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Old 01-07-2020, 12:38 PM   #21
97SL2guy
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2006 ION-2 Sedan
Default Re: Battery light comes on after about a minute, stays on!

Due to the heavy rains and wind in my area lately, I still haven't gotten around to testing the red wire coming out of the alternator plug for voltage. But, before I do this, I want to be clear on the procedure. Do I leave it plugged in, and simply pierce the red wire with the DVM probe? Or do I unplug the harness thing and probe the metal tip? Although I'm pretty gifted in car repairs, I've never been too knowledgeable on the subject of alternators.

I'm also still puzzled by the 1.32 volts I got from the gray wire. This seems pretty low for ANYTHING in a 12 volt system, but it makes me scratch my head and think to myself that MAYBE it's that low because the wire only sends a signal to the battery light. Does this sound logical to anyone?

As annoying as the 4 dings when the battery light comes on after 20-30 seconds is, I'm still sleeping good at night just knowing my alternator IS charging just fine, and my battery is good. As mentioned earlier (I think), my radar detector has a setting that shows battery/alternator voltage any time it's plugged into the lighter socket, running or not. When I start the car, it shows around 14.5-14.7 volts with nothing turned on. Then when I drive, and maybe the DRL's turn on, or anything else like heater, headlights, radio, ANYTHING, the voltage shows right around 13.5-13.9 volts, which seems perfect. Then when I shut off the car and watch the gauge, it stays right around 12.2 down to maybe 11.8 volts, no matter how long I sit there, even if I leave the radar detector plugged in all night. So, this shows me the battery IS good.

Anyway, I plan to test that red wire from the alternator for voltage as soon as I get a break in the rain/wind.

Oh, and as for everything I've read in the forum about the fusible link, I'm just going to ASSUME that this is okay since the car starts and that stud/large wire connection on the alternator shows good voltage when I start the car. If the fusible link was bad, would this show up as low voltage with the engine running, OR wouldn't it make the charging system not charge? I'm thinking so.

Thanks for all the advice! I'm brand new to this Ion, so I've got a lot to learn about it. I had an SL1 for about 6 months until I got tired of shifting the 5-speed and bought an SL2 automatic that I had for just over 2 years. So yeah, I got pretty familiar with the SL1 single cam and SL2 twin cam engines and cars. Plus my friend has an SL1. Also, this is my first of 3 Saturns that ever had the battery light come on, so this part IS new to me!

I won't even get into the DTC's I'm getting! That's a whole different topic I'm dealing with! But since I'm getting 0441 and 0446, at least I can sleep easier knowing it's just something in the EVAP system and not a cat or oxygen sensor issue.
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Old 01-07-2020, 03:23 PM   #22
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Default Re: Battery light comes on after about a minute, stays on!

Read post #20 again unless you missed it. 12.5v engine off, 14.5v engine on. If battery voltage drops below 12 volts with engine off either your voltage meter isn't correct and a multimeter probing the battery connection for better voltage readings is necessary or have the battery fully recharged on an overnight charger. Even a new battery can fail so while its under warranty, have it checked to be sure its fine.

The low voltage signals to turn on the battery light and ecm signal to turn on the alternator voltage regulator do not operate on 12v. Electronics does away with many circuits on vehicles requiring 12v. The ecm itself actually uses a 12v-5v voltage regulator for the ecm. It doesn't ruin on 12v at all. Led indicators only need 1.3v to turn on. 5v has been used in electronics for decades to reduce power demands and the fact that integrated circuit chips work on 5v with many working on 3v levels. Power isn't needed for computer chips so lowering voltages allows tinier circuits occupying less space. Your cellphone works on 3.3v lithium power to send low power signals to nearby cell towers. The older brick phones needed a 12v gel cell battery to operate and consumed power until advances were made to circuits to allow the smallest cellphones possible with a best battery to date for portability anywhere in the world without needing a land line to call mom from half a world away. Efficiency.


Try piercing wiring and measuring voltage on the L and F terminal. This was already measured in the other Ion thread but verifying values creates a larger database for references. And there may be a slight change in information. Pulse width modulation (pwm) is a form of digital voltage used everywhere in electronics and may be the case here with alternator signal voltages. This can create misinformation in measuring voltages on those two terminals.
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Old 01-09-2020, 06:21 PM   #23
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Default Re: Battery light comes on after about a minute, stays on!

As hard as it was to get to and still let the engine idle, the stud from alternator is showing 14.1 volts at idle with nothing on.
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Old 01-09-2020, 06:57 PM   #24
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Default Re: Battery light comes on after about a minute, stays on!

The battery is always connected so it's always charging when the engine's running whether high, medium or low charge as determined by the voltage regulator. Since the engine's running, electronics is drawing current so the alternator always runs voltage higher than battery voltage to ensure the battery is charging and not being drained by the car needing electricity.
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Old 07-28-2020, 12:43 AM   #25
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Default Re: Battery light comes on after about a minute, stays on!

FINALLY found out what it was! Alternator had a bad diode. It was charging, but the bad diode was fooling the computer into thinking there was a problem.

I found a 150 amp alternator, brand new, not rebuilt, on eBay for only $150 and the minute I fired up the car after installing it, NO MORE BATTERY LIGHT!!!
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Old 07-28-2020, 06:53 AM   #26
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Default Re: Battery light comes on after about a minute, stays on!

