Need automotive help

FishTXFishTX Super ModeratorPosts: 8,077 Senior Member
I need some help from my automotive gurus out there. I'm good a repairs, but not so good on electrical diagnostics.

I'm having charging problems. Last three days, I've noticed the meter in my dash showing lower voltage than normal, but the truck started and ran fine. This morning the truck started o.k. but the meter was now near the bottom of the normal range.

I needed a jump start after 3.5 mile drive. I then needed a jump start after a 13 mile drive. I almost made it the 10 miles home when I started losing engine power. Luckily I can coast down a big hill and have enough energy to go up another hill and coast into the driveway.

First. Does the meter in the dash read state of the battery or the output of the alternator?

Second. If it meters the battery, and based on losing power on the way home, does this sound like an alternator problem? Was I running the ignition off battery power only on the way home? If I understand correctly, the battery is primarily there to power the starter and ignition at start. After the engine starts, the alternator powers the electrical system as well as charging the battery.

It would be nice to figure this out before heading to the automotive store in the morning. My neighbors won't be home, and it's 20+ miles round trip on the bicycle. Nice to know exactly what I'm after and not spend money on both when I need just the one part.

Thanks
"We have to find someone who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner."

Crooow:This music would work better with women in bikinis shaking all over the place. I guess that's true of any music really.

Replies

  • BufordBuford Senior Member Posts: 2,974 Senior Member
    FishTX wrote: »
    I need some help from my automotive gurus out there. I'm good a repairs, but not so good on electrical diagnostics.

    I'm having charging problems. Last three days, I've noticed the meter in my dash showing lower voltage than normal, but the truck started and ran fine. This morning the truck started o.k. but the meter was now near the bottom of the normal range.

    I needed a jump start after 3.5 mile drive. I then needed a jump start after a 13 mile drive. I almost made it the 10 miles home when I started losing engine power. Luckily I can coast down a big hill and have enough energy to go up another hill and coast into the driveway.

    First. Does the meter in the dash read state of the battery or the output of the alternator?

    Second. If it meters the battery, and based on losing power on the way home, does this sound like an alternator problem? Was I running the ignition off battery power only on the way home? If I understand correctly, the battery is primarily there to power the starter and ignition at start. After the engine starts, the alternator powers the electrical system as well as charging the battery.

    It would be nice to figure this out before heading to the automotive store in the morning. My neighbors won't be home, and it's 20+ miles round trip on the bicycle. Nice to know exactly what I'm after and not spend money on both when I need just the one part.

    Thanks

    Hook up a volt meter to the battery. Start the vehicle and turn on all of the accessories headlights, air conditioner then check the battery voltage it should be around 13.5 - 14.5. It sure sounds like the alternator is dying.
    Just look at the flowers Lizzie just look at the flowers.
  • ricinusricinus Senior Member Posts: 6,214 Senior Member
    Sounds like alternator.. A lot of auto stores have a test machine and will test for free. Did you check your battery cables to make sure they are clean etc?

    Mike
    My new goal in life is to become an Alter Kaker...
  • jbillyjbilly Senior Member Posts: 5,336 Senior Member
    I am not expert, especially when it comes to electrical problems, but I have to agree with Mike and Bufford. Sounds to me like the alternator is your problem.

    Good luck!
  • FishTXFishTX Super Moderator Posts: 8,077 Senior Member
    Somebody said a voltage regulator could cause similar problems. I neglected to mention that the the radio went out on the drive home. Don't know if that is a useful symptom.

    Thanks Buford. I'll have to wait till tomorrow morning to do the check. The battery is dead and it'll take awhile for my charger to bring it up enough just to start the truck. Do I put the leads to the tester on the cable ends?

    Mike. The cables had minor corrosion, but they were clean on the inside where they contact the posts. I picked up some noco spray.
    "We have to find someone who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner."

    Crooow:This music would work better with women in bikinis shaking all over the place. I guess that's true of any music really.
  • ricinusricinus Senior Member Posts: 6,214 Senior Member
    Mike,

    Also check your serpentine belt to make sure its not slipping..

    Mike
    My new goal in life is to become an Alter Kaker...
  • FishTXFishTX Super Moderator Posts: 8,077 Senior Member
    The belt seemed tight. In anticipation of needed an alt. replacement, I moved the air feed (real technical name, huh?) to the plenum out of the way and took the serpentine belt off the alt's pulley. One good thing about a single serpentine belt is they can be removed easily with a little prying on the idler/tension pulley.
    "We have to find someone who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner."

    Crooow:This music would work better with women in bikinis shaking all over the place. I guess that's true of any music really.
  • ricinusricinus Senior Member Posts: 6,214 Senior Member
    I had to double check, but with the ignition on but not running, the meter indicates battery. With motor running it indicates alternator..

    Mike
    My new goal in life is to become an Alter Kaker...
  • FishTXFishTX Super Moderator Posts: 8,077 Senior Member
    ricinus wrote: »
    I had to double check, but with the ignition on but not running, the meter indicates battery. With motor running it indicates alternator..

    Mike
    That's the meter in the dash, right?

    That was what I was thinking.
    "We have to find someone who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner."

    Crooow:This music would work better with women in bikinis shaking all over the place. I guess that's true of any music really.
  • BufordBuford Senior Member Posts: 2,974 Senior Member
    Hook them right up to the battery posts clamps. If your belt was slipping that much while driving it would burn up.
    Just look at the flowers Lizzie just look at the flowers.
  • FishTXFishTX Super Moderator Posts: 8,077 Senior Member
    Buford wrote: »
    If your belt was slipping that much while driving it would burn up.
    I'm sure the belt is o.k. It doesn't squeak. Looks and feels good. I replaced it when I replaced the tension pulley last year. I'll check with the meter in the morning after the battery has been charged enough to start.

