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Old 08-13-2010, 01:02 PM   #1
sbr65nj
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Dazed 1997 electrical issues

Here's my situation.

1997 SL2 125k Miles

Replaced alternator in 2002 and again in 2007. 2007 alternator had a short in it so I replaced again in July of 09. Now this one seems to have the diodes fried yet again.

Usual symptoms. Car gets jump-started, battery light stays on, (2 year old battery) car drives for a few minutes then all electrical components die out. It will jump-start OK though. Just replaced the starter motor last month. That shouldn't be causing this though I don't believe.

Also recently replaced the thermostat and ATS as well as the CTS. Needle on the thermostat now stays at the halfway mark not at the 1/3 mark. I used the recommended stant 195 degree thermostat.

I would like to fix this issue once and for all. I don't relish my picture in a frame at the alternator factory with a placard saying "Our most esteemed benefactor".

Much thanks
Stuart

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Old 08-13-2010, 07:06 PM   #2
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Default Re: 1997 electrical issues

Try to find a lifetime warranty alternator. Hopefully the lifetime warranty alterntor will have better components and not die on you. If it does it will be a free part replacement.

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Old 08-13-2010, 07:51 PM   #3
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Default Re: 1997 electrical issues

At one national parts chain which shall remain nameless, the only difference between the 1 year, 2 year and lifetime warranty is the price. Same alternator and same box.

If you want a good rebuilt then find a local shop and have your core rebuilt or buy one of the house rebuilds.

Also, verify that the battery is really in good condition and will hold a charge and pass a 10 second 200A load test.

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Old 08-14-2010, 03:44 PM   #4
sbr65nj
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Default Re: 1997 electrical issues

My question is can there be a cause of these burning out? Can a possible short somewhere be causing the burn out. Also the mileage on this car has been abysmal compared to my 2000 sl2. Regularly only about 25 MPG or so. can this be a symptom of something else going on?

...
Stuart

1997 SL2 125,000
2000 SL2 154000

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Old 08-14-2010, 03:46 PM   #5
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Default Re: 1997 electrical issues

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
At one national parts chain which shall remain nameless, the only difference between the 1 year, 2 year and lifetime warranty is the price. Same alternator and same box.

If you want a good rebuilt then find a local shop and have your core rebuilt or buy one of the house rebuilds.

Also, verify that the battery is really in good condition and will hold a charge and pass a 10 second 200A load test.
How would I perform a load test? Never done one...

...
Stuart

1997 SL2 125,000
2000 SL2 154000

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Old 08-14-2010, 05:43 PM   #6
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Default Re: 1997 electrical issues

What was conveniently left out of a load test description is that you can't perform one because the load test involves basically a large heating element like the ones used in toasters that turn red hot when electricity flows. The auto stores use an equivalent battery tester that causes a large current to be drawn from the battery as a way to determine a battery's ability to recover from "load testing". This would be similar to using the starter over 10-seconds as starters suck up currents from 50-150amps+ in a few seconds. If a battery can't repeat this several times in the dead of winter the battery isn't capable of reserve power. A load test determines if a battery is any good or not. Only auto stores have this load tester as a way to tell whether or not a battery is any good. The home method is by way of battery voltage reading and takes some skill at interpreting voltages.

Basically, if a battery reads below 12v before starting a car and cannot stay above 12.5v after a few hours of charging from a charger or driving around an hour or so (provided the alternator and belt system are ok), this battery is on its way out. Keeping one like this will tell you the first time in the dead of winter when nothing happens. The store load test saves embarrassment before winter strandings.

When replacing alternators did it ever occur to you that the single wire running between the starter and alternator, the fusible link wire, may be damaged? This one wire is the only wire that supplies battery current for the alternator to start up but also supply all the electrical needs of the car's entire electrical system while simultaneously charging the battery? Perhaps you need to verify that this fusible link is still capable or damaged and intermittent. Its not a regular wire but a calibrated wire size in an oversized insulator to act as a fuse in case of an overload from a runaway alternator. A loose or broken terminal on either end can cause strange electrical issues. The same for over tightening the alternator post for this wire; its insulated to power the field coils within the alternator and twisting the post can break the terminal wire inside, rendering either an intemittent alternator output or a dead one not providing any electrical power -this is usually indicated as a battery light.

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Old 08-14-2010, 06:11 PM   #7
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Default Re: 1997 electrical issues

Quote:
Originally Posted by sbr65nj View Post
How would I perform a load test? Never done one...

There are 2 easy ways, 1) go to a parts store and they will run one for you or 2) buy a load tester from Harbor Freight, part number 90636, $19.95. It is a 100A rated unit but you just hold the switch a bit longer for the desired test. Directions on the front.

If you have several cars/trucks etc then a load tester is a handy tool to have available.

The fusible link is a very thin single strand of wire and either has continuity or has failed. Be careful tightening the alternator output nut as it is very easy to crack the internal plastic insulator and that ruins the alternator.

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