Somewhere between your first post to the end, above, a supposedly new alternator failed and replacing it solved this problem?

My recollection of a faulty alternator diode was years ago when using a CB radio. A co-worker heard my radio xmission with static winning and suggested a faulty diode in my alternator. Back then, I balked at buying a new alternator when the service manual stated replacing the diode pack was an option. The diode six pack was $25 and a few hours of work to remove the old one and replace it with the new one. A high wattage soldering iron was needed for the task. I measured and found the faulty diode to verify it. If I'm not mistaken, the alternator would output ac and dc voltages. Good alternators output very low ac ripple voltages. A faulty diode would allow higher ac voltage output and create unusual electrical/electronic conditions. I'm wondering if ac voltage was measured, this would be the reason for the battery light turning on after engine startup.
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Old 07-28-2020, 10:03 AM   #27
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Default Re: Battery light comes on after about a minute, stays on!

Well, apparently there's more to a bad diode than just a little noise. I good friend of mine who owns a car repair shop was the one who suggested my problem was a bad diode, and explained why. He didn't explain how. He told me how he knew it was a bad diode after I showed him the charging system checks printout showing everything was charging fine. He said he wasn't happy with the ripple effect reading, but it would charge. So, I googled how to test for a bad diode. You simply start you car with a multimeter hooked up to the battery, set at the lowest AC voltage. It should show NO AC voltage. If it does, you have a bad diode. I watched several youtube videos on this test, and everything I read online suggested the same thing. Anyway, I'm in the process of installing a bunch of stereo stuff in my Ion, including a 4-channel amp, powered subwoofer, equalizer, and a second battery connected with a continuous-duty solenoid. My friend said even though my charging system would charge, he suggested I replace my alternator before I got all the stereo installed. I took his advice, but instead of paying well over $225 at a parts store for a 105 amp alternator (price, core, and tax), I found a 150 amp alternator on eBay for $150 total. Figured the extra 45 amps couldn't hurt. Oh, and what I discovered through my google searches is that main reason diodes burn is from the alternator trying to charge a completely dead battery. The diodes overheat from being overworked. Makes sense, and the battery that was in this car was pretty dead when I bought it.

As for the newer rebuilt alternator that I replaced, it wasn't brand new but I could tell it wasn't the original, and it had a sticker on it with a part number and brand, which I found out was an O'Reilly alternator. I have no idea how long it was in. All I know is it was for sure a rebuilt alternator from O'Reilly.

So, yes, THIS is how and why replacing an aftermarket alternator that was still charging helped eliminate my battery light. Apparently mine was a pretty normal case, as several tests showed. Once I found out about the AC voltage test for checking for burned diodes, I discovered my problem within minutes. I've worked in auto repair shops several times over the years, but I'm NOT into alternators or generators or starters. I know how to test to see if your alternator is charging checking for DC voltage, but I never knew about testing for AC voltage. I would have never thought about testing for AC in a 12 volt DC system, but now I learned something new and it helped me eliminate my problem. Oh, apparently GM alternators only have 3 diodes, and the alternator WILL still charge if one burns out. At least mine was still charging.

All I know for sure is my battery light is off now, and I no longer have to hear those 4 loud annoying dings coming from my dash every time I start the car and the light comes on about 10 seconds later.
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Last edited by 97SL2guy; 07-28-2020 at 10:10 AM.
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Old 07-28-2020, 10:28 AM   #28
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Default Re: Battery light comes on after about a minute, stays on!

Three diodes? According to most info on vehicle alternators, three phase alternators use six diodes. Examine wiring diagrams to see six.

The thought of a faulty diode never occurred to me during these posts until you mentioned it. If I had an inkling of it I would have mentioned it early on. I just couldn't put my finger on this problem from your descriptions. Call it tunnel vision. That time I replaced the six pack diodes was back in the late '70's, early '80's and the only time I made alternator repairs. I too do not measure for ac voltages but if I can remember this thread, I'll try. I've collected a few multimeters over the years so I have one in the glove box. My latest use was adapting a free AGM battery replacing a 5 yr old AutoZone battery. Monitoring battery voltage at the beginning as it was stored for 2 yrs with an occasional charge to keep it fully charged. One doesn't set a dvm to ac when checking vehicle voltages so it has to be deliberate with a mind set to see if any ac voltages are detected in a normally running car.
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Old 07-28-2020, 11:07 PM   #29
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Default Re: Battery light comes on after about a minute, stays on!

I really don't CARE exactly how many diodes are in an alternator, and it really doesn't matter! I just quoted what websites and youtube videos said. Maybe most have 6, but apparently some have 3. All I know is ONE burned out in my alternator, and replacing that alternator shut off the battery light. That's all I really care about. We could go back and forth about the scientific aspects of alternators, but I really don't care to. I was simply posting that a new alternator killed my battery light problem. I wasn't trying to get into a huge debate about how many diodes are in an alternator and what burns them out. I'm not interested in any wiring diagrams. NOT ONE MEMBER suggested I might have a bad diode, so why should I believe what is being posted AFTER my personal friend told me my problem? My issue is fixed, so that's the end of this subject. Thanks for your expertise. I just don't care anymore. My problem is gone. I have no reason to keep reading about it.
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