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Discussion Starter #1
In previous threads I've mentioned that I have an issue getting the car to start. Originally I thought it was a cold start issue, but I tried after driving it and a 30 min "wait" period and it still didn't turn over quickly. I'm starting this thread to work through the issue and collect the advice I've gotten from the wonderful members of this forum.

To start - It was pointed out by @spiderserie4, @alfaloco and numerous other folks on my previous and other threads I needed to verify the ground and the cranking volts. Yesterday was the day :)

I've done this two times (one last season then again this season to verify that things still look good there.)

Here's a video of the volts as I start the car. (set to about when the car starts so you don't have to watch/listen through me getting into the car...)


Here's last years for reference. I also turn the headlights on at 28 seconds and rev the engine at 45 seconds.


Per @spiderserie4 on my previous thread I checked the battery negative on the trunk floor.
I didn't give myself enough time to make it super shiny, and I don't have copper grease - but I did improve it.

Before
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1630609


After
1630606

1630605


So I think I can rule out the battery as the source of the start problems, correct?

My original plan was to try and work through the L-Jetronic document linked in @ghnl's sig or based on
as you can see the tach needle move when you (try to) start, it means you are at least getting the tachymetric signal, so to me the hard start will likely be fuel related.
and that I had a fuel smell in the truck maybe look at that vs. an air leak?

Any thoughts on best path to start?

Your patience and help is appreciated!
 

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Just for fun, replace the spark plugs with fresh/new properly gapped ones. Fully charge the battery on a proper battery charger. Then try a cold start. Let us know if that makes a difference.
 

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ok battery ground is nice 'n clean now;)

your cranking volts is good
your alternator however is not charging,
(and the battery gauge in the instrument cluster in your last thread is not showing good either at 10V !)
so something is wrong, current wise.

When your car starts your voltmeter should be reading more like 13.8 to 14.+ Volts (last year's test was a bit better, it got to 13 when you revved it up, but still no good)
What does your battery volts measure (just static) with your voltmeter?

"I had a fuel smell in the truck "
Let's stick to the alfa for now :ROFLMAO::cool:
 
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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks all!

Just for fun, replace the spark plugs with fresh/new properly gapped ones. Fully charge the battery on a proper battery charger. Then try a cold start. Let us know if that makes a difference.
Thanks Pat - I don't have spark plugs (will get some) and I did just purchase a gap tool. I'll figure out how to check that and get back to the thread with the results (what the gap was and that I put new ones in.)
BUT - one thing I did was put the battery on my battery maintainer (don't have a proper charger) and found that it was low. See below for more details..

ok battery ground is nice 'n clean now;)

your cranking volts is good
Ok - progress! :D

your alternator however is not charging,
(and the battery gauge in the instrument cluster in your last thread is not showing good either at 10V !)
so something is wrong, current wise.

When your car starts your voltmeter should be reading more like 13.8 to 14.+ Volts (last year's test was a bit better, it got to 13 when you revved it up, but still no good)
What does your battery volts measure (just static) with your voltmeter?
This is interesting (to me at least)

I did a check after charging the battery and it read as 13.23v. That looks a little low per your 13.8+ comment.
2020-05-27 17.41.09-1.jpg

Then I did a cold start and it turned over much quicker then it has been.


You can see the battery gauge in the video - it starts "up", but when I turn the key it drops down, then back up again.
(I still don't know if that buzz alert is normal. It seems to happen at start and if the door is open while the car is running.)

Once I got it started I took it out for an hour drive around the island. (lovely 68F degree day, sunny. How could I not? :cool: )
(There were some issues shifting [2nd and 6th], but I'll save that for a different thread unless you folks think it's connected in anyway)

When I got home I checked the battery again. After an hour of driving it was only at 12.93v. :unsure: It charged a bit, but not fully.
I also remember (but can't find it now) that in Pat Braden's "Alfa Romeo All-Alloy Twin Cam Companion: 1954-1994" book that he said something about if you rev the engine and the headlights don't dim - the alternator isn't working properly. I did try that last year and IIRC and they did not dim when I reved the engine. Will try that again if you guys think it's a worthwhile test.

I had a fuel smell in the truck
Let's stick to the alfa for now :ROFLMAO::cool:
You're probably right, we have a lot of work to do :LOL:
 

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After an hour of driving it was only at 12.93v. :unsure: It charged a bit, but not fully.
Best to check battery voltage after it has sat unused for a while (a couple of hours/overnight). The battery can have a 'surface charge' for a while after being charged. But that is not a true indicator of the charge.

