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Discussion Starter #81
And when you test the post on the alt to the alt housing you are getting 14ish volts when the car it running and the clip is plugged into the alternator?
Yes, between 14.5-15.
(+) test lead -> (+) battery & (-) test lead -> alt housing: 11.3v = bad positive
(+) test lead -> (+) alt post & (-) test lead -> (-) battery: 5.6v = bad ground
Is there a possibility both are damaged somehow? I can try to clean the starter contacts as well. Is that something that could potentially cause such a bizarre mismatch?
 

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There shouldn't be an odd mismatch when going from the alt post to the neg bat terminal. It should be reading the same as what you get when you go from the alt post to the alt housing. You should probably recheck the battery to alt readings with the negative test lead to the negative on the battery and the positive to the post on the alt. You could have has some kind of a connection issue with the meter.

I am suspecting there is an issue with the wire going from the alternator to the starter or it's a connection issue at the starter. If there is 14+ volts when going from the alt post to the neg bat terminal this will confirm my suspicions. Then I will tell you that you have to do the ball busting job of getting to those connections at the starter to inspect and clean them,.
 

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Do you have anything plugged into the ALDL/DLC connector when you're having the malfunction?. Many of those devices can cause problems similar to what you're seeing (independent of the voltage readings you're currently working through). If you have a BT diagnostic device, HUD, or other computer, unplug it from the DLC. Even if it had not been causing problems previously, it could be causing them now...
 

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Discussion Starter #84
There shouldn't be an odd mismatch when going from the alt post to the neg bat terminal. It should be reading the same as what you get when you go from the alt post to the alt housing. You should probably recheck the battery to alt readings with the negative test lead to the negative on the battery and the positive to the post on the alt. You could have has some kind of a connection issue with the meter.

I am suspecting there is an issue with the wire going from the alternator to the starter or it's a connection issue at the starter. If there is 14+ volts when going from the alt post to the neg bat terminal this will confirm my suspicions. Then I will tell you that you have to do the ball busting job of getting to those connections at the starter to inspect and clean them,.
The multimeter was connected nicely as I had a second pair of hands to assist in holding the other lead in place. I can measure again FWIW but I'm confident it was securely connected.

Do you have anything plugged into the ALDL/DLC connector when you're having the malfunction?. Many of those devices can cause problems similar to what you're seeing (independent of the voltage readings you're currently working through). If you have a BT diagnostic device, HUD, or other computer, unplug it from the DLC. Even if it had not been causing problems previously, it could be causing them now...
Nope, nothing is connected to the OBD port. I had a BT scanner connected for 5 minutes to scan the car once, and then another time while driving to read voltages, but it has only been in place those two times and I've never encountered any issues while it was plugged in. Thank you for an idea tho!
 

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That kind of an issue with the DLC connector would cause a lot of seemingly unconnected/related problems. Or it could cause the vehicle not to start as in no cranking at all and the security light would flash if this happens.

The issues the OP is having is a power related problem. Have to work the problem backwards one step at a time until the cause is found. New information becomes available as this process takes place. In this cause in the beginning of the topic there was no mention of undoing anything at the starter. after many posts this information because available. Because of the location of the wiring I want to make sure 100% that the problem is not else where before having the OP investigate the wiring at the starter.
 

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I would rather you check the voltage again instead of going after the connections at the starter. If it is not the wiring at the starter then you just did a mess of work that didn't need to be done.It is something that is easily verified and worth the time to double check it.

If you can get a hand on the post you can remove the screwdriver from the connection equation and wrap a wire around the post. it is threaded and if wrapped good it will not come off and it will make a better connection Then take the other end of the wire strip it back long enough to fold the stripped portion over it's self. stick it in the hole on your meter where the positive test lead comes from. This removes 2 places where the connection for testing could be questioned. The screwdriver touching the post and the test lead touching the screwdriver. You want the voltage to remain pretty stable for at least 10 seconds to be considered a valid test. If the voltage changes more then 0.2 volts during the test then you have a connection issue between the meter and the vehicle.
 

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Discussion Starter #87
Okay, well I'm glad I tested it a second time. I did the same test that yielded 5.6v before and now got 14.5v - I didn't change anything between these two, but both last time and this time I moved both leads around their connection points to ensure that the reading wasn't fluctuating, Regardless of how I was measuring, I was still seeing the same voltage.
 

