Alex

Sam Woes, And How To Cure Them.

49 posts in this topic

Excellent! Bit of a PITA, bit of learning, bit of a cautionary tale for any future SAM repairs for other people, but a grand success in the end, and at least $1000 bucks saved for you to spend on something more fun than a new SAM.I wasn't kidding when I said "Carefully fold the board back up, watching that your new wires lay into a good position and especially won't get pierced by one of the solder points. An empty plastic pop bottle or yogurt tub may be handy to cut protective strips from."

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The odometer rollback is a bonus! That's permanent, but your lifetime fuel economy will be taking a hit ;)

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Doesn't that mean it's two days overdue for a normal B service? Hitting the cluster display button should bring up the odo and trip odo.

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Just a word of caution. You mentioned removing the seat. Don't have the seat out and apply power. To take it out you have to disconnect the airbag wire. The airbag sensors will detect a problem with the circuit and light up your idiot light. You cannot get rid of it without going to the dealer and paying him around $85 to reset the light. Guess who made that mistake!2seat

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Doesn't that mean it's two days overdue for a normal B service? Hitting the cluster display button should bring up the odo and trip odo.

Francesco hit the nail on the head. Now that I have this car up and running properly, I'm reading through the manual so I'll know all these basic facts in the future.

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I bought a new connector from the dealership and I've spliced it on to the old wires. My old connector was pretty bad. Before I did this, one of my headlights did not work, but now it works fine. I did not remove the whole SAM, I just spliced on the new connector. However, the bigger problem now is that the car will not start. About a year ago, the dealership did some work on this same connector, specifically socket #10 on the connector and pin #10 on the SAM. See the attached picture. They put some kind of extension on pin #10. The symptom at the time was that the car would not start unless I wiggled the connector. So I was at least able start it and drive it to the dealership so they could "fix" it. But now I can not start it at all so I can't even drive it in. Is there some test I can do on the SAM and pin #10 to see if this is, in fact, the problem? I'm ok with taking out the SAM, but how do I confirm that this pin is the problem and then what would I do to fix it? Would I bi-pass the pin and solder the wire directly to the board? I'd rather not attempt this unless I know for sure it will work. It took me about 4-5 hours just to swap the connector…

So it's been almost exactly a year since I "fixed" the SAM problem, and now it's back! Last year, I cut off the old connector and spliced in a new one. I also removed the SAM and brought it to an electronics expert and he re-did the bad soldering connections (which had heat damage) for pins # 6, 7, and 10, as shown in the pic of the SAM board (taken last year). But now the connection for pins 6 and 7 on the new connector are melted out (see the other 2 pics) and I have no headlights again.Obviously I'm not doing this right. I did not solder the new connector directly to the board last year, because I was not confident in my skills at doing this, so I just spliced in the new 12-pin connector and cable. Does anyone have any other suggestions for me on how to proceed? What is the root cause of the heat damage?Is there someone in the Barrie, GTA, or Niagara area who is an expert at this sort of thing, who could fix it for good? Luckily I can still drive the car, but only during the day because there are no headlights.Thanks,DZ

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Edited by DrZaius

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I'd have to say that if you are continuing to get this damage there must be something drawing too much current ( the design may be marginal to start with, but the repairs you did should have lasted longer, so therefor something isn't quite right somewhere else). I am in Electronics, but am not an expert in repairing automotive computers. I don't remember from your original posts but was it always just the lights affected ( and what was the consensus was the root cause of the problem). It sort of sounds like you have treated the symptoms but not the actual problem.

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The problem is the plug connection. A little too small for continuous high draw like lights or fuel pump. A little resistance causes heat, and it goes worse from there. The melted plastic and burnt pins are proof. The heat in the later stages of failure can be conducted into the board and show damage, but that is secondary damage. It may need repair, but it isn't the problem. My repair method by soldering a new wire directly to the board is by far the best way to repair a failed connection. Once the damage is done the pin is in such bad shape that a new plug doesn't have a chance.

