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Alternator with a short?

 
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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 12 Dec 2012, 11:53 am
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Location: Wheeling,Il 60090
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Red face Alternator with a short?

Hello all:
Car Details 2001 red PT 140k bought car with broke timing belt so at 125k heads done, timing belt, water pump, new plugs, oil pressure sensor, motor mounts, trans fluid, new pan with drain , all suspension has been changed, Chrome bumpers (wife car and she loves them). I am missing stuff I am sure. I have done all the work myself except head rebuild. So the problem ; for the past week or so the car will "kick" for lack of better terms. It does not show any obd codes. It is losing voltage seems like a short. It happens very quick and more often when it is cold. The radio turns off and loses its memory (after market (Dual with HD radio and usb ). I also looked at the cars computer and see that not all onboard tests are complete. The trip odometer is reset to 0 also. At the time this happened to me I had the alternator loaded. rear defrost, front defrost / A/C and was turning the lights on. I was trying to get the car to do it. My wife said she had it happen a few times but I have only observed it 3 times and today the trans seemed to be in neutral also since I revved car and it did not accelerate just tack climbed. Then a very short time after all was normal. Car has full accelaration and power. Get about 25 mpg on expressway. I am going to head to Advanced auto to get load tested but in the meantime I was posting to see who else has had these symptoms / problems. I live in Northwest suburbs of Chicago. I appreciate all the feedback.
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Old 12 Dec 2012, 01:23 pm
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Default Re: Alternator with a short?

Advanced Auto in car tester said alternator is good and battery is good but not fully charged. Also when this happened to me one of the items on the serpentine belt locked up (heard squeeling for 2 seconds). I do see some corrosion on battery connectors which I will clean now and check the water level in the battery.

Last edited by spreighmen; 12 Dec 2012 at 01:24 pm. Reason: add picture
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Old 12 Dec 2012, 09:43 pm
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Default Re: Alternator with a short?

There are some things to look at very carefully. Firstly, the 2001 isn't set up to take a very large battery. Later models had a large dimple in the area just behind the headlight to accept a larger battery. I solved this issue in my 2001 using a DeWalt 18 volt reciprocating saw and some patience. And then some paint to prevent rust. A larger battery is going to help in the long run.

Next, check the terminals on the battery cables for corrosion. They are probably shot. Even if the terminals can be cleaned, the wires inside the plastic insulation have probably been eaten away with acid to the point where they are only at about half capacity. The battery cables may look OK, but believe me, they may be shot. Then check the OTHER ends! The acid seems to travel through the cables--sometimes leaving the wires alone--and ruining the terminals at the other ends. So you can end with this accumulation of bad terminals, bad wires and bad connections and what can happen is an intermittent disconnection that can be annoying.

Because of the battery acid problem, I don't use flooded cell batteries any more. I use AGM batteries, but NOT Optima batteries. The heat here in AZ just destroys flooded cell batteries, and my experience with Optima has been baaaad since they moved their manufacturing to Mexico from Colorado.

Others have reported that one or more of the fuses or fusible links in the circuit box will do the same thing. I don't recall which one.
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Old 13 Dec 2012, 05:35 pm
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Default Re: Alternator with a short?

Spreighman, I fought that problem with our 2001 PT (not our 03, 05, or 07) for over three or four years. Fixed it this summer. The connector was bad on the generator. Found it out after installing our second lifetime NAPA generator that had checked fine before but acted as goofy.

When the system acted up, the radio went off, trans went into limp in, engine ran crappy, lights dimmed, etc. etc.

Here is how i finally found out what the heck was going on. I bought a small voltmeter and wired it into a cigarette lighter power adapter. I plugged it into the lower power outlet on our dash and watched the voltage swings. Ours sat at 13.6 or 13.7 v UNTIL the dreaded bad connection would happen and then the voltage dropped down to 9 v or so. The issue was that the field pin was being disconnected and as you know, the field of the generator is grounded by the ECM causing the generator to charge until the ground is removed. We never knew if it was going to pull back up on its own. I forgot to mention that I also put a switch in the circuit that allowed me to ground the field pin when the gauge showed the generator was no longer charging. If it charged, I knew the generator was good and it was likely a wiring issue or something more severe. If it did not, it told me I was facing a bad generator.

