98 SUBURBAN click click click..no start

Discussion in 'GM' started by phoebeisis, Dec 20, 2013.

  1. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    yesterday morning-6 am- 45 degrees-New Orleans suburb
    I'm in a hurry-substitute teaching-long term assignment-and I had to give 2 tests
    Turn key- click click click-
    Yeah it had been cranking a bit slower the day or two before
    but it starts soooo quickly-I never worry about it
    What battery do I need
    It has a May 2009 Energizer- 4.5 years old- E78-S is on it-sideposts(I hate side posts)
    so are those Optima red top yellow top "worth it"
    Oh it starter yesterday evening-and this morning- 20 degrees warmer-barely cranked but this old suburban starts soooo well-just a hint of cranking is all it needs-most reliable used car I have ever had.
    So any chance it is the alternator?Forget how to tell alternator from battery failure -other than my usual-Buy second battery-it dies-means it was the alternator.Usually complete alternator failure car won't "run" after the battery is drained-knew this girl-her MGB alternator would croak regularly-1970's-I would bring her a battery-get that Brit POS home(fun car other than Prince of Darkness electrics-and it was too slow)
    Guess I should hook up the voltage tester? What would I look for. Suspect it is the battery-lazy.
    4.5 years on battery-is that about it for a Energizer?
    Oh half turning the key-Voltage READS 10 volts- ONCE RUNNING 14 VOLTS
    Thanks
    Charlie
    PS Heck- THE 2006 prius battery lasted 7.5 years-and it might still be working if someone hadn't left an interior light on- this POS Energizer- 4.5 years
    3 year full warranty 8 year prorated-Sams- USUALLY prorated warranties mean you have to buy the same POS battery again
    How "good" are those Optima batteries? Worth roughly double the $$?
     
  2. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    Running at 14V means the alternator is fine. It's the battery. Our summer heat kills them, then the winter shows the weakness. You don't know it's dying until the cold comes.

    If I'm not mistaken, the Prius battery is in a closed insulated location in the trunk/hatch, right? It will be shielded from the worst summer heat there, unlike in the hot engine bay.
     
  3. 08EscapeHybrid

    08EscapeHybrid Moderator

    Agreed. 10V key on and 14V running is a bad battery. I've had 2 year old batteries die on me. 4.5 years is totally in the realm of possibility for dead batteries. I don't care if it starts fast, the first sign of slow cranking, I ditch a battery. I don't like to be stranded or late.
     
  4. ILAveo

    ILAveo Well-Known Member

    It sounds like your battery is on the way out, but I'd say that the odds are at least even that you can get a little more out of it by cleaning up and tightening the battery connections.

    Battery life is a YMMV item. For my vehicles seven years is the rule of thumb for batteries, for my wife's the lifetime is about four years since she leaves lights on a few times a year.
     
  5. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    Pale-Escape-ILAVEO
    Thanks,
    I was a bit unclear-the Suburban-"starts fast" when all is well-it starts quicker than the shortest "key turn" my 62 yo reflexes could produce
    It "somehow" is actually managing to start NOW- 75 DEGREES- despite 10v
    But it "barely starts" and for maybe 2 seconds it is on edge of stalling-maybe the alternator takes a moment to "clutch on" its pulley? So pitiful battery has to drive fuel pump and fuel injectors ignition until the alternator engages.
    Even my 1998 must have some sort of pulley disengagement-right?


    ILAVEO-yep I was warned the day before-slow cranking-but i wrote it off to cold weather-dumb-
    yeah-it crossed my mind-but i was in a hurry
     
  6. 08EscapeHybrid

    08EscapeHybrid Moderator

    There's no alternator pulley disengagement. The slow to fast crank is because energy is being spun up in the flywheel, which makes it progressively easier for the starter to spin the engine. As we can all remember back to science class. An object at rest will want to remain at rest. It takes a certain threshold of energy to break it from its resting state, and then less energy is required to keep it moving. because it doesn't work cold, but does work at 70F, I'd bet you have a bad cell in the battery.

    I recommend getting a new battery, and then stop by Harbor Freight and get one of their solar panel trickle chargers. I think they're about $20. I have one in my K1500 and in the 1 ton van. Doesn't matter if they sit for months, they always start right up, and crank strong.

