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Old 01-15-2021, 05:15 PM   #1
DavePolyakov
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Default New voltage regulator, now won't start?

The battery tester at O'Reilly diagnosed a faulty voltage regulator so I ordered one from Ipd and installed it. The old brushes were worn, but still more than 5mm. I installed the new one from under the car because I couldn't see what I was doing from above and now it won't start. Just a click. What did I do wrong? It seems very simple to install. Currently, the battery has charged as I have been charging it every now and then. 1986 240 m46.
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Old 01-15-2021, 05:29 PM   #2
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You say you've charged the battery: have you tested the battery to verify that it is holding the charge?

How are the cable connections to and from the battery (beware of corrosion)?

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Old 01-15-2021, 06:18 PM   #3
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The car started, the connections seemed to be loose somehow. Now my concern is why would the battery tester say my voltage regulator is bad if it's within spec? The brushes are exactly 3/8 inch long, not all the way down.
Ever since I crossed the battery terminals on accident I've been battling charging issues. First I replaced the alternator ground wire which had burned up and then all was good for a few weeks. Then one day it wouldn't start, so I've been charging it every couple of days, sometimes it would still be dead when trying to start it. I'm hoping the voltage regulator is the last piece to the puzzle but I'm not so sure.
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Old 01-15-2021, 06:52 PM   #4
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Are you sure they ran the battery test correctly? It sounds to me like your battery got toasted (or was almost toasted already and you just encouraged it to death)
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Old 01-15-2021, 10:05 PM   #5
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The guy who tested it seemed like the most knowledgeable in the whole store so I hope his diagnosis was right. The voltage regulator was only $11.95. When I did cross the battery cables the first thing I noticed was the rubber casing on the ground wire burning and smoking. I immediately uncrossed the wires but they were probably connected for around 15 seconds. He said my battery was in good shape and not the issue but then again, I'm not so sure. There is no date on the battery but when I bought the car it looked pretty new, with no corrosion or anything about a year and a half ago.
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Old 01-15-2021, 11:08 PM   #6
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The battery tester at O'Reilly diagnosed a faulty voltage regulator
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The guy who tested it seemed like the most knowledgeable in the whole store so
Oh boy
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Old 01-15-2021, 11:09 PM   #7
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If the battery spend 15 second crossed and you burnt up insolation ide look over all the wiring before thowing more parts at it
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Old 01-16-2021, 12:33 PM   #8
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Charge the battery, don't start the car then start doing a voltage drop down test. Something else is killing your battery.
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Old 01-16-2021, 01:10 PM   #9
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These old cars get serious corrosion inside the cable insulation. Aggravated by 15 seconds of a short they may not want to function any more. Might be time for overall replacement. Cost lots less than a tow.
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Old 01-16-2021, 01:22 PM   #10
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Ever since I crossed the battery terminals on accident I've been battling charging issues. First I replaced the alternator ground wire which had burned up ...
This most likely damaged the rectifier diodes in the alternator. It would cause problems charging the battery and, depending on the damage, could cause a high drain when off. Over time, the alternator may have degraded further due to the initial damage and high charging currents. The voltage regulator may have been damaged too.

I'd take the alternator back to the parts store and get it re-tested. It's a good idea to charge up the battery overnight since it may have been discharged by the bad alternator. Charging a completely dead battery with just the alternator is pretty stressful on the alternator.
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Old 01-16-2021, 01:56 PM   #11
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I'd suggest testing or replacing several things. You need to load test your battery to find out if it can start the car. They can do that at the store. 15 seconds of reversed wiring has damaged your cables. Probably need at the very least the ground cable but maybe both replaced. Then you must test for a battery drain to make sure something didn't get damaged and cause current to flow when it's not supposed to drawing the battery down overnight. As Bob suggested I also agree with his assessment that your alternator is toast.
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Old 01-16-2021, 02:11 PM   #12
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Test the battery by taking both cables off and measure the voltage across the terminals. If it reads less then 12V charge the battery with the cables off until the voltage is up to 12-13V. Let the battery sit for a few hours and measure it again.

If the battery has held the charge, disconnect the large red wire and the small exciter wire from the alternator and re-connect the battery cables and measure the battery voltage. If the battery holds the charge try cranking the engine. If the engine cranks reconnect the alternator wires and measure the battery. Then test crank again.

If the above goes well check the battery voltage daily.
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Old 01-16-2021, 03:18 PM   #13
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The burnt up alternator-to-block wire acted as a fusible link and hopefully protected the rest of the wiring. Get a good alternator in there, charge up the battery, and see if it then behaves correctly. At idle, the voltage across the 2 battery posts should be ~13.5volts. If it's much lower, then it isn't charging (next suspect would be the red starter-to-alternator wire that wraps around the front bottom of the block).

You can also get a $10 cigarette lighter voltage gauge (amazon: usb car charger volt meter) to monitor voltage while driving. If you want to fast charge your phone, get the fancier $15 iphone rated version. On an old Volvo, voltage should be ~13.5 to ~14volts, and maybe a bit less when hot. On more modern cars, maybe ~14.5v. 12ish volts, or lower, means you're draining the battery and will eventually have problems starting.
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Old 01-17-2021, 12:00 AM   #14
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Thanks for all the responses. Once I can find my multimeter I will test the voltage at idle and see if it's around 13.5v. It's been several months since I crossed them and I've driven several thousand miles. If it won't start one day in the future I will conduct more tests but I'm hoping the voltage regulator was the main issue. I try to park downhill so I can always clutch start it. I also can't be sure it was 15 seconds, it could have been less or more. I'm also hoping that the alternator ground wire acted like a fuse for the rest of my wires. If I did go about replacing all of the battery wires where can I find the guages of the wires I need? Thanks
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Old 01-17-2021, 04:50 AM   #15
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Dave P,

So you have an INTERMITTENT NO CRANK!?

