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1989 Buick reatta problems?


Ryguy92503

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Hello I'm 19 years old and I just bought my first car, a 1989 Buick reatta! I'm trying to fix some things on it and I do not know what I need to replace... The car exterior lights will not shut off. I even take the key out and the lights on the exterior are still on so I have to take out the fuze dealing with the lights. My dad said something about a left switch assembly but I can't find it anywhere on the Internet. What do I need to replace to fix the exterior lights? And the computer keeps popping up talking about electrical problems, I don't know if I need to reset the computer or how to find out what electrical part of the car needs to be replaced.... If anyone can help me I would GREATLY appreciate it! I love this car and can't wait to fix it! Thanks

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Welcome to the forum!

Do your lights not turn off? Or just not fold down?

If they just don't turn off, it's probably your headlight switch. I have several in stock, shoot me an email (address below) or call me and we can discuss. :)

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Welcome to the Reatta forum Ryguy92503!

First some websites you need to bookmark and refer to often:

Reatta Data Page this site has much information on the Teves braking system, and online Field Service Manuals for your car. Register for access to the FSM.

Buick Reatta Repair Tips and Information - ReattaOwner.com known as Ronnie's site has tons of formation on how to repair your Reatta as well as part numbers, sources etc.

Those will get you started, but there are more as you will find out.

Your light problem is a common problem with the Left Pod Switch Assembly better know as the headlight switch. You will need to obtain another one. Here's a link to a discussion about that very switch.

http://forums.aaca.org/f116/what-goes-bad-1989-headlight-switch-321866.html

What you may not realize yet is you car has more computers that the original space shuttle when it was first made. All the electronics need good clean power to operate properly. Your electrical problems warnings may just be a power problem. First step is to clean the battery cable connections and make sure they are tight. Then clean the common power point and ground posts in the engine compartment. The power post is behind the battery under the red cover. There is a ground point nearby it just in front of the overflow tank. Another one is on the upper radiator support bar behind the passenger side headlight. The third on is on the rear cylinder head near the PCV valve between the alternator pulley and the power steering pulley.

Once you get those in good order, learn how to use the onboard diagnostics to find and solve any other issues you have.

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NO, the headlight switch controls all the exterior lights except the brake lights, the panel light dimming, one method of operating the courtesy lights, the cruise control power and hazard lights all in one assembly.

Your switch is not turning off probably due to wear inside or stuck contacts.

Suggest you get a good tested spare from one of the vendors on this site, and then have your current one repaired to have on hand as a spare.

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Actually his says electrical problem which is usually in the ipc if I remember right. I know the headlight switch he has is going to be bad but don't eliminate the possibility of a fried or melted connector. That can lead to very many issues with lights cruise and hazards. It's a common problem on all gm headlights switches. Mine was fried when I got my 89.

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Just check your codes.

Hit the hard "Climate button on the top far left of the screen and go into the "Climate" screen.

Press the "Off" and "warm" buttons simultaneously. Hold until the. "service engine soon" light starts flashing on your instrument panel. From there, you will have codes popping up on your screen. Have a pen ready so you can write them down (they move fast).

You'll get codes that look somewhat like this:

E027H.

"E" indicates that the ECM (Engine Control Module) is throwing a code. There are also "B" codes (for the Body Control Module) and "C" codes for the CRT and stuff.

027 (or any other number) is the code number. This is the computer telling you what's wrong.

The last letter will either be "H" or "C". H is indicating its a history code (not a current problem) and "C" means current (it's happening right then).

Check the codes and post them here. :)

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Welcome to the forum.

...And the computer keeps popping up talking about electrical problems, I don't know if I need to reset the computer or how to find out what electrical part of the car needs to be replaced....
I agree with the others about the headlight switch being the source of your light problems.

To find out what your computer is trying to tell you check for codes stored in the computer by following the procedure in the link below. Write down the codes you find stored in the computer and post them here. Be detailed about what you find. The more info you provide the easier it is to help you diagnose your problems.

How To Access Trouble Codes - '88 & '89 Models*-*ReattaOwner.com

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I just did that and these are the codes that came up

E041 current

E041 history

B132 history

B552 history

B420 current

C553 history

ECM?

B420 is indicating you have a relay problem. Maybe MC Reatta has some input here?

Here's the BCM code chart: http://reattaowner.com/roj/bcm-crt-diagnostic-codes.html

And the E041 is indicating a problem with your camshaft position sensor. Have you had any problems starting the car, or it cutting off?

ECM codes can be found here: http://reattaowner.com/roj/ecm-diagnostic-codes.html

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Wow, an awful lot of writing about a bad headlight switch.

I have had a lot of experience with these problems and it is the headlight switch module.

The two most common parts to go bad in the '88-89 Reattas is the headlight switch module and the CRT/touch screen.

Headlight switches are the one part I do not recommend buying on Ebay or from anyone that has not thoroughly tested it in an operational car.

