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2002 Oldsmobile Alero electrical problems: car won't start

Car Won't Start

2002 Oldsmobile Alero (Page 1 of 2)

This problem may be covered under warranty. Ask your Oldsmobile dealer.

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pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
120,239 miles
Total Complaints:
23 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (12 reports)
  2. ignition lock cylinder and passlock sensor replaced (3 reports)
  3. turn the key to "on" and wait 10 minutes (3 reports)
  4. ignition switch replaced (2 reports)
  5. diagnostic test found electrical ignition switch was out (1 reports)
  6. replace cam sensor wires (1 reports)
2002 Oldsmobile Alero electrical problems

electrical problem

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2002 Oldsmobile Alero Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #23

Jun 272012

Alero 3.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,986 miles


gm had better idea with this vats system NOT...... and they should own up to it. it really is a pain in the ASS......... I HAVE been a gm guy for 30 years now.but this sh*t is getting old fast...

- , Bellevue, Nebraska, USA

problem #22

Jan 042002


  • Automatic transmission
  • 180,000 miles

Had the issue everyone has with this car. You go outside and need to get somewhere, hop in your car, and it wont start. It just cranks. And cranks some more. Sometimes the security flashes, sometimes it doesn't. This was getting really frustrating seeing as how I have this car to 4 different mechanics, had a computer replaced, different wiring and stuff replaced, and had multiple suggestions on what it was.

For me, the issue was/is fairly simple. Underneath your car, located a few inches to the right of your right wheel is a set of wires and plugs. My friends dad who is a mechanic found them, gave them a jiggle, pressed them in real good, and bam the car starts. It drives really well for a week and then it doesn't start when I'm leaving the gas station. He comes back down, wiggles the wires, and then bam, it starts again. Maybe this is your issue, maybe its not. But its definitely worth looking into, and hopefully it saves you a lot of money!! :)

- , Cochranton, Pennsylvania, USA

problem #21

Feb 162013

Alero V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

The car did the same thing a couple years ago. It just wouldn't start. I put it in the shop and the mechanic said he had to replace the ignition because my key ring was too heavy.

This time around, the car dies, but can be started with a battery charger. It runs awhile, then won't start. This morning, I started it twice and both times, when I took the charger off, it died. My son did the same thing, revved the engine up for a few minutes, then, we took the charger off and it didn't die. It is sporadic and will start sometimes and sometimes it won't.

- , Springfield, OR, USA

problem #20

Mar 262012

Alero 2.4L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 185,000 miles


Thanks everyone for the tips! We started to drop the fuel tank-not fun-but then read about the relay. We took the horn relay and plugged it into the fuel relay spot and it started!!!!!!!!!!!! Yeah! We had bought the pump-233$ and were starting to remove the tank, we couldn't get the gas to siphon or the tank to release so we googled for helpful tips. Thanks again!! I also had the drivers window drop in the door and the hazards clicking. I just bought the car 1 year ago and thanks to you all will be ready for more problems.

Update from Apr 16, 2012: UPDATE- not so lucky with the relay- it was the fuel pump and we did drop the tank out, then siphoned it down because it has a safety flap so it cannot be siphoned the usual way. He used a motorcycle lift jack to support the tank while he unhooked it. It went in pretty smooth but it cost 233$ in the end and a day of farting around. So far....no problems. That seems to have solved it. Also my car has 90K on it not 190K.

- , Eau Claire, WI, USA

problem #19

Feb 222012

Alero GL V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 167,000 miles

Just wanted to add on that another 2002 Alero has problems. Just quit on me while I was driving down the highway Christmas Day....cost $600 for repair (including towing) .

Had the fuel pump replaced. They it wouldn't start two days ago....they determined it was the THEFT DETERRANT SYSTEM. Now I'm wondering if the fuel pump really needed to be replaced. Sounds like the ALERO is a big LEMMON. I just won't buy another GM vehicle...ever.