BTW, a fully charged car battery should show 12.6V. 12.3 is 1/2 to 3/4 charged. But it takes additional voltage to charge up the battery - thus a properly working alternator & regulator should be putting out ~ 13.8V - 14.2V. More is not better - an over charged battery will get too hot and lose electrolyte shortening its life.

I also remember (but can't find it now) that in Pat Braden's "Alfa Romeo All-Alloy Twin Cam Companion: 1954-1994" book that he said something about if you rev the engine and the headlights don't dim - the alternator isn't working properly. I did try that last year and IIRC and they did not dim when I reved the engine. Will try that again if you guys think it's a worthwhile test.
I think you're remembering it backwards. Engine off or idling slowly the system will be at battery voltage (~ 12V). When rev'd up the alternator will be supplying the higher voltage it is regulated to (~ 14V) so the headlights would be a little brighter. If they keep getting brighter & brighter then the regulator may be faulty - allowing the voltage to rise above 15V.
 

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I think your looking at a fuel issue. Delivery or pressure. Maybe a gas cap that the vent is blocked too.

Test 1 is loosen the gas cap and see if the condition improves. A clogged vent system can create a vacuum inside the tank and cause low/slow fuel delivery. Sometimes zero fuel...

Fuel filter new or new-ish?? If you take off the fuel line and turn the key on, does the pump flow strong??

To fire, you need ; Spark, Air, Fuel. Not in any particular order but you need all 3 at the same time to fire. Looks to me that you have good electric power and cranking speed. I assume the air-filter isn't a solid block of dirt, so next we need to add fuel. There kinds of issues can be hard to track down, so do the basics and check that air filter, make sure you have decent spark plugs in the engine and then concentrate on the fuel delivery.

Get a new alternator as well. It's not charging properly. Check all connections on and to the Alt. Cleanliness is next to godliness and this is true with electrons. Clean and then spray with Deoxit, ( unicorn tears fluid) a small can of spray is like $25!! The stuff is worth every penny.

I hope this helps!

 

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Discussion Starter #7
Ok Gents! Thank you!
Haven't had much time to get back to it, but wanted to reply with questions and a few answers.
Best to check battery voltage after it has sat unused for a while (a couple of hours/overnight). The battery can have a 'surface charge' for a while after being charged. But that is not a true indicator of the charge.

BTW, a fully charged car battery should show 12.6V. 12.3 is 1/2 to 3/4 charged. But it takes additional voltage to charge up the battery - thus a properly working alternator & regulator should be putting out ~ 13.8V - 14.2V. More is not better - an over charged battery will get too hot and lose electrolyte shortening its life.
Heard. - I checked the battery a few times to see what happened.
May 28th - 13.28v (just off the trickle charger)
May 29th - 12.80v
May 30th - 12.77v

Not sure how to check what's coming off the alternator and regulator, but I have a multi-meter and two hands so happy to give it a go.

I think you're remembering it backwards. Engine off or idling slowly the system will be at battery voltage (~ 12V). When rev'd up the alternator will be supplying the higher voltage it is regulated to (~ 14V) so the headlights would be a little brighter. If they keep getting brighter & brighter then the regulator may be faulty - allowing the voltage to rise above 15V.
Thank you for the clarifier! I flipped through the book 20 times looking for the section :) Although I think my take-away was similar - I revved and no change. I'll try it again next time I start the car.

Test 1 is loosen the gas cap and see if the condition improves. A clogged vent system can create a vacuum inside the tank and cause low/slow fuel delivery. Sometimes zero fuel...
Although one time last year I opened the fuel cap I got a "Wooosh!" - I have yet to repeat it. I opened the cap just now after the car has been sitting and it was quiet. I'll be sure to not overtighten it.

Fuel filter new or new-ish?? If you take off the fuel line and turn the key on, does the pump flow strong??
Fuel filter is of unknown age. I'm happy to perform the fuel line test if you can provide a bit of guidance. But (without searching the boards yet) I'm guessing I get down by the fuel filter, pull the line and put into some vessel, start the car and see how strong it pushes the fuel into the filter?

I don't have a floor jack or stands (yet). Will I need that to get to enough space around the fuel filter? (Sorry - still wicked new at this.... but excited to learn if that counts!)


To fire, you need ; Spark, Air, Fuel. Not in any particular order but you need all 3 at the same time to fire. Looks to me that you have good electric power and cranking speed. I assume the air-filter isn't a solid block of dirt, so next we need to add fuel. There kinds of issues can be hard to track down, so do the basics and check that air filter, make sure you have decent spark plugs in the engine and then concentrate on the fuel delivery.

