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mendonsy
01-26-2013, 07:07 PM
The Sprinter refused to turn over at all yesterday so it got towed to the local dealer. They replaced the battery. The old one had one dead cell (10.2 volts after charging). My daughter drove it home last night after dark with no problem.
This morning it would turn over but not enough to start it so I started it with jumper cables. She got about 1/2 mile when all the dash lights started flashing fast. She made it back home but didn't have enough power to make it up the driveway so I towed it up with my 4wd pickup.
After charging the battery for about 4 hours it started up fine. The battery voltage is lower when running than it is when shut off. Apparently the dead cell also killed the alternator (or vice-versa).
It goes back to the dealer on Monday for a new alternator. I changed the last one, but I am not going to try to do it in a snow covered driveway! They can do it inside where it is warm.

mawsea
01-27-2013, 06:56 PM
I am going thru the same thing but with no dealers in the equation. Went out to start the van and no dash lights nothing. Charged batttery went to napa and they checked battery said it was fine and alternator was good. Took the van to les shwab to rotate tires 20 min later they couldn't start the van. They checked the battery and said it was fine and were able to start with jump. Went home and half hour later the van would not start no dash lights nothing. Charged battery went to O'rielly and they said the battery was fine and it was prob my alternator. My battery is 9.5 years old but 3 battery dealers said it was fine. The alternator is 5 years old?
I do not trust mechanics especially not dealers so I am left to figure it all out myself.:bash:

Boater
01-27-2013, 07:06 PM
It is possible for a battery to read good voltage but no longer provide the cranking current it is rated for, I'll bet the places testing your batteries have only checked voltage and not done a load test.
Another issue if the battery was recently charged is that you can get a 'surface charge' where the voltage will read a little high for a while - usually it is recommended to turn some things on for a bit to get rid of that before testing the voltage.

autostaretx
01-27-2013, 07:07 PM
they said the battery was fine and it was prob my alternator.
If you had a ScanGauge(/DashDAQ/UltraGauge...) you'd know... when driving it would normally register above 13.4 volts due to the alternator charging the battery (and powering everything else).
When the engine is stopped it would show the battery voltage.

You can get a cheapy plug-in-the-socket voltage monitor (5 or so LEDs) that provides half-volt steps for monitoring the system, or watch it with a voltmeter wired to a cigar plug.

It could be the alternator's overrunning clutch (prevents belt damage when engine speed drops suddenly).
Most people would instantly blame a 9+ year old battery... it could have internal damage (loose post, bad inter-cell connectors) that a static test wouldn't show, but vibration from driving could open up. (my battery's 7 years old... and indeed, it doesn't hold 12.7 volts overnight... only 12.45)

good luck
--dick

jmoller99
01-27-2013, 07:18 PM
Out of habit. I change my vehicle battery every 4 years (no matter what). I have had 1 year old batteries that have open or shorted cells, as well as batteries that temporarily go open on me (working occasionally) - When I had 5 vehicles (my wifes, mine, my 2 daughters and a 76 VW Camper bus) I got in the habit of scratching in the Month/Year when I replaced the battery - when I was changing oil, I would look at the battery and know which ones needed to be replaced. I would guess I over the 35 years I have been driving, I have replaced at least 50 car batteries (My wife is handicapped and each of her powered mobility gear goes thru a pair of AGM batteries every 2 years - These are $150 to $200 each - so add another 20+ Lead/Acid batteries to the count).

I will suggest that if your battery is over 4 years old, your battery could start giving you problems at any time. I would change it. If you live in a place that gets very hot in the summer (Like Phoenix Arizona) you might not even get 2 years out of any vehicle battery you use.

I plan on swapping my Sprinter battery on 3 year intervals - because it seems pretty sensitive to voltage levels.

Also, check your battery connections - I have had numerous problems with the ground connection to the frame, and cables that have failed over the years. Keep the battery post connections clean! I have not replaced that many Alternators over those years, so my first thought is to check the battery and its cables/connections - It they are good, then I move on to the Alternator (or Generator, in the case of my daughters 1972 Super Beetle - which she drove up until 3 years ago).

