1. Join the Community!

    DSMtuners is a massive archive of DSM information - but more importantly, it's a COMMUNITY! Join in and participate with other DSMers, and invite all of your DSM friends to make this place their home. Chat with others, create a build thread, post questions and answers. Get involved! Logging in will also remove many of the advertisements, along with this notice. ;)

Could a dying alternator cause all of this....?

Posted by femmeDSM, Jan 10, 2006

Please Support Southbay Fuel Injectors
Please Support Feal Suspension
  1. femmeDSM

    femmeDSM Proven Member

    864
    62
    Joined Oct 31, 2004
    D/FW, Texas
    Well, one set of problems down, and a new one springs up. :notgood:

    This time I am pretty sure it's the alternator, but I thought I would check here and see if I have overlooked something before I pull it and take it to Autozone for a test.

    Here's what's going on (everything I can remember, at least):

    First of all, I have gone through 3 batteries with this car. That should be indication enough that the alternator is a culprit, but there's more........
    When my last battery was installed, it lasted a good solid month before I accidentally left the dome light on in the car for about 2-3 hours or so. I came out to find a stone dead battery. And I mean d-e-a-d. Zero volts. I took it back to Autozone where they placed it on the slow charger. The battery held a charge, but as soon as I got it home it was dead again. Luckily, it was under warranty and they gave me a new one.

    On to symptom number 2...The car is occasionally hard to start (Takes 5 or 6 cranks to get it going some days. Other days it fires right up). While I'm cranking, I *sometimes* notice the dash lights and interior lights going dim, and the headlights turn off completely when cranking (is it supposed to do this? I can't remember if my gst did this or not?).

    Symptom number 3 - the car bucks like crazy when I let off the throttle in low gears, and will die on decel. It will wait until I'm almost at a complete stop, then those telltale dash lights will start flickering. If I can catch it in time and give it gas, it will not die, but if I wait too long, it will stall. Always starts right back up though.

    I have checked voltage at the battery -- with car off, it's getting 12.x volts. At idle, 14.x volts, and under load (all available accessories on) it's back to the low 12.x volts. Alternator belt is good. Alternator is new-ish. It came with the car, and I have the warranty receipt for it. I believe it is approx. 12-18 months old.

    The car does not have a radio, so there is no power draw from that (unless the few wires that are still there are somehow causing a draw). I have also replaced the 80A alternator fuse under the hood.

    So am I right in thinking that this alternator is going bad? I hope that's all it is, for the love of God! :sosad:
     
  2. ECLIPSE4x4

    ECLIPSE4x4 Proven Member

    1,591
    5
    Joined May 28, 2002
    New Bern, North Carolina
    To me, sounds like a battery. If you are showing 14 volts at idle, then your alternator is good.

    The car bucking when you let off the throttle has nothing to do with either the battery or the alt.

    Does it throw any CEL's?
     

    545  0

    1997 Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX
    12.545 @ 108.480 · 2G DSM
    Loading...
    femmeDSM likes this.
  3. femmeDSM

    femmeDSM Proven Member

    864
    62
    Joined Oct 31, 2004
    D/FW, Texas
    Thanks for the reply. I was kinda hoping it was the alt. haha. Damn. :(

    But what would be the odds of three bad batteries in like 4 months? The battery that's in the car now is less than 1 week old, and I made them load test it for me before I would take it home. :confused:

    I am getting an intermittent CEL, which I believe is connected to a bad (or going bad) coolant temp sensor. I have a replacement on order which should be here this week, so we'll see if that clears it up. The thing is, though, for some reason whenever I plug my datalogger in to read the code, it doesn't show any codes. i guess I will have to wait until the next time it comes on and drive it to Autozone to see if they can get a reading on it.

    As far as the bucking, I just thought I would throw that in there in case it meant something that I was unaware of. I think my ISC might be on its way out -- it's really hard to diagnose problems in my car because I bought it non-running and just got it running last month....So I'm constantly finding small additional things that need to be looked at. :|
     
  4. tom04841

    tom04841 Proven Member

    607
    6
    Joined Jul 21, 2004
    Rockland, Maine
    Have you checked to make sure the alternator belt is tight?

    I was driving home one day and noticed my headlights and dash lights gettting progressively dimmer. If i stopped driving, they would get brighter. Eventually on the way home it started buckin like a horse, almost had no lights, then the car dies. Turns out the belt had just enough tension on it to turn the pulley, but when to much of a load was put on it, it would just slip, causing the car to pull juice from the battery...which killed it.

