Holden VN Calais electrical glitches - Our Shed

By: Glenn Torrens

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Glenn Torrens finds and fixes the electrical glitches in his time-warp Holden Calais

Even in a classic car, air-conditioning is almost a necessity in Australia’s hot climate so when the air-con in my 1989 Holden Calais stopped working on one of the hottest days of summer. I was devastated.

One minute it was working… the next, not.

Damn! I suspected something minor – an electrical glitch – as the problem was not one of no cold air (indicating a problem with the compressor, or a leak of the system’s gas) but of no air being blown at all: the Holden’s powerful heater/demister/air-con blower fan wasn’t working.

holden-vn-commodore-fuses-2.jpgThe air-con system’s blower motor fuse melted the fuse box chassis

I began troubleshooting by checking the Calais’ fuse-box under the dash and the problem was immediately obvious. The blower fan fuse had melted its terminals in the fuse box, causing an intermittent open-circuit.

Replacing the fuse-box was out of the question. Instead, the fix meant by-passing the melted fuse socket with a couple of short lengths of wire and two insulated terminals. It’s tight working in a foot-well, but I managed to solder the two lengths of wire for a permanent repair, even if it looks like a ‘bush-fix’!

holden-vn-commodore-fuses.jpgThe blower fan fix was relatively simple – two wiring pigtails soldered into the Calais’s wiring and the correct fuse installed on two wiring terminals

Around the same time, there was another electrical glitch, too – the rear electric windows would sometimes jam in the down position that, as I’m sure you would agree, can be a little inconvenient! Investigation revealed a faulty electric window control module. Also installed under the dash’s drop-down electrical panel, it was replaced with a second-hand unit from the local Commodore wreckers.

holden-vn-commodore-console.jpgThe electric window control box was also playing up so it was replaced at the same time. Hopefully that is the end of my Calais dramas

With that fixed, my Calais performed flawlessly during a 2500km return trip to Holden’s Proving Ground at Lang Lang in Victoria for the Unique Cars/WHEELS magazines’ Holden photo shoot in 2017. My burning desire to attend – and my willingness to drive my low-kay Calais interstate to do so – was fuelled by my enthusiasm for Aussie-made cars and my continuing regret for not attending Holden’s 50th birthday celebrations (of the original 48-215 model) at the same venue in 1998.

holden-vn-commodore-fuses-4.jpgNow the trick is to get the wiring back in where it belongs and the panels lining up properly

The Victorian trip was also my time-warp Calais’s last journey for a while: I let the registration lapse and have stored it for 18 months until, being 30 years old, it is eligible for H-plates.

I reckon I’ll have it back on the road very soon after 9am on Wednesday, 2 January 2019!


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