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Old 09-17-2008, 09:02 PM   #1
Mark2000
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Dizzy Battery, Alternator or Starter? 94 SC1 - I think battery (here's to hoping!)

Hey all

I think my battery is just about dead but I don't know enough to tell. Basically, here are the symptoms, I have a 94 SC1 auto SOHC:

I use the car about 1-2x a week, so sometimes it sits about five days at a time. The past 2-3 weeks, when I start it, I have to give it gas to get going. The dash lights flash on weakly, and I hear the "tick tick" sound when I turn the key. Similar to what is described here: http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=121572

Today, was the worst. The car's been sitting since last night, and when I opened the door, the dome light was noticeably dimmer than it should be. I had to give it so much gas when I turned the key, I thought for sure this time I was going to have to call for a boost. And this was with the radio and heater fan off too!

However, you can't get a battery tested without taking it out, and I don't have a tester. I know I am going to have to take the battery out to change it myself (obviously) but I don't want to have to do it twice if I don't need to. There's no other electrical problems when the car is running - NO BATTERY LIGHT - and only a slight draw when the engine cooling fan clicks at a stop light, but hardly noticeable (it's always been like that).

It HAS been several years (perhaps five or more) since I did the battery, but then again, I don't know what alternators' or starters' symptoms of dying are, so it's possible that could also be it too.

If I do have to change the battery, next question will be, how to do it and avoid getting shocked? Is there a how-to on the board here? I have already lubed up the bolts that hold the battery cover down so I can take the battery out easily when I need to. I'm ready to do it if I have to.

Help! Please. I need to replace it by Saturday if it needs replacing. Thanks all!!!!!!

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Old 09-17-2008, 09:38 PM   #2
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Default Re: Battery, Alternator or Starter? 94 SC1 - I think battery (here's to hoping!)

Removing the battery is simply removing the NEGATIVE (black) battery cable first! That's it! Now remove the positive (red) cable and you can take the battery to be tested at your favorite auto store selling batteries. 5/16ths or 8mm wrench. Touching the metal wrench against the negative termnal and accidently touching the frame sides won't cause any shock because the entire car is negatively ground. When putting the battery back in, just do the reverse, starting with the RED (positive) cable and the BLACK (negative) cable last. I'm only going by your estimation of five to six years on battery use. If you have a battery charger then charge the battery overnight and check for starting again.

The battery cables should be examined very closely for any signs of corrosion and cleaned completely at this time. Powdery deposits may mean a warm solution of water and baking soda toothbrushed to dissolve and neutralize the acid and rinsed clean with water. Shine the terminals with steel wool or wire brush. If any are severely corroded, consider replacing one or both as this would be the only time you're working on the main electrical system and if you skip this it may come back to bite you later.

Alternator and starter are two separate issues with considering if they're both original. An investment in a multimeter would be very good at this time as it will pay for itself almost immediately the moment you use it; checking the battery voltage and alternator charging voltage. A good battery will read 12.5v+ while the alternator (provided the belt drive system is tight and not loose) will bring the voltage up to around 14.3v+. Its that simple with a multimeter once you learn how to use one. If the voltage is below 14v while idling then the alternator may be on its way out if original.

Last edited by fdryer; 09-17-2008 at 09:51 PM..

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Old 09-17-2008, 10:11 PM   #3
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Default Re: Battery, Alternator or Starter? 94 SC1 - I think battery (here's to hoping!)

Well, if it is indeed that easy to take out the battery - an 8 mm wrench and take out the negtive terminal first, then I will try that. Would it be dangerous to spray a tiny bit of WD40 to loosen up the bolts on one of the battery terminals if need be?

I'll probably do that and take it up to Canadian Tire in my backpack to get it tested on the spot.

I don't know if it is the alternator - the starter might be original, but the alternator has already been changed. And seeing as 1) the battery light isn't going on while driving, 2) the electrical components all seem to run fine when the car is running and 3) the starting problems mainly happen after the car is starting up... well, wouldn't that (hopefully) rule it out from being the alternator?

I guess only a test on the battery will check. If it shows that it's dying, and if the battery starts to die fast after I replace it, it would also be the alternator too, right?

Tksx.

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Old 09-17-2008, 10:24 PM   #4
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Default Re: Battery, Alternator or Starter? 94 SC1 - I think battery (here's to hoping!)

Go ahead and WD-40 away! It won't hurt a thing. This new information now leaves the starter since you left out the alternator being replaced once before. The battery and cables are the first starting points as they're out in the open and easily checked/tested. The alternator is second in difficulty for testing, leaving the starter last in most difficult to remove and replace. A fully charged/decent battery and cables with a loud 'click or clicking' sound usually means a starter is worn out.

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Old 09-17-2008, 10:32 PM   #5
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Default Re: Battery, Alternator or Starter? 94 SC1 - I think battery (here's to hoping!)

True. If the battery tests OK and the alternator isn't giving me visible problems, then it sounds like it could be the starter.

Which I hope it isn't because that sounds like a mechanic's job. I don't even know where the starter is and what it looks like; I wouldn't know "where to start" so to speak! HA HA HA.