    Probably not your issue, but wouldn't hurt to check.
     
    femmeDSM likes this.
  5. talonfromtenn

    talonfromtenn Awaiting Email Verification

    16
    1
    Joined Mar 4, 2005
    mt. juliet, Tennessee
    Run down to Autozone without removing the alternator. Have them load test the alternator on the car, they should have a "Bear" system and can test it for free. If you have an Advance Auto around they will definately be able to. But even if the alternator puts out 13.5-15 volts at idle, it may not be producing the correct amperage. At 2000 rpm, you should still be able to produce at least 50 amps, (with all lights on).
     
    femmeDSM likes this.
  6. femmeDSM

    femmeDSM Proven Member

    864
    62
    Joined Oct 31, 2004
    D/FW, Texas
    thanks, i'll do that. I wish we had an Advance Auto here, but we don't unfortunately. I'll run down there today and have them test it out for me. They are a little dumb (haha) but I think they should be able to handle something that simple. :rolleyes: ....
     
  7. femmeDSM

    femmeDSM Proven Member

    864
    62
    Joined Oct 31, 2004
    D/FW, Texas

    Yeah, the belt is tight. Maybe 1/4 inch of play in it -- just barely moves when I press my thumb on it. The belt looks new, as well. What you're describing sounds almost like what my car is doing sometimes, though. If the alternator checks out okay, I might just replace that belt for peace of mind. I think it's like a $10.00 belt. Couldn't hurt, i guess ;)
     
  8. Defiant

    Defiant DSM Wiseman

    25,195
    157
    Joined Jan 13, 2003
    glorious Galt, California
    Is the battery bolted down? Do you have the insulation over the positive terminal? Have you checked your harmonic balancer?
     

    3K  0

    1995 Eagle Talon TSi AWD
    manual · 2G DSM
    Loading...
    femmeDSM likes this.
  9. femmeDSM

    femmeDSM Proven Member

    864
    62
    Joined Oct 31, 2004
    D/FW, Texas
    Hmmm. Good points Defiant.

    To answer your questions.....No, No, and No.

    LOL
    Now I'm embarassed. :coy:

    The battery is not bolted down, and the positive terminal has lost its little red insulator (car came that way). I hadn't remedied those problems yet, as I have been planning on relocating the battery to the hatch as soon as I fix whatever this problem is. Guess I will be replacing those battery terminals now, though.

    As far as the crank pulley.....The engine was rebuilt about 10k miles ago, so I didn't even think of looking at drive pulleys - I just assumed they had been replaced along with everything else. All of the belts (alternator and power steering) look brand new. I considered replacing them until I saw the condition of the belts -- looks like they had been installed very recently. I will jack the car up and have a look down there, though. Anything special I should be looking for, or will it be obvious if that is shot?
     
  10. femmeDSM

    femmeDSM Proven Member

    864
    62
    Joined Oct 31, 2004
    D/FW, Texas
    Well, thought I would mention one more thing.....
    I went down to the car tonight to take it to Autozone for alternator testing, and the battery was so drained that the car wouldn't even start. Just cranked over veerrryyy ssslloooowwwlllyyy, and all the lights dimmed out. Voltage at the battery was reading 11 volts, and less than 10 volts while trying to crank. :(

    I got it jumped, but I'm afraid to start the car now for fear of trashing my starter with all the cranking it takes to get her started, so she sits in front of the garage, lifeless yet again.

    Boo. This sucks.
     
  11. GSTealth

    GSTealth Proven Member

    36
    2
    Joined Mar 30, 2004
    Rosemead, California
    I had very similar symptoms to yours. (Including voltage okay at idle), but voltage would fluctuate under load. Finally one day the car actually would die under idle, it would only stay charged if i kept the RPM over 3500 (after jumpstarting it)- i had a fun time driving home through stop signs/lights. (Time to practice heel-toe technique).

    After replacing the alternator, it all fixed all those weird problems. So even though it was functioning, it was still contributing to weird behavior.

    What were the results of the alternator test? If you havent gotten a chance to test it yet, it might be worth checking out, as well as your electric connections and leads. (Make sure everything is solid, if you are familiar with a multimeter, you might check resistance) Alternator is pretty easy to pull if want to remove the unit and get a ride to the shop to get it tested.

    Oh yeah, make sure your power steering pump isnt leaking onto your alternator - that has also been known to contribute to alternators going bad. Also, you should be aware a lot of people have had problems with alternators going out, even new ones not lasting long. Is yours under warranty?

    The other great thing I did for myself was get an optima battery. Jumpstarts are now a thing of the past (even if I am using accessories with the car off). Definitely worth the money if you are sick and tired of drained batteries.
     
