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Thread: battery is at 12.5 volt when "charged"

  1. #11
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    so... the battery2 , not being able to hold charge, and drooping at 7 volt, is a sign that is completely dead? seems prety legit since battery2 is very old. BUT isint the fact that they charge at 12.2 volt, also a problem? i still dont know how to solve it..
    http://www.smartgauge.co.uk/alt_mod.html seems pretty solid , but i would prefer not to mod it..

  2. #12
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    Read this:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automotive_battery

    IMO you have one battery that is definitely bad.

    The other battery may not be far behind.

    The alternator may have been stressed.

  3. #13
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    Your 7.8V battery is definitely bad. Get rid of it.
    Your 11.9V battery is almost certainly also bad. It's definitely stuffed if it's an AGM.

    All alternators are regulating. The only difference with vintage is that they progressed from external electro-mechanical to electronic to internal (integral) electronic voltage regulators, and they increased alternator outputs from 13.8V to a max of 14.4V - usually 14.2V.


    If you have a diode type isolator, I suggest you get rid of it and get a relay type.
    If you have a single wire alternator (with only a D+ or L wire (excluding the heavy +12V output wire and the alternator's GND) AND a diode isolator, either change to a relay type isolator or change to a 2-wire alternator - ie, with an S = Sense wire that connects straight to the battery +12V terminal. Having both means accelerated destruction of both batteries.

    From a battery POV, the preferred alternator in all situations is one with an internal regulator and a Sense wire. That way it doesn't matter how big the voltage drop is from the alternator to the battery, the regulation will aim for the correct voltage. (This has qualifications and caveats, but assuming good cabling and grounding between the alternator and battery and grounds and loads, it's the best set up. And if cabling has problems, fix that before trying to fix anything else or before electronic loads blow.)

    If you have a Sense type alternator, then diode type isolators might be acceptable from the sensed (main) battery's POV but not necessarily from the 2nd battery's POV, but diode isolators simply are not used anymore for a plethora of reasons which I will not repeat (again).
    If your system has the sense with diode isolator, then as stated before (by heavymetals), the bad battery may be taking all the alternator's charging output. If the better battery is near new and hasn't been undercharged for long (ie, a few days), it may come good again. If longer or if older it'll be on its way out.


    If you have a relay type isolator, then removing the bad battery should mean the normal 13.8V charging voltage. But if only 13.8V, do a battery maintenance - ie, charge separately with heavy current at 14.4V or higher and preferably give it an equalisation cycle (if not AGM). But otherwise, a normal 14.2V charge voltage might recover the battery somewhat.


    A relay type isolator can cost as little as a relay. And if you have an older external electo-mech regulator, driving that relay should present no problems (see my posts re the "UIBI").
    I'd assume you don't have a voltage sensing isolator as all that I know would have dropped out with battery voltages below 12.5V. Voltage sensing isolators are inferior to charge-light controlled relay isolators. That includes so-called smart and intelligent battery isolators. (Both smart and intelligent are misnomers, hence the "UIBI" - the Ultimate Intelligence Battery Isolator. And claims of priority charging etc are misleading if not outright fraudulent.)


    Your alternator should not have suffered any "strain". They should be self limiting etc, but I know of bad designs (like older Bosch and apparently some newer GMs) that cannot handle over-current - they blow their main diodes. And rewound alternators can fail under stress for a variety of reasons (usually inadequate thermal design).

    If the alternator's brushes are worn, the alternator's output will progressively drop with time or increased load.
    Other alternator faults (shorted or bad turns, blown diodes, etc) can be determined by a knowledgeable person or sometimes a cheap "alternator" tester or clever use of a DMM.
    Voltage regulation can be checked with a voltmeter at low & high RPM with low & high loads.
    Electro-mech regulated alternators can usually have their voltage adjusted.
    For Sense-type electronic alternators you can insert diodes in the Sense line to boost the output by a voltage equivalent to that diode drop (eg, 0.3V, 0.6V, 1.2V, 1.5V, etc) to raise alternator output from (say) 13.8 to 14.2-14.4V.
    A large voltage dip at the alternator's output with increasing load means it's reached its output limit at that RPM.
    Last edited by OldSpark; 06-21-2013 at 03:05 AM. Reason: minor edits (better reading)(??)

