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Old 04-17-2015, 09:27 PM   #1
Carbon.Beatz
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Default Flickering Battery Light. New Alt/Battery

Battery light came on Wednesday while driving in town. Went to OReilly's and they tested it. At first, after I started it, the light was not on and it passed the tests. After a few seconds, it came back on and failed their test. Went to another place to further test the battery. They tested voltage and battery water. Battery water read fully charged and that, overall, the battery needed replaced but would still work. He also mentioned that the voltages jumped a lot after hitting the throttle.

Didn't buy the battery but got the Alternator and replaced it that day. As I drove it to my grandpa's shop out of town to replace it, the car's systems began shutting down. First the cluster, then it wouldn't shift out of second but the cluster began working again. Replaced it and discovered that the dude who tested the battery did not seal the cap properly and there was acid everywhere. Everything worked after replaced the Alternator and it drove fine no lights or anything.

Later that night, around a bend I noticed the light flicker again. I assumed it was because the battery water maybe got lot. The next day, I put more water in it and it ran on the highway fine except when coming back into town the cluster stopped working and, again, got to the point that it wouldn't shift out of second. Replaced the battery with a sealed battery and the light continued to flicker inconsistently around bends, bumps, and what not. The connections at the battery are fine and I am sure they connections at the Alternator are fine because I could not move them after tightening them. I also just recently applied the backing soda/water mixture to the affected areas of the acid and rinsed it off. Same problem.

Any ideas? The car runs fine with no problems in terms of accessories yet. I drive on the highways a lot so I need to be sure it won't die on me while on the road.

2000 Saturn LS2 3.0 v6. ~135k

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Old 04-17-2015, 09:55 PM   #2
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Default Re: Flickering Battery Light. New Alt/Battery

You seem to have covered all bases including neutralizing any battery acid leaked out, eventually eating into bare metal. Just use a liberal amount of baking soda solution, maybe a spray bottle to soak into every nook and cranny so the solution can seep in and help neutralize leaked acid. With the battery light randomly turning on and off, you may have to remove both battery cables to closely inspect each heavily insulated terminal for acid corroding and eating copper wires. Peeling back the heavy insulation may reveal any corrosion damage especially if copper wires are missing, leaving a loose crimp connection that can cause poor electrical connections. If lightly corroded, spray the solution you made to neutralize any future corrosion. Wipe or soak excess solution with a paper napkin or paper towel so petroleum grease can be applied. Check the two ground connections too, for corrosion - chassis and engine block. Ensuring battery cables and their connections are clean and free of corrosion and loose connections can help isolate a flickering battery light. After these procedures, a voltage check should be done, whether monitoring thru the power socket or battery terminals. You're looking for a steady 12v+ with engine off, 13v+ after starting and around 14.3 v with a fully warmed engine after some driving when the battery is recharged after each start up. If possible, monitor voltages at the moment the battery light turns on. And beware of distracted driving.......When the alternator was replaced, is the drive belt tension tight, not loose?

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Old 04-17-2015, 09:57 PM   #3
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Default Re: Flickering Battery Light. New Alt/Battery

Check your serpentine belt and belt tensioner, maybe the tensioner is weak and the belt is slipping.

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Old 04-18-2015, 12:44 AM   #4
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Default Re: Flickering Battery Light. New Alt/Battery

I will check all of that next I get the chance. Unfortunately, I work long hours over the weekend away from my vehicle so I may not have the chance for a while.

I am, however, starting to think that it may be belt tension. As I was driving on the highway home, I used cruise control and never saw the light come on. After taking an exit to a main road, I put the car under high acceleration and the light flickered quite a bit and didn't after resuming a normal cruise. It would make sense that it's belt tension because, after replacing the battery, I was doing city driving in stop-n-go traffic.

I will try to look at it tomorrow, but will update next I can. Thanks.

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Old 04-18-2015, 01:39 AM   #5
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Default Re: Flickering Battery Light. New Alt/Battery

When I replaced my alternator, I was curious comparing the belt tensioner between the S-series and L-series. No comparison. Our tensioners are heavy duty using a large diameter wire clock spring well placed away from corrosion. I simply sprayed mine with lithium grease and put it back. It has the same strong tension as new. If I'm not mistaken the belt tensioner is spec'd for about 50 lbs of spring tension - the belt will be very tight and not easily deflected.

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Old 04-18-2015, 10:16 AM   #6
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Default Re: Flickering Battery Light. New Alt/Battery

I took a look at the belt this morning. Didn't seem to be loose in any way. I started it and drove down the road for about 10 minutes, a lot of it on gravel roads, with no light. Wanting to test my luck and the belt, I put it under hard acceleration again and the light flickered and continued every so often as I cruised the highway at ~75.

