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New member with battery problems


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7 replies to this topic

#1 jmk91902

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  • Year: 1997
  • Make: Pontiac
  • Model: Firebird Formula
  • Engine: 5.7L LT1
  • Transmission: Auto

Posted 4 days ago

I have a 97 Firebird formula and I have had my car died multiple times. I had my battery checked and it was still new(recently bought it) and found out my alternator was bad. I was reading a little under 13 volts while under load but at about 10 at idle. I changed the alternator the other day and after a day or two of it working good Im back at the same problem

#2 ZumpTA

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Posted 4 days ago

Welcome aboard!  I would suspect you got an alternator with a bad voltage regulator.  Have both tested together and maybe have the battery replaced under it's pro-rata warranty.  I have never had to, and I don't know of there is any truth to it, but I have heard it said/suggested by several mechanics that battery and alternator should be replaced together to avoid situations such as yours.

 

In all honesty, if you bought a reman alternator, chances are high it's simply a faulty regulator.  Might have to go through a couple of them before you get a truly good one.  ...but there is also the slight possibility the old or even new alternator damaged the battery.

 

Also, the wiring harness is 23 years old.  Could be corrosion or moisture intrusion in that circuit.


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#3 JoePeek

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Posted 3 days ago

Buying remanufactured electrical parts is a crap shoot. It's been that way for quite awhile now. I needed to replace the alternator on a '95 GMC Jimmy like 10 years ago. The first one read 11.9 volts no matter how much I reved the engine. Took it back to the parts store, the guy exchanged it - no hassle, no questions. The next one read 17.6 volts, I remember thinking of the three bears saying to myself "too low, too high, the next one should be just right". When I returned to the parts store they guy was saying I should throw in another $12 and get the "better" rebuild. He said what I was going through was common, and that their store never offered such cheap rebuilds in the past, but the popular parts stores, and the internet were offering the cheap rebuilds and they were losing sales, so they gave in and started offering the crap rebuilds even though they didn't want to, it's just that so many people choose parts on price, not quality. He said if I keep swapping alternators, I'd get a good one eventually, and I was getting pretty quick at removing/replacing the alternator.

 

I laid out another $12 and got the better rebuild....it read 14.8 volts.....need I say more?


Edited by JoePeek, 3 days ago.


#4 sea dog

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Posted 3 days ago

Welcome to the forum.

 

If a new alternator doesn't fix the problem, then you must consider the possibility of a short somewhere in the wiring or components that is draining the battery. On cars with a computer & a digital readout stereo, there will always be a small draw of current when car is not running. But this is a tiny amount of current that would take months to draw down a good battery to the point where starter would not crank the engine.

 

So , if alt doesn't fix the problem, we will have to start troubleshooting for higher than normal amp draw from electrical system. Tools needed for testing would be either a digital multimeter that reads up to 10 amps. Or an amp meter.



#5 JoePeek

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Posted 3 days ago

25-30 milliamps is the acceptable limit for parasitic drain on a battery, maybe a tick more, but that depends on how much stuff you have running in the background like alarm systems when the car is just sitting with the engine off. If you disconnect the + battery cable, put your volt meter in amp mode (move the red input lead to "the other plug in choice"),

then put the black voltmeter probe on the + battery and red probe on the + cable, you can read how many amps are getting pulled from the battery (i.e. - just put the meter in series with the + battery cable). Be sure everything is "off" when you do this like the doors being closed so the dome light is out, any under hood light bulb is taken out, trunk lid closed, etc. The only things that should be on are things like the clock, alarm systems, ECM will pull a little, etc...nothing else. Then see how many amps are going through the volt meter. If you find the reading too high, you can start removing fuses one by one until you find one which makes the amp draw drop to less than 50 milliamps or so. Don't worry about exact numbers, you will just see a big drop in the reading. At least then you will know which circuit the short is in, then trace it down. Loose connections, corrosion, a short in the alternator, may also be be causing the battery to drain, or not charge, but at least start with checking the milliamps of drain.


Edited by JoePeek, 3 days ago.


#6 sea dog

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Posted 3 days ago

Download the 96 factory service manual at the following link. It will share 99% of info with your 97. It will have full wiring diagrams so you can check out the components served by each fuse and eliminate them by disconnecting each component served by the fuse, one by one.

 

When you find the component that drops the amp draw to normal, you have found the circuit that has a short in it.  http://www.mediafire.../?40mfgeoe4ctti



#7 jmk91902

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  • Model: Firebird Formula
  • Engine: 5.7L LT1
  • Transmission: Auto

Posted A day ago

So update I had the alternator and the battery tested and they both passed with flying colors. I am planning on taking it to an electircal shop because I cannot figure out why the car keeps dying.



#8 Injuneer

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Posted A day ago

What exactly happens when the “car died”?  Do you mean you are driving long and the engines stops, or does this only happen when the car is stopped and the engine is idling?  Describe what happens in detail - does the engine shut off instantly, or does it lose RPM and struggle to keep running?  How often does this happen?

 

The more detail, the more we can help you.


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