So, I just bought my powerstroke a few weeks back; PO told me that the batteries were a couple years old. No problems, but couple years old. It had just been inspected in April. The other day when we got all the awful storms in the mideast, I spent quite a lot of time in and out of the truck helping my parents and neighbors saw up trees that had fallen across driveways, garages, and homes. I left the lights on ONCE for an hour or two, and had problems later that day with starting the truck. The battery gauge read in the low 1/3 range of voltage; not too low, but not great either. The interior lights worked fine, power windows, fine, etc. But, it was like it didn't have quite enough to turn over the starter. I did let the glow plugs do their thing before trying to start, but no clicking, spinning, or anything when I turned the key, just a slight dimming of the cab lights when I tried to start it, but no cranking. I got my dad to jump me with his little 4x4 Tacoma, which took several minutes of him revving the engine halfway to get enough juice into the Powerstroke to get it to crank.
No problems for a few days. Then, same thing, but my GF put the key to ignition instead of accessory while she was my spotter cutting firewood. Had to jump it again. Fine for a few days. After it wouldn't start again this Monday, I cleaned the terminals with a brass brush and baking soda, and topped off the batteries with fresh water, as several cells were very low, with the lead core exposed by like 1/2" in the electrolyte solution. Started right up afterwards. I took it for a drive to make sure the battery was charged.
While looking in the engine bay I noticed the serpentine belt tensioner pulley is vibrating--flopping around a bit, and the belt is chirping a little. I know I need to replace the tensioner, but could that be the root of the problem, or am I looking at a new alternator? No, I haven't gotten the alternator tested yet. It wouldn't start yesterday while my girl was out doing errands, leaving her stranded.
She swears that she didn't leave the key on, or any lights, or anything, and I believe it from how upset she was. Now the ******* truck is at the damn grocery store parking lot, and I'm out of town with the other car at work.
Is this the battery, the starter, or just the pulley keeping the alternator from charging right?