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Old 04-16-2022, 07:25 PM   #1
Billmincey1
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Default 2006 ion blows headlights.

My niece's 2006 ion came to me with no headlights. So I get the volt meter out and check fuses. All fuses good. Checked power at headlight plug had 12 volts. I figure Blown headlights. But both? Anyway, I replaced both, turned them on and both worked high and low beam. Started the engine both went out. Checked voltage again at headlights and had 12 volts. Both bulbs were blown again. So Iím thinking a short when the engine starts. So I start the engine check voltage at headlights and it spiked to 20 volts and dropped steadily. So I checked battery Voltage at startup and it was 20V and stayed there. Now itís been 20+ years since I was a mechanic and things have changed a lot since and Iíve never worked on a Saturn, but my initial thought is voltage regulator/ alternator. Any help would be appreciated. Not sure charging systems have changed any but there are more components than there used to be lol thanks again
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Old 04-17-2022, 02:35 PM   #2
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Default Re: 2006 ion blows headlights.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Billmincey1 View Post
My niece's 2006 ion came to me with no headlights. So I get the volt meter out and check fuses. All fuses good. Checked power at headlight plug had 12 volts. I figure Blown headlights. But both? Anyway, I replaced both, turned them on and both worked high and low beam. Started the engine both went out. Checked voltage again at headlights and had 12 volts. Both bulbs were blown again. So Iím thinking a short when the engine starts. So I start the engine check voltage at headlights and it spiked to 20 volts and dropped steadily. So I checked battery Voltage at startup and it was 20V and stayed there. Now itís been 20+ years since I was a mechanic and things have changed a lot since and Iíve never worked on a Saturn, but my initial thought is voltage regulator/ alternator. Any help would be appreciated. Not sure charging systems have changed any but there are more components than there used to be lol thanks again
Had the same problem a few years ago on a 96 Olds.
In my case the wire that plugs into the alternator that tells the alternator what the battery voltage is had a cut in the insulation and the wire was corroded. The battery had 12+ volts but at the plug to the alternator the wire only had 5V. So the alternator was charging like crazy. Repaired the wire,problem solved.
On my car the wire ran from a terminal on the starter to the alternator. It was Red
You should have a wire on the alternator plug that has battery voltage. It probably is red. Check for Voltage at the plug with the engine off. One of the wire should have voltage to it. If not then the wire is broken or damaged.
Hope this helps.
By the way, it took me a long time to figure it out. Had alternator tested,it tested good. Replaced it anyway. Didn't help. \
Good luck.
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Old 04-17-2022, 06:35 PM   #3
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Default Re: 2006 ion blows headlights.

Billmincey1, a short in wiring kills voltage and current. Normal operating voltages are between 13.1vdc to 15vdc. Since you're seeing 20vdc, I think your alternator voltage regulator is faulty and allowing higher voltages along with higher current output. Your headlights burning out are probably overdriven with higher amperage leading to overheating the elements, melting them. This may be only the tip of more electrical/electronic issues with higher voltages than needed and may eventually damage electrical and electronic systems. I wouldn't let this car run this way as there may be a severe risk of damage.The battery is also being overcharged. Battery bulging is one indicator of continuous overcharging.

Under most situations with battery/alternator/drive belt issues, a simple check of the battery and alternator by Autozone or other auto store providing free testing on the vehicle can reveal what's faulty. I wouldn't advise driving this car to Autozone or other auto store as this risks overvoltage issues damaging the electrical and electronics systems. Perhaps the best suggestion would be removing the alternator and battery and bringing both to Autozone for bench testing.
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Old 04-18-2022, 09:08 AM   #4
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Default Re: 2006 ion blows headlights.

Sounds like I’ll be looking into the alternator wires next. I appreciate your input.
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Old 04-18-2022, 09:10 AM   #5
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Default Re: 2006 ion blows headlights.

I appreciate it! Guess that will be my next step. Alternator is the SUMPLE thought but I lnow more than likely it’s not going to be that simple ��
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Old 04-18-2022, 02:33 PM   #6
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Default Re: 2006 ion blows headlights.

Access to alternator wiring is either easy or difficult depending on where its located. If wiring and connections look ok, a little tug on wires may reveal whether or not damage occurred over the years from flexing or corrosion.

A search of wiring diagrams for the charging system can help. The pcm doesn't govern voltage output. Alternator output is automatically controlled by the alternator's internal voltage regulator. The majority of alternator failures occur when it fails to output above battery voltage, 12.5v. This results in discharging the battery for a quick engine death at random or slow death if the alternator barely keeps up with supplying all the electrical needs of a vehicle while recharging the battery after every startup. I think I measured 18 volts before going to the auto store.

I had a runaway Ford alternator years ago having an external voltage regulator that overcharged and killed a new battery until a store checked the electrical system. The alternator was too hot to touch. Once the regulator was replaced the alternator went back to normal operation without heating up. The battery bulged and was replaced free, under warranty.

The higher the output voltage of alternators (above12.5v battery voltage) the higher the amperage output. 15v is considered maximum and only for a brief time right after startup with average voltages around 14.5v.
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