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Old 11-18-2017, 04:35 PM   #1
badams
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Default Bad alternator or something else?

I know there are a bunch of threads on alternators but the ones I have found don't seem to fit my situation although I may have missed some in my searches. This is an 02 Sl2 Belt is relatively new, no visible wear, tensioner is only a couple years old and appears to be working fine so I don't think it is an issue with belt slippage. Battery is just under a year old but not top of the line.

About 2 weeks ago my car started dimming lights radio going off etc it then died later in the drive. I had it towed to a shop just for ease and they said the alternator was bad, it would come one and then drop out they said. They wanted much more than I wanted to spend so we charged the battery and I got it home.

I replaced the alternator but it seems to be doing the same thing. Powered off the charged battery reads around 12.6v after starting it reds between 13-14v it moves around a bit. After about 2 minutes it drops back down to around 12. If I rev at 1500-2000 it comes back up to 12.8-13.8 with fluctuations. If I put it under load with the lights and fans it drops down to about 6v.

I tested resistance through the fusible link and got a reading so I believe that is still ok. I brought the alternator back to the store they tested it and it came back fine.
The guy behind the counter gave me another test to try, put the positive multi-meter lead on the positive terminal of the battery and the other on the bolt where the fusible link connects and watch for voltage drop there when under load.

I tried to do this using the positive cable that connect to the starter but I got a reading of 0, but I may have been doing something wrong.

Is there a better way to test things? How would be a safe way to test from the battery positive to that bolt? I thought about connecting a jumper cable and laying it on the ground near where I am testing but that doesn't seem safe. Every other way seems like I would get burned from hot engine parts or risk shocking myself.

Is there other tests I should try to narrow this down?

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Old 11-18-2017, 06:12 PM   #2
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1998 SC2
Default Re: Bad alternator or something else?

The side terminal plug is what actually fully turns on the alternator. That wire or connector may be intermittent. The quick test is this: does the battery light come on when the key is on and engine off? Does it go off and stay off when the engine is running? To test the belt tension see if you can turn the alternator pully backwards when the engine is off. Will need to put a wrench on the pulley nut on the alternator. Should be very hard to turn backwards and if turns easilly you probably have a bad tensioner which is the common failure for this condition.

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Old 11-18-2017, 07:11 PM   #3
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Default Re: Bad alternator or something else?

Thank you OldNuc, it may very well be the tensioner. The battery light comes on when the key is on and goes off when the engine is on.

While moving the wheel backwards had some resistance it wasn't anything near what I would call very hard. There was definitely a noticeable difference between going forward and backward though.

I was almost certain I had replaced this when I did my timing chain just as a per-emptive but I think I stopped at the idler pulley. I'll replace it and hopefully that will be the end of this.

Thank you again.

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Old 11-18-2017, 08:00 PM   #4
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Default Re: Bad alternator or something else?

If it turns backwards relatively easily then the tensioner is highly suspect. The tensioner will be much easier to fix than a potential electrical issue.

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Old 11-19-2017, 08:12 AM   #5
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Default Re: Bad alternator or something else?

and or the belt is badly glazed

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Old 11-19-2017, 08:41 AM   #6
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Default Re: Bad alternator or something else?

Quote:
Originally Posted by badams View Post
... This is an 02 Sl2 Belt is relatively new, no visible wear, tensioner is only a couple years old and appears to be working fine so I don't think it is an issue with belt slippage. ...
Aftermarket overpriced junk tensioner is highly suspect, not the belt.

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Old 11-19-2017, 09:31 AM   #7
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Default Re: Bad alternator or something else?

To me seeing 6v indicates one heck of a load on the system, beyond what even a fully loaded/working starter puts on the system (as that only drops a 12.7v battery to around 10v). Corrosion in any of the power & ground cables could fake a heavy load though I'd expect the starter to be slower than normal if it were the power/grounds to it so you can probably narrow it down to the UHJB power cable and any ground that doesn't go from the engine to the battery.

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Old 11-19-2017, 10:27 AM   #8
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Default Re: Bad alternator or something else?