Where is it?

Thanks.

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Old 09-17-2008, 11:06 PM   #6
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Default Re: Battery, Alternator or Starter? 94 SC1 - I think battery (here's to hoping!)

The starter is between the engine and the firewall tucked in the middle lower portion of the engine. The car has to be jacked up to access it. Google 'car starter' or go to http://rockauto.com and find the starter for your car and click on the tiny letter 'i' inside a blue box for a picture. Search the How-to library for a video by richpin (first post) or procedures to remove and replace. Even Advance Auto has a video for starter removal/replacement. Maybe not a Saturn but a starter is a starter.

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Old 09-18-2008, 06:48 AM   #7
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Default Re: Battery, Alternator or Starter? 94 SC1 - I think battery (here's to hoping!)

if the battery is 5 or more years old, BUY a new one. also check very carefully the positive cable as they do go bad after several years. had to replace that on my 99 sl1 last year. also clean all the cable grounds ( there are several under the hood) and battery cable connections. do not overtighten the battery cables to the battery.
the sound from the starter is due to the fact that battery can barely supply enough juice to kick in the solenoid. starter s/b okay.

...
Gerry
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2008 Astra XR black 3dr
99 SL1

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Old 09-22-2008, 07:10 AM   #8
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Default Re: Battery, Alternator or Starter? 94 SC1 - I think battery (here's to hoping!)

It was the battery. I've changed it and have had no problems since then.

I didn't put the plastic cover over the new battery because I forgot to put it on before I connected the contacts to the new battery, but I did connect the metal strap.

If there's any significant evidence that the plastic housing cover is very important too, please advise and I will add it.

Thanks all, for your help. It was easy.

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Old 09-22-2008, 07:24 AM   #9
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Default Re: Battery, Alternator or Starter? 94 SC1 - I think battery (here's to hoping!)

cover probably keeps dirt and other crap from residing on the battery. re-install it before winter sets in.

...
Gerry
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Old 09-22-2008, 07:38 AM   #10
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Default Re: Battery, Alternator or Starter? 94 SC1 - I think battery (here's to hoping!)

Glad things worked out! I'm not sure of any plastic cover for the battery as there seems to be plenty of pictures without a battery cover from these threads. Put up a picture if you can.

Since this is a replacement battery on what may be the original battery cables, keep in mind the starter if original too. Some day it may fail on you and hopefully you'll remember what was replaced and can eliminate (normally) the battery and alternator. Starters will give you symtoms like loud clicking or dead silence until you smack the starter body with a 2X4 to 're-align' the worn out brushes. Its bound to be next to fail, down the road and you'll have plenty of time to troubleshoot it before being left stranded. Just come back to these forums for more information.

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Old 09-22-2008, 08:00 AM   #11
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Default Re: Battery, Alternator or Starter? 94 SC1 - I think battery (here's to hoping!)

He is discussing the insulating blanket. The usefulness or need for this blanket depends on where you live and how you drive. As Saturn left it off of later cars I would tend to think that the world will not end in the morning if you leave it in the garage.

It will have no effect on final battery temperature if you drive for a half hour or more at a time.

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Old 09-22-2008, 08:23 AM   #12
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Default Re: Battery, Alternator or Starter? 94 SC1 - I think battery (here's to hoping!)

I was thinking of the blankie but the OP described a cover so I just went along.........

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Old 09-22-2008, 08:37 AM   #13
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Default Re: Battery, Alternator or Starter? 94 SC1 - I think battery (here's to hoping!)

I do not think there ever was a factory top cover or lid. My blankie did not fit on the Optima so its on the floor in the garage. I figured if the Optima would survive under the hood of a Jeep it was not going to have a problem in the Saturn.

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Old 12-19-2008, 01:05 AM   #14
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Default Re: Battery, Alternator or Starter? 94 SC1 - I think battery (here's to hoping!)

hey all.

Ok.. I post to this thread as it's somewhat related and I don't feel the need to start a whole new one.

Just bought a set of inexpensive fog lamps to mount on the front of the car. The instructions say to connect the power wire of the lamp set to either the battery's positive terminal OR directly into the fuse box.

Wondering what u would recommend. If I put the wire into the fuse box where would it go? Or is connecting it to the battery recommended?

As well, each fog lamp and the switch it comes with all have ground wires. Do they need to be attached? If so, where's good for that, perhaps right onto the screw into the bumper? And as for the ground wire that's actually attached to the power switch in the passenger compartment? Ideas on where that would be good to ground to?

Ps: The lamp's power switch has a 15 amp safety fuse in it.. If that helps to understand the "strength" of the lamp set.

Thanks all

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Old 12-19-2008, 10:01 AM   #15
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Default Re: Battery, Alternator or Starter? 94 SC1 - I think battery (here's to hoping!)

Both Fuse boxes are somewhat delicate in their internal wiring. Connecting into them can cause a sever drain on your wallet. On the end of the under hood fuse box is the power lead to the entire car, its the big red wire. You can add a wire at that point along with your inline fuse and power the fogs.

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