- , Waterloo, IL, USA

problem #18

Jul 152011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 176,000 miles

My mechanic changed out the passlock security switch and the ignition, then took it for a test drive. When he got it back to the shop and shut it off, the car would not restart, so he put it on the diagnostics and found a problem with the cam sensor. I immediately browsed this site to see if anyone else had a problem with that, and one person said he found 3 worn wires coming from that sensor, laying up against the intake manifold. I instructed my mechanic to find those wires, make sure they are not worn, and to wrap them in electrical wire and replace the looming. Keeping my fingers crossed that it works as well as the other guy's. :)

- , Glen Carbon, IL, USA

problem #17

Nov 082010

Alero V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 175,000 miles


I have constantly had problems with this passlock system. The car keeps turning over but won't crank. I will get it crunk and then it will quit on me while I am driving down the road. I am irritated by this. I changed the ignition switch once. That lasted for about a year. Suddenly, the problem occurs again. Do anyone know of any solutions or what could possibly be the problem and how can i fix this.

- , Drew, MS, USA

problem #16

Sep 302009

Alero 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 217,770 miles

my alero wont start from time to time. called caa 5 times this year. they did the anti lock thing. worked a few times. then it did it again. wont do the turn the key wait ten min. so i hit the gas tank. guess what it fired right up. its been running okay since. this is twice the bottom of the gas tank was hit. and it started. caa did it the first time.but i cant leave it on half a tank. or i know its not starting. thanks

- , Guelph, Ontairo, Canada

problem #15

Mar 122010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 167,000 miles

I got my car in June 2007, and thought I made a good decision. Now I wish I had done my research. I've had a few electrical problems since I got the car but I thought it was due to the fact that there was the manufacturer's alarm as well as the dealership put a lowjack alarm on it as well. Since I've had the lowjack taken off I've had problems with starting the car. It's been in two different shops over the past 5 weeks. No one can figure out the problem. It will start for a few days and then it wont start for a few days. I've had everything replaced on it that you can think of and still nothing helps. The car is more problems than its worth.

- , Birmingham, AL, USA

problem #14

Dec 012009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 155,343 miles

Have replaced the ignition cylinder and passlock system four times in the last 8 years. Three of the times have been literally the last three years. The part is covered only for a year. Recently I was over by one month and GM would not assist or offer any type of compensation.

- , Windsor, Ontario, Canada

problem #13

Mar 172010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 168,880 miles


Ok, so I got this piece of crap in Aug. of 2003, the very 1st time the car didnt start was 3 months later (in Nov 03) since then, I've had the ignition replaced at least 3 times, each time was around $500. But for the first year I had the car, nobody could figure out why the car wouldnt start. I remember a couple of times when the car wouldnt start, as soon as the tow truck picked it up and the car got to the shop...the bitch started. I have wasted so much money just on towing. I'm sure glad I found out about AAA. Anyways, the same routine always happend...one day while driving, the security light would come on and stay on until I cut the car off, then maybe a couple of weeks or month and a half later...the car wont start!

I had no idea that this was an issue with so many other Aleros. So the same thing happend earlier 2nite...I had been out n about all day, I come home for 30 mins, go to leave and u guessed it...NO GO! So I called AAA, they towed it to the shop. I came home later, found this website (which is a BLESSING!!) and read the stories about the 10 minute rule...so I get up, go down to the shop (at 12:45 AM)....put my key in the ignition, turned the switch, let the security light blink for 10 mins...then it stopped blinking and just stayed on...so i put my seatbelt on and tried to start it...EUREEKA!!! It worked...I guess this will save me another $500 for a new ignition. Thanx carcomplaints.com and everyone who put their story in...it was VERY helpful.

- , Newport News, VA, USA

problem #12

Mar 212009

Alero 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,206 miles

Yet again, car won't start!!!! Already did the passlock hack. (not the problem) What I did notice is when I was sitting in the car....Security light not flashing. My brake warning lights came on....and also I did not hear the fuel pump when I turned the key to the on position. Crank's but no start. Sat in the car for about 4 min's and then to my surprise....I heard the fuel pump humming away and yep....THE CAR STARTED!! I have had starting issues for a while now...and the car stalls at low speeds (So Far only) and to my surprise none of the starting issues are the passlock. I swapped the horn relay for the fuel pump relay with no change! So it's not the relay's?? I know it's not the Fuel pump...got the 55psi there when pump turn's on...something not turning the pump on when the key is turned to the on position. IF anyone has any info...that hasn't been posted yet, please feel free...if I get this figured out...I'll post fix???

Also buying a Toyota soon as I get this thing sold or written off!!!!!

