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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
2002 Suburban 2500 / 4x4 / 8.1L
84k miles

Suburban dash gauges all die at once, then come back on, with entire dash lighting up (like when you first start vehicle), then goes back to normal. It did this two days ago at low speed (25 mph) on smooth road. Then I drive for 50 miles with no problems. Did it again yesterday on smooth road but at 45 mph, but then engine revs, and it appears transmission is stuck in second (drive selector is in “D.”) May have done they tranny downshift two days ago when dash gauges died, but I just didn't notice it since that was at low speed? Drove today with no problems.

Advice/comments so far from others include:

1) Bad ignition switch. Power to the IP goes through it, that's why the intermittent failure. The PCM power also goes through the switch, thats why the trans gets stuck in 2nd or 3rd gear...the failsafe mode. May or may not set any codes. 2002 was good for that. and

2) Or possibly a loose connection at cluster or anywhere from its feed or ground. Agreed response 1 above is more than likly right on the money.

Hard to solve when you can't duplicate at mechanic's shop.

Any ideas??

Thanks!!
 

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You should be able to diagnose the ignition swtich issue by starting the vehicle, then shaking and jiggling the key in the ignition. Messing with it in this manner should reproduce the problem. If this doesn't do it, then I'm going to guess it isn't the ignition. It could be a ground issue, like the main ground going to the battery is loose, damaged, or insufficient for the vehicle. Have you added any aftermarket power-eating goodies into the vehicle before this started occuring? (car audio, lights, winch, etc)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the quick response!

You response with My comments in *****

You should be able to diagnose the ignition swtich issue by starting the vehicle, then shaking and jiggling the key in the ignition. Messing with it in this manner should reproduce the problem. If this doesn't do it, then I'm going to guess it isn't the ignition.
****** Did that this morning and could not get it to fail.

It could be a ground issue, like the main ground going to the battery is loose, damaged, or insufficient for the vehicle.
*******Pulled batt cables and cleaned them off yesterday, then it failed 15 mins later.

Have you added any aftermarket power-eating goodies into the vehicle before this started occuring? (car audio, lights, winch, etc)
****** Bought used Oct'04 from original dealer who sold it to guy who was now trading it. (Yea, he ate a ton of depreciation) Original owner had aftermarket DVD Player installed with twin fold down screens and two power inverters and AV outlets to add video games, etc. so you can do two sepearte things on each screen (TV, DVD, or whatever you want to connect to the AV outlets.) It was profesionally installed and looked stock. We only use when on trips, and for the 3+ years we have owned it, we have not had any electrical issues. Has a master cut off switch in front and that stays off. It's one of those things I would have never bought/paid for myself, but it was perfect vehicle for us as we wanted and SUV (nd not PU) to tow a 33', 9k Travel Trailer, and this Burb is a 2500 and has the big block for 10k+ towing and at a good price. Thanks
 

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I had the exact same combination of problems with my 95 Suburban. Intermittently, the instrument cluster lights went out - specifically the PRNDL gear indicator light (the dealer referred to it as IPC and the "PRINDLE") and the transmission felt like it was stuck in 2nd/3rd gear.

Replacing the ignition switch solved these problems it has been 3-4 months without incident. It cost me 218.22 in parts and 309.45 in labor to get it fixed at the dealer.
 

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Check for a bad or broken ground wire from the engine to the firewall, or frame rail.

We have a lot of ground problems with our Fieros and this sounds like the same problem.
 

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I had this problem with my '02 Suburban. I have the service manual on DVD and it includes the TSBs and it turns out that there is a TSB for this problem. In my suburban, it started out that I would have all the gauges drop out and other dash lights (like ABS, CEL) would come on. This would happen from time to time while driving. More recently, all this would happen every time I started the vehicle but I could get it to come on with a firm tap on the end of the key. If I just drove it with the disabled gauges, it seemed like it was in limp mode because it was starting in 2nd or 3rd gear.

The service manual instructions for the replacement of the ignition switch are fairly good with a couple of exceptions. The airbag module removal procedure is a bit difficult if you don't know what you are trying to do when you are releasing it from the steering wheel - it's a blind operation, all by feel with a flat bladed screwdriver. Once you see a steering wheel with the airbag removed, you can see what is going on. Look for a YouTube video on Satruns by a guy named richpin for a good tutorial on this.

The only other thing that was tricky is a connector that sits above the ignition lock cylinder. The service manual talks about rotating it 90 degrees clockwise before lifting it out. However, it doesn't want to rotate freely because there is a hidden lock tab on the back side of this connector (furthest away from the location where the key is inserted). If you break this connector taking it out it's no big deal because the replacement switch has a new one so if you can't release the hidden tab, no worries.

The service manual lists a special tool for removing the switch. It is not needed. If you pull down on the switch while inserting a screwdriver in the holes where the switch tabs lock it in place, it releases pretty easily. No need to insert two screwdrivers simultaneously - if you pull down and release them separately, they should not lock back in place.

The other thing to be aware of is the indexing of the gear in the ignition switch. Being an inquisitive person, I fiddlled with this gear after removing the switch without first noting the position of the gear. Make sure you note the correct position of the gear before doing any "fiddling" so you can set it properly on the replacement switch before attaching it.

One other thing - there is a metal "shroud" around the steering column under the knee bolster panel held on by four bolts. I don't think the service manual mentioned taking this off but it is easily removed and makes access to the wire harnesses much easier so just take it off after removing the bolster.