    I also spun the alt. by hand, after the belt was removed. It does make a bit of noise, but turns smoothly and the shaft seems tight. The noise sounds like bearings that aren't lubed well.
    "We have to find someone who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner."

    Crooow:This music would work better with women in bikinis shaking all over the place. I guess that's true of any music really.
  • magallowaymagalloway Senior Member Posts: 1,030 Senior Member
    If this is your ranger you're talking about, the voltage regulator is built into the alternator. Head for a 'cheap' parts store and pick one up that suits your amperage needs--air conditioners, etc cause additional drain on the system. Clean your battery terminals and posts, and see if anyone can do a load check on the battery, just to make sure. Incidentally, don't plan to drive too far, 'cause you can damage the battery along with the bum alternator.

    Sometime I'll post the recent saga of my battery problems on the Highlander--it's a hairpuller.

    Jim
  • FishTXFishTX Super Moderator Posts: 8,077 Senior Member
    I'm not driving till the the new alternator is installed. Hopefully, the battery is not damaged already.
    "We have to find someone who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner."

    Crooow:This music would work better with women in bikinis shaking all over the place. I guess that's true of any music really.
  • jbillyjbilly Senior Member Posts: 5,336 Senior Member
    FishTX wrote: »
    I'm not driving till the the new alternator is installed. Hopefully, the battery is not damaged already.

    Did you ride in and pick up a new one?
  • fishingcomicfishingcomic Senior Member Posts: 24,419 Senior Member
    A couple of years ago I had to replace an alternator on Santa Monica Blvd on the side of the road. That sucked so bad.
    'I've spoken of the Shining City all my political life. …In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it, and see it still.'" Ronald Reagan
  • FishTXFishTX Super Moderator Posts: 8,077 Senior Member
    jbilly wrote: »
    Did you ride in and pick up a new one?

    No stores open around here on Sunday. Charged the battery partially and it is reading 11 or 12V. The display on analogue tester is hard to read on some scales.
    "We have to find someone who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner."

    Crooow:This music would work better with women in bikinis shaking all over the place. I guess that's true of any music really.
  • FishTXFishTX Super Moderator Posts: 8,077 Senior Member
    Ever wire the axle on a front wheel drive in place while on the side of a highway? FYI, this repair only lasts for a few miles before the friction of the axle cuts through the coat hanger. You couldn't do this with plastic coat hangers.
    "We have to find someone who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner."

    Crooow:This music would work better with women in bikinis shaking all over the place. I guess that's true of any music really.
  • jbillyjbilly Senior Member Posts: 5,336 Senior Member
    FishTX wrote: »
    No stores open around here on Sunday. Charged the battery partially and it is reading 11 or 12V. The display on analogue tester is hard to read on some scales.

    Next you are gonna say you can't buy booze on a Sunday either (but hey until a few years ago we couldn't here either, and car dealerships are still closed on Sundays).

    Hope on the full charge you can make it into the parts store ok.
  • FishTXFishTX Super Moderator Posts: 8,077 Senior Member
    Booze I can get, but that's only been available for about two years.
    "We have to find someone who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner."

    Crooow:This music would work better with women in bikinis shaking all over the place. I guess that's true of any music really.
  • FishTXFishTX Super Moderator Posts: 8,077 Senior Member
    jbilly wrote: »
    Hope on the full charge you can make it into the parts store ok.
    No way I'm taking a chance on getting stuck. I'm taking the bike. I'm trying to drop weight so I'll get some extra riding in.
    "We have to find someone who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner."

    Crooow:This music would work better with women in bikinis shaking all over the place. I guess that's true of any music really.
  • ricinusricinus Senior Member Posts: 6,214 Senior Member
    I think you should tow the Ranger behind the bike, you wuss..

    Mike
    My new goal in life is to become an Alter Kaker...
  • HextallHextall Senior Member Posts: 9,520 Senior Member
    Is the tire tread worn? Dig up Abe Lincoln and see how far his head extends into the tread. If it goes to his hairline you got another year on those tires.
  • ricinusricinus Senior Member Posts: 6,214 Senior Member
    Hextall wrote: »
    Is the tire tread worn? Dig up Abe Lincoln and see how far his head extends into the tread. If it goes to his hairline you got another year on those tires.

    Is this from a Subaru Manual??

    Mike
    My new goal in life is to become an Alter Kaker...
  • NZ IndicatorNZ Indicator Senior Member Posts: 10,246 Senior Member
    Doesn't matter if the alternator can be spun by hand, it's the brushes inside that keep the current flowing. They're metal & do wear out over time, as a friends Corvettes alternator did. Could jump start it but without the alternator producing current it would have to be jump started again. Charge the battery overnight & if the charge drops to where it won't start.........the alternator needs to be rebuilt or replaced.

    What does any of this have to do with the KKK church state cops burning the constitution?
  • George KGeorge K Super Moderator Posts: 10,048 Senior Member
    Hextall wrote: »
    Is the tire tread worn? Dig up Abe Lincoln and see how far his head extends into the tread. If it goes to his hairline you got another year on those tires.

    Seriously, that is outdated advice. Use George Washington as a gauge, not Abe. For real.
    Keep your stinkin' government hands off my Medicare.

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