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1997 Firebird Radio and Windows Not Functional?


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#1 TheFoxRocks

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Posted 3 weeks ago

Hey Guys and Gals,

 

Some of you might be aware that I just inherited a 1997 Pontiac Firebird. I just drove the car to my home today which amounted to a little over two hours worth of driving. So it seems like it is in at least decent shape. The car rode a little rough so might discuss replacing some of the suspension or something later. I was under the impression these cars rode very nice despite being an older sports car.

 

So anyway right now the radio and power windows are not working. The other bad news is a friend of my moms has torn off the door panels already to try and troubleshoot/resolve the problem herself. So I need to figure out what has been done already and try to troubleshoot myself. Another user already told me that I might want to look into a "body control module".

 

1.) I do not have a manual for this car. Should I consider purchasing one or locating one online? If so, as long as I get one for the fourth generation should it have all pertinent information?

 

2.) Getting ready to change the oil, which filter and oil do you guys like to run? The car has around 140,000 miles on it, should I consider high mileage oil? I was thinking of using a Mobile 1 filter but read somewhere to stick with ACDelco. 

 

3.) Since a lot of you here have had these cars a long time, what else should I check or consider doing to this car? I have worked on cars my entire life but never owned or worked on a car as old as this one. 

 

Also would this have been better under the "interiors" forum than here? 


Edited by TheFoxRocks, 3 weeks ago.


#2 GaryDoug

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Posted 3 weeks ago

BCM (body control module) is the problem with the radio and windows, 95% sure of that. Google that. You can either buy another one or repair it yourself if you can solder to any degree. Same effort to remove and reinstall it either way.

https://www.firebird...val-and-repair/

 

The 96 is virtually the same as a 97. Free 96 service manual here: http://www.mediafire...marked.pdf/file


Edited by GaryDoug, 3 weeks ago.

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#3 Injuneer

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Posted 3 weeks ago

Gary confirmed what I told you about the BCM in the earlier thread.  Listen to his advice, and download the free copy of the 1994 factory service manual.

 

I gave you a link to a list of what work needs to be considered, in post #8 in your earlier thread.  You said you had already found that list.  As a reminder, post #7 in this thread:

 

https://www.firebird...6958-94-lt1-v8/

 

Follow the manufacture's recommendation on motor oil.  Since you are in WV where it can get cold in the winter, use the recommended 5W-30 motor oil.  Do you know if the previous owner used synthetic oil?  While conventional and synthetic are compatible and interchangeable, some people feel that putting synthetic in an older car that has never used it before can cause removal of deposits and lead to oil leaks at weak seals.  I have never had any direct experience in that respect.  Could be true, could be urban legend.  I switched my 94 to synthetic at its first oil change, and the internals looked like brand new when we decided to tear it down for the stroker build.   But that was in 2000 with less than 70,000 miles.

 

The best site for reliable info on oil is called bobistheoilguy.  It's worth a check on input with regard to switching to synthetic on an older engine.

 

https://bobistheoilguy.com/


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https://www.firebird...9_698_32777.jpg

 


#4 TheFoxRocks

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Posted 3 weeks ago

Gary confirmed what I told you about the BCM in the earlier thread.  Listen to his advice, and download the free copy of the 1994 factory service manual.

 

I gave you a link to a list of what work needs to be considered, in post #8 in your earlier thread.  You said you had already found that list.  As a reminder, post #7 in this thread:

 

Hey Fred,

 

Hope you did not take it offensively. My finale question I meant as about anything. Like 'upgrades' people frequently put on these vehicles, like a catch can for instance. I meant it for maintenance too. Like as maybe these cars are known for something going bad from bad fluid or something. I have been looking at the car and there are numerous things so far. The car has definitely been painted over in several places. 

 

The car is not even technically legal yet so I have that to take care of as well. I am looking into the BCM right now. I have experience soldering but not much. 



#5 TheFoxRocks

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Posted 3 weeks ago

BCM (body control module) is the problem with the radio and windows, 95% sure of that. Google that. You can either buy another one or repair it yourself if you can solder to any degree. 

So I got the BCM out today, I tried to copy and paste a picture here but looks like there is no easy way to post pictures unless I am missing it. So one thing that is pretty obvious is this has definitely been out before. Getting the connectors off were very difficult even after I understand them as well. 

 

Anyway I am familiar with soldering to some extent but have only soldered wires. I have a soldering kit and some 60/40 rosin core solder. I have never had to solder a circuit bored and to be honest not even sure what I am looking for. I am reviewing Gary's post right now about what to look for. 