  4. #14
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    my original point was not really if the battaries are dead or what. IF tommorow i go and buy 2 new batteries. and i install them. at the end of the day, will the fact that they are being charged at 12.2 will be a problem? and if yes, how to solve it? any way i could modify the alternator to be "Sense" type ?

  5. #15
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    Chances are if you put 2 good batteries, your voltage should go back to normal, if you haven't damaged your alternator already. You already said if you disconnect the bad battery you are charging the good battery at 13.8volts, your 12.2 volts is when the bad battery is connected putting a drain on the good battery and the alternator. SNO
    Last edited by SNOtwistR; 06-21-2013 at 08:00 AM.

  6. #16
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    Oldspark and I have had a few back and forth conversations over this type of subject but I will try to be brief...

    Remove both of your batteries and alternator from your car. Take to a local parts store that can test these parts for you. Install the parts that tested fine, replace those that don't. You MUST remove them to make sure you have no interference from any other systems in your car. If the parts store tells you otherwise take it to another store. You are simply trying to identify what works and what doesn't.

    If you replace the batteries you will want to try to buy new ones that are as close to each other as possible to reduce the risk of one charging more than the other. With recent batteries this is less of an issue than it used to be but you certainly want to avoid combining different battery technologies such as deep cycle and non deep cycle batteries unless they were designed to work with each other. In reality if you have an 800amp battery and a 400amp battery they are likely to both be charged enough to be alright but personally my experience is your pushing your luck mixing batteries.

    As far as isolators go.. Oldspark and I have differed on this considerably. I have used both the solenoid and diode isolators. Regardless of which isolator you use the charging system will tend to try and bring the more dead battery up to full charge first. If you have a bad battery you will never fully charge the good battery and may burn your alternator up trying to charge the bad battery continuously. (Not a matter of if, it is a matter of when you will burn it up.)

    If your intended use is to simply charge the batteries when running and separate them when the vehicle is off and you have two batteries that are similar in size and technology it doesn't really make sense to use anything other than a solenoid style isolator. They are the cheapest and they are easy to use.

    Diode isolators work fine as well but have some issues. The great thing about them is they separate your batteries and they are never connected. So if you over discharge one battery it will never bring down the other battery. This means you will be able to start your car and run it if your system battery is dead. Otherwise with a solenoid you will likely want a delay in the circuit so it doesn't activate the solenoid while trying to start the car. With a diode isolator as has been mentioned the isolator will drop between .6 and 1.4 volts depending on the design of the isolator and quality of components. To properly use a diode isolator you will need to be able to get around this one way or another. The EASIEST way if possible is to use an adjustable regulator and just adjust the voltage up the desired amount but this may be the most expensive if you can't easily adjust this on your vehicle because it means a new alternator with separate adjustable regulator. if your alternator has a separate sense wire you may be able to wire it to the battery directly but you will want to be careful of which battery to connect it to. You may over or under charge the battery the sense wire is not on.

    Smart isolators are all over the board some may work and most others are crap. To get one that works as advertised you can expect to pay more than you are likely willing to pay. And chances are you won't want one. The smart isolators are supposed to operate in a manner that they charge the battery that needs it and only that battery. The vehicle is supposed to see it as if it was one battery and you never over or under charge the batteries. The batteries are never connected to one another and you can mix different battery types and technologies. In reality there is more snake oil here than real products. You have to look hard and likely would be cheaper to just install multiple alternators.

    So my suggestion would be similar to old sparks here for sake of simplicity and cost. Go with the solenoid. You will find them online but you are best off going to an RV shop and talk to them about what you want to do. At an RV shop they do this every day so they can offer good durable solutions assuming you have a good RV shop near you.
    Last edited by redheadedrod; 06-21-2013 at 09:22 AM.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by settra View Post
    my original point was not really if the battaries are dead or what.
    IF tommorow i go and buy 2 new batteries. and i install them. at the end of the day, will the fact that they are being charged at 12.2 will be a problem?
    and if yes, how to solve it?
    any way i could modify the alternator to be "Sense" type ?
    If they are being charged at 12.2V then yes, there is a problem. But they won't be that low initially since a fully charged battery is ~12.7V. (Or higher - eg, up to ~13.6V - after a recharge until its surface charge has been dissipated.)
    They should be charged at ~13.8V (old alternator) and up to 14.4V (newer alternators).
    If you are using a diode type isolator and do NOT have a sensing type alternator, you won't get those voltages. EG - assume a D+ alternator output of 14.4V. Subtract a 0.7V diode drop and you have 13.7V at the battery. That's too low. And at high loads, diode isolators typically drop 1.0V and higher. One solution - get a sensing type alternator and ASSUMING that can go higher than ~15.4V your sensed battery should be ok, however the other battery may get over- or under-charged. (Hence ONE reason why diode type isolators are no longer used.) The preferred solution - get a relay type isolator, then there will not be any voltage difference between the alternator output and batteries due to the isolator itself. But I described those solutions in my previous reply.

