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Old 09-22-2008, 02:43 PM   #1
sps SOHC
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Default Can a bad battery cause this?

My girlfriend tried to start her '05 Corolla about 10 min after we just parked and it wouldn't start or even turnover. Lights in the car came on... dash lights showed but went dim a bit.

We got a jump and let it run for 5 min. We started to leave her aptartment complex and noticed the headlights dimming a bit. When she revved the engine a bit the lights would get brighter, but when it was near idle they would dim, CEL comes on. We turn around and it ends up dying before we to her place.

We jumped it again this morning. The voltage read 14.0+ for a few minutes and slowly dropped as the car warmed up. With the lights, fan, radio on it was reading 11.6v at idle. At 2000 rpm it would read 13.5 volts. It was making a whining noise once it warmed up.

I took the alternator out (way easier than our saturns!) and autozone tested it. They said it tested good. Took the battery down there and they said it was bad.

Do you think a bad battery alone would cause that? Or perhaps the alternator too is bad but doesn't show on their machine? It was fine when it wasn't warmed up. I figured the battery would need to be replaced anyway, she went ahead and bought one.
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Old 09-22-2008, 03:04 PM   #2
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Default Re: Can a bad battery cause this?

The battery is bad and if you keep at it the alternator will be also. An alternator is not designed to charge a dead battery. The only function of an alternator is to power the designed loads of the car and recharge the battery for the power required to start the car.

If you add stereo amps, electronic gadgets and or lights and drive less than 30 minutes per trip you are either going to have to buy a battery maintainer or invest in your local battery / alternator supplier.
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Old 09-22-2008, 03:10 PM   #3
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Default Re: Can a bad battery cause this?

Both alternator and battery can be faulty as well as the battery cables but did you consider the belt drive system being loose? An alternator won't do any good if the belt is loose or the drive system is allowing belt slippage; a loose belt drive won't allow engine torque to drive all the accessories - alternator, power steering pump, water pump, and a/c compressor. Each takes some hp to drive and a loose/worn belt won't drive any of them well enough. If the alternator won't output properly from a loose belt, it can't supply the electrical needs of the car and simultaneously charge the battery. If the battery cables are corroded, the main connections won't allow starting and charging properly. A poorly maintained electrical connection won't allow battery charging and results in poor starting from lack of battery juice. The same poor connections won't allow the alternator to run the electrical system properly. See how each component plays a role in this electrical system? If one goes down, the rest follow.

Start checking the easy things; belt, cables, battery voltage, alternator voltage.
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Old 09-22-2008, 03:16 PM   #4
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Default Re: Can a bad battery cause this?

Battery failed AZ load test. Its done for.
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Old 09-22-2008, 03:20 PM   #5
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Default Re: Can a bad battery cause this?

alternator can test good but, it doesnt mean the voltage regulator built in is still good. iirc they can test that also. some thing i would have checked before buying a new battery and possibly wasting more money on some thing that's going to go bad because of the voltage regulator.

but time will tell.
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Old 09-22-2008, 03:36 PM   #6
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Default Re: Can a bad battery cause this?

I have one item to add to this. This has happened to my Satty 3 times and my wife's Corrolla twice. Down here in Florida, the heat cooks your battery a lot quicker than up north. I keep up with maintenance on both cars, but if it is the batteries time, it's done for. My OEM batt in the car lasted less than 18 months. The others all died between 3 and 3.5 years. It is just a fact of living in paradise.
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Old 09-22-2008, 03:47 PM   #7
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Happy Re: Can a bad battery cause this?

Yes, your battery can cause exactly the symptoms you describe. Replace it with the biggest capacity one that will fit into the same space and then keep a close eye on the system voltage for a while to be sure the alternator is charging the new one.

Of course it goes without saying that you need to also check for loose, dirty or corroded connections in the entire charging chain.
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Old 09-22-2008, 03:50 PM   #8
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Default Re: Can a bad battery cause this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JRSTANGE View Post
alternator can test good but, it doesnt mean the voltage regulator built in is still good. iirc they can test that also. some thing i would have checked before buying a new battery and possibly wasting more money on some thing that's going to go bad because of the voltage regulator.

but time will tell.
The neat new alternator testers that are in most of teh parts stores test the regulator functions also.

The OP states that the voltage under max load was 13.5 volts with a dead battery hung on there. That is all you will get out of the alternator under those conditions. He also mentioned something over 14 volts with no load. The alternator will shutdown if the rectifier overheats and that appears to have happened.
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Old 09-22-2008, 03:54 PM   #9
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Default Re: Can a bad battery cause this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MeMongo66 View Post
I have one item to add to this. This has happened to my Satty 3 times and my wife's Corrolla twice. Down here in Florida, the heat cooks your battery a lot quicker than up north. I keep up with maintenance on both cars, but if it is the batteries time, it's done for. My OEM batt in the car lasted less than 18 months. The others all died between 3 and 3.5 years. It is just a fact of living in paradise.
Battery life is extremely short in the sub tropics. They don't do too well in this climate either. The cheap ones die after 2 winters and the top of the line conventional batteries last maybe 4 winters. The Exide Orbital or Optima battery lasts the longest, 8 years or so.
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Old 09-22-2008, 04:15 PM   #10
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Default Re: Can a bad battery cause this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
He also mentioned something over 14 volts with no load. The alternator will shutdown if the rectifier overheats and that appears to have happened.
Sorry, it had load at 14 volts. Only difference between that and later was the radio on about 3 less volts and all warmed up.

