So After much pondering here are the symptoms and order of events.
1) Carputer working just fine.
2) Removed from car (typical as I have it set up for easy removal)
3) Updated BIOS from A01 to A22 to A32 (as per Dell's instructions)
4) Carputer put back into car
5) auto startup/shutdown no longer functions
6) Hibernate no longer functions while in car (works just fine when powered by the brick)
7) power switch wired to allow for full startup/shutdown
8) troubleshooting reviles hibernate works fine when plugged in like normal laptop, but when plugged in car setup, no dice.
This really fries my noodle.
I'm thinking I should do a format/wipe and revert to original A01 Bios when I know everything worked fine.
ANY ideas from the peanut gallery?