Alternator / battery issues - HELP! - Chevy Colorado & GMC Canyon

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Old 12-11-2011, 05:26 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Alternator / battery issues - HELP!

So, I don't know why everyone raves about the Optima batteries. I put a redtop in my truck about 2 years ago, it lasted a year. The free replacement just went the other day and I noticed that there was some corrosion around the bottom of the battery. The lady at Autozone said that she didn't know why they sell the Optima redtops around here because they don't do well in the cold. So this time I had stuff to do so I got a jump, packed up the kiddies, and went to Sears to replace the Optima with a Die Hard. Figured that I would have the battery installed and move onto my errands. Wrong, they told me that I needed an alternator as well and they could do both for about $700. I said no thanks, I usually work on my truck myself. So I do a couple of my errands by leaving the truck running and locking it with my spare key.

Now I go to Autozone to have them test the system (looking for a 2nd opinion), but they couldn't because the battery was discharged below 12 volts. I figure that it must be the alternator since the battery isn't getting charged. I get a new alternator, pop it in (not really, it's a bit of a pain to get the original out) and start her up. At the start of working on the alternator I let the battery charge for a little while hooked up to my wife's Vue with jumper cables, and when I got everything back together it started on it's own, no jump.

Now I let it run for a little while to charge the battery, but guess what, it's not charging. Everything starts shutting down: battery light, abs fault, air bag fault, the interior lights are dim. So, what else, besides the battery or alternator could be causing this. Please tell me it's not a bad replacement alternator, I don't wanna have to go through that again.

Thanks,
Greg
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Old 12-11-2011, 06:56 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Mega fuse
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Old 12-11-2011, 06:57 PM   #3 (permalink)
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^^^ X2

Ive had my red top for over 3 years now no issues. our winters are usally -20 ish (centigrade)

my alt died last summer and I ran for 4 days on the red top alone untill my new alt arrived :D

put your batt on a trickle charger to bring it bak to life and re test the alternator. I bet you have a parasitic draw.
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Old 12-12-2011, 02:41 AM   #4 (permalink)
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OK, let's do some diagnosis:

First, almost all lead acid starting batteries are the same. Yes, there are few different types but within one type I do not care if they are red, or blue, or yellow, or black, or pink. They are all about the same.

Throw a trickle charger (6 amp of so) on the battery overnight (12 to 24 hours) and recharge that battery completely. Then turn on the headlights for 30 seconds to a minute and turn them off again. This gets rid of the surface charge on the cells. Then put a voltmeter across the battery and read the voltage. 12.6 to 12.8 is a good battery. Anything less than 12.6 is a problem battery and 12.6 is marginal.

Next is to figure out if the alternator is charging. Start the engine and read the voltage across the battery again. It should read 13.8 to 14.2 volts. If it isn't then we need to find out why. The alternator could be bad but also the PCM starts and controls the alternator in this truck and it could be failing to start the alternator. Do not ask me why they designed it this way but they did. I actually think I know why but it is speculation on my part.

We could go probe the start line to see if it is active at this point or you could perform a PCM / BCM reset by disconnecting the battery for 1 hour (or more) and go through the above testing again. I would do the reset because it is easier.

While you are waiting for the hour I would suggest disconnection of the ground connections on the left and right inner fenders and cleaning them up until shiny. Then install a tooth washer between the body and the terminals and tighten them up again. These bad grounds cause all sorts of strange problems when they become corroded or rusty.

If after the hour the alternator still does not start then you will need to probe the PCM start line to see if it is being told to start.

Here is the wiring diagram:

http://www.naskie18.com/colorado/sch...20Part%205.pdf

I do not know if the wire should go plus or minus. You will need to probe it (the red wire) with the key on and the engine NOT running. Then start the truck to see if it goes to the other state of either plus or minus. The last lead is the field. I 'think' I know what is should read but without investigating it some more, I'll wait to say what it should read.

