Alternator (?) not charging battery - DodgeTalk : Dodge Car Forums, Dodge Truck Forums and Ram Forums
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#1 Old 05-30-2009, 12:01 PM
doodlebug
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Alternator (?) not charging battery

Hey guys, my truck's battery goes dead every few days and I have to keep charging it back up. The battery charge indicator needle in the dash stays in the center and doesn't move at all. I took it to the parts store the other day and they checked my battery and said it was good. They also checked the charging system and said that my alternator was bad. I bought a new (rebuilt) one from them and put it on and the same thing is happening, dead battery, didn't make any difference at all. Could a bad voltage regulator cause this problem? I'm kinda on the short side when it comes to things electrical, but is there anything I can check with my volt meter that will help me trace down the problem. If any of you have any ideas what it might be or what I need to check, I'd sure appreciate hearing from you.

1987 Dodge Power Ram W100, 4X4, 5.2L, 727, Short Bed


"We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."
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#2 Old 05-30-2009, 12:26 PM
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I would suspect the VR if the alternator has been replaced.
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#3 Old 05-30-2009, 12:43 PM
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Yup, sounds like a bad VR. Barring that, could be a bad fusible link maybe, or a wire shorting to ground.

Rob M.
'93 D150 RC SWB, 5.2 Magnum, NV4500 5-spd, 9.25" diff
'72 D100 RC LWB, PT project
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#4 Old 05-30-2009, 12:49 PM
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The battery should be ~12.6 volts with the engine off and ~14-15 volts with the engine running at ~ 1500 rpm.
You might have a draw of some sort discharging the battery. Remove the ground, preferable at night and see if there is a sprk when reconnecting or use an ammeter to do the same if your meter can do this.

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#5 Old 05-30-2009, 01:05 PM
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I was just now outside looking at the VR and noticed that it looked like it was leaking from the back side and down the firewall. I think there is some sort of an epoxy filler on the back of those things and I reckon it might be that. In any event, I wouldn't think leaking would be a good sign. Would this confirm your suspicion of the VR?

1987 Dodge Power Ram W100, 4X4, 5.2L, 727, Short Bed


"We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."
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#6 Old 05-30-2009, 01:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by B-300 View Post
The battery should be ~12.6 volts with the engine off and ~14-15 volts with the engine running at ~ 1500 rpm.
You might have a draw of some sort discharging the battery. Remove the ground, preferable at night and see if there is a sprk when reconnecting or use an ammeter to do the same if your meter can do this.
The voltage is around 12.4 with the engine off and the same when it's running. I also think I just fried my VOA meter...dang! I was checking amps and I think I connected the meter wrong and the test leads got hot and started smoking. Oh well.

1987 Dodge Power Ram W100, 4X4, 5.2L, 727, Short Bed


"We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."
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#7 Old 05-30-2009, 01:20 PM
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Yup, bad vr.

Rob M.
'93 D150 RC SWB, 5.2 Magnum, NV4500 5-spd, 9.25" diff
'72 D100 RC LWB, PT project
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#8 Old 05-31-2009, 09:15 AM
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I was just now outside looking at the VR and noticed that it looked like it was leaking from the back side and down the firewall. I think there is some sort of an epoxy filler on the back of those things and I reckon it might be that. In any event, I wouldn't think leaking would be a good sign. Would this confirm your suspicion of the VR?

Yeah, your VR shouldn't be leaking anything...
And remember, this is one of those things you don't want to skimp on. Buy a good one...


The voltage is around 12.4 with the engine off and the same when it's running. I also think I just fried my VOA meter...dang! I was checking amps and I think I connected the meter wrong and the test leads got hot and started smoking. Oh well.

Your run-of-the-mill VOM's aren't built to measure the kind of amperage that could be present ... They generally are only made to measure miliamps...

"There's been a DODGE in my garage since 1974"



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#9 Old 05-31-2009, 10:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doodlebug View Post
Hey guys, my truck's battery goes dead every few days and I have to keep charging it back up. The battery charge indicator needle in the dash stays in the center and doesn't move at all. I took it to the parts store the other day and they checked my battery and said it was good. They also checked the charging system and said that my alternator was bad. I bought a new (rebuilt) one from them and put it on and the same thing is happening, dead battery, didn't make any difference at all. Could a bad voltage regulator cause this problem? I'm kinda on the short side when it comes to things electrical, but is there anything I can check with my volt meter that will help me trace down the problem. If any of you have any ideas what it might be or what I need to check, I'd sure appreciate hearing from you.
D-bug,

Yes, you MUST replace that regulator with one of good quality, and right away. Melted epoxy leaking from the regulator, ignition module or ANY component always spells failure.

If you're still not charging after you replace the reg, be sure that you don't have in internally-broken wire in the charging system (usually found near the alternator), any loose or corroded connections, and that the nuts on the back of the ammeter are good and tight! It never hurts to dress/pack your connections with dielectric grease (one of my "religions").

If all else fails, please remember that the failure frequency of auto-parts-store-sourced rebuilt alternators is two out of three -- same as carburetors! And yes, I speak form personal experience; that's why I rebuild nearly all of my own components now.

Well, that and the fact that I'm an incorrigible control freak . . .