Also note that there is a 14 pin and a 10 pin variant of this switch. You don't really know which one you need until you get the old one off. To determine this, count the number of actual connectors on the big plug that bolts on under the dash. Mine had 14.

The TSB for this is: Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL) On, Transmission Stuck in Second or Third Gear, Instrumend Cluster Inoperative (Replace Ignition Switch) #01-07-30-002D - (Oct 19, 2004)

 

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Can you recommend a good source for an ignition switch? I found a couple with a Google search, but I'm less than convinced that they'll actually be the right part (and I don't want to wait until I have everything apart to find out).

Thanks,
Kevin
 

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Can you recommend a good source for an ignition switch? I found a couple with a Google search, but I'm less than convinced that they'll actually be the right part (and I don't want to wait until I have everything apart to find out).

Thanks,
Kevin
Kevin.....in order for Us (Members) to help you, What Year and Model is your Vehicle??


Also, by chance did you notice that this Thread is over 2 yrs Old??
 

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2003 Suburban 5.3L 4x4

Original cluster had bad stepper motors and was replaced under warranty at dealer in 2008. The needles went all over the place parked or running.

Replacement cluster ran perfect until it 2 weeks ago. This time it was not jumpy needles going 140 mph etc., all dark no needle readings (all pegged at 0) no idiot lights except the check engine light check upon startup, it goes on and then goes off when started. The illumination lighting goes on, lighting up a dead cluster at night so I know there is power going into it. NO gear selection indicator, NO computer messages, all dead. Since Check Engine light is NOT on, no codes are stored or readable. I wiggled the ignition switch, no luck, still no cluster movement. Truck still starts up and runs fine.

The truck still ran fine, shifted fine, we drove 1 week perfectly fine, just no readouts and so we topped off the gas tank more frequently to prevent low fuel.

I called the dealer who replaced it once already 4 years ago. Manager said if they find out it is indeed another bad cluster, he will get the part replaced for just $110 labor. Good deal, so I decided to pull fuses and check first to make sure I ruled out the basics. Checked some forums and someone mentioned resetting the computer by disconnecting the 2 battery wires and touching them together for 10 seconds to clear memory.

All related fuses checked out fine, so I decided to do the clear computer thing. Put everything back together, truck started up fine, still no cluster readings. Oh well, must be bad cluster. Took it to the dealer the next day. a few hours later, service manager said they will order one, bring it back in a few days.

Drove home and within the next few days the transmission shifted funny, first slipping out of overdrive 4th gear. The RPMs would go up, I let go of the gas pedal and it will engage again. Checked fluids, all OK. Drove the next day and now 3rd gear was slipping! I was losing a gear a day!

Puzzled, I did the computer reset again, no luck, same thing around the block. The following day, it would not go into 3rd now, slips after 2nd. I was able to go on the freeway 4 days ago, 2 days later I can't go faster than 40 mph and now I am just limping on 2nd at 15 mph which it slips out of too!

Does the computer tell the tranny to go into limp mode if it does not get feedback from the cluster?
And when the transmission is in limp mode, is there a Check Engine Code stored in the OBD2?

Hard to imagine the cluster having anything to do with the computer and transmission as it is just for humans as a readout of the stats. I picture it more like a computer monitor that went out, but your PC still boots up and runs in the background.

Anybody experienced a bad cluster causing a transmission not to shift properly anymore?

I am puzzled and now might have to tow it to the dealer to replace the cluster and wondering if they are going to stick me with a $3000 bill to replace transmission too!

Thanks!
 

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Thanks for the quick response!

You response with My comments in *

You should be able to diagnose the ignition swtich issue by starting the vehicle, then shaking and jiggling the key in the ignition. Messing with it in this manner should reproduce the problem. If this doesn't do it, then I'm going to guess it isn't the ignition.
** Did that this morning and could not get it to fail.

It could be a ground issue, like the main ground going to the battery is loose, damaged, or insufficient for the vehicle.
*******Pulled batt cables and cleaned them off yesterday, then it failed 15 mins later.

Have you added any aftermarket power-eating goodies into the vehicle before this started occuring? (car audio, lights, winch, etc)
** Bought used Oct'04 from original dealer who sold it to guy who was now trading it. (Yea, he ate a ton of depreciation) Original owner had aftermarket DVD Player installed with twin fold down screens and two power inverters and AV outlets to add video games, etc. so you can do two sepearte things on each screen (TV, DVD, or whatever you want to connect to the AV outlets.) It was profesionally installed and looked stock. We only use when on trips, and for the 3+ years we have owned it, we have not had any electrical issues. Has a master cut off switch in front and that stays off. It's one of those things I would have never bought/paid for myself, but it was perfect vehicle for us as we wanted and SUV (nd not PU) to tow a 33', 9k Travel Trailer, and this Burb is a 2500 and has the big block for 10k+ towing and at a good price. Thanks
Yes, I added a simple $99 pioneer touchscreen stereo and now I have cluster problems, front windows won't work, front speakers don't work, door locks won't work, drains my battery every night, I have to jump it. I know the stereo is connected properly. Professional looked at wiring. Just lost at this point and I work on electronics.
 

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Try pulling the radio fuse.

It may not fix anything; but I'm interested in seeing if the battery stops draining
 
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