'99 Alero - runs but battery won't charge - help a poor noob!

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Thread: '99 Alero - runs but battery won't charge - help a poor noob!

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    Walking
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    Question '99 Alero - runs but battery won't charge - help a poor noob!

    Friday I was the victim of a hit and run in my '99 Alero (86k miles, original owner) - lots of cosmetic damage to front passenger side. Monday took to insurance adjusters and they estimated damage at $2700, so I got a check for $2200 after they took of my deductible.

    On the way home from the adjusters the battery warning light came on. Drove it home and as I drove more and more warning lights started coming on. When I got home and turned it off and tried to restart it, the battery was DEAD. Jumped it and it ran, but gauges and clock were flickering and lots of warning lights came on - didn't stall though. I put battery charger on it for a few hours. Started up and after about 1/2 a minute the battery light came on, but it kept running. Put a voltmeter between the one wire coming off the alternator and the neg. terminal of the battery: It read 12.06 V with engine off and 11.91 V with engine on. The battery is less than 1 year old. Any ideas what could be causing this problem? Voltage regulator?

    This car has been great to us and I want to fix it, but I don't want to spend any more $$$ than the insurance check because my wife and I have 5 month old twins that just started daycare so we are super-poor right now! If we take it to a shop I am worried we will end up owing them money, but if I can fix the charging problem then the rest the repairs should be unbolting smashed parts and bolting on un-smashed ones - definitely something I can do myself. Any help is much appreciated!

    Thanks,
    Jim

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    GMI Staff Member Premium Member shadams's Avatar
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    Re: '99 Alero - runs but battery won't charge - help a poor noob!

    The alternator should charge around 14v with the car running, so it soulds like its not charging at all, which is why the system voltage is at 12v all the time. The amps are what are going to be low, so until the battery drops a cell it will read around 12v all the time. I would probably swap out alternators, they can be had fairly cheap. Putting them on may be a different story, I'll have to look into it.
    "Contrary to common belief, planning is complicated and is not run by complete idiots, so you'll just have to trust that the decisions were made on good information that's not made available to you."

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    Alex Villani: Staff Writer Premium Member BigAls87Z28's Avatar
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    Re: '99 Alero - runs but battery won't charge - help a poor noob!

    Car on, you are getting 12 volts?
    Battery Light on means that yoru vehicle is currently running on battery power, and your alternator is no longer powering the accessories, aka...you have a bad alt.
    Do you have a 4 or 6cyl?
    Alexander Villani
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    4.4 Liter Supercharged Northstar bouda's Avatar
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    Re: '99 Alero - runs but battery won't charge - help a poor noob!

    If he was in an accident shouldn't he check for broken battery cables and stuff like that?

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    Walking
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    Smile Re: '99 Alero - runs but battery won't charge - help a poor noob!

    Quote Originally Posted by BigAls87Z28
    Car on, you are getting 12 volts?
    Battery Light on means that yoru vehicle is currently running on battery power, and your alternator is no longer powering the accessories, aka...you have a bad alt.
    Do you have a 4 or 6cyl?
    It's the 4 cyl engine.

    I thought that the alternator must at least be doing something or the battery would only be able to fire the spark plugs for a few minutes before being totally dead and the engine shutting off as a result. I drove a good 30 minutes after the light came on... would the battery keep it going that long?

    I'm going to get a new alt tomorrow and see what happens.

    Thanks to all for the quick help!

    Jim

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    Alex Villani: Staff Writer Premium Member BigAls87Z28's Avatar
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    Re: '99 Alero - runs but battery won't charge - help a poor noob!

    Battery's have a reserve capacity of about an hour, or so. So yes, your car could run on the power from the battery, but if you were to put on a lot of accessories, such as AC, defroster, radio, headlights and high beems with fog lights, etc...that would pretty much suck the battery dry in about 10-20 mins. Car batteries are not designed to run a vehicle, only for starting.
    If you really want to be sure, take it to any auto place. Lots of places will do it for a few bucks to a free test.
    Alexander Villani
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