    If you alternator can't put out 14.2V (or 13.8V if old), get a new alternator or repair it, or its voltage regulator, or whatever is at fault. But the suggestion for alternators is almost always one with internal voltage regulation and 2 wires - ie, S (sensing) and L (charge lamp). And of course copious current capability (you can't have "too big" an alternator).

    Some D+ (single wire) alternators can be converted to S types. Their "internal" sense wire needs to be rerouted from its output to the battery +12V terminal.



    Regarding some claims recently made, the batteries do NOT have to be matched. That is only required if they are permanently connected together or for long periods without being charged.
    In fact it is common practice and recommended to have a wet/flooded cranking battery for the main/staring battery and then whatever battery suits the second application - eg AGM if not in the engine-bay or vented enclosure; cranking for winches, or deep cycle or solar for long term low loads, or small 1.5AH or 7AH or 15AH etc AGMs for PCs, etc.
    Ignore what redheadedrod says about matching. That is irrelevant wrt to parallel batteries being charged - except where one has drastically collapsed as may be the case in your situation (though that is irrelevant if using diode isolators, but they are ancient history).
    When NOT charging, parallel batteries are essentially the same as series connected batteries (whether the series batteries are being loaded or charged) - they must be matched. Hence why you do NOT mix new with old or different batteries in series in remote controls or 24V vehicles, and why such removable rechargeable batteries are recharged in parallel with (the) other batteries. Refer to battery device & battery charger owners manuals for supporting information.
    Redheadedrod has previously stated (in effect) that there is no point jumpering 2 batteries (as is often done to jump start vehicles) since their combined output will be less than that of the good (or maybe even flat?) battery. I'll leave you and others to debate how successful jump starting is, but I have offered to discuss what redheadedrod claims to have witnessed with the instructors that allegedly demonstrated his claims. I have yet to hear anything. I still maintain that Red has misunderstood the demonstration(s) or that they were using an exceptionally stuffed battery - but that is not the norm (and should never be the case in practice - no really bad battery should ever be paralleled with a good battery - ESPECIALLY if the bad one is an AGM). Not that the jumpering of batteries has anything to do with what we are discussing - ie, the paralleling of batteries ONLY when being charged.
    FTR - I don't mean to demean Red but these issues were discussed at some length via PMs etc. If someone agrees with Red, please say so, but AFAIK most others hereon do not believe the same. But also note that the issue is that of paralleling batteries when charging and the need for matched batteries (not!).
    As to diode isolators, I covered just about everything in 1 or 2 (or 3?) threads involving a temporary mp3car contributor some years back. They had problems with the different battery voltages (but later claimed it was never a problem) and they gradually recanted all the claims they made against relay isolators except his comment that "relays are not isolators". He also claimed various dangers with the relay interconnection of batteries (...yet not of his 300W diode isolator nor boiling batteries etc) and other fanciful statements regarding his charging system (eg, that his alternator "stopped charging his battery when full").


