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Old 02-23-2009, 11:34 PM   #1
200kSaturn
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Default ON, Pump prime/dash lights okay: START, everything dead (including dome light)

As the thread's name suggests....

-Key on: Pump prime/dash lights okay
-Key start: No crank and all electrics DEAD

-I disconnected and cleaned the battery terminals (they were fine though)
-reconnected and car starts no problem
-drove it about 10 minutes
-turned it off
-restarted but it cranked for a long time before catching
-drove it about 10 minutes
-shut down and tried to restart

-Key on: Pump prime/dash lights okay
-Key start: No crank and all electrics DEAD (This time I get a blinking SES - no way to read the code)
-under the hood there is a continuous clicking sound
-disconnected battery to stop the clicking
-reconnect battery, pump does not prime and dash lights don't come on (SES light still blinking)
-clicking sound from under the hood

Battery is currently disconnected to prevent draining (and clicking). All the fuses are good.

I have done extensive searching and have not found anyone with similar symptoms. Any ideas?


2002 SL1 197,700km
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Old 02-23-2009, 11:55 PM   #2
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Default Re: ON, Pump prime/dash lights okay: START, everything dead (including dome light)

Is the battery the original one? If it is, it may be on its last legs if it isn't plain dead. Either charge the battery overnight and try again or bring the battery someplace for a free test to either ensure its still a good one or replace it. If its a good one then you'll have to connect it back and now either see if the serpentine belt drive is loose or try running the engine and then bringing the car someplace for an alternator test or you measure battery voltage with a meter. A good battery will read approximately 12.5v+, engine idling 13.5v+, above idling 14.3v+. The last two voltages are the alternator and its regulator varying the power as the engine rpm's change. No change means either the belt is loose or the alternator is worn out.

200,000km = 120,000miles suggesting a worn out alternator, provided the belt system is taut.
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Old 02-24-2009, 12:40 AM   #3
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Default Re: ON, Pump prime/dash lights okay: START, everything dead (including dome light)

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
Is the battery the original one? If it is, it may be on its last legs if it isn't plain dead. Either charge the battery overnight and try again or bring the battery someplace for a free test to either ensure its still a good one or replace it. If its a good one then you'll have to connect it back and now either see if the serpentine belt drive is loose or try running the engine and then bringing the car someplace for an alternator test or you measure battery voltage with a meter. A good battery will read approximately 12.5v+, engine idling 13.5v+, above idling 14.3v+. The last two voltages are the alternator and its regulator varying the power as the engine rpm's change. No change means either the belt is loose or the alternator is worn out.

200,000km = 120,000miles suggesting a worn out alternator, provided the belt system is taut.
Good Ideas... let me follow up

-Battery is 2 months old and strong
-Alternator possible, but not suspected since it charges a drained battery very nice

Are there any other possible electrical system fixes that the above symptoms point to?

Thanks for the help,
Ty
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Old 02-24-2009, 12:48 AM   #4
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Default Re: ON, Pump prime/dash lights okay: START, everything dead (including dome light)

Not to be argumentative, but how did you reach your conclusion that your battery is "strong?" Just because it is two months old does not mean a thing. I've had batteries off the shelf go belly up in short order before. Have you charged it, put it on a load test and also determined that it can receive and hold a charge?

And, how are you certain that the alternator charges a drained battery very well? Have you tested fully on a meter? Just because it helps charge a battery to a certain point where it may crank the car doesn't necessarily indicate it is spitting a sufficient level of power to fully charge the battery.

As mentioned, make sure the battery is fully charged and then get it tested. From there, if the car will start and you can do something in that 10-minute window, get an electrical/charging test done on it to see how your alternator is doing.

You mentioned you cleaned the battery posts and I assume you also cleaned the cable ends. Have you also checked the other end of the cable at the alternator to make sure it is tight and not corroded?

Again, not trying to stir things up but you can't always go by age or appearance. You have classic symptoms of a bad or going-bad battery or poor wiring connections. Sometimes you have to go slap the test equipment on in order to diagnose more precisely.

Last edited by jambra1; 02-24-2009 at 12:54 AM.
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:04 AM   #5
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Default Re: ON, Pump prime/dash lights okay: START, everything dead (including dome light)

Quote:
Originally Posted by jambra1 View Post
Not to be argumentative, but how did you reach your conclusion that your battery is "strong?"

And, how are you certain that the alternator charges a drained battery very well? Have you tested fully on a meter? Just because it helps charge a battery to a certain point where it may crank the car doesn't necessarily indicate it is spitting a sufficient level of power to fully charge the battery.

As mentioned, make sure the battery is fully charged and then get it tested. From there, if the car will start and you can do something in that 10-minute window, get an electrical/charging test done on it to see how your alternator is doing.

You mentioned you cleaned the battery posts and I assume you also cleaned the cable ends. Have you also checked the other end of the cable at the alternator to make sure it is tight and not corroded?