The output voltage sensing for alternator output is through the UHJB. If that 6v is actually correct the alternator should run up to full voltage/current output and it is not. There is a possibility of a bad connection at he UHJB but 6v is a weak glow from the headlights and no ignition or any other thing else also with a PCM low voltage code. More likely is a bad probe connection on the rusty bolt.

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Old 11-19-2017, 11:29 AM   #9
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Default Re: Bad alternator or something else?

I will take a look at the UHJB connection just to be sure and I will try taking a look at all other electrical grounds. It may be a bad probe connection because the lights don't dim when it happens but I can watch it count down from 12 to 5-6v without moving the probes. The drop isnt immediate either as I can in the car turn on the fan radio and headlights come around put the probes on and wait bout 30seconds to a minute until I start seeing the drop.

If I had replaced the tensioner years back it would have been oem, as I use this forum to double check almost all parts. Either way one is on order so I should get it mid week.

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Old 11-19-2017, 12:03 PM   #10
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Default Re: Bad alternator or something else?

Quote:
Originally Posted by badams View Post
I will take a look at the UHJB connection just to be sure and I will try taking a look at all other electrical grounds. It may be a bad probe connection because the lights don't dim when it happens but I can watch it count down from 12 to 5-6v without moving the probes. The drop isnt immediate either as I can in the car turn on the fan radio and headlights come around put the probes on and wait bout 30seconds to a minute until I start seeing the drop.

If I had replaced the tensioner years back it would have been oem, as I use this forum to double check almost all parts. Either way one is on order so I should get it mid week.
IF THE LIGHTS did not go off then it is a meter/measuring problem and not grounds etc.

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Old 11-22-2017, 08:17 PM   #11
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Default Re: Bad alternator or something else?

Well looks like it was the tensioner, replaced it and no longer have any voltage drop, and it stays around 14.5v.

It does look like i had replaced it like I thought. This would have been about 4 years ago and it looks like it was OEM.

Thanks again OldNuc for that tensioner test!

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Old 11-22-2017, 09:26 PM   #12
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Default Re: Bad alternator or something else?

Probably aftermarket as both Gates and Dayco have rights to the OEM design patents/copyrights. The guts are not the OEM design and that is why they crap out about 3-4 years instead of 10-12 years for the real OEM tensioner.

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Old 11-27-2017, 06:17 PM   #13
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Default Re: Bad alternator or something else?

Welp spoke to soon, couple days later and same thing happening, luckily I was close enough to home when the lights went out. I am hoping to get under the car tomorrow evening just to make sure it isn't a loose connection somewhere. Next step is making them test it while it is on the car. Someone told me Advanced has a machine they hook up to the alternator and battery and can test it under load and everything instead of just their bench tester.

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Old 11-28-2017, 06:51 PM   #14
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Default Re: Bad alternator or something else?

I got under there today, I got 12v at the bat terminal on the alternator. It may have just been loose connections. I was able to wiggle the connections around a bit, not so that they bounced around but I could spin them a little without resistance. I tightened everything down a little tighter than originally and I'm going to let it run for a bit on its own to see if I get any voltage drops but so far its around 14.5 v under load.

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Old 11-28-2017, 07:12 PM   #15
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Default Re: Bad alternator or something else?

The alternator output(BAT) terminal is mounted on a pair of plastic washers, one you can see and the other is inside. They lock together in the square hole in the case. If the output nut is overtightened the inner washer cracks and that will then allow the stator output terminal to rotate when the nut is tightened and short to the case. Do not over tighten that output nut, snug is plenty. The rest of all of those connections should be clean and tight though.

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Old 11-28-2017, 07:20 PM   #16
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Default Re: Bad alternator or something else?

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
The alternator output(BAT) terminal is mounted on a pair of plastic washers, one you can see and the other is inside. They lock together in the square hole in the case. If the output nut is overtightened the inner washer cracks and that will then allow the stator output terminal to rotate when the nut is tightened and short to the case. Do not over tighten that output nut, snug is plenty. The rest of all of those connections should be clean and tight though.
I had both probably hand tight for fear of breaking that and so they may have wiggled loose from bumps etc. The bat terminal I tightened down but just wrench snug and the one on the starter is now good and tight.

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Old 11-28-2017, 08:49 PM   #17
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Default Re: Bad alternator or something else?

Should be OK.

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