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Electronic Gremlins - Electrical Problems That Are Driving You Crazy



  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    Go have your alternator checked.

    Any auto parts chain will check both your alternator and battery under load, a free test. (autozone, pepboys, etc).
  • jmaxejmaxe Posts: 198
    My 04 Accord was dead this morning (1 yr old battery) and I mean dead, no panel lights, starter click...nothing. So I jumped it and started off to work. I noticed that whenever I turned on the headlights the engine seemed to cut out for just an instant. The car actually bucked a little as well. Radio or a/c did not produce a similar effect. Where do I start looking for the problem?
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    Take it to an autoparts chain, and have them do a free alternator and battery load test on the vehicle.

    - You could have a bad battery
    - You could have a bad alternator
    - You could have loose and/or corroded cable connections
    - You could have left something on (or something is defective which didn't turn itself off), which drained down your battery to nothing
    - Some combination of the above.

    The lights draw substantially more current than the other items. I suspect you have a VERY bad battery, or a couple diodes in your alternator are out and it's not able to produce enough current to charge up your battery or drive the lights.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 61,387
    Your battery. Your alternator cannot fully charge a battery that quickly, so you are running on low voltage. This affects computer management.

    You should have the battery charged, otherwise you might overstress your alternator and then you'll have TWO problems.

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  • Hey first I want to let all you guys know I have worked in maintenance the past year. What I've learned in the past year is ALL I know about maintenance. It's general maintenance so I dont know all of the technical car terms. I appreciate any help you can give me also. I will try to be as descriptive as possible.

    I killed my battery by leaving my lights on overnight. When I attempted to jump my car from my girlfriend's car battery I accidently switched the cables and connected them in reverse. I successfully started the car (by connecting the cables correctly). When I removed the cables from the battery the car stalled immediately. I was told by several people to replace my alternator. I replaced my alternator. After replacing the alternator and jumping the car again the car does not stall after removing the cables but idles very low. The problem now is that when I press the break pedal to put it into gear the car stalls.

    I did not change anything except the negative battery terminal. I replaced it because it was rusted and broke off during the alternator changing process. The grounding block and negative cable are both connected to the new main terminal connection of the negative battery terminal. I made sure to connect the electrical wires securely to the new alternator also.

    I should also add that I took my battery to both Advanced Auto and Autozone to be tested. Advanced Auto's machine did not say bad but said "replace battery" indicating to me that the battery is bad. Autozone's said "good battery". I was ready to replace the battery until I saw that. I would prefer to save money if it is not the battery.

    Once again I appreciate any advice given.
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    Do you have a digital voltmeter you can put on the battery to understand how much voltage it is putting out? You can pick one up relatively cheaply at Radio Shack or even some auto parts chains, and you should have approx 13.5-14.0 volts.
  • bolivarbolivar Posts: 2,316
    If the engine is not running and the alternator is not charging the battery, a nicely charged battery will read 12.6 volts.

    With the motor running and alternator correctly charging the battery, you should see something like 13 to 15 volts.

    Back to your problem. If you incorrectly connected the jumper cables, you might have done all kind of things in addition to harming the alternator.

