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Pete, Technician
Category: Car
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Experience:  17 years automotive training and experience.
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Holden Commodore: I own a 2005 Chev Lumina LS 3.6 (AloyTec)

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I own a 2005 Chev Lumina LS 3.6 (AloyTec) which is actually a VZ Commodore.

Every once in a while the starter would refuse to crank and the on board computer would report a fuel gauge error and the fuel gauge would indeed show zero fuel in spite of the fact that the tank would be more than 50% full.

After a multitude of retrying, sometimes battling for two hours or more, the gauge would suddenly become active and the car would start and the problem would disappear for months. Once when this happened I even tried to disconnect the battery and the reconnect but the gauge remained at zero and the starter wouldn"t crank.

I had the the whole fuel pump assembly replaced by the agents, which included the fuel gauge sender unit, but the problem persists. I also had the software updated but no joy.

Where do I start looking for the problem and is there any way that I could persuade the firmware to ignore the fuel gauge and crank the starter? Some kind of a bypass maybe?

How is it possible that a car could be made in a way that if a fuel gauge doesn't work the car wouldn't start? Surely there must be way to bypass the problem in a case of emergency?

The agents can't help be because by the time I get there, there is seemingly nothing wrong with the car and it starts faultlessly every time.
My name is XXXXX XXXXX I am a professional here at Just Answer. I noticed that your question was not getting a response and thought I would ask to see if you still need help with this.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.


Hi Pete!

I would really appreciate any help I can get to fix this problem. In our country a car that doesn't start could cost your life.

What makes it very difficult is that the problem is intermittent and
only pops up once in a while, some times as long as 6 months apart.


When I get to the dealers the fault has disapeared.




When you say the engine doesn't crank is starter not turning over the engine to start or is it turning over the engine but the engine isn't starting?

Let me know,thanks Pete.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

It means that nothing happens when you turn the ignition key. The starter does not work at all and the fuel gauge needle is on empty and the computer says "Fuel gauge error. Contact dealer." All other accessories does work.

Then after a while, after many atempts, all of a sudden when you turn the key, the gauge would pick up to where it should be and the car would start.

O.k.,it is difficult to say for sure from here exactly what is causing this fault but from what you have described and with it being intermittent like this here this may be caused by an internal computer fault itself in some cases or possibly an internal intermittent electrical fault in the electronic ignition switch itself.

Unfortunately the only way to know for sure is for a shop or dealer to test this system when it is acting up.I would have them double check and make sure all battery connections are clean and tight as well as this can cause this type of fault intermittently.

I hope this info has helped,if you need anything else let me know before rating my help here,thanks Pete.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Pete!

I replaced the battery recently and the connectors are like new. I do want to add the following: It NEVER happens when you start the car from cold, like in the morning. It never happens when you start the car immediately after switching it off. It always happens when I drive into town, park for an hour or so and then get back and try to start it. A few days ago we stopped at a shopping mall and after having switched off the car, I first tried the car and it was fine. An hour later it refused. The fuel gauge does pick up sligtly so as to be level with the lowest red marking but then stops there in stead of going to where it is supposed to go. At the mall it was about 75% full.

Remeber that the agents already replaced the fuel sender unit and updated the computer firmware. All to no avail.

O.k.,it may be possible this is an intermittent internal electrical fault in the ignition switch itself but it is difficult to say for sure from here if this is the case or not without it being tested when the vehicle is acting up unfortunately.

I wish I had more info to give on this here but it is difficult to say for sure from here without the vehicle acting up and testing to locate the fault but the ignition switch failure can sometimes be common on allot of different vehicles and may cause this type of fault here.

I hope this info has helped,if you need anything else let me know before rating my help here,thanks Pete.
Pete and 3 other Car Specialists are ready to help you

I'm just following up with you to see how everything is going. Did my answer help?

Let me know,
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Pete!

I am sorry to have kept you waiting. I had to properly check your advice and it took some time. I did check the ignition switch but it seemed to be perfect.

The latest is that I tried to start the car whilst it was acting up by removing the starter relay and applying 12 volt to the starter solenoid and the car started immediately.

I then checked the wiring diagram and noticed that the starter relay coil is activated by earthing it in the ECM upon turning the key to the start position. I checked this and it worked perfectly. I then followed the 12 volt supply to the relay coil and noticed it came from fuse F15 under the steering wheel. I removed the fuse and noticed signs of corrosion on the blades so I replaced it. The car has since started perfectly every time.

I am quit certain that the problem it is now something of the past.

I do think however, that taken everything into consideration, your assessment of the problem was very close. Hence my rating.

Thanks for the help.


Your welcome,glad to see the issue has been located and resolved.Let us know if you need anything else in the future,thanks Pete.