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Old 04-06-2009, 12:01 PM   #1
Taking my Maxima to the Max!

 
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Battery keeps dying, why!?

After a couple years or more of sparse driving and much repair my Max is almost ready to become my Daily Driver again. I had a new red top Optima installed a year ago, but since then it has been drained and recharged 2 or 3 times and finally tests out as a bad battery. In the most recent test the alternator also comes up bad, showing only 11.4 volts with rpms around 3k-4k. I also have a Blehmco grounding kit installed.

The grommets from the brake pedal had broken so that is why the Optima was drained previous to this time. I installed new ones, it then was recharged and tested good. It sat for a while while I repaired my injectors. It then started up the car on a low charge. The alternator tested bad. I purchased a trickle charger and connected it to the battery connectors (not directly to the terminal) for around 24 hrs. Afterward it came up completely dead. The charger also showed signs of not working.

I finally purchased a new battery from Napa and installed it yesterday. It started up strong. I left it in overnight. Today the battery is completely dead. I am very confused!

Why does my battery keep dying. I can understand that if sitting for too long there is parasitic draw from different systems in the car that would slowly drain a fully charged battery over time. Also, with the Optima there may have been some problem with the battery that may have adversely affected the trickle charger and thus damaged it. But, why would the new battery drain over night? The alternator is supposed to recharge a battery while the engine is running, but if it is bad would it drain a good battery if the engine is not running?

Any insight? I can't afford to keep buying new batteries. I hope this battery is still good and just needs a recharge. Thanks in advance for any help.
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Old 04-06-2009, 12:06 PM   #2
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sounds like you have a power drain somewhere, something is using up electricity when your car s ff that shouldn't. ie: improperly installed amp+subs can drain the car battery as described, i don't know if your grounding kit could cause it?
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Old 04-06-2009, 12:10 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrkanda View Post
After a couple years or more of sparse driving and much repair my Max is almost ready to become my Daily Driver again. I had a new red top Optima installed a year ago, but since then it has been drained and recharged 2 or 3 times and finally tests out as a bad battery. In the most recent test the alternator also comes up bad, showing only 11.4 volts with rpms around 3k-4k. I also have a Blehmco grounding kit installed.

The grommets from the brake pedal had broken so that is why the Optima was drained previous to this time. I installed new ones, it then was recharged and tested good. It sat for a while while I repaired my injectors. It then started up the car on a low charge. The alternator tested bad. I purchased a trickle charger and connected it to the battery connectors (not directly to the terminal) for around 24 hrs. Afterward it came up completely dead. The charger also showed signs of not working.

I finally purchased a new battery from Napa and installed it yesterday. It started up strong. I left it in overnight. Today the battery is completely dead. I am very confused!

Why does my battery keep dying. I can understand that if sitting for too long there is parasitic draw from different systems in the car that would slowly drain a fully charged battery over time. Also, with the Optima there may have been some problem with the battery that may have adversely affected the trickle charger and thus damaged it. But, why would the new battery drain over night? The alternator is supposed to recharge a battery while the engine is running, but if it is bad would it drain a good battery if the engine is not running?