    Looks like its on sale for $15.99 right now...
    [​IMG]
    http://www.harborfreight.com/15-watt-solar-battery-charger-68692.html
     
  7. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    08-
    Right as you get the flywheel going-more energy available to get it started-stores kinetic
    No I was wondering WHY- it seemed on the edge of stalling for a few seconds after it started.If the alternator is GOOD-and working-that is unexpected.Maybe it just hadn't kicked up to the 1100 or so RPMs it turns when cold idling.
    My guess was the alternator "wasn't working yet" so the dodgy battery was still having to drive the fuel pump injectors and ignition
    You are right-tiny pulley-no clutch there
    So alternators-can't be modulated?
    More RPMs-they produce more electrical energy-needed or not?
    Seems wasteful-? Heck fans are clutched-or electric-why not alternators(of course 15 yo crude 1/2 ton-not state of art-$2950 SHOULDN'T EXPECT MUCH.
    Do any use electromagnets? Certainly could modulate them if they used electromagnets as opposed to permanent magnets?

    There is a harbor freight on the way home-$16-my kind of price-thanks!!
     
  8. 08EscapeHybrid

    08EscapeHybrid Moderator

    That's what the voltage regulator is for. To some extent the more electrical load you put on it, the more energy is required to turn it, but in all likelihood you're probably never taxing your electrical system that much, so some energy is inherently "wasted".

    If you were to engage/disengage the alternator like an a/c clutch, you would find that the lights would go bright/dim as it cuts in and out. Besides, all you really want to use the battery for is for starting and the rare moment where you're drawing more power than the alternator is putting out.
     
  9. ILAveo

    ILAveo Well-Known Member

    I don't know specifics of your ECM but in the first few seconds after start your engine is running diagnostics and acquiring data to optimize timing and the fuel/air mix. If your ECM and sensors are working right a lot of the trouble you can have (e.g. small vacuum leaks) can get smoothed over when you go closed loop after a few seconds.
     
  10. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    But if the magnets in the alternator were electromagnets-instead of permanent
    You could change the load by changing the magnetic field
    save some energy.
    Seems wasteful to drive the alternator harder than you need to.
    But that would be complicated- some sort of fancy controller for the magnets-expensive-and alternators are pretty reliable and cheap as they are.

    In any case-drove to SAMs-pulled battery-3 minutes- $95-and 3 minutes to install it-all is well
    I thought some cars had "smart alternators" now-somhow modulated to match load to need ?? Guess a 98 Suburban-blunt instrument- wouldn't have been first for that sort of technology.

    Doesn't the 2012 Dodge Ram 25mpg hy-have some "fancy alternator"? I would have guessed Dodge went all out to get 25mpg-
     
  11. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    ILAveo
    Interesting.So the ECM might be papering over some minor problems-vacuum leak- but it takes a few seconds to get the data and do its magic? Clever-
    The Suburban did stall a couple of times after starting-it would get to about 600 rpms-then drop to nothing.
    Of course next time I gave it some gas for a few seconds-it was fine
    After the new battery-no problem
    So it was as if it was relying on JUST the dodgy battery for a couple of seconds
    I would have guessed at 600 RPMS-a "fully on" alternator-would be making more than enough power to run the fuel pump and injectors ignition
    maybe the fuel pump-has a pretty decent draw on startup-and the dodgy battery-just wasn't up to it after pumping its lithe guts out(chemistry wise) starting the suburban.
    Shot its load so to speak-and didn't have enough left
    Still if the alternator is all but immediate-no belt slipping??
    Guess it will be one of life's mysteries.
    It acted as if it wasn't getting enough gas-the fuel pumps do take LOTS of pressure-maybe they draw pretty good on start up-and the GMs are known to be sensitive to "bad fuel pumps" claim is they need 56psi-and 50 psi is too little-wouldn't have guessed such a small difference would matter-
    Thanks all
    Charlie
     
  12. ILAveo

    ILAveo Well-Known Member

    IIRC some of the sensors and the ECM work by transmitting/reading voltage levels, so conceivably low voltage from a dodgy battery could contribute to a faulty initial reading. I've also noted on my scangauge that when you start the car on a weak battery sometimes it takes a little while to build the voltage because a low battery can cause enough voltage drop to drag down the whole system until the battery builds up some surface charge.

    I don't know how sensitive fuel pump pressure/flow is to voltage level (my guess would be not very sensitive when new, but somewhat flaky when old.)
     
  13. RedylC94

    RedylC94 Well-Known Member

    The field magnets normally ARE electromagnets, automatically controlled by a "fancy controller" called a voltage regulator (often built into the alternator nowadays).

    My understanding is that "smart alternators" typically cut alternator output power and therefore input power (by electrical, not mechanical means) when demand for power at the wheels is greatest, and compensate at other times, especially when the car is coasting.

    I made the mistake of buying a Harbor Freight 44768 solar charger. It claims 1.5 watts output, but its actual output is considerably less in most circumstances, even on a sunny day.
     
