'02 Envoy won't start

harveyfam2001

Original poster
Member
Aug 24, 2012
42
Went this morning to start my wife's Envoy and it wouldn't even turn over. Keyless works fine, gauges, interior lights, and radio works just fine and all came on like normal, yet when I turned the key it wouldn't start and not even attempt to turn over.

I'm thinking it's the ignition switch. My wife said she noticed it started a little difficult yesterday at lunch. It started just fine last night but this morning it won't do anything.

Could it be anything else like the battery, or starter solenoid or am I correct in thinking it's the switch?
 

The_Roadie

Lifetime VIP Donor
Member
Nov 19, 2011
9,957
Portland, OR
Well, the essence of troubleshooting is to do experiments to see where the problem is specifically. With a meter, you could see if the start signal got from the ignition switch to the starter relay in the front fuse block, then trace the starter relay output to the starter and then see if it was the wiring or the solenoid.

Otherwise, it's almost impossible to get a guaranteed diagnosis without doing some work.

But statistically, you're right. It's most often the ignition switch, they have a high failure rate, and they're relatively easy and cheap to change. But it could be the wiring, the starter relay, the solenoid, or the starter itself.

It's not likely to be the battery with the symptoms you mentioned, UNLESS the lights all go dark when you turn the ignition switch and you didn't mention that. The radio would also reset the clock if that was the case.
 

harveyfam2001

Original poster
Member
Aug 24, 2012
42
the roadie said:
Well, the essence of troubleshooting is to do experiments to see where the problem is specifically. With a meter, you could see if the start signal got from the ignition switch to the starter relay in the front fuse block, then trace the starter relay output to the starter and then see if it was the wiring or the solenoid.

Otherwise, it's almost impossible to get a guaranteed diagnosis without doing some work.

But statistically, you're right. It's most often the ignition switch, they have a high failure rate, and they're relatively easy and cheap to change. But it could be the wiring, the starter relay, the solenoid, or the starter itself.

It's not likely to be the battery with the symptoms you mentioned, UNLESS the lights all go dark when you turn the ignition switch and you didn't mention that. The radio would also reset the clock if that was the case.

The only thing that happens when I turn the key is the gauge cluster resets itself and the LCD screen resets itself.
 

harveyfam2001

Original poster
Member
Aug 24, 2012
42
the roadie said:
Does the starter relay under the hood click? The symptoms so far are consistent with a bad switch or relay or solenoid.

No click at all. No sound other than I think the radio switches off but that does that under normal startup for a split second anyway.
 

harveyfam2001

Original poster
Member
Aug 24, 2012
42
the roadie said:
Unless you have a meter and want to check out the starter relay socket, it's time to start shotgunning.

A better way to describe the behavior: It acts like it's in gear and I'm trying to start it.
 

harveyfam2001

Original poster
Member
Aug 24, 2012
42
It ended up being the battery. The shop tested it and said all cells were good but that it was low on charge which is strange but then again I accidentally let it go dead when I was in the middle of installing our nav unit in it. I found out from my wife's grandmother that she replaced the battery last 2 years ago.

Trickle charging the battery overnight solved the issue. I will be replacing it in a few months most likely with an Optima red-top.
 

de3jr88

Member
Dec 8, 2011
45
Airdrie, Alberta, Canada
Might I suggest a different battery. The Interstate Megatron 800 series 78 is possibly the best battery I have ever used. I have used it in 3 vehicles in the last couple of years including my Envoy which was done nearly 3 years ago. It is certainly not the most inexpensive battery retailing here for $168 but it has enough power for just about anything. It has 800 CCA (i know you probably don't need that in Texas) and 1000 total amps for long use without charge.

I have no personal experience with Optima batteries, but have heard that their quality has diminished over the past couple of years.
 

harveyfam2001

Original poster
Member
Aug 24, 2012
42
Well it's back.

Right after I posted that I was going to wait a few months and buy an Optima I actually had the battery replaced under warranty (to the cost of $28 out of pocket due to the price difference) with the same exact model Interstate battery. That was around the 16th of October.