Jeff

Jeff Dreibus
Nebo, North Carolina

'70 Chrysler 300
'78 Dodge Adventurer D-150
'88 Jeep Grand Wagoneer (Mopar-by-marriage)
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#10 Old 05-31-2009, 10:58 AM
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When you're talking about a regulator of "good" quality, just where would I find one of those? Can you still get them at the dealer? From what I've noticed, just about all of the aftermarket stuff is pretty near of the same quality (or I should say lack of quality..."China"). If any of you know a good one, let me know. Thanks fellers.

1987 Dodge Power Ram W100, 4X4, 5.2L, 727, Short Bed


"We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."
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#11 Old 05-31-2009, 11:40 AM
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Yeah dealer still has them.

Rob M.
'93 D150 RC SWB, 5.2 Magnum, NV4500 5-spd, 9.25" diff
'72 D100 RC LWB, PT project
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#12 Old 05-31-2009, 04:21 PM
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I just took the old voltage regulator off (man, I'm getting too old to be stretching across a motor like that ) Anyway, before I took it off, you could see a stain on the firewall where it looked like something was running down from the back side of the VR. When I took it off, however, it didn't look so bad on the back. I'm wondering if that could have been from a previous bad VR? Anyway, I'll get another tomorrow and change it out and see if that does any good. I sure hope thats all it takes.

1987 Dodge Power Ram W100, 4X4, 5.2L, 727, Short Bed


"We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."
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#13 Old 05-31-2009, 06:16 PM
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Standard Motor Products used to make an excellent VR. They recently started making them overseas, which is disappointing, but hopefully they've got the same quality control measures in place as before.

One thing I'll say for SMP, their customer service is excellent. I had one go bad on me after only 6 months in the truck, I emailed them, they said "ship it to us and we'll replace it free." They did, so they obviously care about pleasing their customers.

Echlin (NAPA) also used to make decent ones, the last one I got a few years back was "Made in U.S.A." but it wouldn't surprise me if that's changed.

In any case, I would go with either of those or something from the dealer. You can find those 2 aftermarket ones for about $30. What you don't want is one of those $12.99 specials from Checker or wherever...

I finally started keeping a spare around, as you never know when those pesky little things will go bad.

When you mount the new one, make sure it's well grounded to the firewall (sand or wire brush around one of the mounting holes until you get nice shiny metal, and put a thin layer of dielectric grease there). Double check that your battery is well grounded to the block and chassis, that the alternator is well grounded to the block, and that the firewall is grounded to the block (I run a braided metal grounding strap from the block directly to one of the bolts mounting the VR. Anything but nice clean, tight grounds all the way around, and you're likely to have charging system issues.

___________

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#14 Old 05-31-2009, 06:54 PM
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My .02 cents. You may also, while inspecting the system, check the fire wall connection. Remember with the amp guage everything runs through these wires and the connections at the fire wall are susceptable to corossion. I know my old B body had this issue as did many others. A lot of people (25 yrs ago) would do away with this connection at the fire wall (eliminate the little connectors) and make it a straight shot.

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#15 Old 05-31-2009, 06:55 PM
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Appreciate the information and the good advice from all.

1987 Dodge Power Ram W100, 4X4, 5.2L, 727, Short Bed


"We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."
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#16 Old 06-01-2009, 12:16 AM
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Your meter should of had a fuse of proper size in it to prevent excess current flow resulting in fried leads.
The last regulator I replaced the potting (epoxy?) had shrunk and then it didn't work correctly.

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#17 Old 06-01-2009, 12:18 PM
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i wouldent trust that gauge on a stack of bibles man

good enough for the girls i go with
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#18 Old 06-01-2009, 12:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Megunticook View Post
Echlin (NAPA) also used to make decent ones, the last one I got a few years back was "Made in U.S.A." but it wouldn't surprise me if that's changed.
i wouldent use them i tried them THEM went through 4 of them befor i got one that worked and then it craped out on me 6 er7 months later. i ended up digen around in the garage and found a a factory one i pulled of a ramcharger and its been worken for the past 2 years...??.. i have been unable to find a good VR that has good long life and regulates the voltage properly

good enough for the girls i go with
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#19 Old 06-01-2009, 05:54 PM
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I picked up another VR today from NAPA. It was the Standard Products (Blue Streak) brand I believe. Put it on and still no charge. So far I've replaced the alternator, the VR and I took the battery out of my other truck just to make sure I had a good battery. Still, nothing. This is so agravating and I'm afraid I just don't know enough about electrical testing to proceed further. If it isn't the VR, the alternator, or the battery, what could it be? Someone said something about an inline fuseable link or something. Where is it/they located and how can you tell if its bad? If someone could walk me through the troubleshooting step by step and in real simple terms, I'll dance a jig at your wedding.....or your funeral, whichever comes first. Thanks fellas.

1987 Dodge Power Ram W100, 4X4, 5.2L, 727, Short Bed


"We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."
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#20 Old 06-02-2009, 01:44 PM
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I offered some advice in my previous post about checking the grounds. Are they all solid? If you haven't had them apart in a while, clean everything up good and make sure you have good shiny clean metal contacting shiny clean metal, with bright, clean fasteners, etc. Get downright fastidious about it.

Beats spending a bunch of money on new parts that don't fix the problem. I've been there, believe me.

And the firewall connections?

___________

1973 W100 shortbed, 318, 4-speed standard
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