Again, not trying to stir things up but you can't always go by age or appearance. You have classic symptoms of a bad or going-bad battery or poor wiring connections. Sometimes you have to go slap the test equipment on in order to diagnose more precisely.

Valid points.

-I suspect the problem is not with the battery or alternator because I tried to jump it with a battery pack (no improvement)
-I have not tested the alternator and have not inspected connections on that end. Will do this soon.


If the problem was with the alternator or battery would jump starting not bypass this problem? This is the reason why I have not suspected an issue with those systems

Ty
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:18 AM   #6
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Default Re: ON, Pump prime/dash lights okay: START, everything dead (including dome light)

Quote:
Originally Posted by 200kSaturn View Post
...Alternator possible, but not suspected since it charges a drained battery very nice....
As it is, its a pretty good bet that the battery is dead, requiring an overnight charge before starting all over again. A portable battery pack, the little ones, show their true inability to work when the main battery is depleted as in your case right now. Those portable ones cannot put out the amperage over a very brief time span to turn over any starter. They're only good for supplementing a slightly discharged main battery, not as a substitute for another full size battery.

Unless you can determine voltages by clairvoyance you have no real basis to conclude that the alternator works since you're describing a consistent failure to have the starter run; the starter uses welding currents from 50-150amps+ to turn over an engine. Using a multimeter to measure voltages tells all. No other part of the car's electrical system pulls so much current (juice) from any battery in the few seconds it takes to turn a starter motor. A worn alternator won't charge the battery adequately and eventually ruin it over time. Testing at home or at a garage is the best way to verify battery/alternator issues other than poor battery cables/connections. The mechanical contribution to good battery/alternator viability is the belt drive system.
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:21 AM   #7
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Default Re: ON, Pump prime/dash lights okay: START, everything dead (including dome light)

Quote:
Originally Posted by 200kSaturn View Post
Valid points.

-I suspect the problem is not with the battery or alternator because I tried to jump it with a battery pack (no improvement)
-I have not tested the alternator and have not inspected connections on that end. Will do this soon.


If the problem was with the alternator or battery would jump starting not bypass this problem? This is the reason why I have not suspected an issue with those systems

Ty
Are you saying you tried to jump with a good battery or battery pack and it still doesn't turn over? If you can't get it to crank with a new battery or a sufficiently strong battery pack (?) that could point to other issues. Still, I think it would behoove you to make sure you have the easy stuff ruled out first.

What kind of "battery pack" did you try? You sure it's enough to crank your engine? Any other symptoms when you used it instead of your regular battery? Are you sure you had a good connection with it?

There are a variety of other things like your coil packs, fuel pump, CPS and several other items that go into starting the engine. Based on your original symptoms including your clicking noises and dying out in a short time, those really point to the battery and/or alternator and those would be the primary things to check out before drilling down to the next tier of components.

Go ahead with checking your system and let us know what you find out.

(Looks like fdryer and I were posting at the same time so this will look out of sync. I agree with his points.)

..

Last edited by jambra1; 02-24-2009 at 01:29 AM.
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:30 AM   #8
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Default Re: ON, Pump prime/dash lights okay: START, everything dead (including dome light)

I'll test the system in the morning.

Assuming the problem is battery/alternator, why would the engine still start intermittently and all the electrics die so suddenly?

The battery pack in question was used to start the car in January. Trunk (with light) was left open all night. Obviously car would not turn past one crank. This was the event that led to replacement of that battery.
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:34 AM   #9
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Default Re: ON, Pump prime/dash lights okay: START, everything dead (including dome light)

Quote:
Originally Posted by 200kSaturn View Post
I'll test the system in the morning.

Assuming the problem is battery/alternator, why would the engine still start intermittently and all the electrics die so suddenly?
Just enough built-up energy in the battery (at rest) to provide the level of power needed to turn the engine over but not enough output from the alternator (or charging capacity of the battery) to sustain the power you need to keep things going.

You have enough chemical reaction going on within the battery itself to generate some power but it's so small it's gone as soon as you turn the engine over and your electrical components fire up.

Were you getting any indicator lights on your dash any time before the car started dying? Odd lights that were coming on with other lights? Gauges doing funky things? The last time I lost an alternator, I had indicator lights coming on for the ABS, service wrench and other stuff.

Last edited by jambra1; 02-24-2009 at 01:40 AM.
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Old 02-24-2009, 04:29 PM   #10
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Default Re: ON, Pump prime/dash lights okay: START, everything dead (including dome light)

Here is the solution:

Got it boosted in the morning and drove it to the dealer.

Turns out the battery is defective and has a dead cell. Replaced the battery. Reads 13V at rest and 14.5V running so I guess the alternator is fine after all. Case closed on this one.

Thank you for all the help. Lesson learned.

Ty
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