Any insight? I can't afford to keep buying new batteries. I hope this battery is still good and just needs a recharge. Thanks in advance for any help.
There's your trouble mang, the alty should be pumping out 14+ volts at 3k+ rpm..
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Old 04-06-2009, 12:22 PM   #4
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Did he replace the alty already or not? i was under the impression that one would replace the alternator if it is consistantly reading low like that. If you haven't replaced the alternator yet, do that first.
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Old 04-06-2009, 12:27 PM   #5
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Did he replace the alty already or not? i was under the impression that one would replace the alternator if it is consistantly reading low like that. If you haven't replaced the alternator yet, do that first.
Yup i agree with this guy, and if your alternator doing the same thing check the cable from the alternator to the battery excessive resistance etc.
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Old 04-06-2009, 12:54 PM   #6
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Did he replace the alty already or not? i was under the impression that one would replace the alternator if it is consistantly reading low like that. If you haven't replaced the alternator yet, do that first.
Like I said, I get a new battery yesterday and started the car with it no problem. I turned it off after less than a minute. The car sat over night and now the battery is dead. Why would a bad alty drain the battery when the car is off, especially fast enough to kill it overnight. By my understanding an alternator will kill a battery only by not recharging it over time and running the car will kill it. The car didn't run, it just sat overnight.
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Old 04-06-2009, 12:58 PM   #7
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Yes, sometimes an alty will fail and not only stop charging, but will also drain the battery...
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Old 04-06-2009, 02:34 PM   #8
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Yes, sometimes an alty will fail and not only stop charging, but will also drain the battery...
he's right because when the alternator is not putting out more volts than the battery the battery is supplying voltage to all accessories etc. and nothing charges it so it just dies
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Old 04-06-2009, 02:36 PM   #9
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Like I said, I get a new battery yesterday and started the car with it no problem. I turned it off after less than a minute. The car sat over night and now the battery is dead. Why would a bad alty drain the battery when the car is off, especially fast enough to kill it overnight. By my understanding an alternator will kill a battery only by not recharging it over time and running the car will kill it. The car didn't run, it just sat overnight.
So you need a new alty, and be sure to check that the ground(about 10 or 12 gauge black wire IIRC) coming off the alternator is clean+ secure as well as all other connections...
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Old 04-06-2009, 02:42 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by biggz2332 View Post
he's right because when the alternator is not putting out more volts than the battery the battery is supplying voltage to all accessories etc. and nothing charges it so it just dies
Even when the car is off?


Other question: Has anyone here had any luck using a used alternator from the junk yard? Reason I ask is I can get one for $15, or $20 with option to exchange. Other option is a rebuilt one from Advanced for about $90 with lifetime warranty, get my OEM alty rebuilt for about $110 (last time lasted for 7 years), or a new one from the dealer for $260.
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Old 04-06-2009, 02:58 PM   #11
2 VE's are better than one!

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrkanda View Post
Even when the car is off?

Other question: Has anyone here had any luck using a used alternator from the junk yard? Reason I ask is I can get one for $15, or $20 with option to exchange. Other option is a rebuilt one from Advanced for about $90 with lifetime warranty, get my OEM alty rebuilt for about $110 (last time lasted for 7 years), or a new one from the dealer for $260.
IMO you've probably got some other problem than just the alternator. Sounds like you have an actual power draw. For what it's worth, I had similar problems to you in my Civic for months and months. I went through several alternators and my battery actually tested "bad" - it got to the point where I was scared to drive it and get stranded.

It turned out the main power cable on the STARTER was loose and it was causing my problems all along.

All my alternators and starters for all of my cars for about 7-8 years now have been junkyard gems

Most junkyards allow exchanges (mine actually allows returns), so I get mine at the junkyard then hoard them (along with VE 5 transmissions for that matter ).
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Old 04-06-2009, 03:02 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrkanda View Post
Even when the car is off?


Other question: Has anyone here had any luck using a used alternator from the junk yard? Reason I ask is I can get one for $15, or $20 with option to exchange. Other option is a rebuilt one from Advanced for about $90 with lifetime warranty, get my OEM alty rebuilt for about $110 (last time lasted for 7 years), or a new one from the dealer for $260.
you gotta remember as the car starts the battery is the power source and u need something like 12.4v to give the starter enough amps 2 turn the starter and ur battery has drained under 12.4v since it wasnt being charged................ as far as gettin a alternator from the junk-yard just be ware of how many miles were on the car you took it from or you mite end up needing another one
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Old 04-06-2009, 03:13 PM   #13
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My alternator only charges 11v and my battery doesn't ever die so long as i dont leave any thing on with the car off..

