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Old 11-26-2005, 10:55 AM   #1
JamesDator
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Default 1995 Saturn SL2 Start Porblems- I NEED A SATURN EXPERT!

I have had a 1995 Saturn SL2 for a year and a half now. The car runs great, when it starts.

The first time the battery was replaced was October last year; the problem seemed fixed, then was replaced in January, we thought it could just be a bad battery.

It then died again in April, and my mechanic again put in another battery 'under warranty' this is a trustworthy guy at Goodyear who still claims there is nothing wrong with the alternator. I have also has the starter replaced last July. After all of this the battery died again in August at which time I took it to the dealer and they claimed I needed an alternator. My mechanic says it's not the alternator, and that it charges normally.

I thought it could be the electrical system, the car had an aftermarket stereo installed when I bought it, so I had it pulled out and a new one installed. It has been fine since then, but last night the car wouldn't turn over.

When the car's electrical system turns on the radio is fine, but the windows roll down very slowly. When I try to start the car there is a clicking, but little else.

Any help would be greatly appriciated.

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Old 11-26-2005, 11:41 AM   #2
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Default Re: 1995 Saturn SL2 Start Porblems- I NEED A SATURN EXPERT!

Three batteries replaced in the span of a year, and the new one has died already 7 months later. And your starter is relatively new.

Replace the generator ("alternator"), and find a new mechanic that doesn't have an incentive to keep selling you batteries.

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Old 11-26-2005, 11:42 AM   #3
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Default Re: 1995 Saturn SL2 Start Porblems- I NEED A SATURN EXPERT!

Every time he replaces the battery it has been free, its always been under their warranty... so he's losing money rather than just replacing the generator.

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Old 11-26-2005, 11:48 AM   #4
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Default Re: 1995 Saturn SL2 Start Porblems- I NEED A SATURN EXPERT!

Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesDator
Every time he replaces the battery it has been free, its always been under their warranty... so he's losing money rather than just replacing the generator.
You still need to replace the generator.

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Old 11-26-2005, 11:55 AM   #5
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Default Re: 1995 Saturn SL2 Start Porblems- I NEED A SATURN EXPERT!

Thanks for the help

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Old 11-26-2005, 12:06 PM   #6
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Default Re: 1995 Saturn SL2 Start Porblems- I NEED A SATURN EXPERT!

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Thanks for the help
You should get the generator tested, if you are in doubt. If your service technician can't test it or won't, then go to someone that can and will.

Saturn generators are known service items, requiring more frequent replacement than many people expect. The problem gets exacerbated when they attempt to recharge a bad battery. Bad batteries have killed many Saturn generators over the years, and you've already had three batteries replaced in a year. If your generator wasn't bad before, it's probably toast now.

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Old 11-26-2005, 12:43 PM   #7
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Default Re: 1995 Saturn SL2 Start Porblems- I NEED A SATURN EXPERT!

From posts in the forum, alternators can fail starting at about 60,000 miles. Buy a high-quality replacement. I have had very good luck with Beck/Arnley alternators in a few cars, and would pick one of these over AC Delco. Higher-output replacements (105 amps vs. 85 amps stock) are available, and a good idea especially if you want to run a big stereo.

...
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Old 11-26-2005, 09:48 PM   #8
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Default Re: 1995 Saturn SL2 Start Porblems- I NEED A SATURN EXPERT!

These alternators can seem to charge normally but are actually not. What happens is that the rectifying diodes go bad. When that happens you do not get the full charge from the system. The alt should produce 95-100 amps under full load. Unless your mechanic has a charging system tester that can check the diodes then they will not see a problem.

...
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Old 11-26-2005, 10:16 PM   #9
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Default Re: 1995 Saturn SL2 Start Porblems- I NEED A SATURN EXPERT!

there are several different diode designs and they all are slightly different in testing, also most alternators use two diodes today. If one diode goes bad/does not put out full current, then the other will provide the current to keep the car running. The charging system, with the alternator diode being bad, might not have the juice to keep the battery at full charge. i forget the type of diode arangment of the stock alternators, but on some you can move a plate or if you spin the thing to a point you can put a multimeters probes on some contacts to test the diodes.

