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Car Trouble! Eek!

Discussion in 'Random Discussion' started by angelize56, Feb 16, 2003.

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  1. angelize56

    angelize56 Always remembered in our hearts Thread Starter

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    Any ideas on what's wrong with my car! Lately it has been kind of going errr errr errr and then starting up fine. (Like when the battery is REALLY cold.) Last night it went more like errr errrr errrr errrrr then started. I was listening to the hockey game on AM in the car and noticed whenever I opened the car door there was a lot of static on the station. Went about my business driving about 20 minutes. Got home and was backing the car in and the charge light came on. Now I know that means usually a battery or charging system problem. So I shut the car off, unloaded groceries, went to restart the car to see if it would and it did with no errrr errrr. About 20 minutes later I went to turn the car around and....nothing! Car DEAD with no sound. So I turned on the headlights, which of course are dim and had my son turn the key...no headlights! So is this just a dead batterry???? The alternator is less than 2 years old. The car is an 89 Old Cutlass Ciera. I have no idea how old the battery is! So should I charge this one or just invest in a new battery...assuming it is the dang thing gone bad or dead? :) Take care. angel

    P.S.-I knew something was bound to go wrong with the car because I was in "Good Hands" with my insurance company at $940 a year and just changed to "We Bring Good Things to Life" insurance company and now pay $334 a <b>year</b> for the exact same coverage! So whenever I get ahead...well...something happens to set me back! :D
     
  2. n2gun

    n2gun

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    Angel
    The first thing to check is the belt on the alternator. Is it tight? If you can move it over 1/2 inch it is probably too loose.

    As far as the err err err that is common in extreme cold weather. It is more a problem of cold than anything. As cold as it is here it is probably a lot colder there.
     
  3. angelize56

    angelize56 Always remembered in our hearts Thread Starter

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    Hi Jerry: I'll run out and check that later. Does the car usually go dead so soon after the charge light first comes on? I thought a battery had like a 10 to 15 minute reserve supply of power before it went totally dead? It did when the alternator died 2 years ago. :) Drove along and things got dimmer and dimmer and then it died! :) I'm glad it happened in front of my house at least! Take care. angel

    P.S.-It's very cold out right now and I'm not venturing out into it! And yes last night it was around 10 when I was out, Brrrr!!!! :)
     
  4. BTex

    BTex

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    Have your altenator checked. some models only kick in and work after they reach a ceritan RPM it may be dieing a slow death
     
  5. slipe

    slipe

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    When it is cold it isn’t unusual for an older battery to fail quickly like that. Since you were getting indications of a low battery before it happened I presume it was marginal.

    A charging light seldom indicates a bad battery. It measures the voltage on the alternator side and is an indication the alternator isn’t putting out. It is possible for a battery to go so bad that it effectively provides a short in the system and drags the voltage down – but it is rare. Usually a voltage light means your alternator isn’t putting out.

    If the battery is old and sits dead for a few days you are advised to get a new one. If you don’t have towing insurance it might be the easiest way to get the car to the shop to just buy a new battery. The mid priced Wal Mart battery (I think $40) is decent for the price. My advice is to get a new battery and drive it right to a garage so they can check the system.

    Of course check the alternator belt as n2gun suggests, but you usually hear squeals when they are going loose.

    I miss the old ammeters because they gave you a real time indication of charging. Every time I get a car I say I’ll put an ammeter in and never get around to it – it isn’t that bad here in Florida to have the car go dead. They went to voltmeters because it was more appropriate for a warning light, but by the time the light comes on you can be in trouble.
     