OldWest
01-27-2013, 08:04 PM
Search postings on regulator. Some folks have found that they could just change regulator rather than alternator and regulator. Apparently, regulator failure is more common than alternator failure. Just repeating what I've read in the past.

mendonsy
01-27-2013, 09:26 PM
Search postings on regulator. Some folks have found that they could just change regulator rather than alternator and regulator. Apparently, regulator failure is more common than alternator failure. Just repeating what I've read in the past.

Agreed!! :thumbup:
The brushes are the most common failure and the internal regulator is second. In the case of the Bosch alternator that the Sprinter uses they are both in the same package.
voltage-regulator-brush-holder-assembly-for-bosch-alternators (http://store.alternatorparts.com/ib248-voltage-regulator-brush-holder-assembly-for-bosch-alternators.aspx)
I would repair the extra Bosh that I have sitting here and install it myself if the driveway wasn't covered with snow.

david_42
01-28-2013, 03:58 PM
mawsea - I wonder if the people checking your battery are just checking the voltage? An old battery (and 9.5 years is very old) can take a surface charge and test okay for voltage, but if they did a load test (high current) on it, it would fail. Surface charges don't last very long.

mawsea
01-29-2013, 06:46 AM
My apologies to Medonsy if I am hijacking his thread. I just thought we were in the same boat so I chimed in.
I bought a brand new battery today and my scanguage was showing 13.2-12.9v while driving. I turned it off for about an hour and when I went to restart it, nothing, no dash lights just click. Dead battery. I spent an hour visually looking for a frayed wire, and did not see anything not even anything loose or corroded.

Boater
01-29-2013, 12:48 PM
OK,might have been wrong about the battery in this case!

Sounds like you have a short circuit somewhere that isn't blowing a fuse but is enough to drain your battery in an hour.
Presume you checked the headlights weren't on right away?

mawsea
01-29-2013, 03:41 PM
I think I found the culprit, thanks to this forum, i rechecked the ground cable that is near the engine mount. Visually it looked good but a little wiggle and you can see it was coming apart.
Now I am off to the auto part store to find a replacement

mawsea
01-29-2013, 09:02 PM
So i replaced that ground cable eventhough the parts guy doubted it had anything to do with draining or keeping a battery from charging. I took the van back into napa and they re checked the new battery and the alternator and said it checked out fine. I took a test drive and my scanguage showed a constant 13.2-13.4v . I pulled the fuse on the interior lights and the radio. Since I didn't actually fix anything, I am going to disconnect the battery when I stop for more than 20 minutes. I dont know what else to do at this point.

pgr
01-29-2013, 09:21 PM
According to my ScanGauge, my '04 with a new 150 amp alt & a new battery regularly charges at 14.1 volts for the first 10 minutes or so when cold starting in the middle of the winter @ 20f outside temp. Then it settles down to about 13.9 to 13.7 the rest of the time. It never goes below 13.6. I have pulled the fuses on my DDL, BTW, for what it's worth.

mendonsy
01-29-2013, 09:54 PM
We just got our T1Ncan back from the dealer. He found that the wire from the battery to the alternator had shorted and burned out the #1 fuse. Everything seems to be working now.
Glad that I didn't spend all the time (and money) to change an alternator just to find out that it wasn't bad.

icarus
01-29-2013, 09:56 PM
13.2 is a bit low. Where are you checking the voltage?


What you would like to check is the current draw when shut down. A clamp on ammeter will tell you how much draw you have (or charge current) clamped around either battery cable.

Icarus

Boater
01-29-2013, 11:49 PM
So i replaced that ground cable eventhough the parts guy doubted it had anything to do with draining or keeping a battery from charging.

Looks to me like you have strands not attached, that means the cable has more resistance so you won't be able to pass as much current down it (or up it is you like to think of negative ground as the return to the battery) - In cold weather the current that is delivered to the starter is everything.

I suggested the battery not being able to deliver the current before, it may well be that the battery is fine after all and the cable is unable to deliver the current.

Likewise the ground cable forms part of the alternator circuit so might be responsible for the battery not being quite full enough to start, but testing OK. Although it seems you still have slightly low alternator output after changing the ground wire so that doesn't entirely fit.

autostaretx
01-30-2013, 01:42 AM
He found that the wire from the battery to the alternator had shorted and burned out the #1 fuse.
What?
Where/how?
(if it can happen to you, it can happen to us, too...)