Find your meter and do voltage drop tests AND parasitic battery drain measurements.
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Old 01-17-2021, 10:31 AM   #16
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Yes. I need to get off my lazy ass and do the tests. I found the meter.
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Dave P,

So you have an INTERMITTENT NO CRANK!?

Find your meter and do voltage drop tests AND parasitic battery drain measurements.
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Old 01-17-2021, 06:22 PM   #17
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If I did go about replacing all of the battery wires where can I find the gauges of the wires I need?
Easiest is to use a good wire stripper on the old wire and see which notch fits best -- you want the insulation to be cleanly cut (no pulling hard to tear the remaining bits) but none of the strands broken or nicked. Strip off a 2nd section to inspect the 1st for nicks.

In some of the Volvo greenbooks, the wire size is shown in metric cross-sectional area mm^2, e.g. "R 0.75" or "R 6.0", somewhere along the wire. Google "AWG to mm2 conversion" for a chart, e.g. AWG 18 and AWG 10 for the previous sizes.

I've also seen double sizes in the greenbooks, e.g. "R 6.0 (R 10.0)". I don't know what cases the 2nd number is for.
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Old 01-17-2021, 08:25 PM   #18
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If I did go about replacing all of the battery wires where can I find the guages of the wires I need? Thanks
I would order new battery cables made up with connectors. I am sure that you can order OEM part number cables but I would just take them off and go to NAPA and find what fits. I suggest NAPA because they are probably going to have the best local length selection.

My '81 has a second wire from the + battery post to the power distribution panel on the inside fender. If you have that it will take a little local engineering to add to a generic cable.

Or go to ebay: https://www.ebay.com/itm/2-Gauge-Cop...Cclp%3A2334524

Last edited by TestPoint; 01-17-2021 at 08:31 PM..
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Old 01-18-2021, 08:35 AM   #19
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...
I've also seen double sizes in the greenbooks, e.g. "R 6.0 (R 10.0)". I don't know what cases the 2nd number is for.
Once I saw this and got curious. The parenthetical designation was for Diesels IIRC. Was an old green book.
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Old 01-20-2021, 12:58 PM   #20
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Ok, so replacing the voltage regulator didn't solve anything. I went skiing yesterday, all was good driving up then on the way down the pass my Kenwood cut out and then cut out again and then wouldn't turn on. My headlights also became intermittent. I didn't want to risk getting gas so I just went home. I will replace the positive and negative wires and then do a voltage drop-down test.
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Old 01-20-2021, 03:07 PM   #21
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Google how to do loaded voltage drop tests. Do one on your battery cables and the alt positive and ground cables.
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Old 01-20-2021, 06:38 PM   #22
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Give us some more numbers. Do any of the suggested procedures and post the results. If you shotgun an intermittent problem you'll never know if its fixed. Long distance tow charges are even less fun.
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Old 01-22-2021, 11:07 PM   #23
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Ok, so I went to a different Oreilly's and got another battery test. It also said I had a failed voltage regulator even though I just installed a new one. I then performed a voltage drop-down test. This was the guide I used, it's my first time doing electrical I am definitely a rookie. https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/C...tage-Drop-Test

Multimeter at 20 DC Volts

Battery reads ~12.8 with car off.

At idle with accessories (no radio or ac) on the battery reads 13.3. At 2k rpm, it also reads 13.3. No real change.

With the positive lead on the positive alternator wire at the terminal and the negative lead on the positive battery post, it reads 0.07 at idle and at 2k rpm. No change with RPMs.

With the positive lead on negative alternator wire at the terminal and negative lead on positive battery post it reads ~3. Again, no change with rpms.

With negative lead on alternator housing and positive lead on the negative battery post, it read 0.15 volts.


Ok, maybe this wasn't that thorough, please let me know what else should be tested or done. My headlight's only turn on when I turn on my high beams and my Kenwood keeps turning on and off. Are these symptoms an alternator not putting out enough current?
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Old 01-23-2021, 12:07 AM   #24
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If your cabin is dying, I would remove and clean all the wires going to the positive junction block on the driver side fender.

Voltage drop test only short sections of a circuit at a time. Like from the alt case, to a clean ground on the block. Don't do it all the way to the battery negative. That is including any voltage drop in your negative cable into the measurement.


It doesn't sound like you have bad cables based on your description of the problem.


Here is a fun test: there may be a yellow/wire by the firewall with just a male spade at the end. Apply 12v here from your favorite source and the starter should fire (DONT DO IT IN GEAR- MANUAL TRANS)

You could also rig your meter inside the car somewhere and monitor voltage. You can monitor charging voltage and also see if the cabin is getting low voltage when you are having the issue.
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Old 01-24-2021, 01:35 AM   #25
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"With the positive lead on the positive alternator wire at the terminal and the negative lead on the positive battery post, it reads 0.07 at idle and at 2k rpm. No change with RPMs."

"With negative lead on alternator housing and positive lead on the negative battery post, it read 0.15 volts."

Excellent! The battery and alternator cables and connections are good.
You should buy a battery monitor for the lighter socket. Find out if the battery is discharging while your driving or after the car is turned off. You are dealing with an intermittent problem.
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