Sounds more like you have a power wire that's been grounded somehow.
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Old 04-06-2009, 03:19 PM   #14
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you gotta remember as the car starts the battery is the power source and u need something like 12.4v to give the starter enough amps 2 turn the starter and ur battery has drained under 12.4v since it wasnt being charged................ as far as gettin a alternator from the junk-yard just be ware of how many miles were on the car you took it from or you mite end up needing another one
You actually only need around 10v to turn the starter.
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Old 04-06-2009, 03:19 PM   #15
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OK, thanks for advice. I will check all my power and ground wires to make sure they are clean, secure, and hooked up to the right place.

As for JY alternators, is there a way to test them or see if they are good other than the mileage on the car if the car can't be started?
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Old 04-06-2009, 03:25 PM   #16
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you can take it to advance and they can check it. if its bad you can always keep the receipt their handy machine prints out and return the alt.
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Old 04-06-2009, 03:57 PM   #17
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I think I know what your problem is! Well atleast it happened to me....Okay so there is this cable in your alternator right that has two wires and a small plug, and well if this plug is reversed the wrong way, it will drain your battery over night. Try checking if its that.
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Old 04-06-2009, 04:57 PM   #18
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You actually only need around 10v to turn the starter.
10v sometimes not everytime depends upon system but yea I agree bring it advance let em run tests
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Old 04-06-2009, 09:12 PM   #19
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Charge the battery, hook up an amp meter and start pulling fuses until the drain stops or is lowered. Check what's on that circuit. Your bad alternator is a likely source of bad diode, so current is flowing backwards. Have alternator/battery load tested at Autozone or your local parts store for free. You'll need a fully charged battery for a good test. I got my replacement rebuilt alternator on ebay 4 years ago (some Los Angeles, CA alternator shop for ~$50 including shipping (no core charge). The brackets connector on the alternator need to be grinded down to make it fit.
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Old 04-06-2009, 09:25 PM   #20
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I think I know what your problem is! Well atleast it happened to me....Okay so there is this cable in your alternator right that has two wires and a small plug, and well if this plug is reversed the wrong way, it will drain your battery over night. Try checking if its that.

I didnt even know it was possible to plug it in backwards lol..

At least on my car I'm pretty sure its not possible from the looks of the connector unless you force it or something..
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Old 04-07-2009, 09:58 PM   #21
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Well, good news is the new battery is still good, just a little low on juice. Overnight again on the trickle charger should fix that. Also, I took off the alternator and got it tested. It came back good, showing 14.5v. The bad thing is that I got another alternator from the JY for $27 that also tested good. I guess I'll have to keep it as a backup or exchange it for another part I need. They don't take returns.

The other bad thing is I still don't know why my battery is dying. It is possible that my ground wires were loose at the battery, but that should't drain it overnight. Looked at the connections from the positive cable to the starter and alternator, they look good. The jumper wires on the harness from the positive battery connector to the starter and to the larger relay box look a little dirty and one wire's housing is cracked, but I don't see any signs of fraying or loose connections.

I also don't see anywhere else in the car that is causing parasitic draw, so again I am confused. I'd rather not take it to the auto electrician guy and pay him $75/hr. to troubleshoot it. Any ideas?

I'll look at it again tomorrow.
-Goodnight
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Old 04-07-2009, 10:19 PM   #22
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Quote:
In the most recent test the alternator also comes up bad, showing only 11.4 volts with rpms around 3k-4k
So what changed to have the alternator now be ok in the latest test?

Until you are able to say with 100% confidence that the alternator is reliably producing 13.5V+ on the battery when the car is idling you will continue to try and murder the battery and will eventually succeed.
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Old 04-08-2009, 11:18 AM   #23
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If you alternator is not charging, your battery will go dead very soon. Output should be 13.5V at idle.
Buy a DC clamp on amp meter. About $100 at Sears -- not that good on 9V battery, but the cheapest one availble. Don't by AC only clamp amp meter.
Measure the current draw. Check each hot wire (+) until you find the piece that draining. From what you describe, current is leaking. Measure current at battery, say 2A. Disconnect all fuses from your box. Still 2A? if one drops the amp significant concentrate on that circuit and wires.