Update from Nov 16, 2009: OK I figured this out but only after my car was going 120kph on the 401 and then suddenly shut off!! When this happened I had 4 passengers in the car, a transport truck in the middle lane (me in the fast lane beside it) with a trail of cars behind me.....WHAT DO I DO NOW!!! Anyway turns out it was the ignition switch. There are electrical plugs in this switch that when they go faulty causes power failure to the ECU thus shutting down the Car at ANY speed. Soon as I got control and pulled over.....it started up and away I went. My Ignition switch when I took it out looked great no apparent signs of wear but when I put a meter to it while it was plugged in....... sure enough it broke contact when I shook it resembling a bump in the road or regular driving. So the real question is what now? What can be done with these potential lethal cars. IMO any one that drives one of these cars, be careful and get rid of it ASAP!!! Since the new Ignition switch I've had no issues but scared to death when we drive it.
Just on a side note: Ive also had the security issues - wired a passlock switch Rear defogger module melted - re- soldiered broken traces Drivers side window falling in the door twice - used epoxy on window clips Moon roof micro switches broke causing moon roof to malfunction -Dissconnected The fan resistor card melted (controls the fan speeds) - replaced Of course the wheel bearing and/or sensors (2 times driver side, 3 times passenger side) - replaced Sh*tty rims that don't seal the air in the tires. - bought steel rims and no more leak with the same tires...go figure I've done all the work on this POS my self...........just thinking of the amount of money I would have to give to the steelership would make me go postal. The wheel bearings are under warrany for a year so to my luck I've only had to pay for the part once.....since they came out with the lower torque setting bearing Its lasted so far!! I'm not an auto mechanic but hate giving money away so I learned to fix these things my self and wish the best of LUCK to all owners of this potential lethal car.

- , Kitchener, ONT, Canada

problem #11

Dec 022008

Alero GL 2.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 148,000 miles

this problem has really been a pain in the ass with the security light coming on and have to wait for the car to start up. this is been happening sp much lately i keepy car running when i pump gas and also when i pick my niece up from school. my car is used snd it should not have to cost more than what it is worth i proble find another car very soon. cause by reading all these complaints about the security system i really don't want my car anymore. and also i think gm dealerships should be responsible to replace this as a recall.

- , Moore, SC, USA

problem #10

Dec 152008

Alero 3.4L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,524 miles

I bought a 2002 Alero thinking it was a good car then the problems started.. Car would not start the security system came on .. I took it the the dealer and $700 later and a couple of weeks it came on again. I had it towed back to the dealer they changed the same thing again and could not tell me why it was doing it.. Then the ABS, trck control came on I took it to the shop and after $430 and a wheel hub assembly the light went off but not for long, 4 weeks later it came on again. I had it taken to the shop they changed the same wheel hub again.. But it gets better its been 2 years now and I have had the same wheel hub assembly changed 6 times last time was 3 months ago and it came on again 3 weeks ago I have put over $500 in the same wheel hub and its out again I give up, I will not put another dime in that wheel hub assembly... And now the car will not start it just turns over I changed the fuel relay and fuse now they tell me the fuel pump is bad that's a $639.00 job... I am so sick of this car... I dont have the money to put in to this thing and GM I will never buy another big 3 car or truck again... I will buy a Honda or toyota and the big 3 wonder why they are going under I have work at one of the big 3 and see what goes on and I am telling you I will never buy another big 3 car or truck..

- , Romulus, MI, USA

problem #9

Mar 022007

Alero V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

In addition to the turn signals going out, knobs falling off, the intake manifold gasket having to be replaced and the regulators in the car doors for the windows failing, the worst problem has been having the car not start and having it towed repeatedly. Dealerships couldn't figure out what was wrong. The last one charged me over $100 for a diagnostic fee and couldn't find anything wrong. They wanted to replace the ignition switch and cylinder and see if that would work. They also had an attorney respond to my complaint when I requested my money back since couldn't even tell me what was wrong with the car. The amazing thing is if you look in the owner's manual that comes with the car, it tells you how to get the car started. It's listed under Passlock. Not only is this a know problem with the car, they even included it in the manual and continue to sell cars with this system which is very dangerous. I am amazed that GM and their dealerships tell people they don't know what's wrong and sell consumers all sorts of repairs knowing they won't work and are also unnecessary.

