Car Batteries

Is there a way to determine whether it is your battery or your alternator that needs to be fixed on a 98 4WD 3.1 L Olds Achieva?


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2004-11-30 09:43:47
2004-11-30 09:43:47

Go to Auto Zone and have them both checked out for free.


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If you can get your vehicle started you can then un hook the battery while it is running and if your vehicle stays running then your alternator is good. If it stalls and dies as soon as you unhook the battery then the alternator is not good.If you can get your vehicle started you can then un hook the battery while it is running and if your vehicle stays running then your alternator is good. If it stalls and dies as soon as you unhook the battery then the alternator is not good.

Start the engine and using a digital volt meter check the voltage at the battery with the engine running. If the alternator is good you will read from 13.5 to 15.5 volts DC.

If you look at it real close. You will see it stamped into the alternator.

Yes, it can. A completely dead battery can blow the alternator diodes, at least in older systems - I am not so certain about newer systems, whether or not they are protected against this annoyance. In any case, the alternator is not generally designed to charge a battery from scratch, but just to keep it charged during normal use. The alternator will not be completely ruined, but it will not function until the diodes are replaced.

First; attempt to charge the battery fully. Use a known good charger and take the appropriate time needed to do so. Second; determine if the battery is good or bad. A load tester is generally a bad way to test whether a battery is good or bad. Try to find somebody who uses a Mid-Tronics Electronic Battery Tester. These have a 100% no fail rate. Third; if the battery is good be sure it is still fully charged. If it is not good, replace it. I recommend the most expensive "Interstate" battery that will fit in your car. Be sure to have clean cables and cable ends. Fourth; determine with the good battery installed whether there is a load drain on the electrical system. This will help determine whether it is the alternator or a different electrical problem. Repair as needed. Fifth; sit down and wipe your brow or pat yourself on the back. Sixth; go to a qualified automotive electrical shop?

Your battery is not being charged because of a problem with the charging system Whether its a problem with the alternator / voltage regulator , the serpentine belt etc . you should have the charging system checked

Make sure the battery is checked out under a load. This will indicate whether the battery is capable of holding a charge.Second, suspect the alternator is not charging the battery.Third, suspect a short or a switch somewhere that is draining the battery.

Almost all of us have experienced the problem where either your car battery or alternator just conks out, and you can't make out which one to replace. Its not easy finding out exactly which part of your car is giving you the trouble, but here are a few tips by which you can find out whether you have car battery problems or alternator problems. Check Your Battery First Start by checking your battery first. In cold weather, it's very common to have a dead battery that just won't start. Check the battery gauge on the dashboard to make out if the battery is sending a charge even when you have switched off the car. If there is a dim flickering light, then it means that something is using up power from the battery. You can then proceed to check the connections you commonly use, like the automatic window openers, windshield wipers and the brake lights. Switch them all off and try the battery again. Clean off any corrosion and check to see whether the battery will charge up again. Then check the battery voltage with a voltmeter. It should read close to 12.6 volts when the car is off. Then turn on the engine again and check the battery. If the voltmeter reads between 14-15 volts then the battery is normal. But if the battery reads over 15 volts or less than 13 volts, then there might be a problem with the voltage regulator, the wiring or the alternator. If the battery just wont keep a charge even when you have turned off all accessories, then it's time to take a look at the other systems that work with the battery to run your car. Check the Alternator Test the alternator to make sure that it can start up the battery. If the battery is working properly and nothing is wrong with it, then it's the alternator that will more likely cause a problem. A simple test to check the working of the alternator is by running your car; and then unplugging the positive connection of the battery. If the car stops, then you most likely have a problem with the alternator. Another simple test is to check your interior lights. An alternator charges your battery when the car is running. If the interior and dashboard lights come on brightly but slowly start to fade, then it indicates a problem whit the alternator. It demonstrates that the alternator cannot keep a charge when the car is running. Another sign is that the car lights run brightly when you race your car, but when you slow it down, the lights start to lose power.

Could be a bad belt, if you bought a rebuilt alternator then it may not be up to snuff, you might need to replace your battery, or you might have a parasitic drain in the vehicle's electronics somewhere which has nothing to do with the alternator. Without knowing the conditions under which it occurs, or why you had the alternator replaced in the first place (namely, whether you actually diagnosed it or just threw a part at it), it's a bit impossible to narrow it down.

When alternator went out, it could have taken out a fuse if the alternator shorted. The main battery cable to the alternator is not fused, but in your panel you should find an ALT fuse. most alternators have two to three small wires that are in a pigtail that plug into the alternator. these small wires are fused. if your car can't pass current through an open fuse. then there is nothing to essentially tell the alternator to turn on. another thing to check, is whether the battery light comes on. if you turn the key to the forward position, without trying to strart the engine, your prestart lights should all light up. this is a system precheck before the engine starts. the battery light should come on at this point. if the light doesn't come on that is an indication of a fuse being blown. in a lot of vehicles, from the seventies to the late nineties, the charge light, or battery light has to work in order for the alternator to work. if the bulb in the dash(which is behind the battery light) burns out, your alternator will not receive power to turn on and work. again, newer vehicles do not have a light circuit that it relies on for the alternator to function. keep in mind, your battery light should have come on and been on the entire time the old alternator was in the vehicle. if it wasn't on, then this is something to pursue further.

