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2005 Bash
The Flatbed Story

I was leaving the hotel Friday morning to head over to the Museum for another day at my display in the Atrium. As I pulled out of the parking space, the car moved about 2 feet and quit. What the %&#@*! The DIC read "service column lock". I had the recall done on the column lock problem almost a year & 19k miles ago.

Refresher: after the recall, the column CANNOT be locked (automatic only - 6 spd still locks). I tried all the tricks I had heard about on the C5 net. No luck. It would start & run fine, but you couldn't move more than 2 feet before the computer would kill the engine. Resetting the code didn't help - it came back immediately.

I called Chuck Mallett. He gave me a couple of additional things to try that I hadn't done already. Still no luck, so I bit the bullet and called AAA for a flatbed.

I had the driver take me to the Museum, NOT the DEALER! Do I look like I'm
stupid? I knew there would be a bunch of Corvette Plant troubleshooters there. 

Sure enough, I found Suresh Nair, the plant's top electrical troubleshooter. I had met
him at Funfest a few years back and had seen him many times since. He immediately
grabbed his laptop and plugged into the Vette's diagnostics.

He wasn't getting any useful info on the CAUSE of the error from the diagnostics, so he called somebody at the plant for a '97 schematic. No luck, too old.

By this time his laptop battery was fading, but we just plugged it into the ac inverter I have in the car to power my own laptop that I travel with. He called Detroit and got somebody on the line with a '97 schematic. We borrowed a voltmeter from the Museum shop, and he started testing the old fashioned way, guided by the guy in Detroit, testing wire by wire. He  discovered that the column locking solenoid on the column wasn't getting any voltage when is should. (This is the solenoid that was made useless because the recall removed the plate that the solenoid engages to lock the column!)

Bottom line? A BLOWN FUSE: BCM2, in the fuse box under the passenger's toeboard! Of course, the blade type fuses are not obvious when they are blown, and there was no clue what fuse to even look at. I had a box of assorted fuses in the glove box. He plugged in a new 10A (they are the bright red ones), and problem solved! Only 2 hours. Then he dug through his bag and gave me 3 more fuses, as insurance that I will never need another one.

So, here we have a device that was disabled and made inoperative by the manufacturer in a recall, so that it CAN NOT work. But, if it somehow blows a fuse, the car is undrivable! Makes sense to me?!

This incident sure made me appreciate my good fortune - Sandy must be watching over me! Of all the places this could have happened in 185k miles through 48 states, it happens a 10 minute tow distance from the place the car was made, with their top troubleshooter right there. And he takes the time to go way beyond the call of duty to resolve the problem, even after the high tech stuff fails to identify the problem. I can't imagine what a dealer would have charged me...

No, wait, maybe I can: The next morning a guy came to my table, saying that he had heard about my problem. He said the EXACT SAME thing happened to him, in the Museum parking lot the same day. Unfortunately for him, he had his car towed to the local dealer. By the time they quit Friday afternoon (and he even paid the mechanic to stay after hours) they were into him for over $600, and still hadn't found the problem!! He wrote down the fuse info to take back to the dealer. I didn't see him again so I don't know how he made out. Being Saturday, their shop may have been closed.

(The only other time the ol' Vette was ever disabled was when the starter quit back in February... in my own garage!  No flatbed needed that time: I replaced the starter myself right where it sat.)

Shortly after Suresh finished, I tracked down Plant Manager Wil Cooksey. I wanted to sing Suresh's praises, and Wil said he was definitely the best person that I could possibly have found for that kind of problem. When I told him of the little quirk that was discovered, he just shook his head and said "You're kidding me! Well isn't that dumb!" When I told Chief Engineer Dave Hill the next day, his jaw dropped, he got this horrified look on his face and just said "Wow! Not good." I suspect that there might be a bulletin going out as a result of this.

So, remember: Your C5 won't move more than a couple feet before the engine quits, "Service column lock" message that won't clear, Recall already done so column can't lock:

Check fuse BCM2, under the passenger's toeboard. And always have a 10A fuse on hand! If you have it, you'll never need it - 
it's called INSURANCE  {;-D

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