Not charging: bad alternator, bad connections (ground and hots). Old ones can look good but corrorded underneath the bolt. Disconnect battery, disassemble connection, sand, assemble and put dielectric grease on top to protect connections.

sounds like you have two or more problems. Also optima batteries are not a good replacement for lead acid batteries. Charging voltages are different.
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Old 04-08-2009, 12:04 PM   #24
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Also optima batteries are not a good replacement for lead acid batteries. Charging voltages are different.
Can you supply a factual reference for that statement?

In my experience Optimas are quite happy with normal +-14V charging regimes in production cars and the Optima specs I have seen confirms that
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Old 04-08-2009, 06:22 PM   #25
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Can you supply a factual reference for that statement?

In my experience Optimas are quite happy with normal +-14V charging regimes in production cars and the Optima specs I have seen confirms that
Most Lead Acid charge at about half volt lower than Optima, 13.3-13.5V vs. 14 volts. I think one American company has a lead system (Delco?) that is at the same voltage at the Optima. There a post on how to raise the voltage on the 13.5V regulator by installing an extra diode, but it might be on the merecedes web site. Many people still prefer the lead acid battery to Optima. 14V can overcharge a regular lead acid battery.
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Old 04-08-2009, 08:20 PM   #26
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... My alty recharges consistently around 13.9V - 15V while running at normal highway speeds... your typical battery needs to be in the 14V range to have a full charge up to 12V... there has to be more voltage for a battery to recharge... 12V will barely charge 12V... a strong outputting alty will get to above that mark...
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Old 04-08-2009, 08:22 PM   #27
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Most Lead Acid charge at about half volt lower than Optima, 13.3-13.5V vs. 14 volts. I think one American company has a lead system (Delco?) that is at the same voltage at the Optima. There a post on how to raise the voltage on the 13.5V regulator by installing an extra diode, but it might be on the merecedes web site. Many people still prefer the lead acid battery to Optima. 14V can overcharge a regular lead acid battery.
Well - simply talking about fitting an Optima on a vehicle iso a std lead-acid battery can have no detrimental effect on either imo

http://www.optima-batterien.eu/optim...cal-specs.html

The Optimas can withstand "abuse" better when looking at comparative specs of std lead-acid batteries, but I don't see any reason at all to conclude "sounds like you have two or more problems."
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Old 04-08-2009, 10:44 PM   #28
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At least 2 problems:
1. Alternator only putting out 11 V, should be at least 12.2 V with high load and 13.2-13.5 at idle with low load.
2. Charged battery is dead after a day without driving. Too large of parasitic drain. Guest at 3-5A drain. Light in truck is stuck on, antenna motor stuck, bad electronics? 3-5A should be easy to pick up on DC clamp meter and you don't have to break wires to measure it. I once has a rear light stuck on that would drain the battery overnight.
3. Possible bad ground or hot from regulator. Starter needs more juice with bad connections. Voltage can be jumpy with bad connection and may get feed back an damage electronic. Battery acts as a capacitor to buffer the voltage.
4. Battery Alternator test will indicate if the alternator is charging properly. Or put V meter on battery, start car voltage should drop not go below 9V during the crank? Then go quickly to 12.2 V or more when engine is running. Turn on head lights, voltage should stay above 12V at idle. 13V at 2000 rpm.
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Old 04-09-2009, 09:12 AM   #29
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The other bad thing is I still don't know why my battery is dying. It is possible that my ground wires were loose at the battery, but that should't drain it overnight.
Like I said, my problem turned out to be just a loose cable. A loose wire shouldn't "drain" the battery, but it certainly could make it appear the battery is drained and would cause the weak reading on the in-car battery/alternator test.

Think about it, cable is loose. You jumpstart/charge the battery (thus shaking/slightly moving the loose connection), the car starts. Cable moves a little bit again, car then won't start next time.

