Truck does not start - Stranded my Wife.

Proven

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Okay, so it has been a while since I have posted since usually I find all my answers using the search feature.

Not this time, unfortunately.

Here is the situation as it unfolded today -

Call from wife - NO POWER. She got my daughter to the "Mothers Morning Out" and was then stranded. Turn the key on and nothing happened - no interior lights, no radio, no dash lights, no power door locks. Nothing.

When I get to the truck I check the "links" and all three are in good condition. I find some loose relays and some loose fuses but nothing "burned out."

I put the volt meter on the battery and I read 12.27v.

I put the key in the ignition and now I hear a faint buzzing and some dash lights are faintly trying to come on. The radio works and the clock is on. I tried to crank and nothing happened. The dash went blank and nothing - not a clunk to be heard. I returned the key to the on position and some buzzing (very faint) and the dash lights dimly light up.

I have to push the truck out of the parking space to jump it...thank you ARB for being easy to hold onto.

I get it backed out and jump it off from my 4Runner - VROOOOOM!

I don't dilly dally - I pull off the jumper cables and it stays running. I drive it home (4 miles at 45 mph) without any issues. I was cautious not to run any accessories that might drain what charge there was in the battery.

When I get home I put the voltmeter across the posts while the truck is still running and see 14+ volts.

I stop the engine and tried to restart - dead. Nothing happened. No clicking like the solenoid trying to turn over...nothing.

I found that my positive cable was slightly loose. Meaning that while I was loosening the nut that holds my positive wire to the clamp I saw the clamp rotate. I was pulling the wires off the clamp to see if there was any chaffing or damaged loom. So I cleaned and re-tightened everything.

I checked the voltage across the posts of the battery and saw 12.73v. So I tried to start it - This time I had interior lights on, radio on, the power seats worked, the AC fan worked....no start. Turning on the headlights killed everything. Trying to turn on the hazards made this strange chirping noise and dimmed everything.

I push my truck out of the garage and jump it again - VROOOOM!

This time I drive around and idle in my driveway for 1 hour. I turned on the headlights - Saw the volt gauge bounce. I saw this bounce for headlights (low and high beam change), turning on the hazards or blinkers caused the bounce to happen every time the relay clicked. Now for the surprise - if I FLASHED my high beams the voltage dropped in half the alternator light flashed on and the RPMs of the truck DROPPED in half.

This was interesting because besides this - everything else worked like it usually would. So I pushed the envelope to see what would happen. I flashed once - voltage drop/RPM drop - I then flashed repeatedly which had less and less impact on the voltage gauge and RPMs.

I drove around some more thinking that this must have been because the battery wasn't charged enough...surely it would improve driving around some more.

I got home and pulled into the cave..I mean garage..and shut down after checking that again I was over 14v with the engine running. With the engine off I was at 12.79v.

I tried to crank again - Nothing happened - no clicking or any sound. The dash lights disappeared and nothing happened. It was like I turned the truck off. When I turned the key to the on position I got the same pathetic buzzing noise and bashful dashlights I had before I drove the truck for an hour.

The battery is a DieHard International Group 27 772CCA that is over 4 years old (maybe 7 years old) and up to this point people have always commented on how aggressive my truck cranks and starts. It was always CHIRP CHIRP CHIRP - VROOM!

My truck has proudly just turned over 190K. I have done nothing electrically to the truck yet as it is my wife's daily driver while waiting for my 4Runner to be paid off. Then it will become my toy again. So this is to say - I have not recently done anything to the truck besides PM and inspect her. Effectively this is a shot out of the blue because she has been such a solid workhorse.

Each time my truck was jumped my started came to the party with AUTHORITY. I would wait a few minutes before attempting to crank and when I did it was like - Chiiiiiirp, CHIRP CHIRP CHIRP - VROOM!

So here is where my trouble shooting has lead me and unfortunately I do not have enough time/diagnostic equipment to verify the next step. It is either that the alternator is not charging the battery adequately anymore - but produced enough power to run the truck without issue once jumped. OR - It is time to say goodbye to the battery and find a new one.

The thing that has stumped me is the "Flashing-the-brights-makes-the-voltage-drop-like-a-prom-dress-on-prom-night" thing. Because in my mind that could take me down both roads.


  • This could be the regulator not keeping up with the demands of the truck - thus needing attention.
  • This could be the charging system sucking hardcore
  • This could be the battery not having enough electrolyte to do its thang anymore. (this is a maintenance free battery, or else I'd have tried to do something about that)
  • D - All of the above.
I was really hoping that I would come down my troubleshooting road and have the answer like I have so many times after reading the threads and testing. This time, I was stumped by the peculiarity of the "flashed bright" lights dropping the RPMs and voltage - as well as the fact that the battery appears to have good voltage but won't power anything.

So - I have checked voltages around the engine and peered around to see if I see melted wires etc...I have not pulled open any harness sections because I am currently not inclined to do so. Everything works at this point once the truck is jumped.

Any and all feedback will be welcomed. I apologize that electrical no start conditions come up so often on these forums and it sometimes feels like they are all the same. I read through each one that came up in my searching.
 

Proven

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I also apologize for that wall of text...at least I broke it up a little. Wow...
 
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if you can get the car running again, I would check the output from the alternator by unhooking the battery once the engine is running and testing at the alternator output for voltage. Then you will know if your alternator is good. Then pull the battery and take it in to your local parts store to be load tested.

Even better, just pull both and go get them both tested at the local shop. If you have a winch and other electronics, it may be time to think about upgrading the alt to a higher amp type, I got one on ebay that is super nice and was not too much more than a rebuilt stock one.

