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  • VW Owners / Dimming lights

    Hi all

    This questions really is geared for VW/Audi drivers due to the unusual nature of the VW electrical systems, however anyone with high power draw experience are surely welcome to contribute.

    I'm on my second bug, and as with my first one, as well as the wife's Jetta, I've noticed that the lights dim on these cars horribly, even before adding amps, computers, cappuccino makers, etc. It seems as if the TDI's lights dim more than the gassers. I'm a bit concerned, because I've tried a few things and can't seem to lick the dimming. I'll describe the setup the best I can:


    Direct from Batt:

    4g wire lead, double fused to 1f Cap, then to distribution block, which uses 8g wire to each amp. Amp1 = 500W Kenwood Excelon, Amp2 = 250W MTX. Each amp is using 8g ground, to a common 4g ground point that is bolted to the chassis, using the bolt that holds in the rear seatbelt. Prior to mounting the ground, I dremeled the area around the bolt to remove paint/coatings, ensuring good contact. As an added measure, I've added a ferrite cube to the power lead, prior to the capacitor in hopes of reducing noise from the inverter, which it did help.

    As stated, Carpc is a laptop running off an inverter, and eventually, I'd like to integrate the inverter power lead to the distribution block and switch it, but I'm concerned about doing it until I straighten out the dimming issues.

    Here's the crux of the situation. I really don't think it's healthy for the carpc to have the car fluctuating power like this when the bass hits. I've read about grounding kits on vwvortex, but most of the posters there don't use scientific results to prove the upgrade is worth the expense. Theoretically, it should straighten out the problem, but I don't want to run into any problems with VWOA with warranty issues by added wires in the engine compartment. I've been smart enough to avoid problems by running my own power lead to handle my stereo, bypassing any VW wiring harnesses. I've talked with the dealer about the lights dimming, and was told this is normal and within specification (even with the stereo bumping, things measured out ok).


    To sum it up:

    Are the grounding kits the ticket, or should I be looking for an uprated alternator? As far as an uprated alternator, would something from a VR6 provider higher output and perhaps bolt right on? If not, where would I source a higher output alternator?
    -=-
    TSOL
    Spreadin' the love ALL around, and layin' it on THICK!

  • #2
    Do you know what kind of output/spec does the alternator generate?
    Ground kits some what help, but I don't think it hurt to have one. You don't have to run 10 wires on the engine bay like a spider web. Just 2 or 3 will be enought (batter - to Frame by the battery, batter- to alternator mount bolt/screw, and battery-to tranny). Adding wires that way will NOT void the factory warrantee because you are just improving existing wires. I have it install on my Supra and Matrix.
    The next one you have to look to before replacing the alternator is the battery. What is it capacity? The PC doesn't survive cranking in my Matrix with stock 300+ CCA battery. Once replace with an Optima Red Top battery (910CCA), the PC survive cranking as well as no dimming when the the window roll to the top/bottom when you still hold the switch.
    Most/all newer car has a very cabable alternator.
    2004 Matrix XR A7N8X-VM/400 AMD XP-M 2500+, DS-ATX
    89 Supra Turbo P3 [email protected]/Abit BE6 II, Alpine M-BUS Car2PC.
    Y2K Accord Dell GX150
    RoadRunner is the best FE PERIOD
    EmoRebellion is a SCAMMER

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    • #3
      I have a Jetta TDI. I havenít noticed any dimming lights. The output of the alternator is relatively low (I think 90 watts) considering it has things like heated seats. Regardless with everything running havenít noticed any problems. My main power cable is 4 gauge. I have two amps one for the main speakers and a modest subwoofer amp. I donít use much bass and donít have caps or anything.

      Comment


      • #4
        VR6 Alternator is not the solution...

        We have a 2000 VW Jetta GLS (VR6) prototype vehicle, and I can tell you first hand that 'upgrading' to a VR6 factory alternator is not a great idea. It _might_ give you a little more power than what you have now, but keep in mind that the VR6 Engine is generating more power, and thus can be attributed to the alternator's higher output. I tend to think that your best bet at this point is to have your existing alternator re-wound for higher current output.

        You may also want to consider adding a secondary battery and a Car Audio grade Voltage Regulator. Note: A car audio grade Voltage Regulator is _NOT_ the same thing as a 7805 voltage regulator "chip / IC".

        Hope this helps...!
        DashPC - The Linux Car (since 1999).

        Dash LCD, Via Epia, GPS, XM, OBDII, DSSC Shutdown Controller.

        As seen in the book Geek My Ride

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        • #5
          I will second the VR6 alternator comment

          a lot of output of an alternator (and it's not watts, it's amps) depends on the motor and it's speed (RPM).

          even with my factory alternator and ABSOLUTELY no radio or system of any kind I have dimming issues, but I am also running underdrive pullies and have taxed my alternator pretty damn hard (3 seasons of SPL competitions on the stock alternator - upgrading it would have moved me into a differnet class).

