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Old 04-15-2012, 12:36 AM   #1
rthomas529
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Dizzy 92 saturn sl voltage draw

I have a 92 saturn sl sohc. My alternator, starter, battery all test good. I have a new tensioner belt.
When I start my car I'm getting a voltage draw. From what I understand in my car the voltage regulation is controlled by the cpu. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

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Old 04-15-2012, 01:35 AM   #2
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Default Re: 92 saturn sl voltage draw

I'm a little confused. What do you mean by a voltage draw?

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Old 04-15-2012, 01:52 AM   #3
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Default Re: 92 saturn sl voltage draw

With my volt meter on positive battery terminal and grounded, I start my car and volts drop to 0.0 It will go up to about 11.3 for a couple second and drops again. The longer my car idles the more my battery drains until the car dies. If I drive the car it happens within 10 minutes of drive time.
I get all the symptoms of a bad alternator but I took the alt to auto zone and it tested good. Charging at 14.2. What am I missing?

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Old 04-15-2012, 02:20 AM   #4
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Default Re: 92 saturn sl voltage draw

Well, a power issue revolves around three main parts; battery, battery cables, and connections. Be sure the battery is a good one then examine both battery cables for signs of any corrosion, visible and hidden under the terminals. If you can eliminate the battery and cables, move on. Next are the alternator and its connections. While copper wires don't age, they can be dissolved by battery acid over the years, reducing a cable's ability to carry current and/or voltage.

With testing the alternator done off the engine, this leaves the fusible link wire that powers the alternator. This wire is connected at the starter terminal along with the battery positive cable. If this cable is blown internally, it may not be obvious. To check, measure voltage at the alternator post connection - it should read battery voltage and if not then the wire is blown. Check to be sure all connections are in the right places.

Last edited by fdryer; 04-15-2012 at 02:30 AM..

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Old 04-15-2012, 11:57 AM   #5
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Default Re: 92 saturn sl voltage draw

Ok so this morning I yanked of the starter and had both it and the alternator tested at another shop. Both passed with flying colors (this was for my own peace of mind)

Then I traced both battery cables. I found a spot on the positive cable that a small small rubbed through on the battery box. I'll have to replace but for now tape up. Parasite gone. I don't seem to have anymore voltage draw while the car is running.

Now I tested my current at the starter and had a good reading. Then I testedat the alternator of the fuseable link...nothing. so I started the car idle normal, I get under the car and place the voltmeter on the alternator and I can't get a reading.

Now my fuseable link is probably shot, but with the car running that alternator should read 14.2 and it was at the shop this morning. How is this possible?

*I forgot to mention, when I was putting my tension belt back on, my tensioner left slack in the belt. After I pulled the tension loose and let it go the slack was gone. I would assume this means my tensioner is shot. Could this cause my alternator not to put out voltage.

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Old 04-15-2012, 12:42 PM   #6
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Default Re: 92 saturn sl voltage draw

The serpentine belt and tensioner must be in good operating condition so engine torque can transfer from the crankshaft to the serp belt. If the tensioner allows a slack belt then the crank pulley slips without a tight belt resulting in squealing. No belt tension (if you can depress the belt easily with just your fingers) means poor belt powering all the accessories including the alternator. Even slight turning of the alternator should have it output voltage. No voltage reading on the alternator post where 12v should be means a blown fusible link. Replacing it can either be a nightmare or a simple job.

Fusible link wire is nothing more than 'just enough wire inside an insulator to carry no more than certain current'. In this case, 30 amps. Unless you know current carrying capability by wire gauge size, some work should allow you to make one from scratch or use a short cut - take one of another car from the junk yard. Every fusible link wire is still a wire so it can be tested for continuity easily with a meter or flashlight. Taking one off a junk car is the easiest while making one from scratch is hardest but not impossible.

If you measured no voltage on the red wire attached to the alternator and read 12v on the same wire at the starter solenoid, this wire will have to be replaced. Simply remove it or cut off the ends. Use the cut off section to strip off the insulation and see the size of the wire(s) and use a matching wire gauge that's close. Any color insulation will work. The key is to use the closest wire gauge to match. Undersize will be OK but a little oversize is safer. When replacing this wire, disconnect battery negative to prevent welding accidents as you are working on HOT wires. Once the replacement wire is attached you can reconnect battery negative and measure voltage again at the starter terminal and alternator post. Once you read 12v on the alternator post the alternator should output when the engine is started. Check the battery voltage again. It should now read between 13.3v-14.7v with the engine idling.

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Old 04-15-2012, 03:59 PM   #7
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Default Re: 92 saturn sl voltage draw

Ok I tested my fuseable link. It is good. The condinuity is fine. I disconnected it from the alternator and left it attached to the starter and I get no loss of volts. It test the same as the battery terminals.