If all of the above things do not find your problem I would remove the alternator and take it back to AutoZone. They have a machine they can spin it up on and test it out for you. I once went through 5 different alternators from 3 different sources on one Ford Taurus until I got a good one.

One other small problem in this area that is difficult to diagnose is a bad belt tensioner. You can have one of these go bad and slip with no other symptoms other than the battery will not stay charged.

Note: Your battery may now be bad but that may not be the original problem. If a battery is deep discharged a few times it will destroy it or reduce it's capacity severely. If you have a charging problem, get it fixed before replacing the battery.

Good Luck
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Old 12-12-2011, 03:23 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks for the replies guys.


I also had this same exact issue that I found on the Edmunds message board, unfortunately no replies:

"hi i have a 2005 canyon i was driving along and i put my charger in the auxillary power outlet, then all of a sudden my turn signals stopped working as well as my forward high beams, the light for the 4 way, and the light for the heater controls. somtimes when i pull back on the high beams everything will come back and if i plugg something in it will go off again and sometimes even when i just start the truck up after it is off this happens, any insite?" In my case, I hard wired in my GPS power behind the dash to the power outlet wire before I saw the issue. But my GPS works fine and has power.

I isolated that probem to the passenger side ground block. I couldn't figure out which wire it was exactly because they're so tight that they all move when you try to check one. So what I did was shove some solid 12 gauge ground wire from a piece of romex in the bottom of the ground block where the wires connect in to make them all snug with some conductive materal. It seemed to work, but I left the lights and blinker on while I was doing it, which led to my current issues.

So, has anyone else seen this blinker/high beam/HVAC control dash light issue before? Did I find the fix or is it a bigger issue? I'm wondering if this has something to do with a parasitic draw that I may have.

I have my battery and alternator out and ready to bring to Autozone as soon as my wife gets home with her car.
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Old 12-12-2011, 06:22 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quick question: the guy at Autozone said that if the mega fuse was blown, then nothing in the truck would work. Is that true? Or does it just disconnect the alterantor from the battery?

BTW, the alternator and battery both checked out fine. They charged the battery up for me in about 40 minutes.
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Old 12-12-2011, 07:09 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GWD View Post
Quick question: the guy at Autozone said that if the mega fuse was blown, then nothing in the truck would work. Is that true? Or does it just disconnect the alterantor from the battery?

BTW, the alternator and battery both checked out fine. They charged the battery up for me in about 40 minutes.
If your Mega Fuse were to be blown out you would be dead in the water waiting for a tow job. That Mega Fuse feeds the fuse block. If you have any kind of power in your truck to anything, that fuse is not blown out at all. Don't disconnect the Alternator from the battery cable when the truck is running unless you like buying alternators. My son is in Iraq and I had to install a float charger on his car because he has one of those deep cycle Optima batteries, but he is gone for most of the year and his wife only starts once in a while.
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Old 12-13-2011, 04:38 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GWD View Post
Quick question: the guy at Autozone said that if the mega fuse was blown, then nothing in the truck would work. Is that true? Or does it just disconnect the alterantor from the battery?

BTW, the alternator and battery both checked out fine. They charged the battery up for me in about 40 minutes.
Now that the battery is supposedly charged, what does the voltage across it read. If it is fully charged, it should be 12.6 to 12.8 BEFORE trying to start the truck and 13.8 to 14.2 after starting the truck.
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Old 12-13-2011, 09:16 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Ok, so I went ahead and replaced the mega fuse. I figured $7 for the fuse is cheaper than discharging the battery again which will probably kill it if it happens again. I got about 13v with the engine off and about 15v with it running (cheap mini multi meter hard to tell exact readings). So it seems to be fixed. I'll keep you posted.
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Old 12-13-2011, 09:19 AM   #10 (permalink)
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As I'm sitting here with my multi meter, I decided to check continuity on the original mega fuse. No dice, it's blown. Maybe this was the problem all along. However the original alternator failed the bench test 3 times and passed once. Probably needed one anyway.
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