Edited by TheFoxRocks, 3 weeks ago.


#6 ZumpTA

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Posted 3 weeks ago

To post images, select "more reply options" and attachment controls will appear at the bottom.  Select image,  upload, then add to post.


"There are two major products that come out of Berkeley: LSD and UNIX.
We don't believe this to be a coincidence."
-- Jeremy S. Anderson

"Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft...
and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor."
-- Wernher von Braun


#7 TheFoxRocks

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Posted 3 weeks ago

To post images, select "more reply options" and attachment controls will appear at the bottom.  Select image,  upload, then add to post.

Thank you sir!


So this is what I am looking at, not sure if you guys can make any diagnoses from these or not. I am not really sure what I am looking at. So I talked to the friend that worked on the car today and she swore the radio still works and did still worked when the windows did not. So I got into it today before it got dark and tried to get the radio to do anything before removing the BCM and it was completely dead. It is missing the antenna too which looks like it goes on the rear passengers side? 

 

Edit:

I just looked over Gary's thread and checked the board and nothing looks burnt out or corroded or anything of that nature. I might be able to get a better picture but the only thing I can think of is the pins from the red boxes look slightly thin but nothing is sticking out to me but I rarely troubleshoot circuit boards.  

 

So what do I need to look for on the four capacitors? The top being bloated? They all look very flat on the tops. 

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Edited by TheFoxRocks, 3 weeks ago.


#8 ZumpTA

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Posted 3 weeks ago

Yes, you're looking for bulging tops on the round capacitors.  It's hard to see flaws in solder joints in pictures even if they are close up.  My advice would be to follow Gary's instructions to re-flow the solder at the listed locations as well as the contacts he mentions.  Observe his warnings as well.


"There are two major products that come out of Berkeley: LSD and UNIX.
We don't believe this to be a coincidence."
-- Jeremy S. Anderson

"Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft...
and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor."
-- Wernher von Braun


#9 GaryDoug

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Posted 3 weeks ago

First, let me be clear about this. I do not suspect any bulging capacitors in this module. I only included that suggestion because it is easy to do while the circuit board is out and easily inspected.

 

Second, I do see some suspect solder joints in the photo. Look at the ones which did not flow solder to the entire copper pad. I am not saying they are defective but are suspect since there is inadequate solder at points, and that is probably why this module has these types of failures. Tony is correct in saying that this fault is not easily seen. I would recommend just re-flowing the solder while adding a bit of solder to all 5 points. The fault does not involve corrosion, it involves stresses on the module case that is transferred to the relay, which breaks the connection in time.

 

For those of you who may be interested in the extremely boring details of why this has happened, read on: This circuit board was soldered by an automated machine that creates a standing "wave" of molten solder while the circuit board is moved closely over it. That means that each point receives the same amount of exposure and solder. The speed of the board over the wave is adjusted to make it a compromise between each joint getting enough solder and each pair of points not getting too much so as to make a short/bridge. As a result, the larger points may get inadequate solder, as with this part. A simple solution is just to solder the entire board manually so that the worker can see each joint, leaving more solder at the larger joints as needed. Money talks, so that didn't happen in 1997.


Edited by GaryDoug, 3 weeks ago.

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#10 TheFoxRocks

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Posted 3 weeks ago

Hay Gary,

 

Thanks for the reply. Also nice eye and the confirms my suspicion as well. Even though I do not know much about these circuit boards I did notice that they did not seem 'complete' if you will. I don't know if this makes it better or not. 

'

 

Attached Files


Edited by TheFoxRocks, 3 weeks ago.


#11 TheFoxRocks

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Posted 3 weeks ago

Also just to be honest, I am not familiar with the Opti-Spark on these cars at all. I would not even know it existed without the thread pinned in this section. Anyway, this engine bay is absolutely filthy and would love to clean it up some so I can see what is going on. I usually just use a hose to lightly rinse it and then something like Super Clean and agitate it with a soft bristle brush and wash it off. I was under the impression this could be risky with a older engine and especially the Opti-Spark. Is it possible to find this thing and cover it with a plastic bag or something or is this just not a good idea under any circumstances? 



#12 ZumpTA

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Posted 3 weeks ago

It's under the waterpump and above/behind the crank pulley.   You may be able to slip a bag over the top of it.  ...again, just keep high pressure water away from it, and try not to spray water directly on it.  It isn't that fragile.  If it was, no lt1 would last through it's first rainy day.  From the top, its the connector you want to protect.  I don't think water hurts it, its antifreeze from a busted hose that is dangerous to it.  The opti and waterpump are shaft driven.  Those shafts have seals.  If the WP drive seal goes, coolant can hit the opti.   ...bad.   if the opti drive seal goes, oil can intrude into the opti.   ...bad.