...
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Old 11-27-2005, 10:51 AM   #10
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Default Re: 1995 Saturn SL2 Start Porblems- I NEED A SATURN EXPERT!

Welcome to the forum. Pull the alternator, see the how to library for instuction thread. Most of the larger chains (autozone and advance) have a bench tester. If you live in Pgh. Pa. I know a very reputable alternator shop. Howard's generator in Lawrencville. He can test, repair, and even sells new high quality components.

The only other possibility is bad battery cables, but the alt. is much more likely. Good luck and let us know how you make out.

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Old 11-27-2005, 01:17 PM   #11
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Default Re: 1995 Saturn SL2 Start Porblems- I NEED A SATURN EXPERT!

Hmmm... 99,5XX miles on mine 2000 SL1 and no alternator probs yet. BTW, peppermjr, you ar from PA? Me too. NEPA here. COLD AS HELL

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Old 11-27-2005, 03:21 PM   #12
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Default Re: 1995 Saturn SL2 Start Porblems- I NEED A SATURN EXPERT!

when you start your car, that is the only time you use your battery (unless you are playing your stereo with your car off or something). when you car is running everything pulls off of the alternator, which on a saturn is called a generator. is your battery light on when you drive? it sounds like your battery is picking up the slack for you generator because your generator is bad. i would just undo the 2 bolts and 1 wire connected to the starter thats holding it on and take it to AutoZone or any other auto parts retailer and have them test it for free.

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Old 11-27-2005, 03:50 PM   #13
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Default Re: 1995 Saturn SL2 Start Porblems- I NEED A SATURN EXPERT!

Actually NOPE.. Everyting always pulls off the BATTERY. The alternator is there to prevent the BATTERY from discharging. Saturns (like all modern vehicles) have ALTERNATORS not GENERATORS. I haven't seen a generator in a car since the early 1960's.

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Old 11-27-2005, 04:02 PM   #14
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Default Re: 1995 Saturn SL2 Start Porblems- I NEED A SATURN EXPERT!

Actually GM still calls them generators, an electrically incorrect term since the only brushes are for the field current and there is infact an AC/DC conversion. They don't want to admit Chrysler invented the alternator and it was a better idea.

Don't believe me, read some genuine GM literature.

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Old 11-27-2005, 10:25 PM   #15
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Default Re: 1995 Saturn SL2 Start Porblems- I NEED A SATURN EXPERT!

Quote:
Originally Posted by eljefino
Actually GM still calls them generators, an electrically incorrect term since the only brushes are for the field current and there is infact an AC/DC conversion. They don't want to admit Chrysler invented the alternator and it was a better idea.

Don't believe me, read some genuine GM literature.
That's exactly why I referred to it as a generator ("alternator") in my first post. If you search through the index of Saturn's factory service manuals, you will never find the word "alternator", but you will find hundreds of references to the word "generator".

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Old 11-27-2005, 11:49 PM   #16
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Default Re: 1995 Saturn SL2 Start Porblems- I NEED A SATURN EXPERT!

Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfman
Actually NOPE.. Everyting always pulls off the BATTERY. The alternator is there to prevent the BATTERY from discharging. Saturns (like all modern vehicles) have ALTERNATORS not GENERATORS. I haven't seen a generator in a car since the early 1960's.
Actually this brings up a question for me. This may be a bit off topic but I would like to hear from some other experienced persons on this.

Years ago, a "dirty" alternator test was to get the car started, disconnect the battery and see if the car continued to run or not. If it did, the alternator was working, supplying the necessary electrical energy to keep the car running. If it died, the alternator was dead.

After experiencing an electrical problem in the early years of my ownership experience with my then new 95 SL-2, I was discussing this with the lead tech at the dealership where I purchased it. He said that would not work on a Saturn as the car's system looked for the battery in the circuit and good alternator or not, the car would die. We then disconnected the battery on the car and guess what, it continued to run much at the techs surprise.

