Power Features Only Work Or Work Better When Car Is Running


Asked by Oct 28, 2014 at 10:35 PM about the 1991 Pontiac Sunbird 2 Dr LE Convertible

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I have auto-lock switches and a power roof, however they only seem to work properly when the car is running. The battery is brand new, but I haven't changed the alternator and it may need to be replaced. If it's not the battery, might the alternator be at fault?

Another question on the side, considering there is a locking system in the car, would it be possible to buy a remote to lock/unlock my car from outside?

Lastly, the power windows can be operated when the engine is off, but work a lot better when the engine is running. Is it the same problem as the locks?

I guess my main questions is: Do I need to buy a new alternator? And with the alternator, do I also need to get another new battery?

Thanks to anyone who will help me.

4 Answers


most major auto parts stores can test your alternator. have that done and see what they say. if you are worried about the battery, have it load tested. yes, you can get remote lock systems, but probably not as simple as buying a remote. check with a car toys place or somewhere like it.


I just remembered a few of other things. To begin, here's a little bit more on the power issues: Every time I used the signaling lights, either right or left, the battery and RPM gauges drop when the light is on and come back up when it's off, and it's mostly noticeable when stopped. At times I give it gas, but it accelerates in waves, as if I was gunning it and letting go. It doesn't happen frequently nor constantly. What do you think might be the cause? In order to start it, I almost always have to crank it twice. Would this be related to the weird acceleration? The previous owner didn't take very good care of this old ride, and I didn't get a good look at it until I bought it. Anyhow, I will have the alternator and battery tested, but I'm pretty sure something will need to be done.


Any check engine lights? It would be a good idea to check for stored codes in the computer. Sounds like there could be multiple problems. Your car has an OBD1 system. Just a little better than stone knives and bear skins, but if any of the sensors are whacked out it should tell you. You get the codes by putting a paper clip in the proper terminals in the obd port. Google "how to scan for obd1 engine codes 1991 Pontiac". It involves counting check engine light flashes. Really simple. If you get a code other than 12 you can find it online or get a Chilton or Haynes manual.


Surprisingly enough, no check engine. If something's wrong, my car's oblivious to it. I'll still try to check for codes, though.

Your Answer

Add photo

Related Questions

  • car will start but wont stay running, why 15 answers

    I've replaced the fuel pump (twice)7 fuel filters, 2 strainers, idle air controller, maf sensor, spark plugs and wires, throttle position sensor, fuel pressure relay, fuel pressure regulator, some vac...

    1991 Pontiac Sunbird 2 Dr LE Convertible


    Maintenance & Repair

  • Stalling when at idle in gear 2 answers

    I have a 1992 Pontiac Sunbird GT, 2 Door Coupe, it stalls when it warms up and runs ruff, when driving it works great, lots of power, could it be the idle control sensor, the map sensor, lock-up switc...

    1992 Pontiac Sunbird 2 Dr GT Coupe


    Maintenance & Repair

  • Convertible top quit working. What could be the problem? 2 answers

    1993 Pontiac Sunbird 2 Dr SE Convertible


    Maintenance & Repair

  • 1992 Sunbird - No gauges except for tachometer work. Replaceable? 2 answers

    I have a 1992 Sunbird. None of the gauges except for the tachometer work. The gas gauge will go to about half empty, but that usually means I'm running on fumes. I've taken it to a shop, and they s...

    1992 Pontiac Sunbird 4 Dr LE Sedan


    Maintenance & Repair

  • How do i disable the security feature on my 2000 firebird? 7 answers

    Noone seems to have an answer as to why my car wont start, and this seems the obvious culprit. Have read all the threads and taken all the advice. Other than starting from scratch with a whole new w...

    2000 Pontiac Firebird Convertible


    Maintenance & Repair


Looking for a Used Sunbird in your area?

CarGurus has 22 nationwide Sunbird listings and the tools to find you a great deal.


Search Pontiac Sunbird Questions

Pontiac Sunbird Experts

#1 skindesign
Reputation 150
#2 Tom Demyan
Tom Demyan
Reputation 110
#3 FordNut
Reputation 100
View All

Related Models For Sale

Used Pontiac Firebird"
11 Great Deals out of 893 listings starting at $2,995
Used Pontiac Grand Prix"
28 Great Deals out of 4,372 listings starting at $1,500
Used Ford Thunderbird"
29 Great Deals out of 1,169 listings starting at $5,495
Used Chevrolet Corvette"
426 Great Deals out of 20,186 listings starting at $3,688
Used Ford Mustang"
725 Great Deals out of 41,221 listings starting at $900