  14. 08EscapeHybrid

    08EscapeHybrid Moderator

    That sounds like a sticky Idle Air Control valve. You can try cleaning everything out as well as you can with a can of throttle body cleaner, then chase it with a bottle of BG 44K. Otherwise you could try a professional air induction cleaning or replace the IAC yourself.
     
  15. 08EscapeHybrid

    08EscapeHybrid Moderator

    While it won't charge a dead battery, it does a great job of maintaining a charge on a fully charged battery in a vehicle that does not get used much. I use these solar trickle chargers on my 1 ton van, my pickup truck, and I gave one to my parents to use on their motor home. I really don't care what the output is, as long as when I turn the key it starts.
     
  16. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    You can find significantly higher output panels on Ebay for nearly the same price. $25 or 30 for a 5w.
     
  17. RedylC94

    RedylC94 Well-Known Member

    I don't doubt that that's true of some solar trickle chargers, but the current the 44768 can sustain after it gets warm in the sun inside a car is darn near insignificant even for that purpose---something on the order of 20 mA, as best I recall.
     
  18. 08EscapeHybrid

    08EscapeHybrid Moderator

    Yes, but once you get over 2 watts you really need a charge controller to prevent the battery from being overcharged. If I had picked up one that was not producing near the advertised output, I would have taken it back. Harbor Freight is pretty good about taking returns like that. As mentioned before, we would have to jump start our van if it sat for more than 2 months, and once I put the Harbor Freight solar panel on it about 2 years ago, we haven't had to jump start it since.
     
  19. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member


    Ahh-so the alternators magnets are electromagnets-not permanent magnets.
    The stators on my SR500 yamaha-had permanent magnets-heavy-but it meant it would start with a COMPLETELY DEAD BATTERY(kickstart only bike)
    Yeah-the voltage regulator controls voltage-but it is "dumb" can't actually modulate power output in response to demand-like a smart alternator
    No chance my 1998 Suburban has a "smart alternator" right?
    And just guessing-it isn't something the aftermarket is producing-at a reasonable price-meaning $300 or so-for a retrofit??

    08Escape-the problem-immediately STOPPED with the new battery-
    Suspect "something" requires a decent amount of power-immediately-1-2 seconds-after startup-something that something the dodgy battery was impairing.
    Maybe my foot immediately kicking it to 1000 RPMs-jacked up the alternator output enough to overcome whatever shortcoming was happening.
    Odd because the suburban-when cold started normally climbs to 900 rpms or so immediately-does it now-but didn't with bad battery-hung in the 600-then 500 then stalled range-
    maybe the alternator electromagnets-aren't getting all they need in that first 1-2 seconds-
    battery would have spent what it could just getting it started-so not enough voltage or amps to jack the alternator magnets to full strength-so not much power coming from alternator-not much to drive fuel pump or anything else.
    Well-all is well now-except oil changes needed-with a nasty cold-in the cold wet XMas weather-and coolant leak and oil leak to find-and barn door leak-
    oh well joys of 16 yo 224,400 mile vehicle
    Thanks for all the help!
    This forum is a much better info source than the GM truck forum-odd but there it is.
    MPG forum better info on guzzler repair than a guzzler forum??
    charlie
     
  20. OptimaJim

    OptimaJim Member

    While I see folks online making quick diagnoses of electrical issues as being the fault of the battery all the time, I'm just not smart enough to do that. I'd also feel really guilty about encouraging someone else to spend so much money, without first suggesting they take any action to determine whether or not there really is an issue with the battery. Most auto parts stores can load-test a battery in just a few minutes and many will do it for free.

    Without some kind of test or at least measurement of voltage over time, the possibility remains that someone could be spending money on expensive parts that don't resolve the underlying issue. While the issue could be the battery, it could also be the charging system, a parasitic draw, loose wiring or some other issue that may only be masked for a period of time by a new battery.

    We recommend typical alternator output to be in the range of about 13.7-14.7 volts and suggest a typical key-off load is about 25 milliamps. Low alternator output or a high key-off load can both slowly (or quickly) discharge a battery. 08EscapeHybrid makes a great point about making sure any charger that is used is properly-regulated for voltage and amperage, so it doesn't overcharge a battery. Cheaper units don't always have that feature.

    Since he also mentioned jump-starting, I should point out that any battery discharged to the extend that a vehicle needs a jump should be fully-charged with a battery charger as soon as possible. Most alternators are designed to maintain batteries near a full state of charge, not recover deeply-discharged batteries. Asking that task of an alternator can lead to a cycle of dead batteries and jump-starts, until either the battery or alternator fails.

    Jim McIlvaine
    eCare Manager, OPTIMA Batteries
    www.pinterest.com/optimabatteries
     

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