October 14th, 2005

October 14th, 2005
Charging problems
All of a sudden I have a charging problem. Everything was working fine. I leave my lights on one time at work and drain the battery to zero. So I get it jumped and it manages to get me home and such. So a week later I don’t drive the BWB for an entire weekend. That was nice. Anyway, Monday morning she is dead again. So I jump her and drive her to work. Battery drains over the day and I have to have a jump again.

I get home and have to jump the next morning again. So I take it to the O’Reilly’s they test the battery and the alternator. Thumbs up on the alternator according to the guy holding the tester. So I go in and get another battery, prorated and it costs me $15.05(US). Sweet what a deal.

So a couple of days later it’s dead again. I can’t figure that out. So with a suggestion from EGD I begin pulling fuses while measuring the amps at the battery. That was a tricky deal, because the measurement changes as the devices draw. I’m averaging 1.4 to 1.7 draw. I notice how ever that on a couple of fuses when they are out I’m drawing 4.3 to 5.2. With them out I draw more?

Also depending on how long I kept the leads connected the voltage would eventually drop to .3. I’m guessing that was something to do with the meter. Meters don’t like to be conductive paths and I figure that was a safety feature to protect the meter. That is a guess of course.

Well as I’m testing I notice a very high frequency hum coming from my right. Over near the alternator. So I listen closer and the alternator is humming. That can’t be right I think. Also the 4.3 to 5.2 is on the meter when I hear it. Remove the leads it goes away. Reconnect it is back. Well a few times anyway. I am unable to make the hum start on my own accord. So I am convinced the alternator is toast. All that charging on a dead battery could wear out an old under powered alternator anyway.

Lots of web pages mention the alternator being too wimpy anyway. This is supported by the fact that when you order a rebuilt one, they are 100 amp and not 80 amp like the original.

So I order the alternator from NAPA with a lifetime warranty, five year free towing to a NAPA service center. If the alternator is the reason for the tow a new alternator and the tow are free. What the hell, I say, $290 bucks. Whatever I want the damn thing fixed. The teasing from EGD, Titanium Hitch, and my boss is becoming unbearable.

So I swap the alternator. Two big bolts, remove the air filter assembly, loosen the belt tightener. Swap. Bolt it back up, done. Poof like 30 minutes I’m done. I cleaned off the terminals and the battery cables and even grease them for fun.

I go to start it and nothing. Turns over does not start.

First I’m thinking WTF? Those two things aren’t related, well not much anyway. So I get RovErica to fire her up while I check for spark. No spark.

With a suggestion from JagGuy who informs me I must have busted a wire when I was working near the ignition relocation module. Okay so I go back and every wire I touch breaks. Makes me wonder how it was running in the first place. So I wire it all back up with some difficulty. Not completely understanding where all the wires go makes the logic hard to follow. But wired back up it was. Still nothing.

I give up and my wife says it might be good to look for another Rover. “If this one is going to be down three days a week. You’ll need to get to work.” That was bad. I don’t want another car payment right now. And I’m beginning to doubt why I am obsessed with these Rovers. I printed up the testing procedures and got to Test 2 before I find the problem, dead coil. I give up at 11:15pm, send the emails to work telling them to cancel my appointment and telling them I’m dead in the water.

In the morning I call JagGuy again. He says Eric that doesn’t make any sense if you are wired up and don’t have any voltage at the coil, it’s not the coil. It must be something else. I tell him how frustrated I am and that I’m well over my head at this point. He says casually as he signs off, telling me to call him later and to check your fuses and your connections again.

I have half the wiring harness disassembled and am wondering how all this works. I think okay check the fuses. Why didn’t I check them earlier? Well guess what dead 20 amp ignition fuse. Feeling like a complete horse’s ass I fire her up and everything worked. Fun thing happens while I’m reassembling the wire harness…the NEW alternator makes the hum sound.

What is wrong with me? I’m a smart guy, well sorta. I’m no slouch anyway. Why can’t I understand all the concepts related to ignition systems? It’s rhetorical, so don’t email me on that.

It’s a few day later and all seems well and the alternator is working well. The battery is not discharged. I own a new trickle charger. And I can now get to work.

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