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Old 08-16-2008, 07:09 PM
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Alternator/Battery charging problem. IM STUMPED!

80 Camaro Z28, 350. 6 month old battery. 1 year old alternator.

My battery has had a drain on it for a while. I thought it may be because of old wiring going from the alternator to the battery. Also, the alternator doesnt seem to be putting out enough power. (ie - power windows are slow at idle, but are fast if i rev the engine to 2000rpm).

the battery had died so it had been on a charger for about 12 hours.

so today i put the battery back in the car and tested the ground. it was hooked to the alternator bracket, but testing it at the bracket only gave me 5v.

i moved the ground to the frame. i wire brushed the frame real well at the connection. tested the ground there and i got 13v. tested the + wire on the alternator and got 13v.

started the car, everything ran fine, plenty of power to the windows. drove around the block, came back and tried to start it again and all i got was a bunch of clicking from the starter. i let it sit for 30min to cool down, and still nothing.

voltage gauge read 10v, windows were slow again, but everything electrical worked. this was a fresh battery that had only been running the car for 10 min, and then it lost all its juice. whats the deal?

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Old 08-16-2008, 07:15 PM
F&J F&J is offline
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2 things come to mind;

bad battery


or bad connections somewhere.



Run the car with a voltmeter hooked to the battery itself. It should show a little over 14v when running with no lights or other stuff on. If you get the battery charged up, then shut it off and check voltage at the battery with everything off. It should be a minimum of 12.5v.
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Old 08-16-2008, 07:58 PM
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this is what i checked before the car died:

battery disconected - 12v
battery installed, car off - 12v
battery installed, car running - 13v
car running, alrternator - 13v

i left it running, drove it for 10 min, and thats when i wouldnt start.

i just threw a 1yr old optima red top in the car, drove it for another 10 min, turned it off, and it started again.

so, i guess a bad battery could be the cuplpit this time. but, it still get a drops in voltage with the optima. volts were 14 with the optima in, but when i turend the lights on it dropped to 12v. tried to roll the windows up with the lights on, and it dropped to 10v.

tomorrow i will clean up all the connections at the starter, and take some pictures of the wiring.
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Old 08-17-2008, 12:09 PM
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here's what the new ground and the alternator wiring looks like.

is this hooked up right, and where is each wire supposed to go?
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Old 08-17-2008, 12:46 PM
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You're grounded!

That black cable should be going to your engine. Preferably to the alternator mount or front of the block will work. But unless it was well hidden, that cable didn't appear to be touching clean bare metal. These connections MUST be clean bare metal. Put some grease on it to prevent rust and corrosion.

Another smaller wire to your body and one to the frame should come off the engine or the battery black terminal.

I highly suspect that those connections at your alternator are only crimped on. I do NOT trust crimped connections. All too often they get corrosion inside and were not crimped well enough.

Besides, that wire looks mighty small to me coming off the main terminal on the alternator.

Suggest you follow the wires back and tell us where they are going. Look closely at any crimped connections. Lightly tug any crimps, and if any come apart, get a soldering iron out and replace all connections with soldered barrel splices.

Wire brush the positive connections at the solenoid. Including and especially the ring terminals. Chances are the main power to the fuse box, including your power windows is coming from this junction. Inspect the condition of the wire to the ring terminal here. If it's not 100%, cut and solder a new one on.

Steve
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Old 08-17-2008, 06:33 PM
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i started an engine compartment detailing/new headers/new accessory brackets project today.

so while i was at it i took off the starter and cleaned it all up. it looks pretty trashy so im gonna get a new one, run new wiring, and get the alternator tested.

hopefully everything will be back together and working by the weekend.
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Old 08-17-2008, 06:46 PM
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Good move!

Sounds like a plan! I think that's wise. Do it right so you will be proud of it.

I'd paint that frame. I'd use POR-15 if you could find it after you wire brush it good.

