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Old 10-19-2019, 07:14 PM   #1
DJCharlie
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Question Battery Dead. Jumped car and it died while driving

Hi I was wondering if anyone has any insight on what's going on with my 96 SC2. I was having trouble starting my car when it was hot after driving it so I replaced the starter yesterday and that fixed the issue. Everything was good and today I drove it to work no problem.
When I got done work my car wouldn't start and it was obvious that the battery was dead (had something plugged in the cigarette lighter outlet) so I got it jumped and let it idle to charge the battery a little before I drove home. In the middle of my drive I tried to turn the headlights on and the radio turned off so I figured I should just drive without them on and let it charge more. Then while I was driving the gauges were turning on and off and the coolant temp was jumping from off to the correct temperature. All the gsuge lights that come on when you first set the car to run were turning on and off.

. Eventually it died while I was driving. Is this normal with a dead battery after you jump it? Is my alternator bad? The serpentine belt was spinning while it was running so I'm assuming the water pump was working and I didn't overheat the engine. Sorry for the long paragraph but any thoughts would help.

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Old 10-19-2019, 08:41 PM   #2
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Default Re: Battery Dead. Jumped car and it died while driving

I should also mention that while it was running the battery light wasn't on and the battery is fairly new (1 year old)

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Old 10-19-2019, 09:08 PM   #3
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Default Re: Battery Dead. Jumped car and it died while driving

Does the battery light come on when the key is turned to the RUN position, or is it burned out?

You need to determine if the battery has a bad cell, or an alternator issue.

Battery connections are clean and tight?

Have a voltmeter handy?
Tell us what voltage you have across the 2 terminals with engine off.
It should be around 12.5ish vdc.
If you can start it, check the battery voltage while engine is running.
It should be around 14.5ish vdc IF alternator is doing its job.
If the car won't start, or the initial battery voltage is less than 12 volts, use a 120 volt charger and charge the battery: when the charger is done, recheck battery voltage and see what you have.

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Old 10-19-2019, 09:39 PM   #4
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Default Re: Battery Dead. Jumped car and it died while driving

Sounds like the alternator isn't doing its job.
Things to test would be the alternator itself,
the serpentine belt, and the belt tensioner.

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Old 10-19-2019, 10:06 PM   #5
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Default Re: Battery Dead. Jumped car and it died while driving

Quote:
Originally Posted by toggenburg View Post
Does the battery light come on when the key is turned to the RUN position, or is it burned out?

You need to determine if the battery has a bad cell, or an alternator issue.

Battery connections are clean and tight?

.
The battery light does turn on when Key is turned to run. it goes off after the car is started. I just took the battery to AutoZone for a quick charge and after the charge it was tested and got a little bit less than the 12v it's was supposed to get (11.7). The guy said it might have a bad cell I have a multimeter that I'll use to test battery and alternator tomorrow.

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Old 10-19-2019, 10:10 PM   #6
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Default Re: Battery Dead. Jumped car and it died while driving

I swapped to another old battery (probably bad) for the drive back and forth to AutoZone (5 minutes away). I noticed the car was driving weird. At first it was normal but I noticed it was driving at a Lower rpm then usual when I was letting it coast and the transmission started to not downshift or shift very slowly. Eventually the car started to die with this second battery which never happened when I was using it before. I'm assuming it is the alternator

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Old 10-20-2019, 03:19 AM   #7
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Default Re: Battery Dead. Jumped car and it died while driving

Quick check.


With the engine running you should see 14v to 15v DC.

If it is - the likely fault is battery. If it is under 14v even when revved to over 2000 rpm - the alternator is likely toast.

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Old 10-20-2019, 10:11 AM   #8
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Default Re: Battery Dead. Jumped car and it died while driving

checked voltage at the battery
Engine off - 11.9v
Enfine running - 10.4v not even close to 14v.
under load (high beams AC) - 6v.
Battery alternator light on dash didn't turn on but I'm assuming the alternator is bad right? Did my new starter kill my alternator somehow? I installed the dB electrical starter yesterday and before that I don't think I had this problem

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Old 10-20-2019, 10:19 AM   #9
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Default Re: Battery Dead. Jumped car and it died while driving

You either forgot the power line from the starter to the alternator when you put it back together or you broke the terminal for the power wire (B+) on the alternator. The B+ terminal is pretty sensitive to over torquing, both on install and removal, plus it's after the voltage regulator so the system doesn't know that it's broken.

Hopefully it's just a forgotten wire.

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Old 10-20-2019, 11:09 AM   #10
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Default Re: Battery Dead. Jumped car and it died while driving

Quote:
Originally Posted by fetchitfido View Post
You either forgot the power line from the starter to the alternator when you put it back together or you broke the terminal for the power wire (B+) on the alternator. The B+ terminal is pretty sensitive to over torquing, both on install and removal, plus it's after the voltage regulator so the system doesn't know that it's broken.

Hopefully it's just a forgotten wire.
I'm not sure which wire was for which part of the starter but I remember putting the purple wire back into the small nut. Then the 2 thicker wires back under the 13mm nuts. Which one connects the starter to the alternator?

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Old 10-20-2019, 12:05 PM   #11
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Default Re: Battery Dead. Jumped car and it died while driving

From descriptions, your wiring seems correct. The small purple wire occupies the small terminal on the starter solenoid, the two larger gauge wires on the outside starter terminal. The large gauge battery cable supplies battery voltage, the second wire supplies power to the alternator as an extension wire from the battery cable. This wire is a fusible link wire. The whole length of this wire is designed to carry no more than 25 amps to protect against a short in the alternator from damaging the battery. The alternator case is ground thru the engine block with a negative cable going back to a chassis stud then back to battery negative. If the fusible link wire is damaged or broken, power to the alternator won't show the alternator to operate. The car is running solely on battery power and killing it. The alternator supplies all the power to the car's electrical system white show charging the battery after every start. The battery is only used to power the starter and run accessories if the engine isn't running. Once the engine runs, the alternator takes over and generates around 14.5v. Not seeing 13 or 14 volts indicates either the fusible link wire is broken or the alternator is faulty. There's an easy test to determine which one failed.