"Replacement repair harnesses are available, but once the connection has failed the pin on the SAM is usually heavily damaged and will not make for a lasting repair."

"When a connector goes bad like that it ruins the surface finish of the pin as well, and a lasting repair is unlikely by just changing the connector end."

Told ya!

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Yes, you were right! Let this be a lesson to anyone in the future who reads this thread.Is there someone good at this who I can hire to do this repair for me? I'm getting married 12 days from now and we need a functioning car (not just for daytime driving)! I just don't have the time to tackle this job right now and my soldering skills are very basic anyway.Thanks,DZ

Edited by DrZaius

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If I wasn't so busy myself I would help ( getting married myself in a few weeks, and getting as much of the house renovated as possible by the is my priority ( do still need to spend a day working on my smart as well). Not sure if there is anyone else on the board that can help or not, hopefully they will chime in though.

Edited by scwmcan

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Update: After more thought and discussion on other threads I've come to the conclusion that unless the damage is terminal the best solution is to clean up the pins and connector as best possible and install external relays to take the load off both the connection and the hard-to-replace onboard relay. More reports are coming of the onboard stock relay failing. Not surprising, I looked at the specs and it is pretty much maxed out on capacity, it's a smallish relay. The high draw almost always on circuits are too much for long life.(More to come as an edit in this space. Not yet. I have a new failure (it being the relay for the intercooler fan), I'll be repairing again or replacing my SAM, and will document a nice relay bank install job and post here.)

Edited by Alex

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Almost 2 years since my SAM saga was resolved, and everything is still ticking along nicely. Looking forward to your update, Alex.

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Maybe pins 6 and 7 of SAM connector N11-3 melt-out because of a faulty headlight motor?

Headlight motor should be linked to the same wire of main lights and if they become faulty they never find the right position and start going up and down, making a lot of noise and requiring more amperage. Probably that could melt the SAM connector...

Does anyone who had this SAM connector issue also had a faulty headlight motor?

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The load on the wire and the connection is too much and maintly for the fuel pump and headlight. Installing a relay would take the load off it saving the connection and SAM as discussed many times.

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The load on the wire and the connection is too much and maintly for the fuel pump and headlight. Installing a relay would take the load off it saving the connection and SAM as discussed many times.

Could you please give me some extra info about this solution of installing a relay?

It's about what Alex was saying some post ago?

Update: After more thought and discussion on other threads I've come to the conclusion that unless the damage is terminal the best solution is to clean up the pins and connector as best possible and install external relays to take the load off both the connection and the hard-to-replace onboard relay. More reports are coming of the onboard stock relay failing. Not surprising, I looked at the specs and it is pretty much maxed out on capacity, it's a smallish relay. The high draw almost always on circuits are too much for long life.(More to come as an edit in this space. Not yet. I have a new failure (it being the relay for the intercooler fan), I'll be repairing again or replacing my SAM, and will document a nice relay bank install job and post here.)

Is there a general discussion about this? (Can't find nothing using search criteria "SAM" & "relay")

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try this

pick up relay ( 4 or 5 post will both work )

get the associated pigtail to go with it will make connections easier

as in this picture

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Probably the easiest to find those molex connectors on mouser?

Edited by TorqueJunkie

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On 2012-06-27 at 9:07 AM, Alex said:

Full success to report.

Many SAM units have been replaced due to the connections failing. Replacement repair harnesses are available, but once the connection has failed the pin on the SAM is usually heavily damaged and will not make for a lasting repair. It is easy to repair by bypassing the failed connection, with only basic soldering skills and some common supplies.

Refer to this Evilution page for wiring diagrams and great photos. Note that the connections list is for the petrol 700cc UK model, there are a few minor differences with the Canadian CDI. Mostly identical, though. Go with what you see, not what the list says.

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The damage. Two connections melted and burnt at the center of the connector, they are pins 6 & 7 of connector N11-3, which are the low beams. Also pin 11, brake light switch, looked suspicious so I did that one as well. Much later I discovered that I should have done pin 10 at the same time.