Multiple problems can come from this switch and one of the common problems is the lights not turning off.

On thing you can try instead of simply pushing the headlight switch button, sort of punch at it with your finger and particularly punch at the parking light switch button. This will be a temporary way of getting the lights to shut off but the switch will need to be replaced.

I have a good tested and appearing headlight switch module for $ 65 exchange plus $ 6 for Priority Mail shipping.

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Thanks everyone! I have had no problem starting the car the person I bought it from was restoring the car and put a new engine in it. But as for the history codes how do I delete them? And I was just testing the locks and they didn't seem to work but I locked the passenger door and I opened it and the alarm went off.... I then rushed into the driver seat to start the car and stop the alarm but the car wouldn't start.... I had to take the battery out and put it back in..... How do I shut the car alarm off if it starts without having to take the battery out? Thanks EVERYONE for their help it's helping me greatly!

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Wow, an awful lot of writing about a bad headlight switch.
Jim, writing on the forum about a problem is about all most of us on here can do. We don't have anything to sell to fix the problem so trying to help diagnose the problem is the best we can do. :)
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Thanks everyone! I have had no problem starting the car the person I bought it from was restoring the car and put a new engine in it. But as for the history codes how do I delete them? And I was just testing the locks and they didn't seem to work but I locked the passenger door and I opened it and the alarm went off.... I then rushed into the driver seat to start the car and stop the alarm but the car wouldn't start.... I had to take the battery out and put it back in..... How do I shut the car alarm off if it starts without having to take the battery out? Thanks EVERYONE for their help it's helping me greatly!
You would be better off starting a new topic about that problem. It probably involves door switches and wire splices and can get complicated. Much of the info you need about both can be found on my website but I will save my comments for a new topic.
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To disarm the alarm once triggered, go to either door, and using the key, turn the lock cylinder to the unlock position. Unless there is a problem with the lock cylinder itself, this will silence and disarm the alarm.

Not positive, but I do not think that hitting the unlock button on the keyless remote will disarm the security system once it has been triggered.

KDirk

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Alright thanks! So I'm gunna need to fix the camshaft position sensor and the headlight switch and maybe a relay switch. Now the only lights that stay on are my parking lights my headlights are in the down position. So is it another switch other than the headlight switch?

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Are your fog lamps on also?

Anytime the fog lamps are turned on (switch on center console beneath tape deck) the park lamps and rear running lamps will also be on. Note that there is no separate indicator for the fog lamps, if they are on the amber LED on the park lamp switch button will be lit. The fog lamps and park lamps (if turned on via the fog lamp switch) will go out when the car is off, and will automatically light when the car is on. In this way, they work like daytime running lamps. With the car on, press the fog lamp button and see if the park lamps (and fog lamps) turn off.

If cycling the fog lamp switch does not turn them off, then either the car has been programmed for daytime running lights (would be set this way if exported to Canada originally, or if a prior owner preferred having DRL's enabled) or you have another issue with the left switch bank or perhaps a relay.

BTW, I neglected to welcome you to the club. Hope once you have the kinks out, you will find your Reatta as enjoyable as myself and the others here do.

Edit: 89 models DO have a separate indicator on the console switch bank for the Fog lamps. 88's do not, and I didn't realize that until after I posted this.

KDirk

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There are two switches in the accessory switch module in the center console above the gear shift lever below the cassette deck. These are for the fog lights and the lamp retract switch. They each have a red led adjacent to them that should light when they are turned on. You should verify the fog lights are turned off there, and then engage the lamp retract switch and see if your headlights rise. The lights should retract when it is switched off. It works the same circuit to send a signal to the headlamp module as the headlight switch does, but it doesn't signal the BCM to turn the headlights on. If your lights go up and down via this switch, then your module, motors, and linkages are OK. I expect that your lights will have a problem going up and down as this is the most common problem with all Reattas. There are several makers of replacement parts on the forum that can supply parts to repair the motors and linkages if they need it.

None of your codes would prevent you from driving your car. Clearing them is also done thru the CRT diagnostics mode just a few clicks away from how you read them. You need to enter each mode (ECM, BCM, IPC, CRT) and scroll thru each one. One of the last steps in each mode will be Clear Codes? just press yes and go on to the next mode. Learn how to use this diagnostics system well. It is amazing how powerful it is in finding and diagnosing problems.

I'd get the headlight switch on order and while you waiting for that, replace the cam magnet to fix that E041 code and get you car running up to speed.

Here's how to do it:

Simple 3800 Cam Magnet Replacement - ReattaOwner.com

The B420 code is a problem with the Courtesy Lamps relay circuit, Hi-Low Beam relay circuit, or the Retained Accessory Power (RAP) circuits. (This allows for the operation of the windows, wipers, and radio for about 10 minutes after the ignition is switched off but before a door is opened.) I would take care of your other problems first and start another thread over this if it comes back after you clear the codes. Shouldn't be that hard, but there is a lot of things to look at to narrow down the problem.

