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Old 06/04/2019, 08:42 AM   #1 (permalink)
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ECM failure when it comes to charging

Ok, so I am finding problem after problem with my GTS, but alas I am not giving up on it. Right now, one of my main problems is the charging system. I bought a new battery when I first got the car back in December. It would stall every now and then but, when looking at the scanner, the voltage is jumping around everywhere. I swaps out the alternator with a remanu one from DB Electrical and I am still having the same problem. I ordered a new 4 wire plug because mine looks like it's seen better days. The only other thing it could be I am thinking is the ECM as it regulates voltage with the internal regulator. Has anyone had to repair/replace an ECM because of this problem? I am planning ahead here in case I have to have the ECM sent off for repair.
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Old 06/04/2019, 10:26 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I don't know, man... The voltage regulator is in the the alternator, it's just controlled by the ecu. Before I swapped out an ECU, I'd buy a new alternator (not remanufactured like yours is) and see if that solves your problem. Different companies have different definitions for "remanufactured." Some just give it a bath and make sure it generates some power when spun. Others have more rigorous testing methods. Regardless, I doubt they went through the trouble of changing the voltage regulator. Probably just a cleaning and a new set of bearings.

Because a new alternator from rockauto is only like $100, I'd recommend going that route before changing an ECU. From there, I'd check for degraded wiring from the alternator to the ECU. These cars are old and it sounds like yours wasn't well taken car of. If the spark plug wire insulation was cracked, the alternator wiring could have been too causing the regulating circuit to short out or disconnect. ECUs don't fail often because they are solid state and sealed pretty well.

Anecdotal evidence: I've received a bad regulator before. It sucked because I spent a whole weekend troubleshooting my car to find out I had replaced an alternator with a messed up bearing with one that didn't produce enough power.

Reference: P 16-3 of the GTS FSM.

Last edited by buddd; 06/04/2019 at 10:38 AM.
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Old 06/04/2019, 10:36 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Also what do you consider "everywhere" when referring to the voltage level? What is your voltage at 2500 rpm and all of the lights off? The FSM says it should be between 13.9V and 14.9V at 10 amps draw, 68 degrees F, and 2500 rpm.

Reference: p 16-10 and 16-11 of the GTS FSM.
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Old 06/04/2019, 01:32 PM   #4 (permalink)
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With no loads at idle, the voltage one second could be 14 v. Then it will drop to 9 v. The. Jump back up to 12 v. It's not consistent.
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Old 06/04/2019, 02:15 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Just for shits and giggles, measure it at 2500 engine rpm and see if it smooths out. Then trace your wires and connections from the alternator to the ECU and the battery. Look for breaks in wires and insulation and corrosion on connections. Failing that, I'd try another alternator that you know for a fact works. Either a new one or one in a buddy's car that you've witnessed working and maintaining voltage. The ECU can be a big, expensive project sourcing a suitable one and getting it programmed to your immobilizer.

Last edited by buddd; 06/04/2019 at 02:23 PM.
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Old 06/07/2019, 08:59 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I actually found a company in Jacksonville Florida that specializes in ECM repair I might try. I have not had anytime to look at my car lately, but yesterday I did get the new plug in the mail and compared it to the old one to confirm its correct. It is and I did notice the yellow/black wire that is suppose supply power to the ECM is exposed and frayed. This has to be the issue. I will let you tomorrow after solding the new one in what happens.
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Old 06/08/2019, 04:29 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Soldered in the new pigtail connector for the alternator. The old one looks even worse after I got it out. The new one even fits like a glove on the alternator in comparison to the old one but alas! My brand new battery is shot so now I get to swap it out.
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Old 06/10/2019, 09:55 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Did the voltage stabilize though or were you not able to get it started? Even if you had to jump it with a dead battery, the charging voltage should have been correct if you fixed the problem.
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Old 06/26/2019, 08:39 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Ok, so now I think I found the culprit to my charging issue. I soldered the new alternator connector in and plugged into new alternator with new battery. I go to start when the battery is acting like it's dead. Had battery checked, battery is very good. Battery cables on the other hand not so good. The ground cable looks like ass and started smoking. Next move is to replace the ground wire but I don't see where this thing is grounded without digging im to the harness. Anyone know exactly where it's grounded? I checked Tearstone but, I am not seeing it. Also, I searched for a new cable but considering the lug in the center of the cable, I am thinking I might have to make one.
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Old 06/26/2019, 09:50 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Sorry, I'm just working off of memory at this point, but I thought the large cable coming off of the battery attached to the unibody under the battery tray or somewhere near the strut tower or wheel well on that side. There might also be a smaller wire that attaches to the harness, but I'd just cut that and splice it to the new heavier cable.
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Old 07/10/2019, 12:52 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Ok, so the ground wire is grounded to the back of the head for bank 2 (it was clearly in front of me). I replaced just the ground terminal, and checked the opposite end bolted on the head. All connections are good, but the car still will not start. It is acting like the batter is completely dead with the starter only slightly turning over. The battery tested out good which it is only 6 months old. Any ideas? I am lost and starting to hate this car, as much fun as it is to drive.
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Old 07/10/2019, 01:39 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Maybe the GTS is different, but I don't remember the large negative cable coming off the battery grounding to the engine. Can someone else with a GTS confirm? Every car I've worked on had that cable go to the body. I'd believe the smaller wire off the battery goers to the head, but not the big one. Maybe someone before you got creative and grounded the cable to a different spot than it's supposed to be.
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Old 07/10/2019, 03:19 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I'll check my GTS in about an hour when I go to lunch for you guys. Maybe with a picture to boot.
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Old 07/10/2019, 04:55 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Alright, the battery does indeed ground onto the engine block.