 

Listen.  FORGET ABOUT THE OPTISPARK until you need to question it.  It has an undeserved reputation.


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"There are two major products that come out of Berkeley: LSD and UNIX.
We don't believe this to be a coincidence."
-- Jeremy S. Anderson

"Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft...
and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor."
-- Wernher von Braun


#13 TheFoxRocks

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Posted 3 weeks ago

It's under the waterpump and above/behind the crank pulley.   You may be able to slip a bag over the top of it.  ...again, just keep high pressure water away from it, and try not to spray water directly on it.  It isn't that fragile.  If it was, no lt1 would last through it's first rainy day.  From the top, its the connector you want to protect.  I don't think water hurts it, its antifreeze from a busted hose that is dangerous to it.  The opti and waterpump are shaft driven.  Those shafts have seals.  If the WP drive seal goes, coolant can hit the opti.   ...bad.   if the opti drive seal goes, oil can intrude into the opti.   ...bad.

 

Listen.  FORGET ABOUT THE OPTISPARK until you need to question it.  It has an undeserved reputation.

Thanks. 

 

I know water is risky for any engine. However, should I be worried anymore than any other engine if I can cover the Opti-Spark? 



#14 ZumpTA

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Posted 3 weeks ago

No. It is an engine just like any other.  If you want to be "careful" about anything, be more concerned with the computer located on the passenger fender / side near the firewall.


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"There are two major products that come out of Berkeley: LSD and UNIX.
We don't believe this to be a coincidence."
-- Jeremy S. Anderson

"Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft...
and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor."
-- Wernher von Braun


#15 TheFoxRocks

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Posted 3 weeks ago

Hey guys I was hoping you could take a look at the points I soldered on the circuit board and let me know what you think. I tried to melt down the original points as much as possible without scorching them and then just add a little solder on each side. I think it looks pretty good but have no clue what I am looking for besides "shiny" points. 

 

Also how long should I wait before reinstalling the board? For wires I just wait for them to cool off so usually about an hour. I am not sure if these will take longer to 'cure' all the way through or what. I was thinking I should clean them up with some isopropyl alcohol, but with the virus that stuff is basically extinct over here.  

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Edited by TheFoxRocks, 3 weeks ago.


#16 GaryDoug

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Posted 3 weeks ago

It takes no time at all to cool the \solder, maybe a minute or less before it can be used normally. The photos are a little hard to judge. I see something I don't like in one of them but it may be just a reflection. There seems to be a void of solder around a cavity that contains a relay pin. Perhaps take a photo from an angle. Something you can do is to watch each pin on the solder side while you try to wiggle the case of the relay a bit, Nothing should move at all on the solder side.

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gallery_14511_2130_2884.jpg
1998 Trans Am - LS1/A4 - all stock - one owner - driven daily - Scan9495 author


#17 TheFoxRocks

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Posted 3 weeks ago

It takes no time at all to cool the \solder, maybe a minute or less before it can be used normally. The photos are a little hard to judge. I see something I don't like in one of them but it may be just a reflection. There seems to be a void of solder around a cavity that contains a relay pin. Perhaps take a photo from an angle. Something you can do is to watch each pin on the solder side while you try to wiggle the case of the relay a bit, Nothing should move at all on the solder side.


Hey Gary,

Thanks for all the help and no it is where I screwed up. Not sure what I did since I am new to this. It is not as bad as it looks but there is definitely a defection/cavity there with a small burn. I know you are shooting for a perfectly smooth oval that is shiny.

#18 TheFoxRocks

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Posted 3 weeks ago

Okay so update time, I should have really checked this stuff myself and not let others convince me that they had already confirmed anything. Not pointing that at anyone from here as I mean the people who have worked on the car before me. Either way it is totally on me. I got the BCM back in tonight and the radio still does not work. The passengers window still does not work at all and the drivers side window works but it is very slow. 

 

I got ahead of myself because I checked the passengers side window when I got it home and confirmed it was not working. Having that said, my father checked the drivers side and confirmed it was not working from there either. However, he says he is not completely certain and might had only been clicking on the passengers side window control from the drivers side. Meaning there is a possibility that the drivers side window was always working or at least semi working as I mentioned. 

 

Also I just checked several of the fuses including the ones for the radio and windows with a multimeter as well. So now I am starting to suspect the motor is bad in the passengers side and possibly going bad in the drivers side. 