The fact that your alternator tested good OUTSIDE of the car indicates its an issue between your battery, starter, and alternator, and that is most likely a loose connection unless you'd done a bunch of new wiring work in the meantime. If you hadn't done a bunch of wiring work there's no reason a new random power draw should occur.

My alternator kept testing good and being hardheaded I kept replacing it anyway, and of course that didn't turn out to be the problem.

I say follow all your power and ground wires between the starter, alternator, and battery and check/tighten each one. Maybe re-install your ground kit. Then charge the battery and start it/let it run (maybe even drive it) for a while to let the alternator really do its job. Wouldn't be surprised if all is well after that
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Old 04-11-2009, 01:22 PM   #30
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Just make sure your batery cable is tight on the terminal ... i had a si,ilar problem where i would drive somewhere and when i got in the car to return ... i would turn the key and the car and no power ... pops the hood and my battery cable was loose on the terminal
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Old 04-13-2009, 08:59 PM   #31
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OK, so I finally reinstalled the alternator in the car along with the new recharged battery. I made sure that the cables were all securely fastened and dielectric grease was used at all the contact points between the alternator and battery. I also checked the starter and solenoid and found those connections were clean and tight. The car started right up but continues to have some juttering hesitation. I'm not sure if it's electrical or mechanical. I just tuned up the car and adjusted the timing. There is still some fluctuation in the throttle when I initially accelerate and some of the instruments and lights brighten and dim with the rise and fall of the throttle.

The alternator, which tested good at Advanced a week ago or so (~14.5 volts), is now testing at 16-17.5 volts on the car. The guy from Autozone who just tested it said he thinks it could be the voltage regulator that is bad inside the alternator and that is what could be killing my batteries. I think he may be right, but I don't know why the same alternator would have tested at 14.5 volts while on the bench and suddenly be jumping up 2-3 volts while on the car. Maybe their bench tests don't test the voltage regulator?

Also, I think the parasitic draw that killed my new battery the first day I installed it has something to do with a relay near the fuse box under the drivers side dash. I noticed it before but finally made the connection this afternoon when I installed the recharged battery and heard the intermittent clicking coming from under the dash that it could be draining power. I still don't know which relay was clicking. I felt the most vibration on the lower two blue relays to the right of the fuses at 8 second intervals. After I jiggled them around a bit and pressed them in the clicking stopped. So, if that was the drain source I hope it has stopped.

There was also one jumper wire coming off the power/positive cable at the battery that had a split in the wire jacket. I taped the hell out of it with electrical tape and cleaned up the connectors, so hopefully that will avoid any power drain.

So, my current problem seems to be locating the source of the over charging and fixing that. If it is a problem with the voltage regulator inside my current alternator I may just install the JY alternator I got and see if that fixes it. It also tested good at Advanced with 14.5 volts, but so did my current one. The JY alty came from a car that had over 200k miles though and is pretty gunked up with oil/grease so I don't know its longevity. Is there a way to clean them without damaging the electronics? Anyway, I am waiting to hear what you all think.

Thanks,
Mark
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Old 04-13-2009, 09:14 PM   #32
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some heavy duty degreaser, followed by a good rinse with a hose, then wd-40, and a day or two to air dry, I believe that should clean the older alty.
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Old 04-13-2009, 09:16 PM   #33
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That +-17V will undoubtedly boil and kill the battery (and headlights etc) ............ and yes it is the voltage regulator if all the alternator connections are fine and clean.

You need an alternator that outputs around 13.5V at 3000rpm with the headlights and aircon on. At idle that same alternator should be able to supply around 13V under the same conditions ................ in both cases with an initially properly charged battery.

That oily alternator will survive a proper degreasing and wash with hot water - eg a steam cleaner. Take a nozzle with compressed air to the cleaned item and have it sit in the sun for a day after you got all the water out/off of it ................... these things often get wet during normal use on a car.
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Old 04-14-2009, 05:18 PM   #34
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In the original post --

"The grommets from the brake pedal had broken..."