Actually the charging mechanism in an automobile is the alternator, and it works whether the wheels are moving or not. The alternator is one of the parts in the engine compartment that have a drive belt. These are the belts that turn the cooling fan for most cars, and for that reason the belts are commonly known as "fan belts". Most new cars have what is known as a serpentine fan belt, that turns more than one part of the car, the alternator being one of the parts being turned. While the engine is running the alternator is putting out a charge that continually charges the coil and other ignition systems along with the cars battery. When the alternator fails the car will run until the battery is drained of it's charge, and that is when you have a dead battery usually.

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The D indicates the discharge side of the guage, and when the indicator needle is located anywhere in this area indicates that the alternator is not creating enough current to charge the battery, and therefore, the battery is being discharged. The C indicates the charge side of the guage, and when the needle is in this area, it means the alternator is putting out enough current to charge the battery. A needle right in the center indicates that the current going into the battery equals the amount of current being taken from the battery by your vehicle's electrical devices. The closer to the center, the lower the amount of current is flowing, and conversly, the farther to the edge [closer to the D or C] the greater the amount of current flowing, whether it's a charging flow, or a discharging flow. Therefore, when the battery is being charged, the needle should be somewhere between the center [no flow] and the C.The closer to the C, the greater the rate of charge to the battery.

The wiring harness from a typical alternator has three wires. One is for grounding, one is from the battery, and the other is from the voltage regulator. In a GM alternator however, there may be two wires or only one wire. It depends on whether you have an external voltage regulator or not, and if the alternator simply grounds itself to the bracket it's attached to. The best way to find out is to trace the wires to their sources.

A compass needle test will determine whether a current is flowing in the wire.IF the current is flowing the compass needle will deflect from alignment with the wire.

There is an easy test of the alternator that you can do when the car is running. With the car running, and the hood popped open, hold the end of a long (preferrably a long one but any screwdriver will do) flathead screwdriver to the center of the pulley wheel on the alternator. Don't worry at all; it's not dangerous whatsoever. If the alternator is good, the screwdriver will be sucked to the wheel because there is magnetism from the electricity of the alternator. If the alternator is bad, it won't be sucked to the wheel. It will just bounce slightly. Sometimes, it is hard to destinguish between the two if you don't have experience. It doesn't suck real hard nor does it bounce very much; but there certainly is a difference. You should be able to figure it out though because if the alternator is good it will hold/ suck the end of the screwdriver onto the pulley wheel. You can't miss it. Also, how old is your battery? If it is 5 years old, then there is a good chance that it is the battery. Also, a bad neutral safety switch will act like a dead battery.

Battery tenders perform a variety of tasks: letting you know whether your battery is charged; letting you know whether your battery has to be replaced; and charging batteries--among many other things.

The theory to " spin" the alternator is the same as spinning an air compressor. The ac motor, whether a single plase or industrial three phase motor, to turn the belt or chain driven item,alternator or air compressor pump. the schematic for an air compressor would give you this answer for the

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In general, an ammeter needs to be installed between the device providing electricity and the device(s) using electricity. This kind of connection, where you break the wire and install the meter across the break, is called a "series" connection. In an automobile, the ammeter should be installed in the smaller of the two positive (usually red) battery cables, the one that runs from the positive battery terminal to the alternator charging terminal (and also to rest of the non-starter electrical loads). Here is a simple drawing: B+ ------(\)---------- A+ ---------- ACC ST Where: (\) = The Ammeter B+ = Positive Battery Terminal A+ = Alternator Charging Terminal ST = Starter (large cable) ACC = To vehicle Accessories (small cable) i.e., ignition, lights, etc. ------ = smaller (typically 10 gauge) red wire = larger battery/starter cable (typically 4 gauge or larger) Notes: * Do not install the ammeter in the large cable that goes to the starter. * The small cable from the Alternator to the battery may be attached to the battery terminal, or it may be attached to the starter terminal. Electrically these are equivalent. * In order for the ammeter to properly show whether the battery is charging or discharging, the ammeter must be installed between (a) the battery and (b) both the alternator and fuse block/ignition switch. * If the accessory cable is also attached to the starter, it will have to be removed and attached to the alternator side of the ammeter or to the alternator as shown in the drawing. * Make sure you disconnect the negative battery terminal before working on the electrical system. ALWAYS wear safety googles whenever working on or near the vehicle battery.

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