Flash forward to this morning: Envoy won't start. Same exact issue. All lights come on, our nav unit comes on, gauges come on (what's odd is there's no light dimming like before with the old battery). I've had several people think it's the nav unit draining the power system. It's an aftermarket JVC nav unit that we had in our Sienna before we got the Envoy and we had no issue with it there.

My bro-in-law who is one that thinks it may be the nav also said to check the alternator by disconnecting the negative battery cable while the Envoy is running. He said that if it stops running after I pull the neg battery cable it's the alternator.

The alternator would be easy for us to remove but when we tried to replace the thermostat we found one bolt holding the alternator to the block was stuck. I'd hate to break the head of the bolt off. :sadcry:

Any thoughts?
 

Voymom

Member
Feb 3, 2012
2,523
harveyfam2001 said:
Well it's back.

Right after I posted that I was going to wait a few months and buy an Optima I actually had the battery replaced under warranty (to the cost of $28 out of pocket due to the price difference) with the same exact model Interstate battery. That was around the 16th of October.

Flash forward to this morning: Envoy won't start. Same exact issue. All lights come on, our nav unit comes on, gauges come on (what's odd is there's no light dimming like before with the old battery). I've had several people think it's the nav unit draining the power system. It's an aftermarket JVC nav unit that we had in our Sienna before we got the Envoy and we had no issue with it there.

My bro-in-law who is one that thinks it may be the nav also said to check the alternator by disconnecting the negative battery cable while the Envoy is running. He said that if it stops running after I pull the neg battery cable it's the alternator.

The alternator would be easy for us to remove but when we tried to replace the thermostat we found one bolt holding the alternator to the block was stuck. I'd hate to break the head of the bolt off. :sadcry:

Any thoughts?

Lots and LOTS of PB blaster...let it sit for a while, like I don't know 10 minutes or so, then hit with PB blaster again, and slowly and carefully try to remove the bolt. Trust me, it won't be fun breaking that bitch in the block lol My husband broke 2 bolts in the block when we were changing the water pump. Neither of us slept that night, and as soon as the tool store opened we went and got some easy outs...so I would suggest getting those too before you even start trying to remove the bolts.

It could be a possibility that the aftermarket nav is causing an issue, although I don't know how likely it is. I wouldn't know where to start on diagnosing, my honest to god guess would be a short somewhere? But if you have a bad t-stat and need it changed I wouldn't wait....Driving it around like that can cause even more serious issues that will cost you an arm and a leg to replace. If you try to do the PB blaster just go slow....SLOW lol. If you start getting anxious or nervous or pissed off...take a break, grab a cold one, do whatever to calm yourself before going back to it. I was a absolute wreck when my husband broke the 2 bolts on my truck. I don't think I have ever stressed so much about something in my entire life like I did over the truck when that happened lol.
 

The_Roadie

Lifetime VIP Donor
Member
Nov 19, 2011
9,957
Portland, OR
harveyfam2001 said:
I've had several people think it's the nav unit draining the power system.
Did you get the briefing on how to check for parasitic current drains? Do you have a decent digital voltmeter and some time to spend?
It's an aftermarket JVC nav unit that we had in our Sienna before we got the Envoy and we had no issue with it there.
What sort of adapter was it installed in the Envoy with? (The kind of adapter you have to use to retain the warning chimes, etc.)
 

harveyfam2001

Original poster
Member
Aug 24, 2012
42
the roadie said:
Did you get the briefing on how to check for parasitic current drains? Do you have a decent digital voltmeter and some time to spend? What sort of adapter was it installed in the Envoy with? (The kind of adapter you have to use to retain the warning chimes, etc.)

I'll have to see if I can borrow one from work.