What does this mean? How does it affect battery problems?

I am working through the same kind of problem myself. Any clue will help.
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Old 04-14-2009, 08:14 PM   #35
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The brake pedal hangs lower [best way I can think to describe it] and puts the brake lights on, which then drains the battery.

You sure this isn't still happening to you mrkanda? The relay clicking might could be the shiftlock perhaps?
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Old 04-16-2009, 02:50 PM   #36
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When the car is asleep (I hope) and the hood sensor is taped soundly into the closed position, here are the fuse locations that still have current:

BATTERY IGN -- 4.20 TO 5.50 mA

ECCS 2 -- .59 mA

BCM -- 38.7 mA

ALT.S -- CHIRPED AND BLEW FUSE ON MULTIMETER !!
12 V SHOWS IN VOLTAGE MODE

Over the last few months the car has been to a local garage and to the Nissan Dealer. I wonder if it's possible that they fiddled with the harness in some way looking for one current leak and manufacturing another.


By the way, I was going to test the relays, but can't seem to pull them from the Relay box. Even using pliers to depress what appear to be the locking tabs, I pulled them mighty hard with no release; worried that if I pull too hard they might break or wreck their socket. Any advice?


Any help would be appreciated. I am going to drop this note in a couple of other related threads, just in case.
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Old 04-16-2009, 09:40 PM   #37
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The brake pedal hangs lower [best way I can think to describe it] and puts the brake lights on, which then drains the battery.

You sure this isn't still happening to you mrkanda? The relay clicking might could be the shiftlock perhaps?
Your description of the brake pedal hanging lower is not really what happened with my car. The two rubber grommets that fit into the two holes at the top of the brake pedal arm dry rotted and fell out. Therefore the two switches that are supposed to depress by being pushed by these two grommets so that the brake lights will turn off were left on, and the brake lights drained the battery. I replaced the grommets and recharged the battery, and that seemed to make it OK for a while. Now, I have replaced that battery and the only thing that seems to be faulty right now is the alternator putting out too many volts. I am addressing the problem currently by only running the car with all the accessories, lights, and stereo running and only for short distances until I get the other alternator cleaned and installed.

BenStoked- You mentioned WD-40 to be used on the new alternator after it is washed. What do you mean by that? Why and where would I apply it? Thanks.
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Old 04-23-2009, 08:48 AM   #38
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Well, I finally swapped out my old alternator with the "new" one from the JY. The old one had been putting out too high voltage but as of recently showed that it stopped putting out anything. The battery light came on the other day and when I tested the battery with the car off and running with my multitester it came up both times with 12.3 volts, so the old one is officially dead.

Now, with the JY alternator cleaned up and installed the running voltage is showing around 14.5 volts with no accessories running and doesn't go above that. I think that means it's good The only problem now seems to be that it is running pretty loud. I don't know if my washing and de-greasing it caused some problem but it is making a loud scraping noise while it is running, almost like worn out bushings or something like that. Is there some way to lubricate the alternator? Do I have to open it up to lube it or do bushings have to be replaced? The old one didn't make that noise, so maybe there is something from there I can swap to make the new one quiet. I don't want it to overheat from friction and fail. What do you guys think?

Thanks.
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Old 04-23-2009, 08:51 AM   #39
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The bearing/s are bad in the j-yard alty, been there, done that also..

It should get you around for a while until you pop for a new/reman alty..
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Old 04-23-2009, 08:57 AM   #40
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The bearing/s are bad in the j-yard alty, been there, done that also..

It should get you around for a while until you pop for a new/reman alty..
I normally do the bearings myself if its ok electrically, but if you dont have the tools or the inclination then its probably best to suffer the noise or replace with a guaranteed rebuilt/new unit - I would say your 14,5 V alty is electrically still usable for quite a while

No lubrication is possible because the 2 bearings are of a sealed design - ie - you cannot get oil in there even if you could reach them without stripping the whole thing and if you wanted to
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Old 04-23-2009, 08:57 AM
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