Details would be appreciated.

--dick

mendonsy
01-30-2013, 12:11 PM
What?
Where/how?
(if it can happen to you, it can happen to us, too...)

Details would be appreciated.

--dick
Yeah, I know!!
Unfortunately I wasn't here when they finished it so the wife and daughter went to pick it up.
The #1 fuse has been replaced, but so far I haven't found where he repaired the shorted wire.
I will have to follow the harness down from the battery to see if I can find the fix when the weather improves a bit.

mendonsy
01-30-2013, 12:17 PM
What?
Where/how?
(if it can happen to you, it can happen to us, too...)

Details would be appreciated.

--dick
Yeah, I know!!
Unfortunately I wasn't here when they finished it so the wife and daughter went to pick it up.
The #1 fuse has been replaced. It looks like the repair was done on the right side of the frame just below where the exhaust pipe bend is.

Aqua Puttana
01-30-2013, 12:34 PM
Yeah, I know!!
Unfortunately I wasn't here when they finished it so the wife and daughter went to pick it up.
The #1 fuse has been replaced. It looks like the repair was done on the right side of the frame just below where the exhaust pipe bend is.
It's 60F here in the Falls today. Can we impose upon you to throw down a tarp, chunk of rug or cardboard and go under for a picture? I'm curious about this one too. Thanks, vic

mawsea
01-30-2013, 04:23 PM
I crawled around looking over my alternator wire and do not even see how that thing can fray. It is completely incased in a metal braided sheath and tightly secured into a routing track.

mendonsy
01-30-2013, 11:44 PM
It's 60F here in the Falls today. Can we impose upon you to throw down a tarp, chunk of rug or cardboard and go under for a picture? I'm curious about this one too. Thanks, vic
I plan to do that, but this morning it was raining here and now that I'm back home it's dark. :cry:
I will get some pics as soon as I can. :thumbup:

mendonsy
02-04-2013, 12:40 AM
For those of you waiting patiently for pictures, the answer is that I can't find where they fixed the short. The spot that I thought he worked on is not it.
I will have to make a stop at the dealer and see if I can find out from the service tech where the shorted wire was.

mawsea
02-11-2013, 03:36 AM
Well for me it turns out it was the glow plugs that were draining the battery. A year ago I had the glow plugs replaced and they broke one off in the process. The four new ones were getting too much juice and shorted out causing a drain. To solve this temporarily, I disconnected the #5 fuse coming off the battery and no more drain. The van starts fine without glow plugs, even in the mountains in 20F temps.

Aqua Puttana
02-11-2013, 12:43 PM
... The four new ones were getting too much juice and shorted out causing a drain. ...
For the situation you decribe that isn't likely the problem. The T1N glow plugs are each supplied 12 volts by the Glow Plug Module regardless of whether another glow plug is isolated or not otherwise powered up.

The glow plug module has a fuse to isolate individual glow plugs which pull too much current (shorted harness or glow plug). That would result in the fairly common situation of running on only 4 glow plugs as you describe.

I would more suspect that the glow plug module relay contacts are not opening at the end of the glow cycle. If you're are running a modified glow plug module then I would double check the modification circuit. vic

mawsea
02-11-2013, 03:46 PM
I havn't modified my glow plug module. They snapped off the #2 glow plug and it's still in there. I will check over the glow plug wiring harness today.

Aqua Puttana
02-11-2013, 04:03 PM
I havn't modified my glow plug module. ...
Well, then that is out of the equation.

Then we are back to the power not being turned off at the end of the glow cycle for some other reason. There is a high capacity relay in the Glow Plug module. There have been reports of the contacts on that relay sort of welding or fusing together. IF that happens then the power continues to be fed to the glow plugs even though the relay coil is not energized. I suppose that the program or the ECM output device to the glow plug module could be messed up so that the power to the coil never powers off like it should. The forum history indicates that failure is not a common problem.

Either way, if the glow plug power was not shutting off for whatever reason, the glow plugs would eventually burn out. The glow plugs are not rated for continuous duty to the best of my knowledge. Constant power will overheat and stress the resistance unit (most likely Ni Chrome wire?) and eventually cause it to fail.

Information, not a diagnosis. vic