    As to related claims...
    - Maybe someone can explain why an alternator burns up when charging batteries but not when heavily or overloaded with other loads (lights, wipers, amplifiers). Note however my previous comments regarding certain OEM alternators, and rewound alternators. Typical alternators are self limiting wrt to current output (within reason). Only sustained overloads should damage alternators, but such overloads will be evident from their reduced voltage output. (Hence why I recommend a 3-digit dash voltmeter else alarm for critical applications and people that have modified electrics or added loads.) A typical main/starting battery will be charging at under 10-20A within one minute of starting. Compare that loading to headlights or fans or wipers etc.
    - The diode isolator voltage drop issue should be obvious. With each battery having a different load, the diode voltage drop varies. It is quite feasible to have a difference of 0.5V across the two diodes. Hence if the main is at 14.2V, the 2nd battery could be boiling away at 14.7V or undercharging at 13.7V, but there are many possible combinations.
    - The UIBI does not connect when cranking (though it can manually be made to). It does not connect until the alternator begins to charge (ie, the charge light extinguishes). It's usually (but not always) the same for voltage sensing isolators, though they have an added (required) connection delay which is usually considered to be a disadvantage. The UIBI could have a connection delay added, but why? (Why delay the total battery charge? And what will those that reckon batteries must be current limited say? If you have one of those weak Bosch or similar alternators I can understand it, but then I'm sure you are monitoring your total load.)
    - Priority charging and "charging of only the battery that needs it" for smart isolators is bullsh. The exceptions are those that have current sensing and appropriate battery tables or sophisticated AC interrogation techniques, but neither are suited for vehicle applications without appropriate topology and device tuning. I know of no priority charging or battery-state evaluating isolators though I know of many isolators that have made such claims, and nearly as many that later dropped such claims.


    settra, use your voltmeter to measure your alternator output voltage with a good battery (as per my previous reply).
    Charge your batteries on an external charger. After at least few minutes and with the battery voltage above 14V, remove the charger and measure the OC (Open Circuit) battery voltage. For flooded batteries the voltage should gradually drop from above 13.0V (typically ~13.6V due to the surface charge after a recharge).
    For a fully charged good battery I'd expect ~13.6V dropping to ~12.7V usually withing 24 hours, or minutes with headlights on.
    If the battery was not fully charged, it will drop lower but should do so slowly - ie, tens of seconds to hours.
    For a supposedly fully charged battery or one that has been on charge for more than enough hours, a quick drop to 12.6-12.7V may indicate old age or damage (or an AGM battery).
    Dropping below ~12.7V probably means damage - eg, ~10.6V may be one collapsed cell or several damaged cells. 12.5V means it's not fully charged or its past its useful life.
    A fully charged lead-acid battery at room temp should theoretically usually be 12.67V.
    A 100% discharged battery is usually between 11.3V-11.8V.
    (Hence...) Each 10% of discharge reduces the voltage by approximately 0.1V.
    The general recommendation for acceptable battery life is that a cranking battery should not be discharged by more than 20% and a deep cycle by more than 50%.

  8. #18
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    Um old spark.. You do realize that standard car alternators have no limitations to them they will burn themselves up if you load them down too much...

    They will draw current beyond what the wiring inside the case is rated for or the diodes can handle. There is NO WAY they can limit their output... Nothing is built into them to do so other than the size of the wiring and support electronics in them. If you overload them enough you will burn them up. And generally over loading them can burn the wiring slowly in them which will slowly reduce the load they can handle. However most of the alternators I have ever seen go bad was due to a bearing issue or the diodes burning out due to random failure or overloading it due to a dead battery. A dead battery due to shorted cells can look like a dead short to an alternator or similar which can grossly overload the alternator.

    And as to the batteries. Yes you definitely do need to match them. Oldspark is wrong and won't listen to reason. The vast majority of batteries on the market are similar enough to run together but if not exactly the same you may reduce the lifespan of the battery that doesn't charge as well.

    If you have two batteries of different capacities and have a voltage sensing alternator it will reduce its charging rate when one of the batteries is fully charged which is generally the smaller or faster charging battery. This will reduce the potential of the other battery of charging. With matched batteries this won't be an issue because you won't generally have one battery more discharged than the other. But with unmatched batteries this can be an issue.

    And beyond that, take your batteries and alternator to a parts store. They have the proper equipment to test your stuff and do it all the time and do it for free. Your results will vary with any other method.

    I am not going to get into an argument here with oldspark. If you want to follow his direction about using unmatched batteries then don't be surprised if you have less life out of one of your batteries. I have tried to explain to him that the same rules that go for serial batteries also go for parallel batteries but he won't listen so you have to use your own common sense and figure it out for yourself.