I drove my car up to auto parts store so they could test the charging system. They told me what I already know that the alternator is putting out no juice. I went back home disconnected the wire harness. With key in the off position I have no power to either wire. With the key in the on position both wires get 10.2 volts.

The other strange thing is my battery light is not coming on which means the car doesn't even know that its not getting a charge.

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Old 04-15-2012, 06:06 PM   #8
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Default Re: 92 saturn sl voltage draw

Quote:
Originally Posted by rthomas529 View Post
I went back home disconnected the wire harness. With key in the off position I have no power to either wire. With the key in the on position both wires get 10.2 volts. ...
What wires? Please be more specific.

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Old 04-15-2012, 06:54 PM   #9
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Default Re: 92 saturn sl voltage draw

On the alternator you have the positive terminal that the fusebale link is attched to. You also have a wire harness that clips into place. I detached that harness,and probed with my voltmeter both of the wires. They both read 10.2 volts.

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Old 04-15-2012, 09:51 PM   #10
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Default Re: 92 saturn sl voltage draw

Well, I'm sorry but I don't have any wiring diagrams to go by to go into detail about why your alternator isn't outputting. I suspect something is wrong somewhere as one wire should go to the battery light in the instrument panel while the other should go to the pcm that turns on the voltage regulator circuit.

There was a recent member that went all out with a rebuilt alternator that worked great just like yours at the store but failed to turn on when installed in the car. All wiring was perfect but the alternator wouldn't run. Even using an oscilloscope with posted pics showed zero turn on of the electronics. In the end he went back and insisted on the correct OEM voltage regulator instead of the one that was used. The next post displayed the scope signals to indicate the electronic regulator turned on and alternator outputting. The wrong voltage regulator was used in the rebuilding operation.

Is your alternator a replacement when you started this thread?

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Old 04-15-2012, 10:16 PM   #11
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Default Re: 92 saturn sl voltage draw

When I first had charging issues I replacde the altanator, about a week ago. I still have the original and it also tested good.

Could I have shorted out my pcm? If I did how would I know?

What ever issue I'm having must be external to the mechanical charging system. Something is telling the voltage regulator in my altanator not to output. Otherwise it would not charge off the vehicle.
Now here's a question...should both the wire to the pcm and the battery light be hot all the time? Or only when the key is on? And how much voltage should I actually get at the wire harnness.

I have a feeling my pcm is shot. Probably from the short on my positive battery cable.

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Old 04-15-2012, 10:53 PM   #12
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Default Re: 92 saturn sl voltage draw

The PCM in your car does not control or affect the alternator charging. At some point you mentioned that the serpentine belt tensioner was not providing belt tension. This will certainly cause the alt to not charge.

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Old 04-16-2012, 12:07 AM   #13
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Default Re: 92 saturn sl voltage draw

Would a bad tensioner cause a no charge situation? The alternater is spinning. Wouldn't I be getting some juice? I had my dad look at it. He seems to be convinced that the belt has enough tension. Maybe it was a fluke the belt didn't tighten. I don't know. It kind of hard to tell. I pulled on the belt and there seems to be enough tension. Once again though if that alternator is spinning it should be putting somwthing out.

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Old 04-16-2012, 11:06 AM   #14
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Default Re: 92 saturn sl voltage draw

Ok so I think I'm missing something. Why wouldn't my battery light not come on at all. Not even when I turn my key to the on position? Is there a way to know if its burnt out without pulling the dash apart?

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Old 04-16-2012, 11:23 AM   #15
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Default Re: 92 saturn sl voltage draw

Yours is probably a bulb as LED's have replaced many bulbs in the instrument panel to reduce the i/p size and use more reliable led's. The turn signals, odometer backlight, and a few others remain as lamps. You'll have to pull the i/p to check unless someone knows.

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Old 04-16-2012, 01:49 PM   #16
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Default Re: 92 saturn sl voltage draw

I pulled the bulb and it looked good, but replaced it anyways. I'm at a loss. Something is causing that bulb to not come on. I don't have a wiring diagram but I imagine even if I did I still might not be aable to find the source. I have yet to find anyone who has had this exact problem.

1)alternator is charging outside the car but not inside the car
2)battery light not working but not blown
3)I have voltage all the way to the alternator end of the fuseable lin
4)wireing harness reads 10.2 volts at both wires when key is on (not sure if this is the correct voltage)

I'm really sure this is a problem with the alternator. I don't trust those out of car tests. The belt isn't loose so the alternator should be generator should be producing something.
Aside from the internal voltage regulator is there anything else on the car that would tell my alternator to not put out voltage? I was thinking computer wise or I've heard somecars if the battery isn't fully charge or faulty the alternator won't charge at all.

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Old 05-23-2012, 08:28 PM   #17
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Default Re: 92 saturn sl voltage draw

get yourself a new battery, 10.2v a plate has shorted internally. Will hold a fraction of the charge it used to.

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