          Upgrade your wiring like others have suggested. Getting to the alternator on the VR6 requires removing the entire front clip of the car (which is why I haven't done it yet - going to try to get to it this time around though - as well as having the alternator rewound) Upgrade your battery (if you haven't already).. As for voiding the warranty, if you have already run stereo in the car they can get you on warranty....

          now now, I know most people will tell me that they have to prove it to not cover it, but there is another side to the law.....the dealer is protected as well....go ahead and upgrade what you can and be done with it


          a lot of VW owners have computers in their cars (I'm one) and have the dimming issues (I am also one of those) and have noticed no ill effects on my computer.....and I was running WAY more power than you have currently and was on a single battery and stock alternator....
          Jan Bennett
          FS: VW MKIV Bezel for 8" Lilliput - 95% Finished

          Please post on the forums! Chances are, someone else has or will have the same questions as you!

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          • #6
            I also had a question about alternator, and from searching online found that there are higher amp alternators specifically made to replace the original ones (I think the max one I saw was 110 Amp). Would that do the trick, instead of rewiring?

            And I am glad to know that my car is not the only one that dims its lights... do you people have that issue when closing already closed windows?
            I have found you an argument; I am not obliged to find you an understanding.

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            • #7
              a lot of times having the alternator rewound is cheaper than buying an all new higher amp one.

              as for cloing already closed windows....you are putting a pull on the system by closing the circuit....no matter if it's already closed or not
              Jan Bennett
              FS: VW MKIV Bezel for 8" Lilliput - 95% Finished

              Please post on the forums! Chances are, someone else has or will have the same questions as you!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Red GTi VR6
                as for closing already closed windows....you are putting a pull on the system by closing the circuit....no matter if it's already closed or not
                I am aware of that, but that's the only time my lights dim, normal operation does not affect the brightness
                I have found you an argument; I am not obliged to find you an understanding.

                Comment


                • #9
                  are you stopped while you do this? or have you noticed it while you are driving and try to close already closed windows??

                  if you only notice it while you are stopped then that would explain it. Your motor is not turning the same RPMS that is is while you are driving, thus the alternator isn't putting out the same amperage.

                  the deal is that your window motor is an electric motor. Even though the window is already up (or down even) you are still putting current to that motor telling it to spin. Since it trys to spin but it can't (since the window can't go any further) you are actually drawing more current. Make sense?
                  Jan Bennett
                  FS: VW MKIV Bezel for 8" Lilliput - 95% Finished

                  Please post on the forums! Chances are, someone else has or will have the same questions as you!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    BTW TheSpatulaOfLove, don't actually but a grounding kit. You can make your own, all it takes is some wires. All those kits are are wires cut to length with some ends on them and priced to reflect someone else doing the cutting and crimping. That's all stuff that you can do on your own. Regular stereo power wires should be fine, hell, you can even use welders cable if you can find a welding supply store around you. 1/0 is 1/0, it should all have the same strand count. Welders cable will be just as pliable in some instances as some car stereo 1/0 and will be much cheaper.
                    Jan Bennett
                    FS: VW MKIV Bezel for 8" Lilliput - 95% Finished

                    Please post on the forums! Chances are, someone else has or will have the same questions as you!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Red GTi VR6
                      are you stopped while you do this? or have you noticed it while you are driving and try to close already closed windows??
                      the deal is that your window motor is an electric motor. Even though the window is already up (or down even) you are still putting current to that motor telling it to spin. Since it trys to spin but it can't (since the window can't go any further) you are actually drawing more current. Make sense?
                      Mmmm, yeah, it happens when i am stopped AND when I am moving. I am an electrical engineering student myself (last year, thank god) and I understand the electrical motor properties more or less... However seeing how I have not seen another car with this "feature" even my parents' Passat, it seems like Golf has a rather unusual setup for the motor. But at least it works. Most of the time
                      I have found you an argument; I am not obliged to find you an understanding.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Hello again

                        Thanks for the quick and informative responses! I'm in Detroit for family Xmas activities, and the drive up here from GA was BRUTAL. 30mph with a trailer for 15+ hours in a blizzard with 4-8" of ice on the roads - not fun.


                        Anyway, cbergeron:

                        I'd like to know more about this voltage regulator you were discussing. As most VW owners know, the electrical systems tend to have voodoo running throughout, and understanding this piece could help me in my endeavor. I don't think running a second battery is an option for me due to the lack of space in the bug. I've done well enough concealing things in the car (as you'll soon see at the next GA meet) and the space provided for the battery in a bug is miniscule at best. I have not upgraded the battery in the car, as it is only 6 months old. I know I'm due for a battery soon, since I've killed it a few times messing with the carputer, and the recent frosty-tundra excursion I'm on has proven that the battery has seen better days. Once I get back to GA, I'll look into a new battery.