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Discussion Starter #88
If you can get a hand on the post you can remove the screwdriver from the connection equation and wrap a wire around the post. it is threaded and if wrapped good it will not come off and it will make a better connection Then take the other end of the wire strip it back long enough to fold the stripped portion over it's self. stick it in the hole on your meter where the positive test lead comes from. This removes 2 places where the connection for testing could be questioned. The screwdriver touching the post and the test lead touching the screwdriver. You want the voltage to remain pretty stable for at least 10 seconds to be considered a valid test. If the voltage changes more then 0.2 volts during the test then you have a connection issue between the meter and the vehicle.
My multimeter leads are long enough that I didn't need an additional wire taped on in order to measure. That wouldn't be making a difference though, would it?
 

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No that wouldn't make a difference. if they were long enough then that is much better.


Now I am going to tell you to pull the alternator and get to that starter wiring. It needs to be inspected and also cleaned. I am pretty confident in there being a connection problem between the starter and the alternator. We want to verify the wire as well. are you familiar with a continuity test? It is going to be a setting on your meter. if you have a rotating knob on your meter it is usually all the way to the right but not always. The symbol will look like this.

112092



If you do not have that then you can also use the setting that looks like this.
112093


Once you have the wiring disconnected at the starter you will put one test lead on the terminal ring at the alternator and the other test lead on the terminal ring at the starter (smaller wire of the 2 on the top post). You meter should 0 or close to 0. If you have the continuity test your meter may beep.

Let me know what the reading is. and do your absolute best to wire brush the connections and also the posts on the starter and the nuts. do both the top post and wires and also the one that's at 3:00 and it's terminals. We need to verify the condition of the fusible link Because of the issues with the battery it could have caused a current draw spike and burnt up the link. That is what it is there for. If the link ends up being no good DO NOT use the new battery anymore. there is a problem with the new battery if the link is blown, this would be 100%. Unless you want to have to take everything apart again to replace another blown link when it occurs don' t use the new battery if the link needs to be replaced.

MAKE SURE YOU DISCONNECT BOTH THE POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE BATTERY TERMINALS BEFORE REMOVING THE ALTERNATOR. and keep them disconnected until everythign is put back together. make sure they cannot move and accidentally hit one of the posts on the battery when working on the car. I usually will cover the posts with electrical tape to make sure. It is not pretty if a short happens, I have seen it happen and cook every single piece of electronics in a car.

I know this is taking a long time to get sorted out for ya. It's hard doing this over a forum. It would have been a 10 minute deal to discover where the problem was if the car was in front of me.. I want to thank you for being so patient during this time. It is really helpful. I am also doing to utmost best to explain everything in a manner that you will understand what to do and hopefully understand why it is being done.

I am not a parts swapper mechanic. I do my best to trouble shoot and verify and replace the right part the first time if one is needed. I check and then I check again as a sanity thing.
 

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I also wanted to explain something to you as well I know there is a connection problem because of the 14.5 volt reading. The voltage being at 14.5 means there is 0 load on the alternator, no current being drawn from it. Once a load is placed on the alternator the voltage will drop. Under normal conditions with a charged battery right after the car is started the voltage should read between 13.2 and 13.8 volts (typical). if the battery is close to being unable to start the car the voltage may be lower after it starts because the battery is pulling more current to charge it. so 14.5 at the post means the alternator is working but there is no current being drawn from it.
 

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Discussion Starter #91
I also wanted to explain something to you as well I know there is a connection problem because of the 14.5 volt reading. The voltage being at 14.5 means there is 0 load on the alternator, no current being drawn from it. Once a load is placed on the alternator the voltage will drop. Under normal conditions with a charged battery right after the car is started the voltage should read between 13.2 and 13.8 volts (typical). if the battery is close to being unable to start the car the voltage may be lower after it starts because the battery is pulling more current to charge it. so 14.5 at the post means the alternator is working but there is no current being drawn from it.
I am familiar with continuity testing, and my multimeter has it. I'll get those results in a second. So it sounds like once I have fixed whatever the issue is, the voltage measured at the alternator should be less than 14.5 but higher than 12, and that'll be the confirmation that the entire issue is solved (hopefully xD)? I'm just hoping that once I've done whatever it was that needed to be fixed, I have some sort of indication that it is indeed fixed so the engine doesn't sputter out in the middle of the road again haha.
And I have absolutely no problem being patient here. You're not the one who should be thanking me, thank YOU!!! This is my only car and I'm more than happy to put in as much time as it takes to get it back in to running and driving condition again. Hopefully this whole discussion will help others troubleshoot in the future too and not just me.
 

