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Posted: 12/8/2003 6:13:21 PM EDT
Alright, I drive a '91 Caprice with a 350, and lately in the morning when I go to clear the water/ice from my windshield, my frickin car either starts running like crap or just flat out turns off. Same thing when I turn on the heater. I have already changed the alternator, cleaned the battery cables, replaced the battery cable bolts (hold cable to battery) and checked the connection. I didn't have this problem last year...and the problem goes away once the car has been driven for 5-10 minutes. Any ideas?
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 6:35:54 PM EDT
When you say that the problem appears when you clean the ice off the windshield, do you mean that it appears at the exact instant that you switch on the defroster, or when you turn on the windshield wipers, or when you use a hand scraper to scrape the ice off the windshield? Or does it just start becoming noticeable during that general time during your morning routine? In other words, do you have to be doing anything to the windshield or heater for the problem to appear, or would it still do it if you just let the car warm up by itself?
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 6:43:30 PM EDT
It's when I turn the wipers on, or turn the heater/defrost on. Before it started getting cold I'd just let the Rain X do the job on my short commute to work, and I've been putting the problem off. Once the car heats up (driven for 5 miles or so) the problem seems to go away.
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 6:45:14 PM EDT
Relays, Regulator, and Computer module Have those checked Some things can only be checked at the dealer (meaning they have the equipment) with the circuitry engaged.
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 6:45:51 PM EDT
It's fuel infected if that matters at all...So far I have 12 volts at the battery before start up, 13.5-14ish after start up, but once the electrical draw comes, I have a multi-meter at the battery and the voltage drops. Think it could be some weird defect in the alternator its self?
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 6:51:49 PM EDT
The alternator should output a good stiff 14.2 to 14.6 volts with the engine running after a cold start.
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 6:55:48 PM EDT
Probably NOT the alternator Dealer usually run electrical analysis about $60-70 just to find the problem. The GM's that are getting to that age usually have problems with the things I mentioned once the Battery, Alternator, cables, starter are replaced.
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 6:56:29 PM EDT
Smells like voltage regulator to me. On your post-78 (or so) GM car, the voltage regulator is internal to the alternator. 30 minute job to change the regulator, versus 15 (or less) to change the whole alternator.
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 6:57:30 PM EDT
Check all the grounding point connections.
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 6:59:50 PM EDT
Originally Posted By SWS: The alternator should output a good stiff 14.2 to 14.6 volts with the engine running after a cold start.
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You are right that is normal - however some alternators can run as low as 12.6V and still be considered OK. Unless the alternator is under warranty I wouldn't switch it out just yet.
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 7:00:38 PM EDT
First mistake was buying an alternator from Pep Boys instead of the place that I work at, but it was a need to have it now type deal, and they were the only place within 30 miles in any direction that had it there in their store instead of waiting 3 days to get my employee discount. Problem only seems to be when the car is cold/sitting for a few hours. If I was to drive it 20 miles, turn it off, and a half hour later fire it up and leave, I wont have any problems. If I was to drive it 20 miles, and let it sit for 3+ hours, fire it up, drive off, I'd still have the wiperblade/defrost problem unless I drove it until it was fully warmed up and charged.
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 7:03:53 PM EDT
this thing got a dizzy?
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 7:06:37 PM EDT
I'll assume you cleaned the other ends of the cables too. Make sure that corrosion has not progressed under the insulation. Another thing to check for is the condition of other ground straps, engine to chassis etc. Is any moisture from the de-icing process getting somewhere it shouldn't? Does the washer fluid hose leak under the hood? Does condensation short out the distributor or spark plug wires? It takes very little moisture to turn a light coat of dust into an electrical short. Take a rag and clean off all dust from the plugs, wires including inside the boots, and distributor cap inside and out especially around the towers.. If you can get it to act up when it is dark, lift the hood and look for arcing from different angles. Sometimes you can hear it. I have seen a few cases where the secondary voltage will arc though the center of the distributor rotor to the shaft on those gm v8's. Take it off and inspect it closely for a tiny burn mark.