I checked the battery cables and the tension on the belt. Tension was fine but I would recommend a new belt in the near future. The cables looked new (only 3 yrs old really) and there was no sign of corrosion anywhere.

Oh, and I don't think the guy put the battery through a load test. When I checked my optima at Advance they put it in a machine and it ran for 10 minutes and said FAILURE.
This guy at Autozone attached a hand held device to it and told me I needed a new battery after 10 seconds. This battery she bought has a 7 year warranty and I expect it to go dead before then.
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Old 09-22-2008, 04:22 PM   #11
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Default Re: Can a bad battery cause this?

If the battery was discharged, which it was, then it will always fail the 10 second test. That test is only valid if the battery is slow charged for 24 to 48 hours. Take the battery back to where it was purchased and let them test it. Tell them its dead so they get the hint. If she turns on all the electrics and drives short hops then she needs a battery tender or will be going through this often. Actually just short hops around town will do it without turning on anything.
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Old 09-22-2008, 04:53 PM   #12
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Default Re: Can a bad battery cause this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
If the battery was discharged, which it was, then it will always fail the 10 second test. That test is only valid if the battery is slow charged for 24 to 48 hours. Take the battery back to where it was purchased and let them test it. Tell them its dead so they get the hint. If she turns on all the electrics and drives short hops then she needs a battery tender or will be going through this often. Actually just short hops around town will do it without turning on anything.
Yeah, she just drives short hops. She lives in the middle of town and drives to band practice, my place, and to the grocery store.... that's about it.
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Last edited by sps SOHC; 09-22-2008 at 05:05 PM.
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Old 09-22-2008, 05:06 PM   #13
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Default Re: Can a bad battery cause this?

Well, plan on maintainig her car battery on a monthly basis then; buy a small overnight charger and charge the battery every month on the first day. All the short trip driving will eventually kill the battery, foul the plugs, dilute the oil in the long term. You'll have to do this chore, if you know what's good for you. The little chargers with less than 5-amps will be perfect for this and inexpensive. It won't matter what type of battery she bought as long as its charged up once a month it'll last awhile. And this will force you to look over other things; battery, cables, corrosion, oil, plugs, coolant, wipers, washer fluid, etc.. You're her own personal mechanic! Its all good.
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Old 09-22-2008, 05:34 PM   #14
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Default Re: Can a bad battery cause this?

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Well, plan on maintainig her car battery on a monthly basis then; ... All the short trip driving will eventually kill the battery, foul the plugs, dilute the oil in the long term. You'll have to do this chore, if you know what's good for you. ... You're her own personal mechanic! Its all good.
I offered to change her oil but her mom insisted she take it to the dealership to do it. Whatever! Her parents bought the car so... it's there money. I was going to put some M1 extended performance 5w30 in there. It's $30 w/tax at wal-mart for 5qt. I bet that and the filter would be less than the dealership cost. I wonder what the dealer uses.
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Old 09-22-2008, 06:00 PM   #15
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Default Re: Can a bad battery cause this?

Well, it certainly won't be M1 oil! At a GM/Corvette dealership, yes. They may be cheaper, it depends on the dealer and how much they want to soak each customer for $$$. Go figure.

Its strange that her parents insist on the dealer for oil but what's their opinion on the battery issue you just helped solve? And where were they when this occurred? I'll leave it at that..........
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Old 09-22-2008, 06:10 PM   #16
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Default Re: Can a bad battery cause this?

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Its strange that her parents insist on the dealer for oil but what's their opinion on the battery issue you just helped solve? And where were they when this occurred? I'll leave it at that..........
Well her parents live 5 hours away. Her dad works in another continent.

Yeah her dad asked if I could take the alternator out and have autozone test it. I think that's a bigger task than an oil change. I really REALLY REALLY want the alternator to be bad. Otherwise they will be like "Oh, he thought it was the alternator and wasted all that time when it was just the battery."
I'd rather them be like "Oh, the alternator tested good but still failed... wow he is pretty smart to have figured that out."

Yeah... /sigh
I honestly didn't think about the battery "overloading" the alternator.
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Old 09-25-2008, 10:27 AM   #17
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Default Re: Can a bad battery cause this?

UPDATE:

Put the old alternator back in with a new battery. Started her up, read 14.2v for a while. Turned on all the accessories and it read about 12.6v at idle.
I drove it around the lot, came back and under load the voltage read 11.84v consistently at idle.
No load (just DRLs) read 13.8v at idle.

I personally think the alternator might be on its way out.
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Old 09-25-2008, 11:51 AM   #18
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Default Re: Can a bad battery cause this?

If the battery was charged, which your voltage readings indicate then you need a new alternator. A bad battery will ruin a good alternator and a bad alternator will ruin a good battery. If one of the pair shows up bad the other is highly suspect. If you do not carefully test the "good" component you just might end up in a loop of replacing one and then the other until you finally just replace both.
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