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Discussion Starter #1
In my mother's 2013 Chevy Malibu LS, the Instrument Cluster Panel (ICP) is not working. It is not coming on, can't see how fast she is going, how much gas is in the car, etc. At first, this was an intermittent problem. Sometimes the ICP would not come on when starting the car, sometimes it would - but go out while driving. Sometimes it would reset while driving. Now it just does not come on at all. I searched high and low on-line for the cause and fix. Cannot find a fix, but found many others having this same problem. Could you please help, scared to take it to dealer for reasons of high potential cost. Since I have seen it work, just afraid she will be told it is the ICP itself, even though from time to time it does work. I just don't want her to get caught up in potential fixes, that ultimately doesn't fix the problem, thus causing her to hemorrhage monies that she can't afford. Her son, my brother, a retired Army veteran, Bronze Star recipient, is dismayed by this, of course believing his mother should not have to go through things like this in our commercial society - a society he has risked his life to help protect. Please help.

NOTE: I checked the 5 AMP fuse, even swapped with another, no luck. Last time it was working, I could hear the stepper motors tick as the needles moved up, then back, during ICP start up. Also, noticed - when working, as I open the door to get in, a half-inch thick blue line appears at the bottom where the digital speed displays. Simply, when I open car door to get in, if this blue line appears, everything works after starting car. If it doesn't appear, nothing but engine trouble light (engine icon) shows for a second as the ICP is starting up.
 

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Read this thread and see if there is anything that'll help.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited by Moderator)
Thank you for the reply. I did come across this when searching this forum for a fix. I took note it was talking about terminal fretting corrosion and using dielectric lubricant to correct the problem. At one point during this problem my mother is having - after turning car off, my cousin hooked his meter to the disconnected negative cable of battery - he still saw a high AMP draw (12, I think). This, of course, means there is a possible parasitic electrical issue.

So, I took his advise and used a cheap tool that has a light in the middle, needle on one end, and alligator clip on the other end to diagnose the parasitic electrical problem. I taped the pin side to the negative side of battery with electrical tape, hooked the alligator clip to the negative disconnected cable and the light came on. I did this after the car was turned off over 15 minutes. I had read that some draw will always be happening after car is off, but it should be less than 50 milliamps. The light was bright, so not in milliamp range, verifying what my cousin saw with his meter. I then pulled every fuse (both under the hood and inside the cab), one at a time to see if light would go out, thus identifying potential area of parasitic problem. The light NEVER went out, no luck.

The next day, I did the same thing with the fuses inside the cab again, as I learned through research to not have the keys in the ignition and the driver door shut. These things would cause a draw themselves. The light still never went out, but after starting the car the Instrument Cluster was alive. The ICP only stayed alive for 2 days though and has never come back on since.

It went out on day 2 while I had my mother in the driver's seat, and I was in the passenger seat, having her listen to hear a ticking noise as the needles moved during ICP start-up. The noise is subtle, she says she never heard anything, but I did. So, I had her turn the car off and back on 5 times - listening. On the 5th time, the ICP did not come on and has not come back alive since.

I did remember pushing a heavy harness cable back, the second time I tried to pull fuses. I have tried that again (pushing the harness cable around), but to no avail. It could have been disconnecting the negative battery cable that brought the ICP back to life, as I did this before and the ICP came alive for a day in the past. Now, disconnecting and reconnecting the negative cable to battery (after waiting 15 minutes) does not even work anymore.

I will probably try putting the dielectric lubricant on all pins connected where I see multiple harnesses plugged in around the fuse box in the cab.

There is, what appears to be part of the floor board under the dash (driver's side). Can anyone tell me, how to safely remove the plastic things holding this in place? If I can remove this, I can disconnect and reconnect the main cable plugged into the ICP, and see what that does.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Just giving everyone an update. The only thing I have done thus far is clean the battery cables and used dielectric lubricant when reconnecting the cables to the battery. I also used the dielectric lubricant on the fuses involved, the one for displays and the other for the ICP itself. The ICP still did not come on just after applying. But, a few weeks later, the ICP came back to life, for a few weeks. I had noticed the temperatures at night were warmer than in recent weeks when it started working again. Also, the night before it stopped working again, it was cooler at night. This morning 7/16/2020 I went out to see if it was working again, since it was very warm last night. Believe it, or not, it is working again. I'm just not sure how warm and cold temperatures, or humidity, play a role in all this. I would appreciate some feedback from those that have knowledge of electrical circuits, where the power comes from a battery, and how colder weather would make the circuit not work.
 