Some time later, my wife was driving her 93 SC-2 on the highway at night. It just out of nowhere, died. Just as if you had turned off the key. Nothing worked, no lights, no starter no nothing. I was behind her in my SL with a pair of jumper cables. With the cables hooked up from my car, her car would run but take them off and it died. I obtained a replacement battery, installed it and the car ran fine AND the alternator tested fine.

So with all that said, one car, the 93 SC-2 acted as the tech described, dead battery, or no battery, dead car. But my 95 would run with the battery disconnected, quite different than what the tech said.

I have seen other Saturns continue to run with the battery out of the circuit.
So the question is this, Do Saturns require the battery in the circuit for it to operate normally or not? Was the tech at the dealership right or is our 95 SL-2 an anomoly? What is the real answer about how the battery interacts in the electrical system for these cars?

...
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1995 SL-2 296,000 miles - my wifes totaled, RIP
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Old 11-28-2005, 01:28 AM   #17
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Default Re: 1995 Saturn SL2 Start Porblems- I NEED A SATURN EXPERT!

Ok, first off, it is a generator not an alternator, it uses whats called an L-terminal at the generator to send a feedback to the PCM to let the PCM know that its on. If you disconnect the positive side of the battery while its running it wil run forever (or until it runs out of gas) but if you disconnect the negative or both sides, it will run for about a minute until the left over magnitism in the vehicle frame and block runs out. Proper specs for the generator are at least 13.6 volts and 40 amps UNDER NO LOAD!!!! Proper specs under load are at least 11.5 volts and 80 amps. But if your battery keeps dying, there are only 3 possibilites. 1) A faulty generator 2) High resistance in the battery cable (very very very rare) or 3) a parasitic draw. Proper specs on an S-series is 12 milliamps or less. You also have to wait a least one minute to do a parasitic draw test properly after battery disconnection at the negative side, because you have to let the car "go to sleep"

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Old 11-28-2005, 11:07 AM   #18
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Default Re: 1995 Saturn SL2 Start Porblems- I NEED A SATURN EXPERT!

Wow, This is something I haven't thought about before. I think Ken is on to something But with one minor correction. The battery is not suppling magnetism to the frame but rather an electrical ground (i.e. a source of electrons). The generator/alternator can create the voltage but not the electrons to make the current.
This suggests that if you removed the battery from the car and attached a large metal pole driven two feet into the ground to the frame/neg battery cable, as a grounding source, the engine may continue to run.

How does that sound?
John

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Old 11-28-2005, 01:46 PM   #19
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Default Re: 1995 Saturn SL2 Start Porblems- I NEED A SATURN EXPERT!

wow, all this over wether it is called a generator or an alternator. i hope there is never a discussion on wether or not the starter solenoid is attached to the starter or not.

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Old 11-28-2005, 02:32 PM   #20
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Default Re: 1995 Saturn SL2 Start Porblems- I NEED A SATURN EXPERT!

I'd theorize that there are a few degrees of generalternator rotation that don't produce any current, ac or dc. Direct current from the battery or somewhere is needed for the field electromagnet that keeps the alternator working. Also the "load" of the battery helps "eat" various voltage spikes that happen when the altgen is in its "sweet spot" of power production.

With the battery disconnected, some residual DC storage exists in the voltage-spike-eating capacitors in the radio, computer, and airbag controller. This is sometimes enough to backfeed and keep the alternator working during that 1/1000 second.

GM is BS'ing their techs that disconnecting the battery is not how one tests the alternator because they don't want huge unregulated voltage spikes roiling through the rest of the car's electrical system. Whether or not it's a valid test (please don't do it) GM doesn't need expensive stuff busted during warranty diagnostics.

Incidentally, you can't roll-start an alternator equipped car with a completely dead battery. Typically with a run-down batt there's enough current to energize the alt field coil which will then bring the alt online, generatign 14 volts, which then "wakes up" the rest of the car, fuel pump, ignition, and gets it going.

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