                        On my previous bug, I upgraded the battery to an Optima Red Top, but it didn't seem to make a difference with the dimming. Perhaps the choice in CCA rating plays a role in that, but I bought the biggest that I could shoehorn in to the bug at the time. Since I'll be shopping for a battery soon, I'm open to suggestions on this considering we're all doing about the same thing to our cars. MatrixPC mentioned a 900+ CCA battery replacement, but I don't think that's going to physically fit in my car! When I upgrade the battery, I'll seriously look into regrounding the system at that point, but could use some pointers on where in the engine compartment is best to go without getting a VW tech up in arms about things in the way. While the bug shares a chassis with G/J, we get seriously shortchanged on space in the engine bay. I had the ECS pullies on my previous bug, which were a nightmare to put in - not as easy on a GTI or Jetta.


                        Red GTi VR6:

                        Since I have a great relationship with the service manager of my dealership, they normally overlook certain things that I've done to the car. I initially had problems with them not wanting to work on my previous bug with fears of k-wire issues, but once I'd proved to them that I bypass their wiring when doing my stereo, they've not had a problem with me since. On this install, I brought the car to the dealership with all the door cards removed, dash half apart and all seats minus drivers seat removed to show them the wiring I did, thus proving that I was not using any factory wiring for my install, and they don't seem to have a problem with it. I guess the difference is in the relationship you build with the service manager. I was explained that if I developed an electrical issue in the car, and VWoA sent out a rep to inspect, I would then be vulnerable to a voided warranty despite my proof of not using VW's wiring. Fortunately, the way everything was done, it'll only take a couple of hours to back out what I've done and return the car's factory MonSUCK system in working order at short notice. This is where paying $60 for an oilchange comes in handy... I get the knowing wink when something is up, and always get an excellent discount on parts and big jobs on both the wife's and my car. It also helps that I've sold 10 cars for the dealership in the last year, and asked for nothing in return.



                        So, I got long winded... I guess I should summarize for the casual reader. I am asking the group for suggestions on batteries for the car, preferably with model numbers so I can shop around. If you're a distributor for a suggested battery and are local, I have no problem paying for knowledge, so don't fear that I will lowball... The other thing I'll need is clarification on the best grounding points on VW's. Mention of chassis, trans and engine grounding are here, but specific locations would be greatly appreciated. Pics for the creatively challenged would also help!


                        Hope everyone had a good xmas. My pinnacle gift this year was the Roomba Deluxe - Not that I'm a clean freak or anything - I just was looking forward to chasing the cats with it.
                        -=-
                        TSOL
                        Spreadin' the love ALL around, and layin' it on THICK!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          On batteries most peoople go with Optima red or yellow tops.

                          http://www.ibsa.com/www_2001/content...ct_optmain.asp

                          Red Tops: (cost is about $109 on these) http://www.ibsa.com/www_2001/content...autosealed.asp

                          Yellow Tops: (cost is about $140 on these)
                          http://www.ibsa.com/www_2001/content..._comsealed.asp

                          I have been hearing a LOT of good things about these batteries:
                          http://www.kinetikpower.com/

                          I will probably be switching over to this one:

                          http://www.kinetikpower.com/hc2400.asp

                          A lot of the SPL people out there in serious competition are switching to these batteries....and their cost isn't that much more than other serious hard core batteries...as for a dealer on these....that I do not know....I have connections where I live (it's how I get all of my stereo stuff so cheap) but I have no idea on a national level....

                          EDIT: spoke too soon on the national dealers level:

                          http://www.kinetikpower.com/dealers.asp

                          That's should get you started if you are interested in using or even looking into these batteries
                          Jan Bennett
                          FS: VW MKIV Bezel for 8" Lilliput - 95% Finished

                          Please post on the forums! Chances are, someone else has or will have the same questions as you!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Red GTi VR6
                            I will probably be switching over to this one:
                            http://www.kinetikpower.com/hc2400.asp
                            one battery - 69lbs ...good luck

                            as for dimming lights higher amperage alternator is the best option, TDIs are torque monsters so they should keep up with higher rating alternators
                            Danny.

                            "If today was perfect, there would be no need for tomorrow."
                            My Car Projectģ č== !10.4" Allbrite, touchscreen, epia, 150opus, gps, wireless, sony remote [old] 128x64 Crystalfontz +double din [new]

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Sh0cker
                              one battery - 69lbs ...good luck
                              what are you saying.....???

                              yeah - it's a heavy battery......

                              and???


                              a higher amperage alternator is always the best option.....the question is if it's an AVALIABLE option...

                              I haven't seen too many alternators out there for the VWs other than OEM and rewound ones....

                              one's I have found have been outrageously priced....

                              and I refuse to use PowerMaster ever again as I had nothing but a hellacious experience with the one I bought for my truck a few years ago...
                              Jan Bennett
                              FS: VW MKIV Bezel for 8" Lilliput - 95% Finished

                              Please post on the forums! Chances are, someone else has or will have the same questions as you!

                              Comment

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