If the wiring is like that in the engine compartment, might it be a good idea to put in a new wiring harness?

How old is that wiring?
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Old 08-17-2008, 07:14 PM
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good moves

Make sure you've got a good ground from the frame to engine and to the body for the window. Went I check a battery after running the engine and the volt meter showing 14 volts, I stop the engine and check (and record if need ) and recheck after about an hr or 2 to see if the voltage is holding to the recorded voltage. If not then check again latter. If it keeps dropping, then change the battery.
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Old 08-17-2008, 08:26 PM
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i had a new wiring harness in mind, its all pretty trashed. im gonna do solder/heatshrink tube instead of crimping anything on. i crimped on the connectors to the alternator about 2 years ago and they're already looking like junk.
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Old 08-18-2008, 06:13 AM
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If your going to use crimp connections, then use bare connectors and the insulate with shrink tubing. Get a set of T & B pliers from Home Depot, they crimp in a different way. Kind of like stakeing, the connector is actually pressed into the wire. The other kind just squash it and a good tug on the wire, it will pull out! The best is to solder all connections and use shrink tubing. TF
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Old 08-18-2008, 08:19 PM
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The ground wire setup is not the stock GM setup, from what I have seen on most vehicles.

Ground wire on the battery should have two cables on the battery terminal end. The small cable is connected to the fender next to the battery (body ground). The large diameter cable crosses directly over to the top of the alternator bracket (alternator ground).
There is also a ground from the back of the engine (valve cover bolt) over to the firewall (engine ground).
The alternator should ground through the bracket (no wire needed).
All these ground wires should have zero resistance between them (same potential at each point).

The positive battery cable runs down to the starter and the stock wiring would use the starter as a junction for the 12 volt wire running up to the alternator. However, for best charging, you can instead use a charge wire with fusible link (e.g, 8 gauge wire, 12 gauge fusible link) running directly from the positive battery terminal to the BAT terminal on the alternator. This wire would only need to be about 12-14 inches long, and it puts the full alternator output directly to the battery.

The two conductor plug on the alternator is connected to 12 volts switched from the ignition (terminal 1), and to 12 volts always on (terminal 2). Terminal 2 can be connected with a small jumper directly up the BAT terminal on the alternator.

Bruce
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Old 08-19-2008, 10:14 AM
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good info. thx bruce
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Old 08-24-2008, 07:21 PM
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I had the same problem about a year ago. My battery died on me so I jumped it off. It kept dying so I replaced it. Everything was fine for about 1 month then the new one died and wouldn't hold a charge good. So I put in a new alternator we had a work that was a GM style. It seemed to work but then battery dead a few days later. I went out an bought one at napa installed it a still same problem. I replaced all the charging wiring with 4 and 8 gauge wires. Still I was only seeing about 12v with the engine running some times less some times more. A few days later I decided to check a few things under the hood and found that my power steering belt was loose. I tighten it up and problem solved. The belt setup had the power steering pump turning the fan pulley and the alternator ran off just the fan pulley. Turns out the alternator wasn't spinning fast enough. Sometimes it is simple things we over look. I would double check the belts. Also I would go with a larger wire for main power and grounds. It sure can't hurt anything and good luck with everything
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Old 08-25-2008, 09:37 AM
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well, i just re-did the entire engine wiring harness and cleaned everything up. id like to find the guy who did the wiring last so i can kick his *****, it was horrible.

i should have the engine back together today, so we'll see how she runs. ill throw some pics of the new engine compartment detailing and wiring up later.
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Old 08-25-2008, 01:40 PM
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My 69 Chevelle had the same problem. It would start fine, after a while driving it and shut off the car. Then later I try to start the car and all I get is a clicking sound. Turn out the alternators use 3 phase winding and one of the phase winding was not connected. Resulting partial voltage was producing out of alternator. Enough voltage to keep the car running, but not enough to keep the battery charge.
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