This is what I used to retain the factory chimes, though for some reason it's way too quiet even after making it as loud as possible: CRUX SOOGM-15 GM Factory Integration Adapter Lets you install a new stereo in select 2000-up GM vehicles while retaining OnStar®, warning chimes, and steering wheel controls at Crutchfield.com
 

The_Roadie

Lifetime VIP Donor
Member
Nov 19, 2011
9,957
Portland, OR
harveyfam2001 said:
I'll have to see if I can borrow one from work.
At only $6 ($2 on sale) at Harbor Freight, I recommend everybody own one to carry around. It can instantly tell you if you have a bad battery or something else going on in a failure to start scenario. There's not the best, but they sure beat staring at a wire and wondering what voltage is on it. :biggrin:
 

NewfieEnvoy

Member
Jan 25, 2012
525
the roadie said:
At only $6 ($2 on sale) at Harbor Freight, I recommend everybody own one to carry around. It can instantly tell you if you have a bad battery or something else going on in a failure to start scenario. There's not the best, but they sure beat staring at a wire and wondering what voltage is on it. :biggrin:

Agreed Roadie, I've spent years trying to visually determine the voltage potential of a wire with no success :wink: Only issue is most people that don't own a DMM also don't know how to use one. So a tutorial should be included. I lent a meter to a friend who was doing some home wiring and he nearly electrocuted him self, called me an a$%^&le for lending him a busted meter. Said I used the meter and it showed zero voltage. He had the positive lead plugged into the current port :eek:
 

The_Roadie

Lifetime VIP Donor
Member
Nov 19, 2011
9,957
Portland, OR
NewfieEnvoy said:
He had the positive lead plugged into the current port :eek:
Eek indeed. A common misconception among folks who think they're measuring 115 V "current". Or when a circuit quits working they describe the issue as a "short" and not the much more common open.
 

harveyfam2001

Original poster
Member
Aug 24, 2012
42
Well I think I can rule out the battery, alternator, and our nav unit now.

I was in the process of getting both the Envoy and our other vehicle ready to get jumped and I was curious so I went to try to start the Envoy before I could hook anything up and it started up just like that like usual when turning the key.

So now I'm thinking ignition switch or starter solenoid. What do you guys think?
 

harveyfam2001

Original poster
Member
Aug 24, 2012
42
How do I get the tilt steering lever off? I tried to follow the instructions on the other site but the tilt steering lever is in the way.
 

Sparky

Member
Dec 4, 2011
12,927
When my truck did this it was my starter. Just FYI.
 

harveyfam2001

Original poster
Member
Aug 24, 2012
42
Installed a new ignition switch on Friday and so far so good.

Not sure if I'm trying to notice anything but the contacts on the old switch looked dirty as I could see black lines on the metal. Again not sure if I'm just trying to see something.

We had fun trying to get the new ignition switch installed as I thought I had the teeth aligned right. Figured out real quick when the radio stayed on no matter what. We got it on the 4th or 5th try.

The key seems to turn with a little more resistance like a new vehicle would. I do like that. The Envoy starts up a little better too.

We'll see if I will be revisiting this thread later. I sure hope not. :smile:
 

harveyfam2001

Original poster
Member
Aug 24, 2012
42
Well that didn't take long. Went to go start it up so that we could go to church this evening and it's doing the same thing.

Now I'm suspecting it's the starter or the solenoid. What do you guys think? Like I said everything comes on electrical. It acts like I'm trying to start the vehicle with the transmission not in park or neutral.

How easy is it to change out the solenoid?

One other detail: It did rain this afternoon. This morning it had just started raining but the Envoy started up fine. We were able to drive it to church this morning. Could that have anything to do with it?
 

harveyfam2001

Original poster
Member
Aug 24, 2012
42
Sparky said:
When my truck did this it was my starter. Just FYI.

Did you replace the starter motor itself? Is it true the solenoid is built into the starter thus to replace it you have to replace the entire starter motor?

I looked this morning after it again failed to turn over and I do see the starter. I see a blue wire connected to a contact above two bolts. If I was to try to short the connection to see if it will start what do I need to do?
 

The_Roadie

Lifetime VIP Donor
Member
Nov 19, 2011
9,957
Portland, OR
The solenoid is indeed built into the starter. Why aren't you also suspecting the starter relay in the front fuse block? When it's failing to start, have you had somebody listening to the relay and you can hear it clicking?

