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RJGatling
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Posted: 12/19/2011 7:40:44 AM EST
[Last Edit: 12/23/2011 11:24:31 AM EST by RJGatling]
Some of you may remember my recent questions regarding replacing my car battery. Well, I did it. And when I did it, something under the hood went up in a cloud of acrid smoke.

When I took the car out for a drive to see if it still worked, after about two miles, the red "battery" idiot light on the dashboard came on.

Best guess is that it was the alternator. It still runs, and I've restarted it twice now (no choice, had to get some things done today).

The mechanic I'd like to use is about 25 miles away –– if I can get the car there, he'll charge me about half of what any of the other places are quoting.

Also, I still have the old battery that I was going to return. I could always swap it out on the side of the highway if necessary.

Think I can make it?
thebeekeeper1
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Posted: 12/19/2011 7:41:57 AM EST
Yes, but don't keep starting it. The starter uses ten times more juice than everything else put together. Headlights are second, so don't turn them on.
graysonp
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Posted: 12/19/2011 7:43:04 AM EST
[Last Edit: 12/19/2011 7:43:55 AM EST by graysonp]
25 miles should be fine.

What model is the car? Theoretically, on an older car, you can drive forever once the engine is running, you'll just be without any electrical amenities in the vehicle. Newer cars are much more reliant on the battery/charging system, and many won't even stay running with a dead battery.
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Posted: 12/19/2011 7:44:07 AM EST
Furthermost I went was 35 miles with a computerized car. Brand new battery FWIW
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Posted: 12/19/2011 7:44:12 AM EST
I made it 11 miles on a dark gravel road killing my overheads, radio, and all other doodads. Made it back to the SO with a Stinger hanging out the window. Lost the bad guy.
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Mryenko
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Posted: 12/19/2011 7:44:19 AM EST
Originally Posted By graysonp:
25 miles should be fine.

Theoretically, on an older car, you can drive forever once the engine is running, you'll just be without any electrical amenities in the vehicle. Newer cars are much more reliant on the battery/charging system, and many won't even stay running with a dead battery.


Cars with magnetos, yes, will run forever... How old ARE you?
TUBBY
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Posted: 12/19/2011 7:44:54 AM EST
If I am not mistaken the Alternator provides power for the car and charges the after the battery starts it up. If the alternator does not function your car will run until the batterys is dead. Then it's walking time.
Furyataurus
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Posted: 12/19/2011 7:45:19 AM EST
[Last Edit: 12/19/2011 7:50:31 AM EST by Furyataurus]
Only if it's all downhill.

I seriously doubt you'll make it on one battery that's already had the light come on.

Take two or three batteries.

ETA 1: What is the reserve capacity on the battery and for how long(minutes)?
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kroed11581
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Posted: 12/19/2011 7:45:26 AM EST
I did 65 miles in a 77 F-150 once, turned off all accessories and tried not to hit the brakes much.
Vicinity
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Posted: 12/19/2011 7:45:34 AM EST
Originally Posted By graysonp:
25 miles should be fine.

What model is the car? Theoretically, on an older car, you can drive forever once the engine is running, you'll just be without any electrical amenities in the vehicle. Newer cars are much more reliant on the battery/charging system, and many won't even stay running with a dead battery.


Do you know what a spark plug is?
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Posted: 12/19/2011 7:45:44 AM EST
[Last Edit: 12/19/2011 8:00:23 AM EST by Silver_Surfer]
Depending on the type of car you have but most will keep running until the battery drains below 9volts.
Herc
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Posted: 12/19/2011 7:47:27 AM EST
It should get you all the way to the scene of the breakdown.

25 miles is a "maybe" you might make it, probably will have to swap it out with the old "and hopefully fully charged" battery.
danos660r
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Posted: 12/19/2011 7:47:54 AM EST
[Last Edit: 12/19/2011 7:49:02 AM EST by danos660r]
alternator is normally a pretty easy fix. Most auto parts stores will test them for ya to. You can home test to see if its charging at all. Hook a volt meter to the battery terminals and while car is running it should read 14.4 volts. Doesnt tell you what its doing under load though.

good luck. Ive drove 30 miles on a battery to get to the parts store where I replaces part in paring lot. It wasnt winter where I had no heat on and no lights. On a GM kill the DTRL to conserve battery. The spare is a good idea. Drive around locally untill dead, then replace battery to get you home. then take the long trip once you know what you can get away with.
CVTJ
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Posted: 12/19/2011 7:47:59 AM EST
I did about 250 once, turned off all electronics I could and pulled the fuses for the day time running lights
AeroE
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Posted: 12/19/2011 7:50:49 AM EST
This is the reason we need magneto driven ignition in our cars.

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Posted: 12/19/2011 7:51:30 AM EST
How far you can get depends on the car. My diesel CUCV's will keep running as long as they have fuel, once they start (glow plugs FTW). If I had the Suburban with it's all-electric accessories I'd be praying all the way to the mechanic.
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MrYar
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Posted: 12/19/2011 7:53:45 AM EST
Maybe. Best thing would be to charge it up fully with a slow trickle charger. Fast charging will not be as good. Then when you start it, use a jump from another car.