Tools and supplies needed: 10mm socket, pliars, a T-10 torx screwdriver (must have longish shaft, the screw is down a hole a ways), soldering tool and supplies, 14 or 16 ga wire, preferably in as many colours as you have pins to repair, crimp-on connection terminals, crimping tool, drill and bits, good write-on sticky labels. Radio code, as the radio will go into safe mode.

Procedure: Disconnect the negative of the battery. This is a good opportunity to remove the battery, clean and top it up, clean the battery well and apply some rust preventive inside there. If it is really nasty a good cleaning, drying then a spray of undercoating compound works very well. Available in spray cans from any automotive supplier, even Crappy Tire.

Remove the SAM, making note and taking photos of where the various plugs go. They won't interchange, but some are very similar and it can be hard to tell if it doesn't fit or is just not lined up right. Inspect each connector for signs of heat damage, darkened pins and melted plastic. Make note of the connector number, pin position and wire colours. The most common problems are all on 11-3, pins 6,7 and 10. L & R low beams and the fuel pump. May as well do these three even if they look OK, enough cars have had problems that yours is just a question of when.

Take the SAM to a bench, opening it up as per Evilutions excellent description. Note that you have to remove the four large fuses on the connector side, all the small ones on the back can stay in. Write down the amperage and positions of the four.

Yes, you bend the board to unfold it, being sure you've found all the plastic hooks that clip it in. Be careful and gentle, don't bend it more than you need to. Before unfolding it think about how your new wires bypassing the pins will route nicely in the folded position. Try hard not to have to fold and unfold it repeatedly, try to get it right the first time.

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The opened up SAM. You can solder your wire to the base of the pin, or follow the track to the other end and use that if the wire will route better. I used the other end for the headlights (pins 6 & 7), it worked better for me. The fuel pump (pin 10) wanted to come up a new hole drilled in the centre of the divider plate.

Double check you have the correct point, solder the wires marking down the wire colour and pin position, or some way of identifying which is which. Carefully fold the board back up, watching that your new wires lay into a good position and especially won't get pierced by one of the solder points! An empty plastic pop bottle or yoghurt tub may be handy to cut protective strips from. A hole drilled in the plastic separator plate may assist wire routing. If you have to route the wire around the separator a notch must be trimmed in the edge, it looks okay when open but it's a tight fit when the board is folded down. Drill holes in the case to pass the wires through and reassemble the SAM.

Write down the identification of the new wire(s) on a label and affix it to the case.

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Done!

Re-install the SAM, crimp your choice of insulated dis-connect terminal to the wires, cut the harness wire and add the mating crimp terminal to that. If the heat damage has moved up the wire cut it off, adding a new section if needed. Once a wire has discoloured from heat you'll never get a good connection, it must be clean shiny copper. If you have a variety of terminal styles and sizes you can make the new connections non-interchangeable. Wire marker labels are nice to have.

Connect the battery, check the function, enter the radio code and go out for a really nice dinner with a fraction of the money you just saved.

I just repaired my SAM N11-3 connector which was badly burnt. I found a different connector (socket and plug) with 12 pins at the local auto wrecker and soldered wires directly to the board. Finally I got my low beams back, fuel pump works again and some other issues fixed. The only cost was 2 hours of my time.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Last week. after our BIG (sic) snow, I had a SAM issue arise.
Started car. and airbag light stayed on. Scangauge showed no codes.
Off car. Restart. airbag light eventually went out.
Turned lights to position 1, and the highbeams came on !? No not position 2.
Turned lights to position 2, both high and low beams on.
Off the lights, but the pod lights stayed on.
Off car. Normal.
Restarted OK, so I went to do groceries.
Car would not unlock in the parking lot for about 20 minutes.
So when I got it started, and home, I removed the SAM.

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Connector N11-8 was corroding, sad sad feeling.

Now would be a good time to clean all your spectacles and magnifying lenses.
As I was cleaning it up, for a better view, I noticed pin 8 (oval) had collapsed as I was cleaning it.
Sadder feeling.
I did not even notice that pin 16 (circle) was totally missing !!

