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  #1  
Old 06-02-2013, 01:07 PM
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Alternator Issue

So I've been watching this problem for a while now, and I think its getting worse. That or I'm just staring at it too hard. April of 12, I took my alternator to a local auto electric shop for a rebuild so I knew where it stood. They tested it, and lo and behopd it tested bad, and I wasnt even having issues. They treated the alternator as though it was a throw away, and didnt even want to bother with a rebuild, so I bought a brand new one from them.
Here we are, a little over a year, and a little over 10K miles later, and Cruzing down the highway, watching the Insight, I'm seeing the voltage bounce up and down from 13.5V to 14.1V. I think this is an issue. The other thing that tells me theres an issue, is the fact that idling, you can watch the head lights or even turn on the dome or map light and see pulsing. Another indicator, which may be normal due to the drastically undersized alternator, at hot idle, with everything electrical turned on, including brake lights, you can watch the voltage slowly drop off until it hits the alarm setpoint at 12V.
I'm running Dual redtops, that just turned two years old, I've load tested them individually, I keep em plugged in with Battery Tender by deltran, installed the supplemental charging and ground wires directly from the alternator to the battery and chassis.
I guess what I'm looking for is.. Anybody ever see this with their rig and find a solution? Should I just bite the bullet and beef up the alternator to what It should have been from the factory in the first place? Is it just a faulty peice? Gimme some ammo or a leg to stand on when I go back to this guy tomorrow to present the problem and he tells me... There is no problem. Thanks for your help and input guys.
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  #2  
Old 06-02-2013, 02:12 PM
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The voltage fluctuations may be from acc coming on and off. Try going down the road with everything off and see what your voltage is doing.
Amperage is very important when determining if you have a alt issue. The oem alt is very weak and that is for sure, I rarely ever saw 13+ volts on mine 10 minutes after starting.Do you have a solid connection from the battery ground to the chassis, the wire to fender.
Also make sure there is no corrosion in any of the connectors or at the alt output stud.

I put in a DC Power 190amp unit and I have had zero electrical issues since. It puts out 14+ volts most of the time and never drops below 13 volts. They are great units and put out big power at idle unlike the oem unit. If you have a upgraded stereo system or acc lights you must get a better alternator or you will pay the price for a new ficm.
Spending a little more on a aftermarket alt is money well spent and will save you money in the long run.
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Old 06-02-2013, 02:36 PM
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The fluctuation on the Insight i was watching today was with A/C off. I know what you mean with the A/C turning on and off.. If your idling with the head lights on, you can see them dim slightly when the compressor engages. The dimming i'm seeing is a constant pulse. It is ever so slight, and The only way you notice it, is if you stare at the lights. I've been through all the connections, cleaned and tightened, even added the additional ground, 4ga, from the alt to the chassis, when I added the 4ga charging wire directly from the alternator to the battery.
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Old 06-02-2013, 04:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelaiman View Post
The fluctuation on the Insight i was watching today was with A/C off. I know what you mean with the A/C turning on and off.. If your idling with the head lights on, you can see them dim slightly when the compressor engages. The dimming i'm seeing is a constant pulse. It is ever so slight, and The only way you notice it, is if you stare at the lights. I've been through all the connections, cleaned and tightened, even added the additional ground, 4ga, from the alt to the chassis, when I added the 4ga charging wire directly from the alternator to the battery.
Yea it's probably toast, like I said the oem is sadly underpowered for these trucks. I would look into a better unit I can only comment on the DC Power brand and so far so good. It was $285.00 and I am very happy with it, never see 12v ever 13.4 is lowest it goes no matter what and it's cranking out 135-160 amps at idle in the morning.
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Old 06-02-2013, 05:09 PM
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Kinda what I was thinking. Was just looking for some agreements. So much for thinking I was buying a better product. OEM is the same as a Focus or something like that. Unbelievable. I had looked at the DC units a short time ago ,when I first noticed this issue, and wished I had just gone that rout from the beginning. At the time I had some extra green burning a hole in my pocket. How long ago did you get the 190? It looks as though they are calling it a 185 now. I gotta move on this quick...1300 mile trip comin up.
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Old 06-02-2013, 05:43 PM
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13.5 isn't scary but Red Tops are IMHO
2 years is about when Mine died

if you go DC Power I Wouldn't count on them shipping fast unless they promise they will

While I had mine in 3 days things appear to have changed
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Old 06-02-2013, 06:09 PM
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They make a 185 and a 190amp alt, I may have bought it a year ago and I had no issue with shipping one off. They have had problems getting parts or something like that. Have seen guys pretty hot because of waiting for DC Power to ship their order. Like Zman said call them and ask if there will be any delays if you buy one from them.
Don't know if that is happening again ??
Have seen no complaints on the quality of their units so it is a good alt as long as you don't have to wait for one.
If you do not have a big stereo or anything that pulls power the 185 will do fine. If you have power eating lights or whatever go with the 190 amp, it is a heavier duty model and produces more power at idle for sure.

As far as the Optima batteries go I have them too and they are a little more then 2 years old now. I went with the RV blue tops and they spin the starter fast as hell still at this point I guess time will tell. I am hoping I have some good ones. I put a red top in my wife's Tahoe at least 5 years ago and it is strong still. Of coarse I'm sure it's a USA made battery.
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Old 06-03-2013, 07:20 AM
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Maybe they dont offer the 190 for 03 MY, i dont see why not or maybe I need to call. When I plug in my info it comes up with the 185.

As for the Optima's, I have yet to see an issue with mine, my wife's, any of my buddies. Like I said, I load tested em, And I keep em plugged in. As far as I can tell the batteries are good. However... I spoke to the guy this A.M., at first he started talking about a fuse and voltage drop, so I cut him off and told him about how I augmented the charging and Ground wire, so he said bring the truck by. I'm thinking he's gonna wanna load test the batteries with a fancy machine vs. my hand held Schumaker load tester.
Thanks for your thoughts guys, I'm gonna call DC, and see how fast they can ship a 185. I have the stock stereo, and the only accessories on top of anything factory is the CB, and 4 cheapy lamps on the brush grill that dont get used because their worthless, and more or less a decoration
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Old 06-03-2013, 06:47 PM
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Mike, check out PA Performance in Boyertown. They are local to us, and build bigger amp alternators with a lifetime warranty. Being local, and have a issue, you can get replacement quicker.

I've been running my 140amp top alternator from them going on 2yrs, my 140amp secondary alternator for 6 months.

http://www.pa-performance.com/Scripts/default.asp

They also own "east coast ammo" in Gilbertsville, across from Bob's Tires.


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Last edited by Lilpooh; 06-03-2013 at 06:52 PM.
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  #10  
Old 06-03-2013, 07:14 PM
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I myself would not use a 140 amp alt unless the truck was stock with no stereo system or any additional power draws lighting etc. If you have anything pulling power go to the 185 amp for sure. The voltage cut off is 14.8 volts with the DC Power units and I never see anything less than 13+ volts even when I have been driving for hours. The stock alt was in the low 12s all the time.

Your ficm having the power to keep from wiping itself out is more than worth the investment. You will also notice your starter spinning faster because those Optima batteries will be fully charged and the oem alt is not capable of doing that. I know because I have the same batteries and the difference was noticeable.

Checked the website and there is no 190 amp anymore apparently. But the 185 is plenty and these are 100% new units made in the USA

Last edited by mhatlen; 06-03-2013 at 07:20 PM.
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