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  • Alternator not charging battery on long drives

    Hi all,
    I have searched the forum and found much helpful advice about possible voltage boosters. I’m not sure if that would be helpful to my specific problem so thought I’d reach out.

    We are touring WA towing a caravan for 3 months. We had our 2007 120s Diesel Prado serviced two days again and they say everything including battery is fine. However, last week twice the car wouldn’t start again after long drives. One of these times was the next morning after driving 400km the day before. No lights etc left on. One occasion was after driving for an hour with no towing but still wouldn’t start.

    We installed a USB voltmeter. From reading info here and matching it with our data we are thinking that the van fridge is drawing power and then eventually the alternator decides it’s had enough. It fails to bring the battery back up, even once we arrive at a destination and run it idle and unhitched. So last night despite trying everything we turned the car off at 11.6V. This morning it just scraped a start at 10.6.

    I emailed hkb electronics but that won’t be a solution in the immediate term. We are currently at Tom Price. Just after advice of what people think we might be able to try from here.

    Thanks so much for your time.

  • #2
    Most likely the cranking battery has a flaky cell. I had the same problem 2 weeks back driving from Adelaide to Kununurra. It was a relatively new battery too, so I assumed the problem was somewhere else. Battery shop at KNX tested it and I got a new one. All happy now.

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    • #3
      What does your battery voltmeter read while car is on idle?
      Battery voltage dropping tp 10.6 overnight sounds like a dead cell in the battery

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      • #4
        Dead battery by the sound of it. Modern batteries die quickly.

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        • #5
          Battery voltmeter was reading 11.6ish. Car died again yesterday so have it at a mechanic now. He’s replacing alternator. Battery showing red now but mechanic said it has come back after being on charge.

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          • #6
            Dud Alternator by the sounds of it..

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            • #7
              I’m hoping that will fix it. Somewhat nervous still because the alternator was tested by a mechanic only 48 hours before it died. He said it was fine.

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              • #8
                I hope it works but how old is the battery? More than 3 years and a few corrugations? I would still suspect it if the alternator change doesn't fix it especially as the cold weather comes down.

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                • #9
                  Our saga continues-

                  We’ve had a new alternator put in. Voltmeter is now showing high 13s/14 when we drive. Mechanic fully charged our original battery and said it’s good to go. We now turn the fridge off when towing just in case.

                  However, today we drove on gravel for about an hour, without the van, with tyres aired down. We then hitched up and drove 15 mins gravel towing. Aired all tyres up. Once we were on the bitumen the car started similar issues to before. Really struggling to get up inclines, throwing the revs high, generally not having much power. It was acting like there was a strong headwind when it was completely still. No warning lights are coming on except fuel filter. We have changed the fuel filter twice in the last 10 days. However, we have found in the past the fuel filter light almost always comes on when towing.

                  I’m trying to join the dots and it seems to do this power failure sometimes after it’s worked hard. Either at the end of a big (600km+) towing day on bitumen or particularly after doing some off road work. Two mechanics and 1 RACQ callout have all said everything looks fine.

                  I fear we have not solved the issue. It’s costing a lot in lost accommodation bookings in addition to being remote and not feeling we can rely on the vehicle. Any advice appreciated as we are hoping to do the Gibb and Cape York. We have four kids and hopefully 6 weeks left on this trip.

                  Car has done 310000km and 80000km on this engine (victim of fuel injector seal leaking). Battery is 6 months old.
                  Thanks again!

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                  • #10
                    Get techstream plugged in and do some live views when its playing up. Might be only way to diagnose it.

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                    • #11
                      Have done some more pradopoint searching and think maybe the transmission is getting too warm as other people seem to have encountered.

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                      • #12
                        Im still thinking battery. Alternator is working as i can assume its charging the battery as your are driving. But when you stop/turn off engine. Your battery is no longer being charged by alternator.
                        Can you let us know what your cranking battery voltage is when engine on and off.

                        or is your dual battery somehow linked and is joining the cranking battery and house battery. And is being drained by fridge/etc overnight?

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                        • #13
                          I don’t think the caravan battery is linked to the cranking battery at all. We unhitch at night and unplug the van whenever we stop.

                          Will check the cranking battery when stopped. But today, when driving with our new alternator in I’m looking at 11.4 on USB voltmeter. It has gone up to 14 in the last hour but pretty low now which is concerning again. I’ve tried Broome, Port Headland and Kununurra but can’t find a mechanic anywhere that could fit us in to install a transmission cooler. Might buy a new battery in Broome anyway.

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                          • #14
                            Now it is sounding like it has something to with the alternator

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                            • #15
                              I hope you are towing in 4th gear and not drive. Transmission will get hot very quickly in drive. Still sounds like a dud battery cell for the electrical stuff. I hope it gets sorted.

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