  12. Defiant

    Defiant DSM Wiseman

    25,195
    157
    Joined Jan 13, 2003
    glorious Galt, California
    My AC clutch did a seppuku last spring, and while wrestling a new compressor in I was delighted that the ol' 100K-mile pulley was looking terrific.
    A week later, it let go. I'd looked at it a couple of other times, looking for what the damned noise was. It looked fine. But it had lost its bond, and had been slipping for an unknown amount of time.
    Put a chalk mark on the rim, and on the hub. See if after a day or two they've wandered apart.
     

    3K  0

    1995 Eagle Talon TSi AWD
    manual · 2G DSM
    Loading...
  13. femmeDSM

    femmeDSM Proven Member

    864
    62
    Joined Oct 31, 2004
    D/FW, Texas

    Great, I will do that. Thanks for the help :) Got the car started and running today after another jump, and was able to drive it for a few minutes to (hopefully) let the alternator do its job. So we shall see if she holds a charge this time........:rolleyes:

    Also, I should mention that before the jump this afternoon, the voltage at the battery while cranking was a whopping 6 volts. :toobad:
     
  14. femmeDSM

    femmeDSM Proven Member

    864
    62
    Joined Oct 31, 2004
    D/FW, Texas

    Thanks for the advice. Yeah, my alternator is under warranty, I got all the receipts, etc when I bought the car, thankfully. I have the whole intake apart at the moment (to clean the tb, check the isc, and a bunch of other things), so I think I will just pull the alternator while she's down for the next day or two and go get it checked out, just for peace of mind. I've been checking for a power steering leak, because I thought of that too...I have been unable to locate one, so I think I'm good there. The PS Pump was replaced before I bought the car (receipts for that, too! LOL), so I think it's okay.

    I've been thinking of investing in an Optima battery, as well. Did you get the red top or the yellow top? Where did you get yours? None of the auto parts stores around here carry them that I've seen. :|
     
  15. GSTealth

    GSTealth Proven Member

    36
    2
    Joined Mar 30, 2004
    Rosemead, California
    I have the Red top. As you can see from the picture below, the red top has significantly more cranking amps:

    [​IMG]

    The yellow top is for deep-cycling: if you're constantly draining it to empty, with lots of accessories, then this battery will last longer for that purpose (at the expense of less cranking amps). The red top gives you more juice for starting your car. I run quite a few accessories and the Red top works fine for me.

    Red top has: 800 CCA, 1000 Amps 32deg, 110 reserve capacity.
    Yellow top has: 750 CCA, 870 Amps 32deg, 120 reserve capacity.

    Its mostly personal preference as either should work just fine.
    I have a 2g, and am running the 34/78. It is actually not the recommended battery for that car, as it doesnt quite fit the top of the battery holder flush (there are a few raised ridges). The reason I got that battery because it is dual terminal and so I could split the power leads into two groups (For a cleaner look).

    I believe the 34 series should fit correctly, here is the url from the manufacturer for more information:

    http://www.optimabatteries.com/publish/optima/americas0/en/config/product_info/automotive.html

    I got mine from pep boys (my car happened to die in the parking lot as I was buying some motor oil, so I got to do a parking-lot battery swap). They come with an onsite battery-exchange warranty.

    However you should be able to get these from any retailer, as optima's products are pretty generalized, just check the sizing from off the website to make sure it will fit in your compartment ok.

    Good luck,
    -Joe
     
  16. femmeDSM

    femmeDSM Proven Member

    864
    62
    Joined Oct 31, 2004
    D/FW, Texas
    Awesome, thanks for that info -- very helpful.

    I think I will go ahead and get the Optima...sounds like a great product. I have been kicking the idea around for some time, just never had quite made up my mind about it until now.

    Thanks again :thumb:
     
  17. GSTealth

    GSTealth Proven Member

    36
    2
    Joined Mar 30, 2004
    Rosemead, California
    Found a couple of conflicting replies for 1g sizing (Again, I have a 2g so the battery compartment size and tie-down fit is probably different):

    Some people are recommending the smaller sizes for the 1g:
    (35/75): http://www.dsmtuners.com/forums/showthread.php?t=97145

    and

    75/25): http://www.dsmtuners.com/forums/showthread.php?t=202649&highlight=optima

    Both of which have lower CCA ratings. Best would be to measure your existing battery and see if there is any extra room (length/width/height/battery tie down).

    Oh yeah, the yellow top costs signficantly more $$.
    Going prices are about $120-$130 for red top, $160-$170 yellow top.
     

Share This Page

Support Vendors who Support the DSM Community
ECM Tuning ExtremePSI Feal Suspension Fuel Injector Clinic Jacks Transmissions JNZ Tuning Kiggly Racing Morrison Fabrications OHM Racing RixRacing RockAuto SouthBay Fuel Injectors STM Tuned Track Decals Track Sculptures VR Speed Factory