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Discussion Starter #92
Is the different readings - 5.6 to 14.5v - in the exact same spots, measured in the exact same way, 100% because I was reading something wrong? Or is it possibly indicative of another issue - one that might cause the car to run and drive fine for months, then have problems for weeks, then drive fine again, with seemingly no cause?
 

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Discussion Starter #93 (Edited)
do both the top post and wires and also the one that's at 3:00 and it's terminals.
The one at 3 o'clock is the purple one, which according to the schematic connects to the normally open crank relay, so wouldn't there be no continuity here?

EDIT: Removing the alternator doesn't seem like it would expose the starter or its contacts anymore as the intake manifold sits between them and remains entirely in the way. I can get my fingers in there, but not wrenches to get those damn bolts off.
Another edit: The starter grounds to the transmission which grounds to the engine by way of the bellhousing, right? Just wanna make sure there's no transmission (standard trans) ground that the starter needs to function that I'm missing or anything.
 

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Yes the starter is grounded to the transmission

You would need to have a ratchet and some extensions to get the bolts for the starter once the alternator is removed you should be able to get to it from where the alternator was. You will not have the gift of sight then you do this. You will have to do it by feel. The intake should not be in the way. It is going to be a real bitch to clean the contacts because of the small area. You are probably better off using a piece of sand paper to clean the terminals on the wires.

There is going to definitely be an indication that it is all fixed. when you use your meter and go across the batter when the car is running it should read between 13 and 14 volts, right now it is reading 11 and change. in order to be charging the battery the voltage from the car needs to be higher then what the voltage is on the battery. right now car running or car off the voltages at the battery are close to being the same + 0.2 volts is not enough . there should be at least a 1 volt difference. Also when the car is running the measurement from the alt to the alt housing should be the same as the measurement across the battery when the car is running.

It doesn't matter how you get to those starter bolts, you just have to do it. Taking the intake manifold off is no small task and there are gaskets involved. something happens to one of those gaskets you are going to be out of a car for a few days, chances are the local parts store is not going to have it in stock and there is also a high chance of it being special order which could leave you without a car for up to 2 weeks. As much of a bitch as it is going to be you should do your best to get in there without taking the intake off.
 

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No test is needed on the purple wire, you car starts fine and that is what that wire does. It tells the starter to crank. You do not need to check the large wire on the top post either. this is the main power for the starter and does to your battery. You car does start so that's not an issue. The problem is with wire that connects the alt to the starter. The problem can be at either end of the wire so don't forget to give the end at the alternator a good buff shine also.
 

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You got the different readings because the meter wasn't making a good connection, that is the only reason why you had the 5.6 volts. Seeing the 14.5 during that test verifies that the grounds are good. and when you tested from positive battery to alt housing and got the 11ish volts that indicates a problem with the positive wire. when you put the 2 results together you get the answer of.. ground is good and positive isn't so the problem has to be in the positive circuit.


Make sense now?
 

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Discussion Starter #97
Gotcha. So I'm in the process of trying to get the starter wires off. Alternator has been removed. The starter post with 2 wires going to it: the bigger, battery-bound wire came off the post easily, but the one beneath it legit seems like it's welded in place. I know I'm on the right wire, as I can see the ring and wire soldered onto it, but it won't budge, whether I try to pry it off with a screwdriver, wrap something around it and pull, use my fingers, whatever. I can't get it to come off the post. Trying creative ways right now.
 

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OK if you can gt to the post with the large battery wire off that is good enough for now. Do a continuity test from that post to the terminal ring at the alternator.

It could be welded on if the connection was not good it would have started arcing. This could have caused the fusible link to go bad. so do that test and see what you come up with.
 

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Discussion Starter #99
OK if you can gt to the post with the large battery wire off that is good enough for now. Do a continuity test from that post to the terminal ring at the alternator.

It could be welded on if the connection was not good it would have started arcing. This could have caused the fusible link to go bad. so do that test and see what you come up with.
There is continuity between the wire’s alternator connector and starter connector, including the post on the starter that it’s stuck to. Same result no matter where I test on the post or cable end.
 

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Discussion Starter #100
A very bruised left hand later, I've managed to get the second cable off of that post. It was being stuck in the farthest corner that was preventing it from even wiggling. Looking behind it on the base of the post it looks like it's got a lot of oxidation on it, and so does the post itself. Cleaning this is going to be its own challenge, but hopefully I can get some thin wire brushes in there to go at them with.

112102
 
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