power cable, white should be a ground and green/yellow are left and right but I can't remember which one is which direction. They sell a T kit connector that connects into the factory wiring right under the frame just behind the bumper. What it does is connect the left and right tail lights. The T connects in the middle and that's where the trailer connection comes from. It is a very common, easy to do thing. They are all black, 4 pin connectors you shouldn't miss them if you crawl back there and look. You will probably have to get the spare tire out of the way to see them. Another thing I would check if that doesn't solve your problems is check all your grounds. The spike in the tach could be a few different things. But if you think it is electrical check the grounds first. Look for battery/frame, frame/motor, motor/frame etc. Check the major ones first and make sure they have a good clean connection.

    To answer your question, I have personally had a few electrical issues with my truck. The one I posted about, and a few others. One of which was missing a motor/frame ground. I have also replaced the multifunction switch because the windshield wiper fluid dispenser stopped working. When the main ground was gone it had weird symptoms like the dash lights would dim and flicker and then they would be fine. But my father has a 99 tahoe the same style as my k1500 and hasn't had a problem with it electrical. Just the broken driver door handle, cupholder and console handle that happened on mine. His is a cherry with like 100k miles on it and mine is a beat up 4X4 trail hitting monster with 250k on it. It chews up fuel pumps like they are cheap made in china junk ( get lifetime replacement parts from advance auto or oreily). Which reminds me I got some new pictures and a few projects I should put on here when I get some time.

    Well I hope this helps you out in some way or another. At least it will give you a few things to think about and tinker with. Good luck! Let us all know how it turns out.

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