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My headlights do go up and down and the retract button does work.... It's the parking lights that stay on when the car is turned off. The fog lamps and lamp retract buttons work, it's the lights button, the park button, and lights off button, that are located to the left of the wheel that are stuck....

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Jim, writing on the forum about a problem is about all most of us on here can do. We don't have anything to sell to fix the problem so trying to help diagnose the problem is the best we can do. :)

Mea Culpa,

I was in a hurry because I needed to be someplace and wanted to address the headlight switch issue right away. I have to also admit I didn't even read the previous posts to see the whole picture.

I wanted to get the headlight specific information out right away so ryguy wouldn't get caught in a trap of paying too much or purchasing one off Ebay that might not work. Ebay is great for almost all parts but not '88-89 headlight switches.

It may have looked like I was trying to plug my parts but as most know, the biggest majority of my posts are also to explain a situation even if no parts are involved.

Ronnie and Padgett and others are the real good guys on this forum for providing much needed information.

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Here is some photos of my "new" first car!

I put the fuse in to show which lights are on. these are the lights and some photos of my "new" Reatta

Very nice! I think I remember seeing that car on craigslist somewhere in the north east? I can't place it exactly.. Maybe Connecticut?

What color interior?

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White over maroon? One of my personal favorites!

I'd say you did pretty well at that price, the exterior looks good from the pictures posted. I notice that the side rub moldings have been removed, and it appears the molding mounting studs were also shaved off. This gives the car a bit cleaner look on the doors & fenders, but with black moldings on the bumpers, the discontinuity makes it look a bit "off". Might consider having the bumper moldings repainted to match the body for the sake of appearance. That is a small quibble, however.

Also, since the fog lamps are clearly off in the photos, looks to me like your lighting problem can pretty well be isolated to the headlamp (left) switch bank.

KDirk

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If the interior isn't ripped or torn in any place, and it truly does have a new engine in it, then IMO $1,200 is a good price. It's obvious it needs some paint work, but it looks like a pretty good car.

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Not positive, but I do not think that hitting the unlock button on the keyless remote will disarm the security system once it has been triggered.

KDirk

Using the keyless remote unlock button is the quickest and easiest way to disarm the alarm after it has been activated. The system is armed and disarmed via the lock and unlock buttons on the remote along with the door key lock and the door power lock and unlock switches. Believe once triggered, only the key or keyless entry remote can disarm the system. Wouldn't make much sense for someone who has broken into the car to be able to disarm the system by hitting the unlock switch on the inside of the door.

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Nice looking car. I do see a few signs of corrosion under the hood. I highly recommend that you take a look at the cradle bushing before driving a lot. An extreme example of what can happen if the bushings are ignored is shown below. You probably don't have a problem but you should check it out.

post-52331-143138839131_thumb.jpg

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Ok, primer explains why the white looked a bit strange to me. Thought it might have been the lighting when the pictures were taken.

If the part you are asking about is the headlamp switch, there are members of this forum who can supply you one. I will not play favorites by dropping names in this post, but if you refer to the sticky thread "Reatta Resources" shown at the top of the thread listing, you will find the names and contact info for several parts vendors (who are also members on this forum) who can get you the headlamp switch, or most any other part you may need.

As was stated in previous posts, avoid ebay for used headlamp switches, as most you will find on there are just used pulls taken from salvage yard cars. Some who sell parts on here also sell on ebay, but you are better off IMO dealing directly with one of the parts sellers on here for critical parts like this. You will also likely pay at least a bit less than going through ebay.

EDIT:

Mc-

Thanks for the clarification on disarming the alarm. Have never set it off on my 91; so no reason to test whether the RKE disarmed it, and my 88 of course doesn't have RKE.

Regarding the keyless remote, you have three options:

1. try to find an original Buick remote, these tend to be price and are not as good as the 2nd option (see below).

2. find a Cadillac remote, the one you need has a black case the same shape/size as the original Buick remote, with light grey buttons (2 triangles, 1 square and 1 circle shaped button) as this is compatible with the keyless entry system on the Reatta. This is a better designed remote with larger buttons, and is preferred by some Reatta owners, including myself.

3. Get on ebay and buy a set of compatible aftermarket remotes. These can usually be had from a couple of different sellers for $40-60 a pair, and are brand new. I have not tried any of these, so cannot speak to their durability or functionality.

All 89 and up Reattas are factory equipped for remote keyless entry, so you just need to get the remotes and program them. Instructions for programming are on Ronnie's site (http://reattaowner.com/).

I will have to look, I may have a couple of lightly worn Cadillac remotes I could sell, but they would be in storage at the moment. Might be a day or two until I can turn them up as I have lots of car parts in "deep storage".

KDirk

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