Q: Charging System Not Working (Alternator is not kicking in)

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While driving home this past Tuesday I noticed the Instrument Cluster gauges were not working and they had worked the prior day. Also it seemed the overdrive was not kicking in either. As I was driving home I noticed the the lights in the dash board were dimming out as if the car losing power. Five minutes after I noticed the lights dimming out the car died on me. I had it towed suspect it was the alternator and since it was under warranty I received another one and had the batter charged. I installed everything back on the car the charging system is still not kicking to charge the battery, also the gauges are still not working. It seems to be that there is something missing in the charging cycle. I know the clusters are somehow tied in to the charging system. All the lights in the cluster work good, there were no warning lights that came on.

The car had been running fine before this.

Today I am going to check the relays to make sure they are good.


For your help

My car has 150000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

The battery should be load tested by a professional. Load testing can only be reliably performed on a fully charged battery. If the battery passes a load test, you have to be sure it is NOT a marginal pass in which case you should install a new battery to reduce diagnostic headaches. Batteries are a VERY important component in a car’s electrical system so the condition of the battery is a threshold issue in your circumstance. Check the integrity of all electrical connections including grounds to the frame in the charging circuit. Even a tiny bit of added resistance will cause enough of a voltage drop that systems just won’t work right. The output of the alternator has to be tested at the battery posts. If the charging output is out of spec. (typically lower than 14.5 volts, but your Factory Service Manual is the authority) then the charging circuit is simply traced until the fault is found and repaired. Again, it could just simply be a high resistance (faulty) connection. If you desire that a certified mechanic resolve this promptly, please simply request a battery/charging system diagnostic and the responding mechanic will get the problem diagnosed and repaired for you. Please let us know if you have further concerns or questions as we are always here to help you.

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