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Discussion Starter #1
92 spider veloce
25k miles

car has been sitting since november, 2014. i was out of the country from november - january and then when i got back the weather / roads were terrible so i never bothered trying to start the car. when i tried to start it today, it wouldn't start. nothing worked - lights, etc..

i had AAA come to the house to take a look.

they jumped the car and it started right up but as soon as they removed the cables from the battery, the car would shut off.

we tried this numerous times with the same result.

even left the cables on the battery for at least 5 minutes to charge it longer, but it still shut off when we removed them.

AAA thinks it is a bad alternator.

what do you guys think?

thanks for the feedback.
 

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If left in a discharged state the battery may never recover. Before condemning the alternator I'd clean all connections in the alternator, battery & starting circuits (including/especially grounds). Then test with a known good battery.

A fully charged battery should show ~ 12.6V with everything off. With the engine running, the alternator should be putting out 13.5V - 14.5V at about 2000 rpm or higher (measured at the battery).
 

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If left in a discharged state the battery may never recover. Before condemning the alternator I'd clean all connections in the alternator, battery & starting circuits (including/especially grounds). Then test with a known good battery.

A fully charged battery should show ~ 12.6V with everything off With the engine running, the alternator should be putting out 13.5V - 14.5V at about 2000 rpm or higher (measured at the battery).
thanks for the feedback.

i actually just remembered which i should have included in the original post that the first week of november was the last time that i drove the car. 2 weeks later when i tried to start it, nothing worked. since i was leaving the country the following week, i just decided to let it sit and deal with it when i got back.

strange though that back in november within 2 weeks a part, the car would not start - which explains the current situation from today.
 

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when i tried to start it, nothing worked
Can you define "nothing" a little more precisely. Did the steering work? The brakes?

From your recent symptoms, I'd agree with the AAA guy, and say that the alternator isn't charging. It's worth doing the things ghnl suggests, but at the end of the day, your alternator probably will need attention. Given that your Alfa is a '94, you may just need the brush/regulator assembly:

 

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Can you define "nothing" a little more precisely. Did the steering work? The brakes?

From your recent symptoms, I'd say the alternator isn't charging. A better test might be to disconnect the battery, jump it by hooking the jumper cables to battery cables, and then see if it will continue to run with the jumpers removed. In other words, will it run with the battery completely out of the equation. It probably won't, which suggests the alternator isn't working.

The posts that follow may advise you not to run an engine with no battery in the circuit.
nothing meaning lights won't turn on, starter does not turn over. the symptons would be identical to a dead battery of a car not starting.
 

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nothing meaning lights won't turn on, starter does not turn over. the symptons would be identical to a dead battery of a car not starting.
Yes, it sounds like you have a bad alternator, and it was bad back in November.

The battery probably won't hold a charge reliably after being dead for so long. How old is the battery? If more than a couple of years, it's probably not worth messing with.
 

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Yes, it sounds like you have a bad alternator, and it was bad back in November.

The battery probably won't hold a charge reliably after being dead for so long. How old is the battery? If more than a couple of years, it's probably not worth messing with.
yes it went bad after 2 weeks of driving the car in november.

2 weeks is not a long time for a battery to go dead.

the battery is only about 2-3 years old. i would have to look at my receipts to verify but that is not that old.

regardless, after i get everything sorted, i will probably just replace the battery anyway since that is a minimal cost.

i have a battery kill switch that i had placed in the trunk which i never use because i always keep forgetting. i should start using this as this will prevent any issues with the battery after long periods of non-use which i was told would be better than a trickle charger and more convenient since i don't have to deal with wires.
 

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A battery discharged 50% or more will have permanent damage. Repeated total discharge will kill even a new battery so it will not take or hold a charge.
I bet it is a bad battery. Would not hurt to check alternator.
Use a trickle charger to prevent this in the future.

Bob
 

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i have a battery kill switch that i had placed in the trunk which i never use because i always keep forgetting. i should start using this as this will prevent any issues with the battery after long periods of non-use which i was told would be better than a trickle charger and more convenient since i don't have to deal with wires.
If your car's electrical system has a small short - or your radio's electronic channel memory uses a lot of current - a kill switch will help with a week or two of non-use. But over a period as long as four months (November - March) just opening a kill switch won't keep your battery charged.

What you want during a prolonged period of non-use is a battery tender - not a trickle charger. A tender has some intelligence that tells it to back off when the battery is fully charged. A trickle charger just keeps dumping current into the battery, whether it needs it or not, eventually doing damage. At least that's the hype from the ads for battery tenders!
 

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If your car's electrical system has a small short - or your radio's electronic channel memory uses a lot of current - a kill switch will help with a week or two of non-use. But over a period as long as four months (November - March) just opening a kill switch won't keep your battery charged.

What you want during a prolonged period of non-use is a battery tender - not a trickle charger. A tender has some intelligence that tells it to back off when the battery is fully charged. A trickle charger just keeps dumping current into the battery, whether it needs it or not, eventually doing damage. At least that's the hype from the ads for battery tenders!
A lead acid battery will lose about 5 % per month of total capacity in self discharge so an 80 a/h battery will discharge 4Amps. A 5Amp trickle charger will keep it fully charged with no damage. The discharge rate will increase with age.
I guess for 10X the price a tender might do a slightly better job.
I learned a lot about batteries living aboard a sailboat powered by 12V.

Bob
 

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Many times Ive made the mistake of trying to charge a battery with the terminals still on it. Sometimes a chemical forms around the post between the cable connectors and you get no current passing. Clean the terminals and the posts and try it again. I'm betting it will work. Of course it wouldn't be a bad Idea to fully charge the battery first.
 

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If the alternator suddenly stopped functioning completely (or was disconnected) while the car was running, wouldn't the car still continue to run (at least for a while) on just the current coming from the battery?

As described, the symptom of the running car instantly dying as soon as the charger was disconnected makes me lean more towards a defective battery rather than a defective alternator.
 

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If the alternator suddenly stopped functioning completely (or was disconnected) while the car was running, wouldn't the car still continue to run (at least for a while) on just the current coming from the battery?

As described, the symptom of the running car instantly dying as soon as the charger was disconnected makes me lean more towards a defective battery rather than a defective alternator.
A deeply discharged battery will have a very low internal resistance and pull the alternator voltage possibly lower than the computer or ignition can tolerate.

Bob
 

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^^^^ I've experienced exactly this with my Motronic Spider after neglecting the battery for an extended period.
 

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If the alternator suddenly stopped functioning completely (or was disconnected) while the car was running, wouldn't the car still continue to run (at least for a while) on just the current coming from the battery?

As described, the symptom of the running car instantly dying as soon as the charger was disconnected makes me lean more towards a defective battery rather than a defective alternator.
If the battery is supplying 13.5V the motor should run for a while with the alternator inop.

With a non-EFI motor, disconnecting the battery on a running motor will tell you if the alternator is working. If the alternator is good the voltage from it is enough to power the coil and keep the motor running. I know this is not the case with modern motors - not sure about the motronic system.

My guess is that both the alternator and the battery are due for replacement...
 

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The battery is toast. Replace it and then check the alternator.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
thanks everyone for the feedback.

one of the reasons why i don't believe it is the battery because in november i drove the car and 2 weeks later this problem developed.

it just so happened i waited this long to now to attempt to fix it.

2 weeks and having the car not start in november on a 3 year old battery doesn't sound like the battery would be the issue but i'll have the alfa mechanic in long island, NY (alfa auto clinic) do the diagnosis.
 
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