Picture of the Ground going from the battery into wire loom


Picture showing direction of ground into wire loom and then into engine.



Ignore the braided line zip tied to nothing... It was an extra piece from my turbo that I didn't remove due to too many zip ties..

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Old 07/10/2019, 10:07 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Have either of you had a starter motor go bad? Battery checks out good, the starter relay is clicking but starter not turning. I need to set up jump wires and volt meter but will have to do later this week.
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Old 07/11/2019, 09:39 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Oh! Thanks, for the pictures, man! Appreciate it.

I have not personally had a starter go bad, but it can happen. Before you do anything, make sure the connections to the starter motor are clean by disconnecting them and taking some sandpaper to them. Make sure they are nice and shiny before you get started. Could have some corrosion adding some resistance.

If that doesn't fix your problem, I think the jumper wires are a good idea. Connect from the battery to the starter solenoid and try to crank with the key to check to see if the wiring between the solenoid and the battery is shot. If it works, your wiring to the starter is broken somewhere. If it still doesn't work, connect directly to the starter. If the starter spins, your solenoid contacts are shot. If it doesn't work, your starter motor is shot. Keep in mind, even though the solenoid is clicking, it may still be the problem because the internal contacts may be worn or corroded.

Since you've had so many other corrosion issues with your wiring, I don't see why the starter couldn't have been affected. Luckily starters are cheap.

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Old 07/18/2019, 10:05 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Just an update, my starter took a shit. I checked voltage to the solenoid and it's good. I unbolted the starter to discover the starter gear would not retract. The thing is the factory starter I believe. It's covered with dirt, grease and road grime. Will keep you updated.
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Old 07/19/2019, 11:45 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Sucks about the starter, but at least you have a problem you can point to and fix. Hope this is the last step.
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Old 07/20/2019, 12:24 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Well this will just get me running again. My exhaust system is rotted out from the cats to the muffler and my cats are clogged. Also while changing plugs, wires, distributor cap and rotor, I found a bad connector for injector 5. I bought all new connectors and factory injectors along with the full exhaust minus the magna flow muffler I hope to still use and O2 sensors. This thing has turn from a simple tune up and is moving toward a complete restoration. But rather this stuff break now the. When driving.
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Old 07/28/2019, 11:59 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Got the new starter on. Had to take a sawzall to the bracket from the engine to the downpipe. The bolt on the exhaust was so galled and rusted that it fused to the bracket. The car will now turn over but not start. I have not had much time to look into but it doesn't sound like it's getting spark or the convertors are so clogged it wont start. I have all new convertors and exhaust components minus the muffler (hoping I can reuse the magna flow muffler). Is the bracket from the convertors to the block necessary? I think it is for the sake of the engine rocking then creating an exhaust leak. I believe this bracket is the same on any 6G72 engine and my local junkyard has a couple of Galant's.
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Old 07/29/2019, 11:53 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Yeah I'd keep the bracket if you can. If it's not on there it might stress the rest of your exhaust more. Sounds like you already have enough trouble.

Weird it won't start now. Wasn't it running at least poorly before you fixed all of the electrical things? Did you reconnect all of the distributor wires? What about sensors and vacuum lines? Did you unplug stuff from your ECU when you thought it was that?
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Old 07/29/2019, 09:36 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Yes, but me and my buddy that is a mechanic plugged everything back up. We had it running before the starter went bad. We checked for spark this afternoon, no spark. We will connect his scanner tomorrow and check for RPM reading. He says if the scanner doesn't read RPMs then it's the crank sensor. Do you know of a way to check the crank sensor via voltmeter? Ohmmeter? The part is not very expensive but, it's a pain in the ass to take this engine apart again to install. If it was easier, I would just throw parts at it.
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Old 07/30/2019, 10:19 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Sorry. Only way I know is with a oscilloscope. Maybe you know someone that has one you can borrow?
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Old 07/31/2019, 08:39 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Found the problem! It was a blown fuse. Must have happened when I disconnected the battery when I did the starter. I don't like the wing nut connector on the positive battery terminal on these cars. I usually disconnect the negitive side and not the positive. I think my buddy is doing the complete exhaust system this week and the injectors. Will keep you posted.
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Old 08/17/2019, 08:17 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Ok, so just giving anyone following this thread an update. We got the main catalytic converter off to discover it had been gutted complete. The two pre-cats are beyond clogged, one of which was fused together internally. One thing I did notice was a decent amount of oil inside of it. This car has not smoked at all since I have had it (does not include the smoke when it backfired due to a bad distributor cap) but, the PCV value was electrical taped together thus was bad. My theory is the PCV value went bad causing the engine to suck up oil in the intake plenum (there is a good amount of oil in the plenum) thus, causing the converters to become clogged. What are you guys thoughts on this?