  6. angelize56

    angelize56 Always remembered in our hearts Thread Starter

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    Btex: Even though the alternator and belt were replaced only 2 years ago? I hope not! Please let it be just the battery! :) Take care. angel
     
  7. angelize56

    angelize56 Always remembered in our hearts Thread Starter

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    Slipe: That's what I have planned as I do have towing. I'll try the new battery and hope for the best! Seems an alternator should last longer than 2 years especially since I don't put many miles on the car. :) Knock on wood! Thanks for your advice too. Take care. angel :)

    P.S.-Have to get going but will check this thread later! :)
     
  8. JustMe2

    JustMe2

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    Angel,
    If it by chance turns out to be the alternator, it may still be under warranty. I've got a 89 Buick Skylark that burns up the alternator every 2 years. 4 years ago, I purchased an alternator with a lifetime warranty and put it on myself(with a little help on tightening the belts!)
    JustMe2
     
  9. gaorr

    gaorr

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    take it to a shop. a simple 'charge' test will indicate if the battery, alternator or voltage regulator (which is probably part of the aternator) is causing the problem. I suggest this rather than just replacing parts that are still okay.
     
  10. slipe

    slipe

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    First you have to get it to the shop. Most towing like AAA won’t pick your car up at the house and tow it to the shop. You might get it started with a jump if the battery hasn’t deteriorated too much, but with a dead charging system the car would likely die en-route. Of course AAA would then come and tow you to the shop.

    But you should really replace a battery that has sat dead for any time. And since you don’t know when it was last replaced it would be smart to replace it in any case living in the sub-arctic as you do. If you are sure you didn’t replace the battery with your last alternator problem it is a no-brainer. Batteries don’t last forever even with a good charging system.

    But go directly to a nearby garage and do it in the daytime without lights. A new battery isn’t completely charged and the car won’t run forever just on the battery. Maybe the place you buy the battery will top off the charge for you if you don’t get it at Wal-Mart.
     
  11. Stoner

    Stoner Banned

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    Hi Angel:

    If your battery is older than 4 years(arbitrary really) You might as well replace in now. The alternator may or may not be charging properly, but the battery is now questionable due to age and extreme cold weather.
    Checking belts is good.
    Checking cables and grounds is good.
    Have a mechanic check the output of the alternator, preferrably with a new battery in place.
    Just some advice- an alternator lasts longer with a new to good battery and is stressed in cold weather with a marginal battery in place( it's constantly at a high rate of charge)
    I always sold more alternators to people with weak batteries in the winter. :) :)

    Good luck.
     
  12. Tuppence2

    Tuppence2 Guest

    Oh dear, Angel. I do hope you get things sorted soon. 'Aint that always the way!! :mad:

    See you later,
    Penny.
     
  13. Jonesiegirl

    Jonesiegirl Guest

    Bummer, dudette! I'd say it's time for a new battery at least . Silly girl ... don't know how old the battery is... :rolleyes: :D
     
  14. angelize56

    angelize56 Always remembered in our hearts Thread Starter

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    Kath: Hey the battery came with the car! :D

    My neighbor checked the battery and said it was dead as dead could be. He has had jumper cables on it hooked to his car (my car wouldn't start with the first attempted jump) and left his car running for the past 20 minutes. My car finally started up and now he is out there putzing around under the hood. All I asked him to do was hook his battery charger up to it....I know he knows what he's doing so I'm not worried.....yet. :confused: He says to get a new battery. BUT....shouldn't I make sure the voltage system is alright all around first? I mean if it is the alternator, it can't hurt a new battery...right? Take care. angel
     
  15. RP McMurphy

    RP McMurphy

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    So, how can you tell if the alternator is failing without taking it apart and doing some measuring inside the alternator? It's really pretty simple. You will need a simple voltmeter. You can get one at Radio Shack for under ten dollars. Here's what you do - start the car, make sure all the accessories are off and rev up the motor to a fast idle. Set the Voltmeter to the DC scale (not AC or Ohms). Measure the voltage across the battery terminals - red lead of the voltmeter on the positive terminal, black on the negative (ground in most cars). The voltage should, and probably will, read around 14 volts. If it reads less than 12 volts you may indeed have a failed alternator and you can skip the next step. Next, turn on the heater, the rear window de-fogger, the radio, the headlights and anything else that draws power. Now rev up the motor and watch the voltmeter. It should still be reading around 14 volts. If it reads lower than 13 volts the chances are that your alternator is not up to snuff.

    http://www.misterfixit.com/alterntr.htm
     
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