Get a new alternator as well. It's not charging properly. Check all connections on and to the Alt. Cleanliness is next to godliness and this is true with electrons. Clean and then spray with Deoxit, ( unicorn tears fluid) a small can of spray is like $25!! The stuff is worth every penny.

I hope this helps!
I will check the air filter - also of unknown age. I'll also check the spark plugs. I bought a gap tool and can spend some time with the many auto books I've bought, this forum, and you tube to figure that out.

I'll also pick up some Unicorn Tears and check/clean the connections.

re: the Alternator - is this a pull and replace part (ex: something I could try and do myself) or is this something to find a local mechanic to do for me?

It's a chilly overcast day here in Down East Maine - I'm hoping that means I'll have some garage time today to check some of these boxes. (Got a new puppy and keeping him from damaging my house and family has taken much of time "free" time lately)

Thank you for your help!
 

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Alternator check: set Voltmeter to 20v and with the engine idling put test leads on battery terminals
And yes alternator swop is easy for a DIY er, if it came to that.
Battery voltage above looks ok
 
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Yes, once charging the alternator/regulator should be putting out a steady voltage in that range. It usually takes a boost to 1500 - 2000 rpm to excite the alternator. It will then continue to charge even at/close to idle speed. If the voltage continues to rise as the engine speed is increased the regulator is not regulating.

If it fails the voltmeter tests and you can find Ye Olde Fashioned Automotive Electrical Repair Shoppe it can easily be rebuilt to good as new. Removing & replacing is fairly easy. Remember to disconnect the battery first to avoid big sparks.
 

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Given you’re a bit new to this, the only bit of information not overtly stated is that the voltage test for the alternator is done just as you did the battery test - with the Multimeter test leads on the battery terminals. After starting and an initial rev-up, your 12.5ish volts reading should increase to 13.5-14 volts.
Your videos already showed this wasn’t happening, so unless it’s just dirty/poor terminal connections, this fact, and the lack of an increase in headlight brightness, are two clues that the alternator isn’t doing it’s job.
An auto electrician can check over and rebuild yours, if required, which might be cheaper than replacing, or you can just replace.
 

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9 times out of 10, if the alternator is not charging the battery, the alternator brushes are worn, or the regulator is shot. Fortunately, the brushes and voltage regulator for the Bosch alternator are assembled together on an economical (~$35) and easily replaceable unit, which can be accessed from the back of the alternator while it is still mounted to the engine. Rather than uninstalling your alternator, and either paying to have it rebuilt, or paying for a completely new one, I'd suggest replacing the regulator/brush assembly first. It's cheap and only takes about an hour to R&R.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I’ve wanted to update everyone with what’s happened since but haven’t had a moment to put all the results and thoughts together. Summary:

  • tried to start the car after the battery was charged, with the meter connected, so I could verify the alternator wasn’t working properly before trying a fix/replace.
  • car wouldn’t start.
  • would crank but not “catch”
  • noticed car was under 1/2 tank gas so I added 5+ gallons of fresh gas. (This was about a week after it wouldn’t stat the first time)
  • that helped, it turned over (yay!) and stopped almost immediately. (Boo!)
  • now it won’t start at all.
I have a few videos to upload that shows it.
It does make a sound that sounds (to my newbie ear) like metal scraping when I’m turning the key to try and start it.

Still want to check the spark plugs but noticed there are lines and such over them so need to look up how to remove those first.

Thanks for the help!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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I second the alternator comments.
Regarding fueling, change out the fuel filter, its fairly easy. If that doesn't fix the starting issue, get an inline fuel pressure gauge and hook it up to one of the engine bay fuel hoses to see what amount of fuel pressure is being sent to the engine. Chances are if it is still low after a new fuel filter, your fuel pump or fuel pump wiring is giving out.

New spark plugs are easy to change out. None of the issues you've described call for an expert mechanic to fix, the alternator is simple. Remove the battery, unplug the alternator, unbolt the alternator, bolt on the new one and pull it tight so the belt doesn't have slack. Plug back in.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks all for the advice.

So I’ll continue down the spark plug route + I’ve wanted to replace the fuel filter too (first to learn how to do it, second because the PO can’t remember last time it was replaced.)

I’ll also look into a fuel line gauge - feels like I’ll need to have that to diagnose a number of issues.

Below are the videos I mentioned.

First is the one when I expected it to start and just wanted to confirm the alternator was faulty and check the Volts it was pushing out. Then I couldn’t get the car to start. What I have before this video started is the reading fluctuating a lot w/o doing anything to the car. It was hooked up to a trickle charger (which showed not charging). Maybe my meter is busted?