I did have one of the injector connectors that was bad and we did change out all of them with new factory injectors. I should have it back together Tuesday at the latest.
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Old 08/18/2019, 05:07 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Also, that exhaust bracket I had to cut will not be useable on the new converters. There is no bolt holes on them.
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Old 08/19/2019, 09:13 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Must have been a lot of oil in the intake to make it through the engine unburnt. I say fix the pcv valve, put it back together and run it. After a bit, check to see if your oil in the intake problem is fixed. As long as you're not sucking up a bunch of oil and your injectors are running fine, your new cats should be in good shape.

Also, you're probably still going to throw a code if you don't replace that main cat. That is unless they rigged up something to fool the ECU when they gutted it.

Last edited by buddd; 08/19/2019 at 09:16 AM.
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Old 08/20/2019, 07:38 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Yes, I am replacing the whole exhaust system minus the resonator section and muffler (this is magna flow), and injectors, injector connectors and I replaced the pcv valve when I did the plugs and wires. This engine is almost completely new under the hood with the exception of block and heads.
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Old 08/20/2019, 09:39 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Nice. Keep us updated. hoping we're at the end of your troubles.
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Old 08/21/2019, 06:43 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Verdict is in....I have several cylinders with low compression. Engine starts and runs, then it warms up dies. Will stay running if you keep your foot on the gas. My buddy says could be due to carbon in the engine (possibly since this engine was never maintained outside oil changes). I am going to move forward with a new engine but, need one for a GTS. I don't want to go with a 6G74 swap. Can anyone point me in the right direction for a remanu. engine?
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Old 08/22/2019, 09:44 AM   #31 (permalink)
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Just to share this, these are my pressure readings. Cylinder 5 was consistently misfiring. Cyl. 1 = 150, Cyl. 2 = 190, Cyl. 3 = 155, Cyl. 4 = 170, Cyl. 5 = 145, Cyl. 6 = 185. Tearstone says min. is 149 psi.
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Old 08/22/2019, 01:20 PM   #32 (permalink)
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Usually there is a maximum difference across all of the cylinders too. If I had to guess, you're well outside of it. Sucks, man. Like I said in the other thread, I'd look for a quality salvaged engine. Rebuild is going to be expensive, especially considering how rusty your car is. (I think it's your car that I'm remembering.)

I wonder what is causing the different pressures. I wonder if the engine is just worn out or if it snapped a timing belt bending a bunch of valves up and some more than others.
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Old 08/22/2019, 02:10 PM   #33 (permalink)
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The pre cat on the rear was really clogged. My theory is the excessive backpressure damaged the head on the rear bank thus, resulting in the low pressures but the front pressures are not too much better. All because some asshole didn't replace a PCV valve and drove with the CEL. After having the car on the lift, the undercarriage is alittle Rusty but, I feel confident I could clean and undercoat it. It's just a pain in the ass. I was hoping to have this car back on the road this week.
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Old 08/22/2019, 03:52 PM   #34 (permalink)
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Yeah that's frustrating. Also look at crashed or totaled examples of GTSs. Might be able to get something you can yank the engine out of. These cars are so cheap these days, I bet you you could get a totaled example with a running engine for much less than a rebuilt long block.
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Old 08/25/2019, 03:50 PM   #35 (permalink)
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After talking to my buddies dad who is a master mechanic, he checked could compression again and got some pressures that were all over the place. He thinks it might be massive carbon on the rear bank valves. This might be the case considering the massive amounts of carbon that was in the precats. This week he said he would try to use some carbon cleaner and see if this brings the pressures above threshold considering the front bank pressures where pretty good considering the abuse and mileage on the car.
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Old 08/26/2019, 11:25 AM   #36 (permalink)
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Could be. If the cleaner doesn't work, might have to remove the head and clean them manually. Depends on how bad they are and if they're damaged.
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Old 09/27/2019, 10:53 PM   #37 (permalink)
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Well its official. The top engine Seafoam clean was ineffective. Looks like I am buying a motor. I will move forward with a used engine. There is a junkyard near me with a wreaked GTS with 90k on the car.

I am still having my charging issue though, but it might be due to the low compression. If you keep giving it gas, holding RPM's around 2k then it is ok but compression is definately low on the rear bank with cylinder 5 being below threshold.
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Old 10/19/2019, 08:41 PM   #38 (permalink)
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So after much searching, I can't find a used GTS engine with low miles. I searched for a remanufactured GTS and I can't find one of those either (apparently, remanufacturing companies are not aware of the GTS spec engines). I bought a used GTS engine for 400 dollars and am having it rebuilt. Got a very reputable machine shop locally that is doing the rebuild.
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