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rpmdiag, Tech and Instructor
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Experience:  Since 1975
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I have a 1998 Pontiac Bonneville. At times it not start.

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I have a 1998 Pontiac Bonneville. At times it not start. Solenoid clicks once and the power goes out (for a couple minutes and then comes back on. It's in park. Neutral start will work once in a awhile but it isn't reliable. I replaced the ignition harness and when it decides to start, it works fine. No rhythm or reason to when it starts. Starter is good - had it tested several times. Battery is fine and relatively new - good clean connections. Driving me nuts!
JA: Where exactly do you think the noise is coming from? And how long has this been going on?
Customer: No noise - it just goes power to zero for a few minutes
JA: Are you fixing your Bonneville yourself? What have you tried so far?
Customer: Yes, myself. Please see bove for what I've tried.
JA: Anything else you want the mechanic to know before I connect you?
Customer: Can't think of anything.

Hi, I'm Ron and I will be helping you today.
Stand by for a moment while I prepare your answer.

It sounds like a bad ignition switch. I see you replaced the harness already.

Please understand that I don't know your skill level or tools
you have to assist us. Also understand that I can't see, smell,
hear, or touch the vehicle either, so your patience is
appreciated. JA is a great Q/A site, but it does not replace a
repair shop. So please don’t shoot the messenger if I have to
deliver bad news:)
If you are satisfied with my answer, I would greatly
appreciate a 5 star rating now before you leave the site and I
will still assist you after you have rated me too if another
question pops up. I don’t get credit for helping you until
you rate me

Thanks, Ron

Did you have any more questions for me at this time?

Thanks again, Ron

Customer: replied 27 days ago.
I'll get back in a while. Gotta pick up kids at school. Thanks.

Okay, well I'll be gone for a while myself too. We'll connect again later on.

Thanks again and please remember to rate me 5 stars now
and keep this link in case you need me again later on.
I don’t get credit for assisting you until you rate me

Ron

rpmdiag and 2 other Car Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 27 days ago.
Are you available now?
Customer: replied 27 days ago.
I replaced the Neutral Safety switch and it still does the same thing - Power to dash instruments and interior lights, etc. Run switch to start and the starter solenoid clicks once and ALL the power goes out and stays out for 15 minutes or so. It's almost like tripping a breaker in your house, without the ability to reset the breaker.

I was referring to the actual ignition switch in the steering column, not the neutral safety switch.

Thanks again, Ron

Customer: replied 27 days ago.
I assumed that. I replaced the switch on the steering column which is part of the wiring harness . The key portions is purely mechanical and is operating well and properly adjusted; except that I don't know about the VATS reader on the column below the steering wheel. Would the VATS kill everything after the solenoid clicks once(no dash or interior lights, nothing)?
I don't want to get off on the wrong tangent but I can't find another reason. Any other thoughts?
Customer: replied 27 days ago.
The other symptom is that after the system dies, if I disconnect the battery, wait a couple minutes all systems are back to normal. I tried to start it, on start, of start, etc. on the third try it died again.

That is just the key switch, that was NOT the ignition switch.

The switch is located near the bottom of the steering column.

See attachment of location.

Thanks. Ron

Customer: replied 27 days ago.
OK, you got me - my terminology isn't exact. I did replace the ignition switch - it is part of the wiring harness along with the hi-beam dimmer.
Thanks.

This is crazy. When this happens, can you put the gear selector in any gear with the key on and your foot on the brake?

Maybe the shift interlock is causing this.

Ron

Customer: replied 27 days ago.
Crazy is what I'm becoming. But, yes, the gear shift works fine. I rechecked the adjustment on the Neutral Safety switch as well, and it's right on. Most of my successful tries to start it are in neutral. After the first start it will start a few times in park, then it won't start again. It's almost like its laughing at me.

Well, the only thing left to do is voltage drop testing at the time it's acting up. From the starter solenoid all the way up to the ignition switch. This has to be a connection issue somewhere then and NOT a failed part. This isn't a flood damaged car is it?

Ron

Customer: replied 27 days ago.
No, not a flood car. I've has it for years. Initially the security light will come on normally, flash a couple times as normal. From what I've found with the VATS is that if it's the key or security system the security light will stay on.

Okay, we need to address that then. See attachments. If this doesn't work, resetting it, then the BCM may have an issue sending the signal, which the voltage drop testing would reveal. A scan tool will be needed to test the BCM if these reset procedures do not work.

Ron

Ron

Customer: replied 27 days ago.
This may take a while. Thanks - be back later.

Okay.

Thanks, Ron

Customer: replied 24 days ago.
Had to take some time off to work on work.
So, voltage drops simultaneous to turning the key to start, and after a few minutes (or disconnecting the battery for a bit), we're back in play until a start attempt is tried in park or neutral - and everything goes dead. I did just notice that the interior lights will go out when depressing the brake pedal!
Customer: replied 24 days ago.
Following some videos I found I decided to bypass the VATS. My key has resistance of 1133 ohms. (I only have one key so I can't test it against a spare). Do you have access to the GM key-resistance list? I understand there are 15 different by-pass keys issued by GM for the year 1998. (Everybody seems to hate this system.) I'm contemplating replacing the BCM with one from the local junk yard...

No, I do not have that information, but you may be on that right track with the back.

Thanks

Ron