Noah
 
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12.27 is just about dead for standing voltage. Were you able to load test the battery?

I think you will find you need a new one.
 

Proven

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if you can get the car running again, I would check the output from the alternator by unhooking the battery once the engine is running and testing at the alternator output for voltage....
Noah

Unhooking the battery won't cause any issues with the truck running? The manual said not to do it, so that was why I had not.

I will try that tomorrow - am I checking for voltage or amperage (or both)? and am I checking to the battery terminal from the terminal on the alternator?

I have a manual - so it is probably in the charging section maybe?

Thank you for the reply.
 

Proven

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12.27 is just about dead for standing voltage. Were you able to load test the battery?

I think you will find you need a new one.

I wasn't able to do a load test - mostly because I was afraid of being stranded somewhere.

I assume I would need to do this at either a dealer or a autozone/advanced auto.

Can they do this without the truck? I am trying to reduce how far/much I drive her away from my house.

Today my course was a 3 mile loop that took me no further than 1.5 miles from my home.

I did read a post that had a table with the percentage of battery drain to voltage. I agree with you saying that this battery was very low today.

Thank you for the reply!
 
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Yes, you can remove the battery and get it tested.
You could buy your own from HF for like 20 bucks.

The alternator was obviously charging the battery while it was running. You said so yourself.
 
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I agree. Load test the battery. HF load testers are cheap and work fine. I don't use mine often but when you need it it's a handy tool.
 
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These symptoms sound like a classic case of dirty terminals/clamps at the battery to me. Take them off and clean them. You want to wire brush or sand them until they are bright, not just dull gray. Also make sure that they are not pitted and burnt.


Mark...
 

Proven

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The alternator was obviously charging the battery while it was running. You said so yourself.

I did. I saw the voltage go up, but it was still not enough juice to do anything with high draw. I always thought that volts/amps were linear in that low volts meant low amps which is why the battery would not crank the starter. Mine had normal volts but nothing behind it.

I will load-test tomorrow either by driving to a auto store or buying a load tester. I believe I found the Load Tester

Thank you for the reply.
 

Proven

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These symptoms sound like a classic case of dirty terminals/clamps at the battery to me. Take them off and clean them. You want to wire brush or sand them until they are bright, not just dull gray. Also make sure that they are not pitted and burnt.


Mark...

Thank you for the reply. I did that when I saw the clamp/terminal shift on the positive side. I cleaned both using a battery terminal wire brush, as well as the battery terminals themselves. I was so positive that this was the cause myself.
 
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Your headlights are a pretty decent load test. Put your multimeter across the battery posts, measure voltage, turn on headlights, measure voltage. With a "good" battery you should be at 12.5V or better with the headlights on - if not, your battery is dead/flat/stuffed etc.

Do the same test with the meter on the clamps - they should show the same voltage as above if the posts & clamps are making good electrical contact.

How old is your battery - really? Low maintenance or has caps on the cells? If caps on cells you can use a hygrometer to check each cell. If you really think it's 7yrs old, then you've had a good run from it, time for a new one.

Anyhow, sounds like a dead battery. They often go from working great to totally stuffed - so that shouldn't be a surprise. Just measuring the voltage of a battery doesn't tell you anything about its amp.hour capacity - hence the need for a load test.

cheers,
george.
 
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The battery is...over 4 years old (maybe 7 years old)

Maybe it's just me, but you could have replaced the battery in the time it took just to document the number of times you jumped it and had it die again :idea:

Seriously, batteries have a pretty predictable useful life, and you are past that. Hope it's a simple fix.
 
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Could be an internal problem with the battery. Try measuring the voltage while attempting to start the truck. If the battery has an internal problem, the voltage will drop to near zero when you try to start the truck.
 
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Maybe it's just me, but you could have replaced the battery in the time it took just to document the number of times you jumped it and had it die again :idea:

Seriously, batteries have a pretty predictable useful life, and you are past that. Hope it's a simple fix.

Exactly, just get a new battery. A bad battery can cause symptoms that looks like a bad alternator.
 

Proven

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Thank you for all the replies. I wasn't sure so that's why I asked you great folks.

So - Battery recommendations?

I am not looking to spend a mint on a battery nor am I looking to buy the cheapest thing on the market. To be honest I have put a total of two batteries in all the cars I have owned. I've just never had one do this to me.
 
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if you can get the car running again, I would check the output from the alternator by unhooking the battery once the engine is running and testing at the alternator output for voltage. Then you will know if your alternator is good.


DO NOT DISCONNECT THE BATTERY WHEN RUNNING!!

You may very well fry your perfectly good alternator :bang:

You already stated that it's charging @ 14v+, so it should be good to go...

Make sure the cables are on tight and do a proper load test on the battery.
 
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DO NOT DISCONNECT THE BATTERY WHEN RUNNING!!

You may very well fry your perfectly good alternator :bang:

You already stated that it's charging @ 14v+, so it should be good to go...

Make sure the cables are on tight and do a proper load test on the battery.

have disconnected the positive from the batt many times with no problems, another way to do it is to disconnect from the alternator output and measure from the pos post of the alt to see what you are getting. The point is to not get a false reading from having the pos battery post connected.

Noah
 
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have disconnected the positive from the batt many times with no problems, another way to do it is to disconnect from the alternator output and measure from the pos post of the alt to see what you are getting. The point is to not get a false reading from having the pos battery post connected.

Noah

This method may have worked fine in the 60's and 70's, but with modern charging systems, the power spike can fry your alternator and may very well ruin the computer systems as well :eek:


You don't have to take my word for it though :meh:

http://www.ricksfreeautorepairadvic...ing-an-alternator-without-blowing-it-sky-high
 

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