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Old 08-11-2011, 11:05 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Another Charging System Fault thread *updated*

short version - new battery, original generator, voltage doesnt show charging numbers (13.5-14.6) during running, car seems to still run fine. trips code p1638 and occasionally p1637


long version - The car sat for a couple of weeks and when I went to start it, it wouldn't. I jumped it and let it run for 30-40 minutes to charge the battery then shut it off. came out the next morning and it was dead and once jumped, it had the charging system fault and no dash lights on. I found it odd and because I needed to get to work, I decided to bring the wifes car instead. once I shut it off, 9 volts were on the dic (I was monitoring at that point).

I took the battery to be replaced. it is a costco battery (700cca/875ca) and once installed I cleared every code and restarted. It started quickly and strong but voltage showed 12.5 and slowly went down to 12 before I stopped it. this morning I started the car and took it to work and monitored the voltage during. after 10 min of driving the voltage started charging (14.5) and after a few minutes I arrived at work so car was shut off.

returning home the car wouldn't charge anymore and voltage went down to 11.5 where it stayed unless I turned the headlights on and it went to 11.2. once the headlights were turned off, the voltage returned to 11.5.


I started a new thread because most people here have old batteries and I don't. I might have a old generator and will be taking it to be checked after everything else has been.

anyone have good info for me? I am going through my manuals and searching like mad to find every test to check this out.
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Last edited by ProfessorBlaze; 12-14-2011 at 03:43 PM.
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Old 08-11-2011, 03:43 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Another Charging System Fault thread.

Sounds like your alternator is on its way out......
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Old 08-11-2011, 07:19 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Another Charging System Fault thread.

I agree, it's your alternator, or actually the voltage regulator inside. I had the charge system fault thing on two Z's and it was a loose battery cable at the starter. I'm sure you checked all the connections but give a good look.
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Old 08-12-2011, 12:37 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Another Charging System Fault thread.

Im guessing you are correct about the voltage regulator. It started charging but only to 13.2v max, not 14.5. the starter cables could be loosened up, I will double check them.

thanks for the info.
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Old 12-14-2011, 03:47 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Another Charging System Fault thread.

Alternator tested fine so it isnt alternator. Im going to try adding thicker wiring.. Is it possible thd pcm is bad but still allows the car to run/drive just fine? It now starts perfect too if the voltage is above 11v

It doesnt charge right most of the time to the point of needing jumped part of the time.
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Old 12-14-2011, 04:03 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Another Charging System Fault thread.

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Originally Posted by ProfessorBlaze View Post
Alternator tested fine so it isnt alternator. Im going to try adding thicker wiring.. Is it possible thd pcm is bad but still allows the car to run/drive just fine? It now starts perfect too if the voltage is above 11v

It doesnt charge right most of the time to the point of needing jumped part of the time.
Refer back to post #3. I think Seamus is right, you might have a loose wire on the starter. Since you already have a new battery and the alternator checks out, I would check this out next!

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Old 12-14-2011, 04:04 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Another Charging System Fault thread.

I wouldn't rule out the alternator/voltage regulator completely. I've seen a couple that test fine on the bench and fail in normal use. I've been assuming they are heat related failures.
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Old 12-14-2011, 07:53 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Another Charging System Fault thread.

Since your Z has a side mount battery terminals on a replacement battery, don't be so sure your problem isn't at the battery. I've seen many instances where the terminal bolt bottoms out in the threaded terminal before enough clamping force is applied to the terminal lug. The bolt will be tight but a proper connection is not achieved.
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Old 12-14-2011, 07:57 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Another Charging System Fault thread.

Also load test the battery. I had a brand new walmart Maxx battery go bad within 3 months. It had a sticker of manufacture the same month i bought it. Just a thought cause a bad cell on these cars cause lots of issues.
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Old 12-14-2011, 09:26 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Another Charging System Fault thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ProfessorBlaze View Post
Alternator tested fine so it isnt alternator. Im going to try adding thicker wiring.. Is it possible thd pcm is bad but still allows the car to run/drive just fine? It now starts perfect too if the voltage is above 11v

It doesnt charge right most of the time to the point of needing jumped part of the time.
Battery - new means nothing, only 2 companies left in USA that make them and slap sellers name on them.
Many are made outside the USA and the date label means nothing, they could have been made 2 years ago. Common for 1 cell never is active or quickly degrades

Even the highly hyped Optima brand went belly up and was sold couple years ago I think it was Interstate brand.

Load test on a regular basis, tester is only about $50.

Do not guess, use a good OBD scanner, for the PCM there is OBD parameters that tell what the voltage is at the PCM and then as to Alt there is one line tells what the output of Alt is and the other line tells you what the PCM is commanding the Alt to output.

Find out with scanner is and when PCM is commanding Alt to produce and what percent.

Also with scanner connect to other controllers and see what the voltage readings to them are.

Possible one of the wires to/from ALT and PCM is broke or partial cut.

Voltage reading at battery posts mean nothing as there is voltage drops by the time it gets to controllers, sensors, fuel injectors. etc.

Possible in past older battery leaked acid below to PCM so get in there look for white traces of acid damage to wiring loom

Take off both 80 pin wiring connectors to PCM and with good light check make and female pins for acid or dirt and clean well.

Make sure all the male pins that none have pushed inward of PCM.

Check for clean and tight grounds, take ground spice packs apart and good cleaning

Possible the terminals of battery cables bad.

Engine running, all other electronics off the DIC should show close to mid 14 volts, anything below mid 13s then something is wrong and begins to degrade controllers working correctly.

Check fuses, check if horn works.

There is zero reason to replace with larger wires, will not fix what the real problem is.

Check that no relay is stuck closed and drawing voltage when ign key is off.
Move everything like seats, mirrors, etc to force relays to change state.

Use current/amp meter and test to see what current draw is when ign is off.

Wait good 30 minutes after doors are shut and time for controllers to go to sleep before judging current draw.
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Old 12-15-2011, 02:54 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Another Charging System Fault thread.

Starter wires were loose and I reconnected the battery cables JIC.. Its charging awesome now.. Thanks.

Hopefully that is the end of my charging issues.

I was told the alternator I have is one that isn't rebuildable..
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Last edited by ProfessorBlaze; 12-15-2011 at 03:50 PM.
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Old 12-16-2011, 05:57 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Another Charging System Fault thread.

Thanks for the update. Glad it wasn't something expensive.
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Old 12-16-2011, 09:34 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Another Charging System Fault thread.

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Originally Posted by ProfessorBlaze View Post
Starter wires were loose and I reconnected the battery cables JIC.. Its charging awesome now.. Thanks.

Hopefully that is the end of my charging issues.

I was told the alternator I have is one that isn't rebuildable..
That's great!!! I just want to point out that post # 3 was correct!!!!!!! Glad it worked out to be so simple! Jim
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Old 12-20-2011, 10:09 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Another Charging System Fault thread.

I appreciate the huge response and because the car isn't a DD, I took my time testing everything to make sure.

I had double checked the starter cables several months ago (before a couple of track days) but because of my headers, they appeared to be tight when they weren't and when I checked them again this time, the cables were wobbly to the point of barely being connected..
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Last edited by ProfessorBlaze; 12-20-2011 at 10:13 AM.
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