When you're driving, don't use lights, radio, fan, power windows etc. Anything that works via electricity.
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jeep450
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Posted: 12/19/2011 7:53:58 AM EST
Depends on size and condition of battery.

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South_Side_Shooter
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Posted: 12/19/2011 7:55:02 AM EST
How's your battery life?
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Mryenko
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Posted: 12/19/2011 8:01:28 AM EST
Originally Posted By AeroE:
This is the reason we need magneto driven ignition in our cars.



Oh god no: Can you imagine most "mechanics" trying to set E gap on a mag?
Regency
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Posted: 12/19/2011 8:02:26 AM EST
I one time forgot to reconnect a line that sends power to the battery.

I went about 10 minutes before the truck died.
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Posted: 12/19/2011 8:05:05 AM EST
Originally Posted By AeroE:
This is the reason we need magneto driven ignition in our cars.



YES!
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1Andy2
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Posted: 12/19/2011 8:06:20 AM EST
Put your battery on a charger now.
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Kalahnikid
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Posted: 12/19/2011 8:06:29 AM EST
Originally Posted By Mryenko:
Originally Posted By AeroE:
This is the reason we need magneto driven ignition in our cars.



Oh god no: Can you imagine most "mechanics" trying to set E gap on a mag?


Im friends with an excellent magneto mechanic, the rest of you can figure it out on your own.

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Posted: 12/19/2011 8:07:00 AM EST
Originally Posted By Vicinity:
Do you know what a spark plug is?


I realize that post didn't really make much sense in the context of the thread.

My point was that not all vehicles are so reliant on the battery/charging system. Not all vehicles use spark plugs, and not all vehicles need a battery to send power to the plugs. It just depends. Odds are, his vehicle will not drive eternally with no battery and a busted alternator.
cyborg543
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Posted: 12/19/2011 8:08:45 AM EST
25 miles seems like a long way to run on battery power
prodos8
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Posted: 12/19/2011 8:09:43 AM EST
I drove around normally for about three days in an old Explorer that had a bad alternator. Eventually the battery didn't have enough juice to start it but it never died while I was driving it.

You should be fine driving it to the mechanic, just don't avoid using anything electrical in it. Put the battery on a charger, if you have one, before you go.
RightwingNutjob
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Posted: 12/19/2011 8:10:55 AM EST
I wouldn't fool around with it, it had a cloud of smoke and you guess it was the alternator. If it dies on the way to the cheapest mechanic you might be out more than you may have saved with towing and or whatever else might burn out on it. Not to mention stuck on the side of the road ain't the safest place to be with the driver of every other car speeding past texting more than driving.
bob200587
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Posted: 12/19/2011 8:15:25 AM EST
Possible, kill all non-essential electrical draws.
Mryenko
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Posted: 12/19/2011 8:18:04 AM EST
Originally Posted By prodos8:
I drove around normally for about three days in an old Explorer that had a bad alternator. Eventually the battery didn't have enough juice to start it but it never died while I was driving it.

You should be fine driving it to the mechanic, just don't avoid using anything electrical in it. Put the battery on a charger, if you have one, before you go.


When alternators die, many times they can still produce voltage, enough to keep a minimal charge in the battery, and keep the ignition system running, but not enough to really get any meaningful amount of energy stored in the battery. The result is a failure to spin the starter.
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Posted: 12/19/2011 8:20:39 AM EST
It's never a good idea to try and run any electrical at lower than rated voltages for any period of time. It will try and compensate for the lower voltage by drawing more current. That can be harmful to some electronics.
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Posted: 12/19/2011 8:21:08 AM EST
If you had a Chevy Volt you could go 30 miles.
Bob243
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Posted: 12/19/2011 8:21:24 AM EST
Depends on battery size and amount of electronic shit.


Something from the 60s or early 70s easily. 90s plus maybe - maybe not.
RooBear
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Posted: 12/19/2011 8:23:00 AM EST
Originally Posted By TUBBY:
If I am not mistaken the Alternator provides power for the car and charges the after the battery starts it up. If the alternator does not function your car will run until the batterys is dead. Then it's walking time.


This is the right answer, until the battery dies.

Ranman223
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Posted: 12/19/2011 8:24:35 AM EST
Originally Posted By MrYar:
Maybe. Best thing would be to charge it up fully with a slow trickle charger. Fast charging will not be as good. Then when you start it, use a jump from another car.

When you're driving, don't use lights, radio, fan, power windows etc. Anything that works via electricity.



THIS!!!



















this
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Posted: 12/19/2011 8:26:41 AM EST
DUAL BATTERIES FTW!!! lol.

Like others stated, it depends, but turn everything off that you dont need. 25miles may or may not make it. Take the other battery incase, that should get you there.
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Posted: 12/19/2011 8:26:58 AM EST

Originally Posted By cyborg543:
25 miles seems like a long way to run on battery power

Pfft, I made it from Big Sur ( about 75 miles south of Monterey on Hwy 1 ) to San Jose in a 1970 VW bug on battery alone back in the day when the generator threw a communicator segment and ate the brushes.