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 7:09:35 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Axel: I'll assume you cleaned the other ends of the cables too. Make sure that corrosion has not progressed under the insulation. Another thing to check for is the condition of other ground straps, engine to chassis etc. Is any moisture from the de-icing process getting somewhere it shouldn't? Does the washer fluid hose leak under the hood? Does condensation short out the distributor or spark plug wires? It takes very little moisture to turn a light coat of dust into an electrical short. Take a rag and clean off all dust from the plugs, wires including inside the boots, and distributor cap inside and out especially around the towers.. If you can get it to act up when it is dark, lift the hood and look for arcing from different angles. Sometimes you can hear it. I have seen a few cases where the secondary voltage will arc though the center of the distributor rotor to the shaft on those gm v8's. Take it off and inspect it closely for a tiny burn mark.
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Good call...It's dark now...and its been sitting since this morning where it left me (couldn't clear the ice, so I took a different car, didn't want to be late!) I'm gonna check the voltage first, fire it up, get it to run like crap and see if I can't find it arcing out somewhere. Sounds like a great idea...BRB!!!
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 7:28:13 PM EDT
Well...12.46 volts before start, 14.7 volts running, couldn't find any visible arc anywhere...checked the fuses, one wasn't in all the way, but pushing it in didn't solve the problem...seems to have more of a problem on the wiperblade side than the blower motor, blower motor makes it run like crap all around, whereas the wipers make it chug, almost like its running on 3 cylinders. Damnit maybe I'll just bend over and take it into a shop.
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 8:19:13 PM EDT
Ice? California? I'm in Reno if that happens to be in your neighborhood, Tahoe somewhere? Does this problem have a direct relationship to the wiper/blower load? Does it run better if you shut them off again? What happens if you turn on the head lights? I'm starting to think regulator also. The added load is sucking off the juice available to the ignition, and is not being compensated for.
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 8:25:21 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Axel: Ice? California? I'm in Reno if that happens to be in your neighborhood, Tahoe somewhere? Does this problem have a direct relationship to the wiper/blower load? Does it run better if you shut them off again? What happens if you turn on the head lights? I'm starting to think regulator also. The added load is sucking off the juice available to the ignition, and is not being compensated for.
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I live in the Bay Area and its just been cold lately. Plus I live at the bottom of a mountain, if that would make an impact on climate...And yes, if I turn the wipers/blower on and it starts running like crap, it goes back to normal as soon as I turn it off. I'm bringin it to work tomorrow come hell or high water and I'm pullin the alternator out durin lunch and havin it bench tested.
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 8:41:55 PM EDT
Who is Electrical? And why is he so hard to hit?
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 9:01:28 PM EDT
Just for kicks check out the alternator belt... Sometimes they will slip when cold and then warm up and grab the pulleys. Do your hear squealing for a bit when you first start it?
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 9:50:55 PM EDT
I would suggest you continue on as you have replacing everthing you can think of. Taking it to a profesional who could repair it with just one part would be way to expensive. Yes it's much cheaper for you to rebuild the car yourself changing and paying for many parts that are not needed.
Link Posted: 12/9/2003 3:59:06 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Axel: Just for kicks check out the alternator belt... Sometimes they will slip when cold and then warm up and grab the pulleys. Do your hear squealing for a bit when you first start it?
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It's got a serp belt, and there's no squeaking. I showed it to one of the guys at work today, he thinks that the wiperblade circuit is tied into the same circuit as the blower motor, and thinks there is a short somewhere in there. I'm probably going to be taking it to his shop on Saturday. If we can't figure it out, I'm gonna sell the car.
Link Posted: 12/10/2003 5:20:58 AM EDT
Originally Posted By RipMeyer: Check all the grounding point connections.
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Run ANOTHER ground to body and engine.
Link Posted: 12/10/2003 5:48:41 AM EDT
CAREFULLY check all of the fuses. I had a blown dome light fuse that took out the brake lights, radio, gas guage, etc. Even the horn would not work unless you revved the engine. Something weird is happening whan you load the ignition primary crcuit with a cold engine. I would look at the pickup module in the distributor, and interconnecting wiring. This is likely gonna be a $1 fix, and a $100 troubleshooting bill. Good luck. Ops
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