This is trying to start the car after adding 1/2 tank fresh gas




I’ll continue to find spark plugs and how to replace as well as fuel filter.

Ty!


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the meter fluctuating like that is when you opened the door to get in the car...I don't see a problem there...even if your interior lights are in off position, those switches use a bit of power.
when you crank the starter you are getting over 11.5 volts ....that's good too.

you can hear the engine is trying to catch.....

Take out all the plugs, you have certainly flooded the engine with gas by now.
Leave them out for a while to air the chambers thoroughly (in fact squirt a shot of oil down onto the pistons and crank the starter a few seconds with plugs removed to oil the bores, and then leave things for a while)

In the mean time photograph the plugs and show them to us.
Then clean the plugs whilst you are waiting.

I can't remember if I suggested this to you (there are so many no starts here on BB at the moment!)...but, what about the fuel pressure regulator?
Pull off the small vacuum hose at the plenum end (hose goes from a nipple on the air intake plenum to the top of the FPR) and suck on it....if it doesn't hold suction or there is fuel in the hose, the FPR is shot. Check too that that hose is not cracked, especially at the ends (that is where it likes to crack)
 

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Ok all - My "slow to start" which turned into "no start" is back to starting! (yippie!!!)
Was a simple adjustment that taught me a lesson - so for you other novice Alfa mechanics out there - this one's for you. 👇

Basically when I went to remove the Spark Plugs re: @spiderserie4's recommendation I had to remove the air-duct sleeve. Turns out it wasn't connected at one side, just "snugged up" against it. Once I tried to remove it it just slid over.

1634353


[Note to self: Just like everyone says - go through the L-Jetronic guide - I would have found that first thing.]

I didn't stop there though. I didn't know if that was the issue for sure, so I continued to try and remove the spark plugs.
  • I could not budge them. At all. I need a breaker bar to do that? I was using a spark plug socket on a regular wrench. Don't want to break something, but it feels like the next logical step. Anything I could add to the area that would loosen them?
  • I notice liquid (oil) around the first and third spark plug - tried to take photos, but didn't come out great. I cleaned around the plugs in preparation to take them out because didn't want anything falling in. After I got it driving (again, yippie!) I found oil around the 3rd spark plug when I came home and checked it out.
Tried to take photos, but they didn't come out great. You can see a little glistening moisture down there.

1634444


Here's shots of the wires - a little corrosion around the ends of the caps it looks like. Came off with a "pop" so they were suctioned on there (not sure if that's good or bad).
1634445

1634446


Anyway still planning on replacing/adjusting the spark plugs and replacing the fuel filter (looks like it was last done in 2003).
The alternator is still an issue I think. (after getting the car up over 2000 RPMs and reving nothing happens with the headlights at all. IIFC I only get something around 13v to the battery when I test it - I'll try to confirm that next time I start it up.

So here's a starting video (now with the air-duct tightened down extra snug!).

And here's a video testing the headlights.
 

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I can't remember if I suggested this to you (there are so many no starts here on BB at the moment!)...but, what about the fuel pressure regulator?
Pull off the small vacuum hose at the plenum end (hose goes from a nipple on the air intake plenum to the top of the FPR) and suck on it....if it doesn't hold suction or there is fuel in the hose, the FPR is shot. Check too that that hose is not cracked, especially at the ends (that is where it likes to crack)
I'll take a look for this too. Thanks for the help!!
 

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I didn't stop there though. I didn't know if that was the issue for sure, so I continued to try and remove the spark plugs.
  • I could not budge them. At all. I need a breaker bar to do that? I was using a spark plug socket on a regular wrench. Don't want to break something, but it feels like the next logical step. Anything I could add to the area that would loosen them?
  • I notice liquid (oil) around the first and third spark plug - tried to take photos, but didn't come out great. I cleaned around the plugs in preparation to take them out because didn't want anything falling in. After I got it driving (again, yippie!) I found oil around the 3rd spark plug when I came home and checked it out.
Plugs can be deceiving, they're often tighter than you'd think and take a fair bit of force to "break loose",. especially if they've been in there a while. A breaker bar would help with some leverage but you should be okay with a regular socket wrench unless someone put thread locker on them when they were put in. You really have to pull hard on them sometimes, don't be afraid. If you have the proper spark plug socket which it sounds like you do, you shouldn't worry about breaking off the porcelain part. Word to the wise, mechanics gloves are your friend here, when they break loose, you'll discover the best way to smash your knuckles off something...

The oil pooling in the plug cavity is likely from someone filling the oil without a funnel, if you miss the filler neck it'll pool around the plug and stay there. Good news is you'll likely find that #1 will be the easiest to remove.
 
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