Charging System Warning Lights

Discussion in 'Engine, Transmission and Drivetrain' started by cmoney, Oct 23, 2007.

  1. cmoney

    cmoney Guest

    Hey Guys, just wondering if any one has come across this problem as yet?
    Little Battery light on the dash coming up.

    Im assuming it means the Alternator is knackered??
    Any help would be great thanks boys
    Cory
     
  2. SiliconAngel

    SiliconAngel 1 AYC Bar

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    Cory, to start with do you still have the tiny little Japanese battery installed?? If so, replace it immediately (which will also require some larger battery terminals) with something around 500CCAs or above, and see if that fixes the problem :)

    If not, yes it could definitely be caused by your alternator - in such a case I'd recommend getting an auto sparky to take a look at it to determine if its putting out adequate charging current.

    Good luck!
     
  3. Kieran

    Kieran Guest

    Uh-Oh. This sounds like classic VR-4 alternator trouble....

    This is becoming one of those 'known' problems on ClubVR-4, and this is how it starts. Seems that after about 10 years, they start busting their voltage regulators or the diode pack.

    Anyway - to your problem. The easy way of determining the problem is to measure batttery voltage across the terminals after starting from cold. It should read about 12 volts (ish) and kick up to 13.9 - 14v after you've started the car (from cold, it'll be lower if the car's warmed up, but the important thing is that there's a significant change in the reading). If the voltage remains at battery level - Then you've probably got a dead alternator.

    If the reading is all over the shop and increases wildly with revs - then you've probably got a dead alternator.

    However, whilst in most cases this is the problem, as it's such a nightmare to get at and replace, Try charging your battery overnight or borrow a known good one (and check again), then try your alternator belt tension.

    If neither of those work.... Pre-fill the swear tin with a few notes!!!

    Oh.... If it does turn out to be a busted alternator, can you let me know if you have a 'Cold Area' spec car? I'd be interested to know - So far I've only known 'Cold Area' cars give trouble, but I don't have enough cases to say if it's a problem just with these or not.

    It's easy to check.... If you have a teeny tiny battery then probably you have a 'Warm Area' car.

    If you have a big battery (assuming it's not been swapped since import) and also a piece of black plastic underneath the glovebox that protects the blower housing, you've probably got a 'Cold Area' car.

    Hope this helps!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 24, 2007
  4. SiliconAngel

    SiliconAngel 1 AYC Bar

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    Is it your theory, Kieran, that the cars that have been continually subjected to extreme cold (-10°C to -30°C) develop advanced alternator wear?
     
  5. cmoney

    cmoney Guest

    Replaced the Battery with a 400cca and seems good as gold, just the light battery keeps coming up, Just borrowed my mates Battery Charger so i will be back in a bit with the result,
    Thanks Guys
     
  6. SiliconAngel

    SiliconAngel 1 AYC Bar

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    Hmm that DOES sound like the alternator isn't working properly - the car will definitely work ok until the battery drains down, which could take a while depending on just how low the alternator charging current is.

    Its POSSIBLE you could have a faulty sensor, but my money would be on the alternator. It might not even cost you anything to take it to an auto electrician and get him to stick a meter across it. If you don't and that IS the cause, you'll just destroy your new battery too...
     
  7. Kieran

    Kieran Guest

    I'd not actually got that far, but it does *seem* that the 120amp alternators fitted to the cold area cars are the ones giving trouble - But I am still not sure - We've had enough failures reported in the UK to be 'Known', but not enough to be 'common' - It's only a handful.

    That theory does make some sense - especially when one considers that a lot of these cars seem to do sod all miles in Japan - Could mean there's a lot of stop/starting of the engine - and especially on the northern Hokkaido island the winters are cold ones!

    However - My own car is a cold area car (and has had this problem), and from the export papers it was registered in Shinagwa, Tokyo - Not exactly a cold place...

    It's a horriible thing to say but I could really do with a few more people developing this problem so we can prove/disprove the theory!

    Interestingly, there's a number of 'Maintenance' blogs for the Legnum/Galant on www.carview.co.jp - But (when you translate) they don't say *WHY* the alternator was being swapped out and of course there's not usually many details on the Galant/Lengum in question either...

    More research required!!

    Back on topic for a moment, I agree that the alternator does sound trashed.... Be prepared to swear like a trooper when you change it!
     
  8. cmoney

    cmoney Guest

    The Swearing has began!
    Its The Alternator.
    So now my next question is
    has anyone had to replace one as yet?
    A. How much
    B. How much Swearing did u do
    C. is the only option 2 buy a Alternator from a Legnum or can we use Galant australian delivered one, or a substitue one?
    Thanks Team Leggy
     
  9. Kieran

    Kieran Guest

    Yes, I've had to do the alternator twice on my car (once for this problem and then again because the second-hand one I lobbed in also went pop, goddamit!).

    The job is fiddly and involved. The service manuals perscribe the removal of the lower arms, engine mounts, downpipes, allsorts. You don't need to go to this extreme if you know how to do it. THere is a 'knack'.

    The basic procedure is as follows - this is a guide only....

    1. Car up on stands.
    2. Remove alternator belt and tensioner.
    3. Unbolt alternator, remove the cables (1 strap, 1 multi-plug) and the alternator mounting bracket. Be careful as this exposes a section of the cambelt, so don't be rough with it!
    4. allow alternator to 'drop'. It will foul against the chassis rail.
    5. This is the cunning bit: Unbolt the engine mount on that side of the car (near the power steering reservoir), get a nice long piece of wood and your jack and start to GENTLY raise the motor by lifting it on the corner of the sump that side - Or the power steering/aircon bracket if you don't want to lift via the sump. You'll need to raise it about an inch from the standard position.
    6. Lifting the engine like this will allow the alternator to drop further down, closer to the middle of the engine block and it'll probably come to rest on top of the sump near the dipstick tube. To get to this stage you will need to waggle, persuade and utter about 73 swear words.