    If you have a rechargable battery charger would you charge a C & D cell together in a paired battery charger? Or even charge two different brands in the same paired channel? Not likely for many of the same reasons you need to have matched batteries in your vehicle. If they are designed to run together then you should be fine...

    And as I said before, find a reputable RV dealer and ask them. They deal with dual battery systems every day.

  9. #19
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    I wasn't going to tete-a-tete nor tit for tat with redheadedrod - a new thread should be started if discussion is wanted on these issues instead of hijacking this thread.

    setra will have to make up his own mind who is wrong, but I suggest referring to good sources or logic rather than what is said in forums. (Bill Darden's Car And Deep Cycle Battery FAQ is the only web ref that comes to mind.) But as a primer, I'll cover a few briefs... even if not in brief LOL! (That'll be for the benefit of others that might require the extra info.)



    Now, to revisit (again!) some of redheadedrod's points...

    Um redheadedrod.. You do realise that I have covered why burn outs happen for alternators?
    If you are saying that they do not behave like synchronous or other electromagnetic machines and therefore don't experience back-EMF or saturation, then I suggest you get Japanese alternators that do.
    I have only damaged one such alternator and that was because it got so hot that its sense diode unsoldered itself. The windings and main diodes handled over one hour of extreme abuse that is not normally experienced {viz: Bogged. Night time. No vehicle air flow. Using the starter motor and an electric winch off a 2nd battery. Multiple short engine runs with occasional longer recharge cycles}.
    The AGMs I was using each have an initial recharge current of typically 45A. The winch was probably 100A. The alternator was a 75A Hitachi.
    Ironically that was shortly after abandoning my short-lived foray into Bosch equivalents. (The first blew after a jump start; the 2nd whilst driving with a collapsing batter. In both cases it was merely the main diodes that had blown. A good way to protect stator windings eh? (LOL!))
    If you know of burn outs due to battery charging, please supply details. And optionally ditto for other burn outs.


    Battery matching is irrelevant when charging. Please provide a respected source that says different - even if it is for a domestic 1.5A battery charger.
    Hard or relay connected parallel batteries are the same voltage. (Ohm's - and probably Kirchhoff's, Norton's, ThÚvenin's - theorems and Laws refer.)
    To say otherwise demonstrates a lack of basic circuit theory (ie, the same voltage across parallel components) or the use of diode (or MOSFET etc) isolators. (Have I mentioned that diode isolators are generally no longer used?)
    But hence whether a D+ or sensing alternator makes no difference. If being fussy about a small difference in voltage due to fuses or cable resistances or bad installations, then the use of diode isolators is definitely out of the picture (yay!). The long term effect of such voltage drops depends on load and charging profiles and which battery is being sensed.

    Even if batteries are matched, that has no impact on how discharged each battery is upon reconnection. That argument is irrational - few applications would match battery discharge rates.
    And there seems to be a confusion between the charging voltage of a battery and its state of charge (% of discharge or capacity) and charge currents. Charge the batteries at (say) 14.2V. They each charge at their own rate and reach full charge (or not) after however long it takes - eg, maybe 10 minutes and 1 hour for 2 MATCHED batteries (the 2nd having been used for a PC or whatever) or 2 batteries of any size or charge state. Generally 2 wet cell (else 2 AGM) batteries in similar condition at the same SOC will take the same time to charge even though the bigger may take 10A and the smaller 2A etc.
    And I certainly hope it is understood that in ALL these discussions we have been talking about automated battery isolators - ie, the are NOT paralleled when not charging (as with diode isolators).

    Agreed about free professional testing, but be wary of the report. A neighbor was to have his alternator replaced. I merely unplugged and replugged its 2-wire connector. (See update below.)

    Not getting into argument - that is self contradicting.
    Matching parallel batteries (and their interconnecting paths) is only relevant for long-term or permanent connections, NOT for automated isolating systems that only connect when charging.
    That is common sense. What is the voltage across parallel components? It is the same. What determines the charge rate of a battery? - its charge voltage. So having 10 batteries on one 14.2V charger or one each on 10 14.2V makes no electrical difference whatsoever. If you (redheadedrod) think differently you should contact your tutors else refer to text books else review Ohm's Law etc, or start a new thread for a discussion. If anyone else thinks differently, please say so and I'll take it from there.