    You might have also melted a fusible link somewhere close to the battery. Or burned up who knows what computer - more than one if your car has more than one.
  • Does anyone know where this fuseable link might be located. It's a 98 Ford Escort. I've looked all around the battery. I was told it looks like a giant fuse with a clear cover.
  • jmaxejmaxe Posts: 198
    Thanks it was the battery, a dead cell they said even though only two years into an 84-month battery. I only seem to get about two+ years out of a battery in this Tx heat regardless of what battery I buy.
  • burdawgburdawg Posts: 1,524
    That's standard for lead acid liquid batteries. It's the same in Arizona if not worse. The heat is really hard on them. You could go to a gel battery, they do better in the heat, but with the initial cost being 2 x 3 times a standard lead acid battery you don't really save any money. My solution is not to spend a lot of money on them, buy the 30 month batteries at Walmart or Costco. Spend a little money on a simple battery load tester and test it from time to time to monitor it's condition. You'll know about when it's ready to be replaced by the test results.
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    I don't know where it is for an Escort, but follow the leads from the + Battery. You'll find a large thick wire going down to the starter, but at some point you'll find a wire which feeds the main power buss of the car. Would be protected some how, perhaps in a black plastic case.
  • I just want to say thank you all for your ideas and help :) I guess it ended up being a wire that was hanging down and when I would go over bumps it was rubbing on something that made it hot and melted it creating the short! So thanks ev1!!
  • pat13151pat13151 Posts: 10
    I have a 2001 Chrysler Voyager. 6 months ago my drivers side window started working slow then quit. Tried a new master switch it didn't work the drivers window either. Spent 100.00 to have it diagnosed and was told it was the motor. Couldn't afford a new one so drove with the window up argggg!!!!!! Recently the power door locks started working intermittently and now the rear vent windows and passenger window too. Was told it could be the power window relay but I don't know where it's hidden. I'm on a fixed income and have very little money add to that the fact that I'm a woman and you can see the problem. Some mechanics will tell you anything and take your money figuring you're a woman and won't know any better so it's hard to find one you can trust. Does anyone know where the window relay is hidden? it's not in the fuse box under the hood. Also could it be a short? Help!!! I'm getting ready to beat my head against the :sick:
  • I had the same problem with my park ave. I went through everything, fuses, door module, window motors, etc. It ended up being a pin hole in a electrical wire that had finally rusted through..... In the Park Ave, the wire was under the windshield washer fluid container.. The wire was not in a harness. It just ran along the fender wall. Maybe this will help????
  • pat13151pat13151 Posts: 10
    update! went to an auto repair shop supposed to specialize in electrical problems with a BBB listing. The mechanic I talked to could not grasp the fact that when the passenger window doesn't work neither do the auto door locks (they lock when you hit a certain speed), the door lock button or the vent windows and the door ajar buzzer. When one works they all work. He started going on about how he could replace both window motors and the vent motors and that the locks would be another repair. He insisted it couldn't be a short or bad wire because none of my fuses were blown and insisted it couldn't be the window relay (wherever they hid that). He treated me like I was an idiot for thinking they could all be connected somehow. When the window works it works fine and so do the vents etc, If the motors were bad then I don't see how they could work fine sometimes and not others. :mad: this is me screaming
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    You need to find someone who has electrical schematics for your vehicle (and knows how to use them).

    I don't have your schematics, so can't help you. But I'd be looking at the power feed to those devices, you may have a relay with some burnt points creating a resistance and dropping the voltage. This voltage could be checked with a digital voltmeter. Many vehicles also have a small computer or part of the body control which also is involved, for instance, automatically locking the doors when your vehicle exceeds 10mph, or opening the door locks when you put it in park. Remote start controls, can also control windows.
  • pat13151pat13151 Posts: 10
    Thanks for answering. I don't have remote start on my van or the remote to unlock the doors. I looked in the chilton repair manual for my van but I didn't find anything telling me where the relay for the windows is, someone said maybe under the dash somewhere.Unfortunately I'm a 57 year old woman who while I am handy I am not an auto mechanic. As you can see from my previous posts I'm not having much luck finding a qualified mechanic and I can't afford to take it to the dealership as they are way out of my budget. So far I've spent 200.00 and gotten nowhere. The last guy told me he could replace all the window motors and fix the door locks for around 3000.00 as they were all separate issues. I know this can't possibly be true as when they work they all work. He was the fifth supposedly certified mechanic I've talked to. It really frustrates me that that all these guys want to do is treat me like I'm stupid and take my money. If I had 3000.00 Id take it to the dealership.
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    online manual?

    I just did a quick internet search for Voyager service manual, and came across these guys. Personally, I have never used them so don't know that their manuals get down to the electrical schematic level that you need. I've used HelmInc for online manuals successfully in the past, but they don't carry Plymouth manuals.