    7. Next, gently lower the engine untill it's slightly below the stock location. It should be around an inch or less. Keep an eye on your downpipes and hoses - don't over stretch them! As you lower the engine, it'll move away from the chassis leg slightly. When this happens you'll be able to waggle the alternator out. Before you do anything else, push the new one back in (before you forget how to!) and return the engine to it's stock location. You may need to lift it again to get it fully home.

    8. replace everything else.

    The above is a rough guide - it is more difficult and swear word inducing than it looks. If it's the 1st time you've done it, leave yourself an afternoon at least. The second time I did it I took three hours from start to tidied up, and this included mugs of tea and stuff. It's essentially simple enough right up to getting the damn thing free - that's where the cursing starts!:D
     
  10. Sydo

    Sydo Leaving Skid Marks

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    *crap* That does not sound like fun. :(
     
  11. naughtika

    naughtika OzVR4 Stalker Moderator Trader

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    my old car's electrical system was shit for about 3 months.. luckily I managed to trade it in before it totally shit itself.. :D
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2007
  12. cmoney

    cmoney Guest

    Thanks Kirean, i personally wont be doing it myself...
    Im taking it to a auto Sparky in the morning,
    Can i ask how and where u got your Alternator from? and how much it set u back?
    I think the biggest problem us ozzies will find is that not to many Jap dismantlers have these lying around...
    Might just see if i can use double sided sticky tape and paddle pop sticks, Works a treat on the Mokes,
    haha
     
  13. SiliconAngel

    SiliconAngel 1 AYC Bar

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    Reminds me of doing the timing tensioner on the Magna - had to get the sump off to do that. Lots of jacking & lowering of the engine & had three out of four engine mounts off for most of it. Not fun, but good experience for this by the sounds ;)

    I STRONGLY recommend getting either a big, thick, flat piece of wood that will distribute the pressure from the jack evenly across the sump, or find something more solid to lift it from. I've seen several sumps (including the one on my current car) caved in by cowboys who just stick the jack under the sump and start lifting away... :( Not that any of you are cowboys, of course! :)

    Alternator part number is MD336781. However, take a look at the following diagram:

    Alternator.gif

    As you can see, the whole thing is fully servicable. I'd be willing to bet your alternator problems are caused by worn brushes (14220 on the diagram), which are replaceable (the most common cause of electrical motor failure, which is basically what an alternator is - an electrical motor that works backwards ;) Part number for brushes is MD618689). Considering you're alteady getting an auto sparky to take a look at it, I suggest you ask him if he's capable of taking it apart and determining the cause of the problem. You might find its much cheaper to get a replacement component for it than to get a whole new replacement alternator... But then, I don't know if you have backup wheels or not either ;)
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2007
  14. cmoney

    cmoney Guest

    The Leggy aint even Got rego yet, so i still have the magna! lol
    Yeah i was going to Ask him once he has it out
    A. Can he re-build it
    B. Not to rip me off
    C. have it done by the arvo so i can boost off into the sunset,

    With The Brushes do u only really see them worn down with higher KM cars? only experience i have had with these is with cars in the high 100's low 200's...
     
  15. SiliconAngel

    SiliconAngel 1 AYC Bar

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    Brushes in electric motors gently touch against other moving parts as they spin past it, which is how they transfer current. This friction causes wear, however, and if you get enough wear you no longer have contact, therefore you lose conductivity, which equals a dead motor.

    An alternator works the opposite way to a standard electric motor -instead of using current to spin the motor shaft, you spin the shaft to generate a current. But the theory for the brushes is exactly the same, and they can wear out in exactly the same way. As these are subjected to constant friction, they're the most common cause of electrical motor failure, and because of this they're DESIGNED to be replaced in anything but the cheapest electric motors.

    Other forms of failure can include things like bearing failure or a cable winding coming undone or the motor being overworked beyond its design parameters causing it to overheat and burn itself out. But such things are extremely uncommon unless there's been some kind of design fault causing problems with entire batches of motors.

    Maybe the 'cold weather' VR4's have such an alternator in them? Maybe the bushes in these just wear out prematurely? Or maybe its some entirely different problem? Best bet would be to get your sparky to pull it apart and let us know what he comes up with :)

    Oh and A) is a valid question, but I recommend against going with B) and C)... Just a thought ;)
     
  16. cmoney

    cmoney Guest

    A simple nah would of been fine Trev, haha. Well i have learnt something new today then.

    So the only thing remaining now If its un repairable, Can we use a FTO Alternator? or a Oz delivered Galant?

    Or do we need to get a actuall Legnum one?

    I told the Sparky to give me a run down on the broken one when he gets it out, Key word being WHEN
    Cory
     
  17. BuzzPuppy

    BuzzPuppy OZVR4 Ambassador Lifetime Member

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    And chuck it up here as a sticky... hope it works out Cory
     
  18. cmoney

    cmoney Guest

    Ok who wants to take a stab at how much it costs to re-build the Alternator and have it removed and installed.......
    if u say $450 u win,
    but now im broke i cant give u anything... lol

    So not sure how that compares to other imported cars (as this is my 1st)
     
  19. bradc

    bradc 1 AYC Bar

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    I would imagine buying a 2nd hand one from NZ would be cheaper and possibly even quicker too
     
  20. cmoney

    cmoney Guest

    Yeah but the thing is with that no one had one, and if they did they couldnt Gurantee it as well....
    But the cost was more from the labour of removing and installing,
    4 hrs it took....
     

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