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Old 07-22-2019, 10:00 PM   #1
ajp04ion
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Default '04 Ion Alternator Issues After Clutch Replacement

2004 Ion 1 - 150k miles

I'm hoping to avoid chalking this up to a coincidence. Long story short, the alternator won't engage/charge the battery after I've just finished replacing the clutch - royal PITA to bleed the system after that job, BTW.

The car turns on, the battery light on the dash goes off and then a few moments later comes back on and stays on. Car then stalls out after about 30 minutes of operation - that was fun yesterday in traffic. Ugh!

So basically, for right now, I have an electric car that needs to be charged to run after every 30 minutes of operation.

First thing I did here was to install a new serpentine belt and confirm the alternator IS spinning. No noises there. Tension is good.

This morning I purchased a new battery (mine was from 2013 so time to go anyway) - same issue.

Have cleaned all dirty connections and added dielectric grease to all plug-ins.

Just finished multimeter testing of the fuses and links in the engine bay and pulled and tested (all good) some of the hopefully-ancillary fuses from inside the car.

All ground sites also test good.

During the clutch job, I did not remove the starter from the car, but let it hang down freely for a few days. I suppose it's possible I could have stretched wires; but the car starts up fine.

Questioning whether the starter solenoid could be bad and/or have an impact on the alternator's function. There is a red wire (assume the fusible link - also has continuity) running from the solenoid to the alternator.

Is there anything I've not thought of yet - before I give in and order a new alternator?

Thanks for any help in advance.

Aaron

Last edited by ajp04ion; 07-22-2019 at 10:10 PM..

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Old 07-22-2019, 11:57 PM   #2
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: '04 Ion Alternator Issues After Clutch Replacement

Examine your wiring again. A wiring diagram below for reference. Basically the large battery positive cable connects to the engine fuse box and starter. A smaller gauge wire, the fusible link wire runs from the starter terminal (same connection for battery cable) to the alternator side terminal. This fusible link wire is HOT all the time so it should measure battery voltage at the alternator. If the starter was left hanging the fusible link wire (internally) may have broken to leave zero power to the alternator. Use a digital multimeter to measure for battery voltage at the alternator connection. If zero voltage is see, the fusible wire is damaged and needs to be replaced. Fusible link wires are not plain copper wires. They're thin copper and made to carry whatever amperage is required for alternator power (15-30 amps) and must be replaced with a correctly rated replacement otherwise running a plain copper wire with more current that needed can create a future fire if the alternator short circuits internally with incorrect fuse protection to main power (battery).
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Old 07-23-2019, 09:48 AM   #3
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Default Re: '04 Ion Alternator Issues After Clutch Replacement

Thanks for the info. My car has a slightly different setup - with an integrated solenoid. There are two posts, one large gauge wire coming in from the battery - yes - and another post with a wire strap from the starter and the fusible link leading to the alternator. Leads me to believe when I turn the key the solenoid sends through power to the starter and, at the same time, a signal to tell the alternator to turn on.

In any event, would the fusible link show continuity and yet still not carry voltage?

What I'll work on next is testing the ECM Cont Relay and then pull the starter - not an easy task (I hate that top bolt!!!) - and try to bench test the solenoid.

I think I'm getting closer.

Thanks, again!

Aaron

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Old 07-23-2019, 03:33 PM   #4
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Default Re: '04 Ion Alternator Issues After Clutch Replacement

If you have wiring diagrams and familiar with schematics, solving this problem will be easier. If I'm not mistaken, the ecm cont relay is the equivalent of electronic starting newer cars have using a pushbutton START. Ions use an electronic ignition switch where 5v is switched for control. With a low voltage ignition switch, 12v used on older ignition switches supplied the power to starter solenoids to begin startup. 5v is switched, sending this signal to the ecm. The ecm sends either a ground or 12v signal to the ecm cont relay, closing a set of electrical contacts to send 12v battery power to the starter solenoid to power up the starter. Electronics controls starter operation and used as Passlock security by preventing starting when security detects a theft attempt. Preventing the starter from operating is another way to stop thieves. Smart thieves can bypass this easily by shorting the small starter terminal to the large terminal with battery voltage. I'm not sure of Ions disable injector operation as part of Passlock, GMs anti theft system

Examine the wiring diagram again. The battery cable is hot all the time as well as the visible link wire. As mentioned previously, measure the hot fusible link wire for 12v at the alternator terminal. Either 12v is there or not. If 12v is measured on the alternator connection, the fusible link wire is fine. If 12v isnít on this wire on the alternator, the fusible link wire was damaged and needs to be replaced in order to have power to the alternator.

A partial reprint from the service manual;

Circuit Description
The generator provides voltage to operate the vehicle's electrical system and to charge its battery. A magnetic field is created when current flows through the rotor. This field rotates as the rotor is driven by the engine, creating an AC voltage in the stator windings. The AC voltage is converted to DC by the rectifier bridge and is supplied to the electrical system at the battery terminal.

When the engine is running, the generator turn-on signal is sent to the generator from the engine control module (ECM)/powertrain control module (PCM), turning on the regulator. The generator's voltage regulator controls current to the rotor, thereby controlling the output voltage. The rotor current is proportional to the electrical pulse width supplied by the regulator. When the engine is started, the regulator senses generator rotation by detecting AC voltage at the stator through an internal wire. Once the engine is running, the regulator varies the field current by controlling the pulse width. This regulates the generator output voltage for proper battery charging and electrical system operation. The generator F terminal is connected internally to the voltage regulator and externally to the ECM/PCM. When the voltage regulator detects a charging system problem, it grounds this circuit to signal the ECM/PCM that a problem exists. The ECM/PCM monitors the generator field duty cycle signal circuit. The system voltage sense circuit receives B+ voltage that is Hot At All Times through the GEN BAT fuse in the underhood junction block. This voltage is used by the regulator as the reference for system voltage control.


There's also a possibility of your alternator failing. Standby battery voltage is always around 12.5v. Engine idling, alternator output should be between 13.5v-14.7v. Below 13v, alternator issue.

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