battery died while driving
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Thread: battery died while driving

  1. #1
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    battery died while driving

    On my way back from work yesterday, the car battery barely started the my '95 G20 (145k miles) and the warning light went on. After driving about 30 minutes, most of it steady highway driving, the power went out and the car died. This was the first time I noticed any weakness in the battery.
    Because it was Sunday and I managed to get the car to an illegal parking spot, I went to buy a new battery at WalMart so I could move the car. The new battery started the car just fine.

    My questions are:
    1) Would a bad battery simply die while driving if the alternator was working properly?
    2) I hear a squeeking sound for a short period when first starting the car in the morning which sounds like a belt. Then it goes away. The belt doesn't seem too loose. It may have engine oil on it from a very slight leak. Could my problem just be a bad or loose belt and not the alternator itself?
    3) If the alternator is not working properly, could this old battery still be good if recharged? It is about 1 1/2 years old.
    4) If the alternator is not working, how long will it take for the new battery to die? (How long do I have to get it fixed without the same problem again?)
    5) The former owner said it was a new alternator and battery (I bought the car in May 2006). How long should a new one last?

    Thanks in advance for the help.

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  3. #2
    I'm Better Than Zohaib DragonEye's Avatar
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    what warning light went on? battery? if so its the alternator.

    and the battery should be able to be recharged.

  4. #3
    looking for a can opener Jaralaccs's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=doughonolulu
    1) Would a bad battery simply die while driving if the alternator was working properly?
    most of the time no (loose battery cables could do it)

    2) I hear a squeeking sound for a short period when first starting the car in the morning which sounds like a belt. Then it goes away. The belt doesn't seem too loose. It may have engine oil on it from a very slight leak. Could my problem just be a bad or loose belt and not the alternator itself?
    loose belts can't spin the alt properly which wouldn't charge the battery

    3) If the alternator is not working properly, could this old battery still be good if recharged? It is about 1 1/2 years old.
    usually depends on how low the voltage got. 1.5yrs isn't that old for a battery

    4) If the alternator is not working, how long will it take for the new battery to die? (How long do I have to get it fixed without the same problem again?)
    pretty quickly. some auto parts stores can check your battery & alt for you

    5) The former owner said it was a new alternator and battery (I bought the car in May 2006). How long should a new one last?
    battery 3-5yrs, alt depends -mine is original with 146k miles, 7yrs old.
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  5. #4
    G20 Member stamar's Avatar
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    ya tighten the alternator belt. That squeaking belt is killing the alternator.

    The longer you leave the old battery discharged the less point you have in bothering. After 2-3 days its too late


    your brand new battery will be fully discharged after a few starts or one short drive with the headlights on.

  6. #5
    G20 Member Lemute's Avatar
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    if your car dies while driving, then ur problem is ur alternator, not ur battery
    as others have said, check ur belt, and if thats ok, then u have alternator issues. check all ur alternator wiring (alternator to battery, harness, grounding bolts) make sure there is no corrosion or wear.

  7. #6
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    Thanks all for the feedback!! Will get the belt tightened and see what happens.

  8. #7
    Full-Time Chiller . . . . Black95G20's Avatar
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    charge the battery fully (use a battery tender or some equivalent for a "trickle charge") and tighten the belt. If the battery wont fully charge, then its the battery. If you are able to fully charge it and you tighten the belt and it dies again then it's the alternator.
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  9. #8
    G20 Member stamar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lemute View Post
    if your car dies while driving, then ur problem is ur alternator, not ur battery
    as others have said, check ur belt, and if thats ok, then u have alternator issues. check all ur alternator wiring (alternator to battery, harness, grounding bolts) make sure there is no corrosion or wear.
    this is definitely true
    the car can run with no battery. After starting the alternator runs the car.

    An easier way to diagnose the alternator is to start the car and disconnect the battery.

    If it dies, the alternator is bad.

  10. #9
    G20 Guru XnotedgeanymoreX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stamar View Post
    your brand new battery will be fully discharged after a few starts or one short drive with the headlights on.
    Not true. Myself and a friend drove his B13 SE-R for 83 miles on the interstate at night (with the headlights on) into Atlanta after the altrenator tensioner bolt snapped causing it to throw the belt. Then a trip to Ace in the morning for like $1.00 worth of grade 8 fasteners and the battery still had enough juice to start it up after the repairs.

  11. #10
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    A battery can also run a car for awhile. Some race cars use a small battery and no alternator. But yeah i'd say its the alt. Is it an Autolite? if so thats your problem right there. A bad alt can kill a cell in a battery but it also depends. Like the old battery i'm sure was dead, this new one MAY be able to be fully recharged and functional if the car dies again. There's no set time for how long before a battery goes bad with a bad alt.

  12. #11
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    Well I tightened the belt, and the squeek went away. Took the car to the shop and it turns out the alternator was bad. Though it was only less than 2 years old, had been mis-installed by the previous owner. But the battery was still good after the recharge, so hopefully I will be able to return the new one I bought. $275 to replace the alternator here in Honolulu, whew!!!!
    Thanks to all for your input. This is such a great forum!!

  13. #12
    G20 Member stamar's Avatar
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    Well I have had alternators die and kill the battery within 30 miles.

    I dont know how a car could run for 100 miles on just the battery really but i believe you.

    If there is a contest for it your friend would win.

    Dont plan on your battery driving you 100 miles after your alternator dies regardless of what your friend did.

  14. #13
    G20 Guru TheBlazinAzn's Avatar
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    when my alternator got fried in a engine bay fire the battery only ran me home and then to the auto store and back. it died pulling into my neighborhood. im guessin it was a 25 mile drive, three starts, no headlights.

    you can also check the output of the alternator with a multimeter
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  15. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by stamar View Post
    Well I have had alternators die and kill the battery within 30 miles....
    Same here. My P11 has had two alternators in llifetime.

  16. #15
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    I knew it was the alt. Yeah, 100 miles an just the battery is kind of stretching it, but you must've had a really good battery! Indeed you can check alt output with a multimeter. Start the car up and put the terminals on the battery. The alt should be charging the battery at about 14.4-14.6

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