    As to the 2nd last para about not pairing C & D cells etc, I have no idea where that comes from. As per above, basic circuit theory and understanding dictates otherwise. And there are many chargers on the market that are (physically) designed for simultaneous charging of different battery sizes. Many are simply parallel connected but more sophisticated chargers may have independence to allow individual sensing and cycling.
    Does anyone know of a charger that does not allow the mixing of same voltage but different sized batteries (other than SERIES chargers or where limited current capability is available)?



    Now I'm hoping that even redheadedrod finally sees the points I am making and sees the various falsities - both in theory and reality.
    If not, he should provide some example or support for his claims. (And I'm not talking about marketing hype or common (other!) forum-type people that make outlandish statements (voltmeters bring unacceptably high currents into the cabin; can't get or transform higher voltages from a DC supply; capacitors increase alternator output OR put more strain on the alternator; PWMs must have a capacitor across the output; etc etc.)
    Others should feel free to query or ask for clarification (assuming that's ok with setra.
    For my part, I'm unsure how to explain basic circuit theory but there are heaps of sources - our occasionally mentioned bcae1.com or the12volt spring to mind.
    The battery stuff gets more complex wrt battery behavior etc though most of the above has little to do with that - it is merely an application of a simple circuit rule (parallel component voltages being equal) and knowing that if the (charging) voltage applied to a battery is equal to or greater than its open circuit (OC) voltage, then it cannot discharge (hence charge at 12.7V or higher and no battery can discharge into another battery etc).
    But sources like BatteryFAQ contain all relevant lead-acid battery information including pedantics like surface charge and current limiting. My writings should be a subset and consistent with that site though - the last I looked - the paralleling of batteries is covered fully in principle but detail and practical aspects were referenced to elsewhere.
    [ Note the linked page I selected. It has one statement that I seemingly contradict. But also note which alternator brand is referred to later... ]


    So redheadedrod, until you provide backing from your instructors or tutors or other supporting evidence instead of hearsay, I will not reply further.
    I still maintain that you have misunderstood what was demonstrated or misapplied it, or you are confused about various learnings which haven't yet properly settled in your mind. (Pete knows, it took me long enough! And I bought $millions worth of batteries and was involved in various battery related technologies.)
    However I have also mixed with battery experts, Standards and safety committees and respected battery suppliers etc and all of them disagree with your statements about the matching of parallel batteries when charging (yet those same are considered a PITA when harping on about the need to match batteries and their required complex interconnections in other situations). And I can assure you that we concur on the other points I have made. (The only exceptions are until the qualifications are clarified - eg, definitions, application, if when charging, short or long-term, universally or excluding AGMs or certain (brands or types of) alternators.)
    I have also taken on various product suppliers and have yet to lose any assertion (and have always been found to be correct if they go to arbitration or court) - viz "priority charging" and SOC determination in vehicular systems.


    For others I apologise for my oft repeated statements (within this reply alone - as well as previous).
    If you agree with redheadedrod please say so.
    If you disagree with redheadedrod or agree with me, maybe it's worth saying so for redheadedrod's sake, but I'll only respond to Setra's questions else new questions or threads.
    If you are totally confused or don't know, you may be the norm. I wouldn't expect the others on mp3car that have the understanding to be reading this thread.


    Update 27Jun13:. I just spoke to my neighbor. Despite NOT having problems since my clean, he decided to have the alternator replaced at a mere cost of $340 less $80 for the fanbelt that was also replaced. The mechanic tested the alternator and it was fine but said "it will go out". (Yes - that happens with all such devices.) So on the basis that the problem had happened twice, the owner deiced to replace it. That's despite the problem NOT occurring since my work, and me stating that even if it did happen, he'd have a few days running on the battery reserve. (The dash has a voltmeter and a check-engine light also illuminates if it isn't charging.) IMO 2 days wages is a lot to pay for a non-critical fix for a problem with IMO a 5-10% chance of occurrence (based on my 90-95% of electrical faults are bad connections or fuses). In fact since alternators themselves rarely have intermittent problems ...
    Last edited by OldSpark; 06-26-2013 at 08:10 PM. Reason: Update re neighbor

  10. #20
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    guys, i can BET that you where or are , some kind of mechanics. am i correct?

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