SaturnFans.com
saturnfans.com - classifieds - forums - webmail


Go Back   SaturnFans.com Forums > Models > Saturn S-Series > S-Series Tech

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 01-13-2014, 11:41 AM   #1
rcw3586
Member
rcw3586 is on a distinguished road
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Eastern Mass
Posts: 142

1993 SL2
1994 SL
Default Intermittent Battery?

My 93 Saturn SL2 has been working great with it's 6-7 year-old DieHard battery.
Last week, while driving home from work, I noticed that every time I hit the brakes the headlights would momentarily dim - definitely new behavior. I was only 3 miles from home so I kept going with no other perceptible issues.
I pulled into the garage and shut off the key. Everything went instantly dead. I opened the door and the seat belt did not retract; there was no dome light and the headlights went off before I had a chance to shut them off.
I opened the trunk to get out my groceries and no trunk light. I took a minute to walk to the mail box and when I got back the trunk light was on. I tested and everything else was now working too.

I came out and checked that the lights were working several times over the weekend. I wiggled the battery terminals and cables and banged on the battery but nothing seemed intermittent. But when I went to use it on Sunday morning it cranked slowly, started clicking and then all went completely dead again.
I ran to get my meter to see if there was any voltage anywhere. I measured 11 volts at the battery terminals. But, when I got in to try things, all the lights were working. I cranked it and it started sluggishly. The radio station presets were all erased.
I could hear the alternator charging and the battery now measured 13.8 with it running.
Not wanting to get stranded, I did not dare drive it until I looked over the electrical system.
I inspected and checked the tightness of the battery terminals, battery grounds on the bell housing and fender well, and battery connection at the fuse block.
I measured voltage from the chassis to the + batt terminal and from the - batt terminal to the + junction block terminal. Both were a solid 12.4 volts (engine off).

Taking my spare fully charged boat battery and jumper cables with me I drove the 25 miles to work this morning without incident. However, I did notice while sitting at a traffic light, that the instrument lights got briefly dim a couple of times.

Is this an intermittent battery problem or are there other possibilities in the electrical system that could cause this?
rcw3586 is offline   Reply With Quote
SaturnFans.com Sponsored Links
Old 01-13-2014, 11:46 AM   #2
fetchitfido
Super Member
fetchitfido has a brilliant futurefetchitfido has a brilliant futurefetchitfido has a brilliant futurefetchitfido has a brilliant futurefetchitfido has a brilliant futurefetchitfido has a brilliant futurefetchitfido has a brilliant futurefetchitfido has a brilliant futurefetchitfido has a brilliant futurefetchitfido has a brilliant futurefetchitfido has a brilliant future
 
fetchitfido's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 15,023
 

2001 SC2
Default Re: Intermittent Battery?

Check for corroded battery terminals (mechanical tightness means virtually nothing to electronics) and a slipping/worn belt.
...
The proper way to fix a S-Series automatic is to replace it with a 5spd O:)
fetchitfido is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-13-2014, 11:48 AM   #3
TXSaturn02
Master Member
TXSaturn02 has a spectacular aura aboutTXSaturn02 has a spectacular aura aboutTXSaturn02 has a spectacular aura about
 
TXSaturn02's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Houston
Posts: 4,091
 

2002 SL2
Default Re: Intermittent Battery?

I'm guessing alternator AND battery (because of age). The 'experts' will chime in. Lights dimming is a classic sign of alternator on its way out (if you checked your connections). Could also be a faulty serpentine (tensioner) process.
...
2002 SL2 Manual - new in November, 2001
As of 09/30/17: 223,751 Miles - SOLD
New owner report of 08/08/19: 234,408 Miles

2013 Mazda 3 HB - new in October 2012
As of 11/12/20: 78,895 Miles
TXSaturn02 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-13-2014, 12:49 PM   #4
fdryer
Super Member
fdryer has a reputation beyond reputefdryer has a reputation beyond reputefdryer has a reputation beyond reputefdryer has a reputation beyond reputefdryer has a reputation beyond reputefdryer has a reputation beyond reputefdryer has a reputation beyond reputefdryer has a reputation beyond reputefdryer has a reputation beyond reputefdryer has a reputation beyond reputefdryer has a reputation beyond repute
 
fdryer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: NYC
Posts: 45,318
 

2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: Intermittent Battery?

^ One expert opinion, already. ^ Pointing out the age of the car is a valuable perspective when few details are given.