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MoBo repairs were in order, but look for more corrosion now.
Under the socket 'seemed' clean. I did find some ghosting starting around some of the elements.

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I used a soft brush and dielectric grease to get rid of ghosting I saw.
I used soft dental piks and dielectric grease to get under the sockets.

 

Now, to drill a hole in the back side of the case, and hardwire a plug-socket bypass for pin 8.

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And I epoxied a 'guard' over the wire for insurance

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Now to see what the plug looks like, more sad.
Damn, that was a pin stuck in connector 16 !!
Run RUN back upstairs and redo sam fix before that epoxy sets !!

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Edited by cadillacman

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I have to work on the socket at the end of this part of the central wire harness.

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Not a pleasant spot to work on it, so I removed the dash, and the top element of the HVAC stack, so that I had a flat and secure (small bits) area to work on it.

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Now, that plug is a complex thing. Complex is good here.
One end shows you it is actually a holder for two separate plugs

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It comes apart by prying the shell away from a tab on each of the plugs,
and then the two plugs slide out.

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'They' don't really expect you would ever see this right ?
After all, when your SAM pins melt away from corrosion, you should call the scrap dealer right ?
BUT !!! notice that each of the sub-plugs is stamped with all the correct pin-number references.
Removed affected (pinless) connectors, and rerouted them to new alternate SAM plug.
Clean all corrosion and lube connectors with dielectric grease, using dental piks.

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WARNING, regarding wire colour codes. Make sure you use the pin #'s
The wire colours for pin #16 did not match those listed at EVILUTION

 

Other than the stress of soldering the MoBo,
the worst part of the job was getting the dash all back together. Really !!

 

And 2 of the dashpod lights died ... 228,000 km and 12 years.
Delicate little things, could not handle the thump-n-bump of dissasembly !? and just up-n-died.
And the local $tealership does not have the little $7 jewels in stock.
Made of 'unobtanium' I asked ? At least he got the joke.

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Good informative post as always c'man!

 

For cleaning green copper oxide off connector terminals I recommend a hydrochloric acid solution. The one I use is standard brick cleaner about 9% strength and widely available from builder merchants. I administer the acid on a cotton bud. Green oxidised copper goes instantly bright. Clean with standard spray contact cleaner followed by blowing dry with compressed air. For more delicate jobs like fixing a recently acquired water damaged iPhone 6, I use compressed air in a can. 

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I just came across the newest editions to this thread and I thought that some might find a technique that I had used to replace corroded pins useful.

 

 

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7 hours ago, smartdriver said:

I just came across the newest editions to this thread and I thought that some might find a technique that I had used to replace corroded pins useful.

 

 

Great ... thanks for x-referencing that here.

I might try that 'next' time. I actually went thru a mental process, at the time, wondering about replacing the pin, but remembered the wire-bypass and gave up on the pin replacement idea'

 

but on another note ...

what is with the pins in N11-8.16 that leads them to fail !?

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Posted (edited) · Report post

 

5 hours ago, cadillacman said:

but on another note ...

what is with the pins in N11-8.16 that leads them to fail !?

 

On my SAM I had severe water incursion which damaged the PC board but that I was able to fix.

 

Some time later I had other symptoms which examination revealed to be from severe corrosion on the connector pins.

 

In my car I had a failing 12 V battery which I would have to recharge from time to time and my feeling was that Sulphuric acid fumes from the battery along with the presence of moisture were eating away the pins. The stock battery is supposed to be vented to the outside world with a tube placed through a hole in the chassis, but mine wasn't. 

 

After replacing and cleaning the most affected pins, before re-inserting the cable harness connectors, I sprayed the pins with Lithium Grease as a protector and after putting the SAM back in place forced a sponge on top of the wiring harness above the SAM to collect any possibility of water, likely from a leaking windshield or possibly air conditioning condensation, wicking down the cables into the connectors.

 

This was 3 years ago and I have had no issues since even though my car has been parked outside for this length of time.

Edited by smartdriver

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