Newer cars with all the electric garbage in them, yeah 25 might be a stretch.
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Posted: 12/19/2011 8:28:14 AM EST
Originally Posted By Vicinity:

Do you know what a spark plug is?


Hahaha ^
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Posted: 12/19/2011 8:30:01 AM EST
Originally Posted By RooBear:
Originally Posted By TUBBY:
If I am not mistaken the Alternator provides power for the car and charges the after the battery starts it up. If the alternator does not function your car will run until the batterys is dead. Then it's walking time.


This is the right answer, until the battery dies.



This... I had a pulley bearing shred itself on my way to work one night, I managed to make it the 10 miles or so to the station......just as the battery ran out. Got a ride home the next day with a coworker, picked up the parts and did the fix, but if you have ANy option to borrow a car or get a ride, do so. Alternators generally aren't all that hard to change out.
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Posted: 12/19/2011 8:33:03 AM EST
I can make it a little over 25 mi on a full battery if I turn off the non essentials. If your battery light is already on, I doubt that you will get that far.
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Posted: 12/19/2011 8:33:59 AM EST
AAA FTW
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Posted: 12/19/2011 8:38:16 AM EST
[Last Edit: 12/19/2011 8:38:41 AM EST by olivers_AR]
I would get a tow dolly and bum a truck or pull vehicle. What kind of vehicle, many alternators are DIY jobs, depending on the vehicle/time/capability.
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RJGatling
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Posted: 12/19/2011 9:50:18 AM EST
Originally Posted By olivers_AR:
I would get a tow dolly and bum a truck or pull vehicle. What kind of vehicle, many alternators are DIY jobs, depending on the vehicle/time/capability.


Unfortunately, this one isn't –– unless one is a mechanic with an engine hoist and all that good stuff, of course.

Thanks, folks. Looks like I'll give it a shot tomorrow morning.
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Posted: 12/19/2011 9:51:08 AM EST
Originally Posted By Bob243:
AAA FTW


You know what, that actually isn't a bad idea. Buy a membership today, get a tow tomorrow? I've heard of people doing that before, and AAA didn't seem to mind.
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Posted: 12/19/2011 9:56:41 AM EST
[Last Edit: 12/19/2011 9:57:18 AM EST by die-tryin]
Originally Posted By RJGatling:
Originally Posted By Bob243:
AAA FTW


You know what, that actually isn't a bad idea. Buy a membership today, get a tow tomorrow? I've heard of people doing that before, and AAA didn't seem to mind.


Better yet, call them up, tell them your not sure if you want to join. Tell them you want to test their abilities and time frames and the quality of the tow company they use. Tell them you want them to tow from point A to point B and you will critic this venture and give a discussion later that day. Of course make sure you tell them this tow should be "on the house"
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Bob243
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Posted: 12/19/2011 9:58:51 AM EST

Originally Posted By RJGatling:
Originally Posted By Bob243:
AAA FTW


You know what, that actually isn't a bad idea. Buy a membership today, get a tow tomorrow? I've heard of people doing that before, and AAA didn't seem to mind.

Had mine since 91 when I started driving. While I can pretty much fix anything on whatever I decide to drive, I cannot always do it on the side of the road. It has paid for itself a few times.


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Posted: 12/19/2011 10:01:52 AM EST
until the battery dies... duh.

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Posted: 12/19/2011 10:04:06 AM EST
So-was that cloud of acrid smoke your serpentine belt turning on a frozen-up alternator? is your radiator fan driven by that belt? if it is, you may overheat before you get there.
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Posted: 12/19/2011 10:06:56 AM EST
Originally Posted By danos660r:
alternator is normally a pretty easy fix. Most auto parts stores will test them for ya to.


Most auto parts stores wil make them spin and measure the voltage.

Worn slip ring contacts wil often measure just fine.

The voltage is there, but the alternator cannot deliver any current.

Alternators need to be tested under their rated output load, often around 70 amps for most larger GM alternators.
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Posted: 12/19/2011 10:10:50 AM EST
[Last Edit: 12/19/2011 10:11:04 AM EST by UKjohn]
"something under the hood went up in a cloud of acrid smoke"

i would try and find that bit first before i drive 25 mile , look for the burnt thing first
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Posted: 12/19/2011 10:16:08 AM EST
Originally Posted By Kalahnikid:
Originally Posted By Mryenko:
Originally Posted By AeroE:
This is the reason we need magneto driven ignition in our cars.



Oh god no: Can you imagine most "mechanics" trying to set E gap on a mag?


Im friends with an excellent magneto mechanic, the rest of you can figure it out on your own.



I want manual ignition advance, mixture control, and a hand throttle, too. A mechanical throttle, not one of those electronic cruise control gizmos that relies on an electrical system.

However, I am fond of modern ignition and fuel injection, especially on cold mornings, so now I'm conflicted.



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