After finally understanding what it was doing, I bought the new $22 connector from the dealer and fixed it. It was easy after jacking around for so long thinking it was the ECM/BCM or wiring elsewhere.

Want to see a photo of the adapter assembly?
Tom
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Last edited by VOETOM; 13 Dec 2012 at 08:42 pm.
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Old 13 Dec 2012, 07:58 pm
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Default Re: Alternator with a short?

Quote:
Originally Posted by VOETOM View Post
Spreighman, I fought that problem with our 2001 PT (not our 03, 05, or 07) for over three or four years. Fixed it this summer. The connector was bad on the alternator. Found it out after installing our second lifetime NAPA alternator that had checked fine before but acted as goofy.

When the system acted up, the radio went off, trans went into limp in, engine ran crappy, lights dimmed, etc. etc.

Here is how i finally found out what the heck was going on. I bought a small voltmeter and wired it into a cigarette lighter power adapter. I plugged it into the lower power outlet on our dash and watched the voltage swings. Ours sat at 13.6 or 13.7 UNTIL the dreaded bad connection would happen and then the voltage dropped down to 9 v or so. We never knew if it was going to pull back up on its own.

After finally understanding what it was doing, I bought the new $22 connector from the dealer and fixed it. It was easy after jacking around for so long thinking it was the ECM/BCM or wiring elsewhere.

Want to see a photo of the adapter assembly?
Tom
Yes. Would really like to see the connector. Was if part of the pigtail or part of the alternator?
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Old 13 Dec 2012, 08:26 pm
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Default Re: Alternator with a short?

Matt, the connector was for the harness. The new one had a larger gauge wire pair you can use plus the female connectors had stronger tension.
Tom
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Old 13 Dec 2012, 08:45 pm
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Default Re: Alternator with a short?

Cat paw to show relative size of the voltmeter/power outlet adapter .
Attached Images
File Type: jpg gauge.jpg (91.3 KB, 22 views)
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Last edited by VOETOM; 13 Dec 2012 at 08:50 pm.
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Old 13 Dec 2012, 08:55 pm
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Default Re: Alternator with a short?

Quote:
Originally Posted by VOETOM View Post
Cat paw to show relative size of the voltmeter/power outlet adapter .
Cool. My shop cat is solid black.
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Old 17 Dec 2012, 10:05 pm
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Default Re: Alternator with a short?

Matt and Tom Thank you for your time and help troubleshooting. I am going to check your problem areas first on my car before digging further. I have not had any time to touch her car. I have been working 12 hour / night shifts. I am done wed morning. The battery posts are not factory and the wire is exposed and is corroded. I am going to order a new set of battery wires from rock auto along with heated seat warmer elements (Part of her Christmas presents). I am an electrician and was also going to see how much voltage loss I have from different points. like batt positive to starter or alternator and then batt gnd to body and engine. I will post back my results. Hopefully I do not have to take the car in. I have only taken it to the dealer for having a duplicate key made and recalls.
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Old 29 Dec 2012, 04:54 am
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Default Re: Alternator with a short?

I finally got back to her car. I replaced the positive battery cable also used a 24 inch 4 gauge cable to the starter. replaced the negative with a separate 4 gauge the the fender ground. I also tied all the grounds to the factory ground stud using star lock washers in between the lugs. I then bonded the engine, computer and passenger shock tower with very flexible #10 gauge. After doing that I discovered the wire going to the alternator was hitting the half shaft and was missing chunks and was corroded where bare. I cut the wire at the starter and as far back in the loom as possible and replaced with #4 to the remote positive post. All my positive connection go the remote positive post now. Voltage at a steady 14.6 volts. I will see how this works out and holds up. Fingers crossed.
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