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Discussion Starter #1
Hello!
One morning I noticed the vehicle had trouble starting. Once I jumped the vehicle it started right up so I let it run a bit and then shut off. Wouldn't start again so I jumped again and started up to run awhile which I could then turn off and on and would still start fine. I did notice that the battery gauge would stay under or at 12volts. So I drove the car for awhile far distance highway in hopes that it would recharge (because the gauge would usually be between 12-14volts while driving). Well the car ran and started up fine through the day so I decided to stop at a local O'reilly to inquire about a battery so the gentlemen decided to do a free check. Both the battery and starter checked out fine but the alternator came up going bad. As a side note the battery was checked twice and first time came out as good but not full power. Over the years I have had the ECU's changed and usually over the years when the car would have trouble starting I would just jump it and it would be fine. Maybe to many jumps could have caused the alternator to loose power. I don't know.

But I have the alfa with the orange battery key which I usually disconnect when I don't operate the car. The car does sit for some time without use but not more than a month or two.

The day after this happened I kept that orange key in (for a full day just to see if the car would completely re-charge) I tried starting it and it started right up right away but then some seconds later it shut down and will not start anymore up to this day. I still have that orange key on with the battery. I'm afraid to keep trying to start it because it will drain out and crank slower (like it does if I keep trying to start it). But as of today I put the key in and just turn and its indicators still lights up but I don't turn all the way to see if it will start anymore.

I have already purchased an alternator and will have it put in sometime next week hoping that will solve the issue. Any thoughts will be helpful.
 

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But Mad North-Northwest
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On the Bosch cars (and probably some of the earlier ones, dunno where the cutoff is) the regulator is at the back of the alternator and has integral brushes. What eventually happens is the brushes wear down and then the alternator no workie. If that's the problem then you can just replace the regulator (without removing the alternator from the car) to fix the issue.
 

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I agree with Tom. The most likely suspect is the regulator which is built into the alternator. A clever guy can R/R the regulator without needing to remove the alternator.

In addition to (or perhaps before) replacing the regulator, I'd clean & secure all connections in the battery/starter/alternator circuit. A bad connection (or a few slightly bad connections) will interfere with the free flow of electrons. It might not be the culprit but it is good preventative maintenance to make sure all these connections are 100%.

P.S. I don't put a lot of faith in a dash voltmeter. Like all Alfa gauges, it can give a general idea of what might be happening but they are not known for their absolute accuracy.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks. I appreciate the comments. Especially about the dash voltmeter and the regulator. Would replacing the actual alternator and cleaning be ok or would the regulator have to be replaced? Also, should I keep that orange battery key on or is it ok to disconnect it until I get the reapirs?
 

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But Mad North-Northwest
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The new alternator will have a new regulator, so you can just replace the whole thing, yes. It's just more expensive and more work to do it that way if it turns out your only problem is the regulator.

I dunno what you mean by the "orange key": you mean a battery disconnect? If so, disconnecting the battery when the car is off will help if you've got a parasitic drain problem but has nothing to do with the alternator.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I thought it might help to disconnect it because I don't know if the battery will drain even if the vehicle is not running.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Attached is a copy of what the battery key looks like. If I disconnect this key from the battery the vehicle cannot start up or anything electrical cannot function.
 

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That is the type of 'key' for a battery disconnect. Sometimes called a kill switch - race cars have to have a kill switch so safety workers can shut off all electrical items in an emergency.

There are cheap versions that use that type of key. I know of a couple of racers who lost their race when the switch failed (one on the last lap while he was in the lead!).

It might be worth bypassing the switch and having the battery/alternator re-tested.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
When you say bypass the switch what do you mean? I will have the mechanic retest before replacing or attempting to replace the alternator and battery. And what do you mean by retest?
 

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The switch that uses that red key interrupts one of the main battery cables (either the pos or neg cable). Bypass it by re-connecting the battery cable directly - so the switch is no longer in the circuit.

Re-test after bypassing the switch as above - meaning have a place like O-Reilly's run the battery load test & alternator output test again.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Bypass it by re-connecting the battery cable directly -so the switch is no longer in the circuit. Reconnect the battery cable directly to what? If I'm correct what you are telling me is to get rid of that switch all together. But the car will not run or attempt to start unless that's plugged into the battery. So if your giving me advice on ridding that kill switch all together then I'm all for it!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
First I have to get the car to start in order to drive it to testing. Can this bypass method be done without cracking the car?
 

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Before you do anything difficult....

Add a doubling wire of 10-12 gauge between the B+ terminal on the back of the alternator and the gang-stud on the inner, left wheel well.

Start the car, using jumpers if necessary. Observe dash voltmeter. Report findings.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
So I'm presuming the purpose of bypassing the kill switch is to get a more accurate reading of the alternator and battery? And not to completely eliminate the kill switch completely. I don't think that kill switch can be eliminated but I think you are saying just for testing purposes.
 

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Or are you saying just bypass the switch for the purpose of retesting?
Yes. But that is not a vital step. It was just to eliminate one possible failure point. If the switch seems to be working OK just leave it be for now.

Cleaning all the connections (battery disconnected to avoid big sparks!) is step one. Don's suggestion to double up the (red) wire that goes from the alternator's output terminal to the junction box on the left inner fender helps to ensure there is a large pathway for electrons to flow. The original (single) wire is just barely adequate for the maximum output of the alternator. With a battery that needs to be thoroughly re-charged in addition to the other electrical needs, that wire may prove inadequate (limiting the flow of electrons). But again, making sure all the connections are 100% clean & tight is the first thing.

1651624


Cover removed:
1651625
 

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Does the instrument panel warning lamp, the one that looks like a car battery, illuminate when the key is on and the engine is off (KOEO). If not, the bulb, or the wiring to the bulb behind this symbol may be the problem. If the filament for this bulb fails, the exciter circuit will not complete, and the alternator will not operate.
 
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Discussion Starter #20
I will check that in a few minutes but normally when I turn the key those lights come on but you mean the battery light right?
 
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