At this point I'm thinking its connections somewhere. I don't have a multimeter to test voltages yet so I'll start with that. Where are the grounds you specified to look at? Are they near the battery?

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Old 04-18-2015, 12:29 PM   #7
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Default Re: Flickering Battery Light. New Alt/Battery

If you're going to check ground connections you might as well examine all battery cable terminals. For battery grounds, follow battery negative to where it connects to the chassis and engine block. The battery may have to be removed to have better access.

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Old 04-20-2015, 09:53 AM   #8
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Default Re: Flickering Battery Light. New Alt/Battery

I asked a peer and they suggested hooking up a voltage gauge in the cab and watching it as I drive. When off, it sits at ~12-13v. When I first installed and started it, it sat at 14v. As of now, I just started it again and its sitting at 12v. It happened a little bit earlier and I drove on it. When the light came on, it would jump back to 14v. I put it under hard acceleration at that point and it would kind of fall back down to ~13v and the light would flicker but the voltage would not change for the most part.

Even sitting at idle now the rpms dropped a little, light came on, and it jumps to 14v from ~12v. After a few seconds it sent to ~13v, dropped, and back to 14v. It is kind of repeating this cycle, but is just hitting ~13v then kickicking back to 14v with obvious rpm changes.

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Old 04-20-2015, 11:58 AM   #9
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Default Re: Flickering Battery Light. New Alt/Battery

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carbon.Beatz View Post
I asked a peer and they suggested hooking up a voltage gauge in the cab and watching it as I drive. When off, it sits at ~12-13v. When I first installed and started it, it sat at 14v. As of now, I just started it again and its sitting at 12v. It happened a little bit earlier and I drove on it. When the light came on, it would jump back to 14v. I put it under hard acceleration at that point and it would kind of fall back down to ~13v and the light would flicker but the voltage would not change for the most part.

Even sitting at idle now the rpms dropped a little, light came on, and it jumps to 14v from ~12v. After a few seconds it sent to ~13v, dropped, and back to 14v. It is kind of repeating this cycle, but is just hitting ~13v then kickicking back to 14v with obvious rpm changes.
Update:
Driving in town the voltage stuck to just above 12v. I could get it to jump to 14v by accelerating hard but would fall back to 13v and creep back down to 12v. For the most part, it stayed at 12v the entire drive in town. On the highway (~40min drive), stayed at about 14v but towards the end of the trip (last 5-10min) it dropped to 12v and acted similar to when I was driving in town.

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Old 04-20-2015, 02:42 PM   #10
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Default Re: Flickering Battery Light. New Alt/Battery

Something's terribly wrong. Either the battery or alternator or both are faulty. Observing voltages while driving (can we say distracted?) and not seeing 14 volts at all times is indicating a major power problem. Power; battery, battery cables, their connections on both ends, possible corrosion issues, alternator and its connections (main power feed - fusible link wire).

Wiring issues aside, if the battery is over 4yrs old, have it 'load tested'; a large electrical load is placed on the battery to simulate 100-300 amps for a timed period and measured after the load is removed to see how well a battery recovers. Good batteries recovering from a load test will display >10 volts. Faulty ones are from age, faulty recharging from alternator or drive belt issues or lack of periodic maintenance to ensure corrosion free main battery connections. Good batteries allows alternators to operate better without undue loads trying to recharge a dead battery whether good connections exists or not. Alternators are tested on or off the engine and depends on the equipment auto stores use.

Alternators depends on a tight drive belt to turn one and correct power connection - the fusible link wire not over tightened during alternator replacement. The power post is insulated from case ground and is easily damaged if care isn't used to connect the fusible link wire. Twisting the stud/post during tightening the retaining nut can break the internal wire connected to this post and render the alternator inoperative with no output; the battery voltage will never rise above standby readings. When operating, alternators always output voltages between 13v-14.7v. The higher the output voltage the higher the current output with average voltages (warm engine) between 14v-14.5v.

Flickering and low voltages still points to main power as listed above.

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Old 04-20-2015, 02:55 PM   #11
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Default Re: Flickering Battery Light. New Alt/Battery

The battery was bought less than a week ago. The alternator a day before it. Is there a chance I over tightened the connections to the alternator? Is that what you're saying? From what I can tell, the belt is tight and I don't hear any sound from the belt even under heavy acceleration. Sitting at idle right now for about 5 minutes at operating temperature it is staying at just above 14v.

