Saturday, November 8, 2014

Mystery Brake Warning Light Fix for 2006 Pontiac Torrent.

I'm going to tell you again and this bears mention. Car repairs are inherently dangerous if you do not know what you're doing. There is a risk of injury, death or property damage when repairs are done or done improperly. Always consult a competent mechanic when in doubt of your abilities. Do this and any other fixes at your own risk.

My Torrent (Mechanically the same as a Chevy Equinox as it shares everything save some very minor suspension settings and trim) has nearly 98,000 miles as of this writing.

One thing that confounded me today for a few minutes concerned the brake warning light, as it came on while I was coming home from the grocery store. I stopped the car successfully and pulled back on the parking brake lever. The chime came on during a slow roll of the vehicle and the brakes were as firm as ever. I hied myself, the car and my groceries home.

The level was up in the brake fluid reservoir, so no issues there. The parking brake lever switch was also fine. I did notice the fluid was about the consistency of mud, so this was going to need to be changed. I have lots of brake fluid and hose to flush this out. Time to check the battery. That's right, when the battery starts to fail on this vehicle, as it is computer controlled, the system starts to get loopy. You will need a battery, some tools and maybe some throttle cleaner.

Batteries are heavy, and without a handle, awkward. They're also full of some real nasty stuff. These are sulphuric acid (which is highly corrosive) and hydrogen (which is explosive). They have a nasty habit of exploding, and you can lose an eye or two when this happens. You can also fry expensive parts, including the alternator and computer parts if you reverse the positive and negative connections. I have a friend who cooked an expensive alternator when he did this. Admittedly, doing this on the Torrent is very low even if you are clueless, but you've been warned. Remove any jewelry while servicing a battery.

I don't have a battery tester, so the next step was to take this to an autoparts store. The battery failed the 600 and 500 cold cranking amps test on the vehicle and I promptly replaced the battery with a new one. This one lives under the engine control module; three screws and the cover is off. If the radio has a Theftlock, you need to deactivate it or you will be taking this to the dealer or buying a new radio, NICE! (mine doesn't have one, but some do). Undo the 13mm bolt at the hold down, the 8mm bolts with the negative first and the positive last. Lift out the battery and install the new one, installing the hold down, then the positive and then the negative IN THAT ORDER. Hitting metal while installing the positive while the negative is connected will weld the wrench to the car burning your hand in the process.

The rest is making sure the cables are routed where they won't get pinched when you install the cover. Start the engine and run it for a few minutes. It will run a bit loopy for a minute or two, but will smooth out once the engine computer relearns running it. If you're still having issues, now would be a good time to remove the airbox and clean the throttle body and plate as these get gunked up and the computer will have a hard time compensating for that. Undo the clamp on the snorkel to the throttle body and remove the airbox. Then use the throttle body cleaner to get that gunk out. Wait a few hours before starting the engine again, but install the airbox first.

This should fix the problem with that pesky brake light, but make sure there isn't an issue with the brakes either. I would also recommend a NEW battery, NOT a remanufactured one as these are garbage. I've never seen them last more than a few months, While many have a warranty longer than that, who wants to change batteries every three months or so? I've had the best "luck" with Meijer Pro Cells if you live in the Midwest, as well as DieHard Gold and Duralast for the money. I opted for an Exide Nascar Gold at Menards as money was an issue and this has a 40 month warranty. Optima batteries are great, and this writer has had one that lasted over 8 years in three different cars. However, the astronomical price these nowadays outweighs any performance for the average driver. If you want to spend $225 for a battery, be my guest. Maranatha!

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