Shorting a control wire like that is a very dangerous troubleshooting technique. Often, you can just hit the starter with a hammer and if it starts, then you can conclude it's a sticky solenoid. Then change the starter.
 

harveyfam2001

Original poster
Member
Aug 24, 2012
42
the roadie said:
The solenoid is indeed built into the starter. Why aren't you also suspecting the starter relay in the front fuse block? When it's failing to start, have you had somebody listening to the relay and you can hear it clicking?

Shorting a control wire like that is a very dangerous troubleshooting technique. Often, you can just hit the starter with a hammer and if it starts, then you can conclude it's a sticky solenoid. Then change the starter.

I know I don't hear any clicking inside when I'm in the drivers seat when I go to start it. If I don't hear it clicking with my ear next to it under the hood then it would most likely be that relay? If it is clicking then I should suspect it's the starter itself?

If that doesn't work I'm going to have someone hit the starter with a broom handle while I try to start it. So the only fix for a sticky solenoid is to replace the entire starter? Good work by GM on that one....
 

Sparky

Member
Dec 4, 2011
12,927
If it is just the solenoid you can get a replacement solenoid through various places (I found a bunch on ebay for example). It is held onto the main starter by 3 small bolts I believe it is (and the wiring of course). I almost did that on my starter except the thing was so rusty and worn out I figured it best to replace the whole thing.
 

harveyfam2001

Original poster
Member
Aug 24, 2012
42
Sparky said:
If it is just the solenoid you can get a replacement solenoid through various places (I found a bunch on ebay for example). It is held onto the main starter by 3 small bolts I believe it is (and the wiring of course). I almost did that on my starter except the thing was so rusty and worn out I figured it best to replace the whole thing.

From what I could see this morning the wiring didn't look that bad on ours. Ours wasn't rusty like the one in your picture; it just looks like it's a used part.

We don't use salt on our roads in the winter though.
 

harveyfam2001

Original poster
Member
Aug 24, 2012
42
Well it's starting just fine now. Argh!!! Voltmeter on the battery parked with everything off is 12.9 volts. 14.6 with engine running.
 

harveyfam2001

Original poster
Member
Aug 24, 2012
42
Envoy started up this morning with the temperature outside of 39 degrees.

The only thing I did yesterday evening was verify the wiring to the starter was good and we took out the starter relay and reinstalled it. ARGH!!!!
 

harveyfam2001

Original poster
Member
Aug 24, 2012
42
Yesterday morning it was running just fine. I got a call from my wife around noon with her saying the Sirius XM part of our aftermarket nav unit stopped working. Okay, so I put it on my to do list to fix yesterday.

My wife went to pick up our kids at her sister's house and when she went to get out the key wouldn't come out of the ignition. When she turned the key to try to start it nothing happened; no lights no radio.

I drive over there and I'm thinking maybe the new ignition switch isn't quite calibrated to the proper gear orientation and right as I'm trying to get the kick panel off my brother in law was checking the battery cable connection and noticed it was loose on both terminals. As soon as he started messing with it everything came on and I was able to start the Envoy.

He said it's possible the cables need to be replaced as those were tight just a few days ago.

Has anyone here replaced their battery cables and if so how hard is it? He's ruling out the starter all together as he said if it was a sticky solenoid it should stop working altogether and not intermittent like it was.

I'm also going to replace the starter relay since it's an inexpensive part and it will be another preventative we can take.
 

harveyfam2001

Original poster
Member
Aug 24, 2012
42
I think we found the issue on this. The wiring harness box that does the chimes started alternating how loud the chimes would go, and we noticed this coincided with the battery drain.

I got the box replaced under warranty and knock on wood so far 2 weeks later we are still good.

Thanks all!!

Also, I did notice a power block under the rear seat. What is that for?
 

Wooluf1952

Member
Nov 20, 2011
2,663
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
There are about 50 fuses and relays back there.
Also, IIRC, the BCM.:undecided:
 

Forum Statistics

Threads
23,392
Posts
638,780
Members
18,601
Latest member
Chris Moore

Members Online