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Temperature expansion / contraction will cause connection issues.
Read the fretting corrosion sticky in the Gen 7 section. That Generation of cars had lots of connector issues and in my opinion some of the terminals used in making wiring harnesses certainly could have made it into '13 cars.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
This morning, 7/22/2020, The Instrument Cluster Panel (ICP) is working again. It has been very warm lately, but last night it rained. I'm very confused on how weather would make the ICP work, or not work. The last time it did work, I was driving it to a friend's house on July 4th. On the way there, everything worked fine. On the way home, it worked, but it did recycle itself 3 times just seconds apart from one another.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Since metal expands when hot and contracts when cold, I would have expected it to work more on warmer days.
 

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I've had warning messages a few times during very hot weather. The car drove fine on the way to work those days, which got up above 90*F and very humid. When it was time to go home, though, it was a different story.

A storm had come through, dropping the temps into the 70s and pouring down rain. When I started the car, there were messages to Service ESC and Engine Power Reduced! The drive home was interesting. In those 10 or so miles, the car was barely able to move at first, but as it got further down the road, then engine's power gradually returned.

The next morning, there were no messages and no driveability issues whatsoever.

My best guess was that fretting corrosion had been present on a number of important connections for the GM LAN, and the drop in temperature caused the high humidity to condense where it could, including those connections. I figure it caused them to be just sketchy enough to cause the issues, but corrected themselves as the AC started to handle the humidity, plus the issue must have been reduced enough overnight to not cause a repeat the next morning.

The link I posted above is to that fretting corrosion thread.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I was thinking the same thing, condensation (water) around the problem, was allowing it to work since water conducts electricity. I do have some dielectric lubricant, but do not know where to apply it.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I just went out to my corner store, 7/22/2020 7:30 AM, and the Instrument Cluster Panel (ICP) is not working again. Just thought I would post, since I posted that on 7/22/2020 3:00 AM the ICP was working. The one at 3:00 AM, I just opened the driver side door to see if the digital speedometer lighted up, as every time it does when opening the door, it stays working after starting the car. The weather conditions at 7:30 AM, were that it was just starting to rain again and was 71 degrees. The temperature was about the same at 3:00 AM (not raining, but did recently rain as the ground was wet).

I hope that tomorrow 7/23/2020, if it is not raining, as I do not have a garage, to locate the BCM (passenger side under dash, I believe) and use dielectric lubricant on the connections.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
It also makes sense that since the ICP resets itself sometimes while driving, that small vibrations that occur while driving is causing/resolving problems with the BCM connections. I have also seen the ICP reset itself while using the button to unlock all doors as well as using the turn signal, but not always (actually rarely) on either.
 

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Dielectric grease / lubricant only seals connections AFTER being cleaned with a contact cleaner/lubricant. It doesn't remove any oxidation or corrosion on the connectors. My go to is DeOxit , I use it on every electrical connection, even bulb sockets.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Would CRC 5103 Quick Dry Electronic Cleaner work? It came up when I did a search for DeOxit on google. Also, would I apply the dielectric grease after using the cleaner?
 

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  1. Clean with cleaner.
  2. Burnish by unplugging and plugging back in a number of times, maybe 5 to 10 times.
  3. Dielectric grease to help prevent moisture from causing further corrosion.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks, I will be trying on the next non-rainy day (probably tomorrow - 7/23/2020 - supposed to stop raining at 7:00 AM), as I do not have a garage. I will be sure to post results.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I have just pulled the carpet and padding back enough, on the passenger side to see if I could locate the BCM and harnesses. I see something, that might be the BCM, (located just to the left of the glove box, underneath the dash) but I don't see any harnesses or any cables plugged into it. I did an internet search to see what the BCM looks like and the only thing that looks similar on what I actually see is that it is a black casing. Also what I actually see looks thicker than what I saw on my internet search.

Can anyone tell me precisely where the BCM is located on this generation of Malibu?
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I know the fuses are located on the driver side. Just below the fuses are 2 harness connections, each secured with a binding strap. Is this the area of the BCM in my generation of the Malibu, and are these 2 connections where I'm supposed to clean, burnish, and apply dielectric grease?
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Just went out, with a flashlight, and looked around the internal fuse box. First, I need to apologize, there are 6 or 7 (not 2) harnesses connected to a slender black box, behind the fuses.

Now, if I just knew which harness in the BCM is the one connected to the Instrument Cluster Panel (ICP), I could just clean and test that one - as I'm not having any other problems than that with the ICP.
 

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The fuse box and BCM are combined into a single unit.

On my 2011, which is a Gen7, there is a BCM behind the removable inspection panel on the passenger's side console, plus there's another attached to the back of that BCM and it's more easily seen from the driver's side inspection panel.

Do all of the plugs that have a locking bail that you rotate backward in order to unplug it.

If you're feeling industrious, there is also the TCM under the hood and a number of other items (sensors) that use low voltages that might benefit from being cleaned and protected.

The ICP has a locking bail on its plug, but to get to it you have to remove it from the dash.
 
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