While your Diehard battery is old and may be giving you hints of impending death, a good store load test can be more revealing and you already gave one hint; reading 11 volts. Good batteries at rest should show at least 12 volts, no less. This is one hint of possible impending battery failure. With the engine running and the serpentine belt tight with no squealing at start ups (from a worn out belt tensioner), the alternator is supposed to be outputting between 13v and 14.7v. A dead/dying battery may load down the alternator and a quick down and dirty test may reveal a dying battery by removing the battery negative cable for a moment and measuring voltage on the cable to see if voltage suddenly increases; a jump in voltage at the cable (not battery) is another indication of battery death as it places a load on the alternator. A faulty alternator may not output sufficient voltage as its task is to supply the car with all the electrical needs while slow charging the battery after every start. While not recommended, removing the battery negative cable should still have the engine running without a battery and if the engine stops running the alternator is faulty.
...
VCX NANO
fdryer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-13-2014, 03:01 PM   #5
rcw3586
Member
rcw3586 is on a distinguished road
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Eastern Mass
Posts: 142

1993 SL2
1994 SL
Default Re: Intermittent Battery?

Thank you for your thoughts gentlemen.
Here's some additional info.
Although the car is 21 years old it only has 110k miles and is in really good shape.
Two years ago I did an Auto to Manual conversion on this car so the majority of connections are fairly recently made.
The belt tensioner is fairly new and is working perfectly. There seems to be no problem with alternator output. It charges well and the belt isn't slipping.
The BATTERY light never came on either which tells me the charging system is working fine.
Aside from the battery, which is the #1 suspect, I'm suspicious of the battery to fender well connection which has never been disturbed. It has green corrosion coating the ring terminal, crimp and the bare end of the copper cable. There is no corrosion on the painted fender surrounding it though.
rcw3586 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-13-2014, 03:52 PM   #6
fdryer
Super Member
fdryer has a reputation beyond reputefdryer has a reputation beyond reputefdryer has a reputation beyond reputefdryer has a reputation beyond reputefdryer has a reputation beyond reputefdryer has a reputation beyond reputefdryer has a reputation beyond reputefdryer has a reputation beyond reputefdryer has a reputation beyond reputefdryer has a reputation beyond reputefdryer has a reputation beyond repute
 
fdryer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: NYC
Posts: 45,318
 

2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: Intermittent Battery?

There are less than a handful of members here that can stretch battery life beyond their lifetime by having the good fortune of using trickle chargers more often and simple maintenance. I'm not one of them.

Once your battery is back to working order and you can decide on when or if battery testing is needed, this only takes care of the battery and whether or not its due for replacement. If your alternator is original then it too can be troublesome sooner or later. Nothing lasts forever and the battery light is just an idiot light for the minimum advance notice of electrical problems when the engine's running. I've never had my battery light turn on while driving but replaced a faulty alternator anyway. And I suspected alternator problems as early as 50k miles. Alternator was replaced at 78k miles. Mine may be one of a few exceptions to the rule with no battery light telling me my alternator was faulty. Only a voltage measurement with the engine running can tell whether or not an alternator is functioning since the electrical needs of any car varies with the electrical loads that varies its output when operating correctly. A well worn alternator uses up its two brushes that may/may not inform you of impending alternator failure by acting erratically. Worn brushes means erratic electrical contact to a rotating armature that results in varied electrical output. One would have to be very adept at detecting alternator failure otherwise alternator testing by auto stores is the best way to find a failing alternator. Separating a worn out battery from a worn out alternator can be troublesome for many.
...
VCX NANO
fdryer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-13-2014, 05:46 PM   #7
TXSaturn02
Master Member
TXSaturn02 has a spectacular aura aboutTXSaturn02 has a spectacular aura aboutTXSaturn02 has a spectacular aura about
 
TXSaturn02's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Houston
Posts: 4,091
 

2002 SL2
Default Re: Intermittent Battery?

Most of us with Saturns this old are rather frugal. But considering the age of the battery, I would not try to extend the life. Consider yourself lucky - down where I live, three years (because of the heat), is considered a good life for a battery.
...
2002 SL2 Manual - new in November, 2001
As of 09/30/17: 223,751 Miles - SOLD
New owner report of 08/08/19: 234,408 Miles

2013 Mazda 3 HB - new in October 2012
As of 11/12/20: 78,895 Miles
TXSaturn02 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Intermittent Battery Light SoCalVue Vue General 5 11-15-2013 12:40 PM
Battery light on (intermittent) btbell0615 S-Series Tech 10 09-19-2012 10:33 AM
Intermittent No Start, not battery probem SplitFTW Vue Tech 1 11-09-2009 05:49 PM
Intermittent Battery Light?? options13 Ion Tech 2 05-30-2007 08:14 AM
Intermittent flashing of low battery / temp light enganeer S-Series Tech 7 10-28-2002 01:52 PM


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 11:52 PM.

Advanced Forum Search | Advanced Photo Search


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
SaturnFans.com. The Saturn Enthusiasts Site.