    You want to find a set of manuals which gets you to a level of detail like this posting I have on my carspace that I did for someone else where I had the manuals, and was able to mark it up for them. Normally you'll only find black and white. Hayes and Chilton normally don't get down to that level of detail, you typically need some sort of factory service manuals which also need electrical schematics.
  • pat13151pat13151 Posts: 10
    Thanks so much I couldn't find that info in the chilton or hayes manuals for my van. I'm printing all the info I can find that seems relevant. It did tell me where the window relay and fuses are. I wish I was sure what I needed from the site I paid 13.00 and I get to use it for a month. I wish you could look through the info for my van and tell me what I should be printing. Once I have the info I just have to find someone who will know how to use it without trying to charge me thousands of dollars. :confuse:
  • pat13151pat13151 Posts: 10
    I was just wondering, if you had the time you could e-mail me and i could give you the log in info so you could look through the info on that site for me and maybe figure out what i really need. As I said I'm not a mechanic so I'm not sure how much or what info I really need. I printed everything I found on the windows and the wiring diagrams I don't think I can print the whole thing as I'm sure I'll run out of ink and paper..
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    Try sending to [email protected]
  • lammy2lammy2 Posts: 2
    If I move the hazard switch on my 99 yukon xl, the brake lights may or may not work. I have to keep a piece of paper next to the switch for them to work properly. I hear clicking noise if I move it also. The other day I shut off the engine and removed my key and there were several clicking noises and then one louder one. Could this be a wire in column shorting out or something more like a main fuse in the box under the hood? I have not taken it in to dealer yet because of the price. Hoping to find some answers here. Thank you.
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    Doesn't that sound like a bad hazard switch? Where you have to keep a sideways pressure on it for the connectors to make the right contact?
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    I didn't receive any mail from you, so don't know whether you haven't sent it yet....or my email at edmunds carspace isn't working correctly.

    Can you let me know if you tried to send...thanks.
  • pat13151pat13151 Posts: 10
    sent you an e-mail at your carspace address guess you didn't get it. if you can e-mail me at [email protected] I'll reply to you with the log in info for the site you gave me and you can look through the wiring and window info. I am not sure what all I need. this is the link to the log in page
  • oregonboyoregonboy Posts: 1,653
    A lady-friend of mine has a mid-to-late 90s Lexus GS300, (I think that is the model: 6-cyl. RWD), that was exhibiting strange behavior. She took it to the dealer, who informed her that a rodent had been dining on the main cable runs between the transmission and the engine. (Perhaps the engine control computer. I got this all second-hand, over the phone, while she was driving.... Yeah, I know, stereotypical female Lexus owner).

    The Lexus dealer will replace the cable for $4,000 plus $1,400 in labor. I guess it must be made with gold wire. :sick:

    She then took it to an independent shop that works on Lexus and asked if the cable could be repaired. They suggested that she try an "electrical shop", but that there may be a risk of damaging the tranny.

    She is located in the Seattle-Tacoma area, so there should be lots of "resources" available to her.

    Thoughts, ideas, suggestions?

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 61,387
    Well a shop specializing in Japanese cars might tackle it but it's a rather scary job for a mechanic, since one could end up being "married" to the car for life. This is why jobs like this are usually overbid. Combacks are almost expected. The dealer is obviously going to replace the entire sub-harness and not mess around with any splicing or repairs; whereas an indie shop might take a chance on repairing only what the alleged rodent chewed through, with the understanding that there are no guarantees.

    Another issue is electrical fire and the liabilities that go with that. So the dealer is playing it safe by repairing the entire subharness, from one connector to the next. This is no doubt a tedious job in itself and I would imagine the harness is not cheap and must be special ordered.

    You can shop it around but be careful what you wish for, you may get it.

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  • HAVE AN 01 CREW CAB TRUCK 6.0 ENGINE IT MISSES AND STALLS AND IS HARD TO START WHEN IT DOES THIS (sorry about the caps) the temp guage goes crazy from 0 to 260 the truck has never over heated have put a new ignition switch have put in new crank and cam sensor it still won't run and keeps going dead. It has new wires and plugs and we put a new fuel pump in it in March of this year so I don't think it is that. Please hope someone can give me some help have had it on a scanner and it shows no codes that will not help thanks again sam 110
  • 2000 Nissan Quest . My driver side headlight isn't working. IT'S NOT THE LAMP/BULB. I've checked the underhood relays and all the fuses. The high beams work, but I've noticed that when I move the switch stem around, there's a crackling sound coming from behind the CD changer (near the floorboard behind the middle of the dash). Anybody familiar with this? Is it more likely the high beam switch or whatever's making the noise in the dash? Thanks!!
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    I think you're going to need to find/buy/subscribe to a set of factory electrical schematics. Typically in that circuit on that car is the stalk switch, a set of relays, a set of DRL (daytime running light, if your vehicle has them) relays, and sometimes a computer control like body control module.....and of course the bulbs.

    You might try, sometimes they have downloadable manuals.

    If you can find a set of electrical schematics in electronic format, I'll help you with the trouble shooting if you need/want.
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