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Electrical Gremlins - Shop Talk

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“It’s amazing how one small component can turn a perfectly great driver into a car you want to avoid…”

My adventures with Twitch, our resident C5 Z06, have been a lot of fun over the years. We’ve cruised across the country in the 2004 Power Tour; made road trips up the California coast; including a wild 18-hour road trip from Arizona to the Grand Canyon and back to SoCal. On the performance side, we’ve entered a number of Run to the Coast events, participated in the NMCA West True Street class, and entered every autocross and open track session we could get to.

Recently, all that fun came to an abrupt halt. Out of nowhere, our trouble-free ride developed an inconsistent stumble that was incredibly hard to track down. These late-model rides have a pretty sophisticated electrical system and a digital information center that enables to you read current and past trouble codes; unfortunately, even though the check engine light came on, nothing was showing up.

And when I say stumble, you could step on the throttle and feel the hesitation, but I could never pin down a specific scenario to initiate the issue; such as a particular rpm or load where it would begin to have the problem. It was driveable, if you could stand the poor acceleration, erratic idle, and the engine shutting down at stoplights.

I started to check for any vacuum leaks, made sure all electrical plugs were properly connected, and checked the spark plug wires. Still nothing. I then removed the mass air flow (MAF) sensor and cleaned the wires with rubbing alcohol. This time, it helped, but the problem was still there. After another week and several phone calls, all signs pointed towards the MAF; a quick swap and several miles later, everything was back to normal.

Sounds easy enough, right? Not so much. It was actually very frustrating and all of the potential cures I came up with were only helping to eliminate the obvious free fixes. Of course, the easiest thing would have been to replace the MAF right from the beginning, however for the price; there was no guarantee that this would be the end all cure. Even so, I’ll chalk this one up as a lesson learned. And for other C5 owners, if you run into a similar issue, then maybe this’ll help prevent a potential headache.

This also got me to thinking; how many people do you know that have gotten rid of their rides for cheap because of similar situations … I know quite a few. I’ll leave you with this. What kind of problems have plagued you from driving your ride and what did you do to fix it? You know the drill, email me at the address listed above.

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