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Old 04-20-2015, 03:23 PM   #12
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Default Re: Flickering Battery Light. New Alt/Battery

I cannot say with any certainty why you are seeing a wide range of voltages. All vehicle electrical systems are run from a regulated voltage supply, the alternator. Once the battery is used to power the starter, it's effectively no longer needed except to act as a filter for the alternator. The alternator supplies all the electrical needs for the car. As mentioned, voltages are regulated to stay above 13 volts.

The power feed to the alternator connected to the alternator side post is important when any service is performed. Since the case/frame is a ground connection, the power connection is insulated to feed power internally. This post is double nutted, a bottom nut to secure the post to the case and a top nut to secure the fusible link wire to the post. This post is insulated with plastic bushings that cannot take any abuse from over tightening when mounting it to the alternator case so it's more fragile than starter wire connections. Special care is needed when tightening the top nut to secure the fusible link wire; suggestions to use two wrenches, one on the bottom nut closest to the case frame to help prevent stud rotation and the other wrench to tighten the nut securing the power wire. Failure to prevent the post from turning can break or damage the wire connection inside the alternator.

I mentioned the overall perspective for power and most of the conditions that surround power problems. Careful reassessment of everything you did should lead you to a solution. No one can tell you where your problem lies as we're not physically there to see the car and go over everything.

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Old 04-23-2015, 10:45 PM   #13
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Default Re: Flickering Battery Light. New Alt/Battery

Quick update as to what has happened over the last few days.

On the highway yesterday and the car would consistently run at 12v and began to slowly drop below that. Once I parked the car for the night, it was around, if not below, 11v. When I turned off the car, I noticed the voltage actually rise back close to 12v. Before starting it the next day, it read 12v and ran 14v until after hitting operating temperature, then dropped to 12v and slowing below that. No battery light came on the entire time it sat at or below 12v.

Im honestly starting to think I got a bad alternator or some relay is bad. I already ordered another alternator and plan on replacing it tomorrow. In the meantime, is there any relay or anything that controls the alternator or is connected to the alternator in any way?

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Old 04-23-2015, 11:05 PM   #14
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Default Re: Flickering Battery Light. New Alt/Battery

No relay in the alternator electrical system. One main power wire, the fusible link wire from the starter battery terminal powers the alternator. The other wires are for turning on the battery light and a signal from ecm. This seems to be failure of the alternator to supply voltage and current. Be sure the modular connector is properly connected before concluding a faulty alternator.

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Old 04-24-2015, 02:18 PM   #15
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Default Re: Flickering Battery Light. New Alt/Battery

There was no modular connector when I first replaced the alternator. Just a negative/ground line and the positive charge feed line. Even on the first new one, I saw nothing that resembled a connection piece of some sort.

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Old 04-24-2015, 03:27 PM   #16
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Default Re: Flickering Battery Light. New Alt/Battery

No two pin modular connector for the alternator? See drawings.
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File Type: jpg electrical connector.jpg (91.2 KB, 5 views)

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Old 04-25-2015, 09:27 AM   #17
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Default Re: Flickering Battery Light. New Alt/Battery

From what I could find on all 3 alternators now, there is not. I replaced it again yesterday and it is holding a consistent 14.1-14.3 volts (hard to tell with analog gauge). No battery light or fluxuations. I can take pictures of it later of the back/sides, but I did manage to find one through google and I will attach it. I guess the internal regulator was just bad. It was a reman. alternator.
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Old 04-25-2015, 02:04 PM   #18
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Default Re: Flickering Battery Light. New Alt/Battery

My bad. I examined my alternator (we share the same 3.0L engine) and see two terminals, no modular connector. My guess is the modular connector is on the pcm side. My symptoms were random flickering headlights/instrument panel with output voltage always >14 volts. After replacing the alternator, flickering went away. I had to examine my old alternator to see the two terminals on the back for attaching wires. http://www.saturnfans.com/photos/sho...hp?photo=54807

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Old 04-25-2015, 03:30 PM   #19
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Default Re: Flickering Battery Light. New Alt/Battery

No worries. I had began to thought I had over tightened the charging post on the alternator at first, but I'm sure it wouldn't work so intermediately like it did. I held the bottom of it with some pliers and carefully tightened it just to be sure. Works great now.

Thanks for the diagnostics help!

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Old 04-25-2015, 03:42 PM   #20
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Default Re: Flickering Battery Light. New Alt/Battery

That ugly alternator (mine) was replaced two years ago with only 78k(?) miles.

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