Crawl under the car and measure the side terminal of the alternator. This the the other end of the fusible link wire from the starter. Measured against alternator case ground, you should see battery voltage. If you do not see battery voltage on the alternator side terminal, the fusible link wire is damaged and needs to be replaced. The alternator is always supplied battery power and doesn't drain the battery due to internal electronics. It only draws power when the engine's running. If you have battery power on this side terminal, the alternator is dead. If this is the case, remove and replace it. You can have the alternator tested at AutoZone or any auto store providing free battery and alternator testing.

A faulty fusible link wire or alternator will not supply power to the car. The battery is doing all the work when its main role is to power the starter. The alternator takes over after the engine runs to supply all the power to the car's electrical system while simultaneously recharging the battery.

Last edited by fdryer; 10-20-2019 at 12:12 PM..

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Old 10-20-2019, 01:03 PM   #12
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Default Re: Battery Dead. Jumped car and it died while driving

Okay so i crawled under and took a picture of the starter but I didnt get to test the voltage yet because it started raining pretty hard. Is this orange cable the one that connects the starter to the alternator?
new_starter1b.jpg

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Old 10-20-2019, 01:27 PM   #13
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Default Re: Battery Dead. Jumped car and it died while driving

I can't help but laugh...only one way to screw it up while thinking you did it right...and you pulled it off! I didn't even know it was possible. Check which post has the "extra" wire going into the starter body (looks like the inner one, with the orange line on it) and put both lines on the OTHER post.

The posts are only connected electrically when the starter is activated.

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Old 10-20-2019, 04:13 PM   #14
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Default Re: Battery Dead. Jumped car and it died while driving

Quote:
Originally Posted by fetchitfido View Post
I can't help but laugh...only one way to screw it up while thinking you did it right...and you pulled it off! I didn't even know it was possible. Check which post has the "extra" wire going into the starter body (looks like the inner one, with the orange line on it) and put both lines on the OTHER post.

The posts are only connected electrically when the starter is activated.
LOL wow someone should make the instructions for connecting the lines a little more clear. So you're saying both wires connect to the same post. Im gonna guess the correct post is the one on top.

Okay thanks for the help saturnfans! People keep telling me to junk the car because of its age but i refuse. hopefully this fixes it.

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Old 10-20-2019, 05:32 PM   #15
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Default Re: Battery Dead. Jumped car and it died while driving

The wire from the alternator goes on the same post as the wire from the battery.
The picture shows that the alternator wire is on the post that seems to have the wire going into the starter motor. It should not be. Not a good thing.

If the angle of the picture is tricky and I am wrong on the posts what you need to do is put the wire from the alternator to the post that has no wire to the starter motor. It needs to be on the post that has the battery wire.
The post from the solenoid to the starter motor should have no external wires on it but the wire going to the starter motor.

Hopefully the alternator has not been damaged/burned out.

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Old 10-20-2019, 05:58 PM   #16
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Default Re: Battery Dead. Jumped car and it died while driving

The fuseable link, wire between alternator and battery wire terminal may very well now be open circuit.

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Old 10-20-2019, 06:07 PM   #17
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Default Re: Battery Dead. Jumped car and it died while driving

^^^ +1

Once the engine fired, the alt tried to feed the starter through that wire; almost a direct short to ground because of the very large current draw of a starter.

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Old 10-20-2019, 06:33 PM   #18
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Default Re: Battery Dead. Jumped car and it died while driving

Quote:
Originally Posted by billr View Post
^^^ +1

Once the engine fired, the alt tried to feed the starter through that wire; almost a direct short to ground because of the very large current draw of a starter.
Does that mean the alternator could be damaged from the short or that the alternator just didnt do anything?
I'll be starting it in a few as soon as the battery is done charging.

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Old 10-20-2019, 08:24 PM   #19
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Default Re: Battery Dead. Jumped car and it died while driving

The alt could be damaged, but hopefully not. That is the function of that fusible-link wire, to protect against current beyond what the alt is designed for.

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Old 10-20-2019, 08:25 PM   #20
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Default Re: Battery Dead. Jumped car and it died while driving

Most electrical discussions relate to electrical flow from positive to negative. Current flow, amperage, is from negative to positive. Anyone willing to argue the point will have to explain why the alternator fusible link wire is only rated to around 25 amps while the S-series alternator is rated from 85-96 amps. Current flow is negative to positive and the reason for many grounds, two of which are engine and chassis where virtually every electrical and electronic grounds are connected. Battery positive only goes to the starter for the largest gauge wire while smaller gauge wires feed to engine and cabin fuse panels. The current produced by alternators are going from its case to engine block and back to battery negative, not thru the fusible link wire.

Connecting the fusible link wire to the incorrect motor terminal did no harm to the alternator because that terminal only received power when the starter is operating. In effect, you tried to have the alternator power up only when the starter was running. Once you release the ignition switch from its START position, the starter is electrically disconnected and no power goes to the alternator. When you remove the orange (fusible link) wire and reattach it to the outside terminal with the battery cable, power connects to the alternator. You'll see an immediate voltage higher than battery voltage when the engine's running, around 14.5v to indicate the alternator is now operating correctly.

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