- , New Port Richey, FL, USA

problem #8

May 222008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,351 miles

My car will not start in warm weather. At first, it the security light did come on and I did the 10 min rule and that worked for awhile. Soon the car just would not start. Had to drive out of town to dealership in order to diagnose the security system. They replaced the ignition switch. A couple days later the car would start but stall right away or would stall while i was driving which was quite scary with a baby in the back seat. Took it to a local mechanic shop which called the dealership i took it took the 1st time. This time they replaced the fuel pump. Not even a day after i got my car back, the car wouldn't start. But only when it was in the sun for a couple hours. Started no problem in the mornings when it was cool. Took it back to the shop and this time they are replacing the fuel relay. They said to try it out for the next couple days to see what happens. They can't explain why the car won't start in warm weather. This is just getting ridiculous.

- , North, MB, Canada

problem #7

May 072007

(reported on)

Alero GLS 3.6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,450 miles

My 2002 Olds Alero GLS would not start at all. I checked the battery, cables and starter- all were found to be just fine. Finally, I had the thing towed to a local dealer who charged me for a tow, a new battery, new battery cables, and a "cleaning" of the battery compartment- all of which were not covered under warranty. I knew all this was BS since I checked and tested all these items myself prior to having it towed. I got into a very heated argument with the service manager who finally said to my face "I can't deal with this sh*t, will you please just get the hell out of here." I ended up only paying for the battery. Anyway, several months later the same thing happened. Again, nothing was wrong with the battery, starter, etc. This time I consulted a local mechanic who told me to turn the key to "on" for 15 minutes and then try to start it. This time it started right up first try. As it turns out, GM put a program into the car's computer disguised as a security system. This security system's only purpose is to lock up the ignition system every so many thousands of miles so that the customer will have to get the car towed to a dealer who will then simply sit in the car for 15 minutes to unlock the system and then charge the customer for a variety of unnecessary items. When I found out about this "security" system that locks up the car, I was completely floored. How can General Motors do such a deplorable thing to their customers; I have spent thousands of my hard earned dollars on many GM products over the years and I just can't believe that all the engineers and the dealers at GM can go along with this conspiracy. I have had doubts in the past regarding the honesty of GM but never though much about it. Needless to say, my dealings with GM are now history. We have purchased a new Toyota Corolla and are in the process of selling the Alero. I really don't know how I can honestly sell this car to someone for a decent price knowing that this same thing will happen to them. It really baffles me that the big three automakers cannot figure out why their sales are steadily slipping while Japanese import cars are taking over the market. Do they think we are too stupid to figure out their scams?

- , Oxford, MS, USA

problem #6

Feb 072008

Alero GLS 3400

  • Automatic transmission
  • 126,490 miles

i was getting tires put on the Alero today and then went to leave and the car wouldn't start , i opened the hood and got to looking around , this isn't the first time this happened i seen that the wires coming from under the power steering pump that ran to the cam sensor were laying against the corner of the intake manifold all three wires were worn through and shorting out on the intake manifold so i started the car right up after moving those wires wrapped each one in electrical tape then put brand new looming on them which cost me 2 bucks by the way my Alero has the 3400 v6. i had been having this problem for a while and couldn't figure it out i did end up in the past putting a crank senor on it to try to fix it and it didn't work , i was always afraid to turn it off for fear it wouldn't start , but when it was running it had a bit of hesitation in it and couldn't figure it out , but now it runs like a champ, starts every time just thought i would get rid of some grief about it and possibly help some others with their problems hope this helped

- , Richmond, IN, USA

problem #5

Feb 232006

Alero Ecotec 2.2L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 46,493 miles

Vehicle wouldn�t start and stranded on the side of the road. Had to call roadside assistance and have car towed to the dealer.

- , Kennesaw, GA, USA

problem #4

Sep 232007

(reported on)

Alero 2.2L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,000 miles

Please know that my car was having the same problem and left me stranded more than 20 times and would shut off well I was driving it. Most of the time it wouldn't start. It turns out the electrical ignition switch was defective, and it is quite common with these cars. Email me if you have any questions.


In the subject line write Regarding Oldsmobile Alero.

- , Woodland, CA, USA

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