#19 ZumpTA

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Posted 3 weeks ago

When the complaint is "windows and radio" 99% of the time it is the BCM.  The BCM repair is cheaper and easier to address even if you have to buy a screwdriver and soldering iron.  Maybe the BCM wasn't the issue today, but it would have been soon enough. So, at the worst, you've addressed a guaranteed future issue today.  That's preventive maintenance, and that's always a good thing to accomplish.

 

AutoZone has good window motors with lifetime warranties.  In the past, aftermarket window motors were as bad as the OEM motors.  They were weak and slowed down after a year or two and failed soon after.  Fortunately, lifetime replacement.  About 6-7 years ago, I guess after losing money on free replacements, they got redesigned.  Much more torqe. No A/C in my car, and I'm a Floridian, so windows move with every ignition cycle.  Both of my latest (6 years on) motors are still fast and strong.  Well, fast by F-body standards.  They're certainly not as fast as a new Hyundai or something.

 

Do yourself a favor.  Test at the motor for voltage first.  It could be the switch.  Those are cheap and easy.  Chevy still has them. If you have to replace the motors, or even if you don't, lubricate the regulator and tracks.  They're probably very dry at this point.  That drag strains the motors greatly.  These windows were kind of slow from the factory.  It's a heavy window and the curvature adds load on the mechanism.  Not saying it's a bad design, just that the OEM motors weren't really up for the F-body to begin with.  The same motor in just about every other GM vehicle was fast and lasted as long as the car under most circumstances.


"There are two major products that come out of Berkeley: LSD and UNIX.
We don't believe this to be a coincidence."
-- Jeremy S. Anderson

"Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft...
and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor."
-- Wernher von Braun


#20 TheFoxRocks

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Posted 3 weeks ago

When the complaint is "windows and radio" 99% of the time it is the BCM.  The BCM repair is cheaper and easier to address even if you have to buy a screwdriver and soldering iron.  Maybe the BCM wasn't the issue today, but it would have been soon enough. So, at the worst, you've addressed a guaranteed future issue today.  That's preventive maintenance, and that's always a good thing to accomplish.

 

AutoZone has good window motors with lifetime warranties.  In the past, aftermarket window motors were as bad as the OEM motors.  They were weak and slowed down after a year or two and failed soon after.  Fortunately, lifetime replacement.  About 6-7 years ago, I guess after losing money on free replacements, they got redesigned.  Much more torqe. No A/C in my car, and I'm a Floridian, so windows move with every ignition cycle.  Both of my latest (6 years on) motors are still fast and strong.  Well, fast by F-body standards.  They're certainly not as fast as a new Hyundai or something.

 

Do yourself a favor.  Test at the motor for voltage first.  It could be the switch.  Those are cheap and easy.  Chevy still has them. If you have to replace the motors, or even if you don't, lubricate the regulator and tracks.  They're probably very dry at this point.  That drag strains the motors greatly.  These windows were kind of slow from the factory.  It's a heavy window and the curvature adds load on the mechanism.  Not saying it's a bad design, just that the OEM motors weren't really up for the F-body to begin with.  The same motor in just about every other GM vehicle was fast and lasted as long as the car under most circumstances.

I know I am asking a lot of questions and relying on you guys a lot, so I appreciate all the feedback. I enjoy this type of stuff, just all the other crap that has been done to the car previous is what is frustrating me. 

 

So I started poking around with my multimeter on the drivers side and found that one of the wires out of like five or six was giving me a twelve volt reading. It was a brown wire on one of the sides of the cluster that has both the driver and passengers side window controls. I had the key turned to accessory as well, none of the other wires seemed to give me any type of reading except the brown one. 

 

Also I hate to get on another topic but I noticed one of the fuses on the inside box is labeled "courtesy". Does that mean it is just a free slot? I hard wire dash cameras to all vehicles I own. I usually just tie into a slot that I know is not being used. For instance, I look for a sun roof slot on a vehicle that does not have a sun roof then piggy back off of it. That way I know the slot is not powering two accessories at once. I also plan to look over the service manual Gary provided earlier as well. I guess that will be more telling too. 

 

I was watching a video that said to check the connections on the switch and if they were good then  the motors were faulty. So I guess tomorrow I will put the multimeter lead on the connections, move the switch and see if one gives me twelve volts. Is that the best way to do it? Then if one gives me twelve volts for both sides then I know it is the motors, or is there a more direct way to test the motors? 


Edited by TheFoxRocks, 3 weeks ago.





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