Question about 1997 Saturn SL

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Battery drain on 97 Saturn

I'm in the process of a problem with my 97' Saturn. About 3 weeks ago, it got very very cold (about -6) and my car wouldn't start. The frustrating thing was that the door chime A/C, indicator lights and radio would all come on and the starter was trying to click the engine over but with no success. I got it jumped and away I went. The jump worked good for about 4 days and then the problem happened again. I got another jump and away I went for about 10 days. Then it went dead again and I took the battery to AutoZone to have it recharged and tested. The battery tested ok but was low (not dead). I had them recharge it and I was up and running again. 2 weeks later (Saturday) I couldn't get it to start when leaving work (though it started perfect only a few hours earlier). I got a jump and away I went. Even with my little knowledge of cars, I convinced myself that it could not be the alternator because the jumps were working for days at a time (battery shouldn't have lasted that long otherwise------right?). So yesterday I bought a new battery (I needed to anyway) and am up and running. However, from what I've read, it seems like the problem (if not the battery) could be a short somewhere. I've never seen the battery indicator light come on or anything of that nature. Knowing this ahead of time, I've taken steps to try to head the problem off. I removed the fuses for the door locks and power windows (as I understand it this is a likely spot for a short) My question is: Suppose a couple weeks go by and the car decides to do the same thing (not start) Am I correct in assuming, under those parameters that:

1. The battery is NOT the problem
2. The alternator is NOT the problem
3. The short is NOT contained in the door locks or power windows
4. There is a short.

I just want to make sure that when the times comes to take it to a mechanic, I wont be bombarded with a huge bill and a simple solution.
Final thought, is it possible, based on my scenario, that the battery was the problem and that me buying a new battery could clear everything up?

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  • alydar1185 Jan 27, 2009

    Update! I had the charging system checked at AutoZone this afternoon. They said the alternator is only putting out 58 amps (Which I guess is less tahn 80% of what it should be putting out). I guess I am destined for a repair shop. Thanks for you help!



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You will need to Check you Belt and Belt Tensioner. If the Belt Tensioner is not Holding the Belt good and Tight It will not allow the Alternator to Fully Charge the Battery. I would also have the Alternator check just to be Sure.Please Rate my response, I need all the Help I can get! Thanks!

Posted on Jan 26, 2009

  • Travis Humphries
    Travis Humphries Jan 27, 2009

    No Problem! Happy to Help!


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I have had the same problems, and even though a battery can take a charge it won't always hold a charge. They go out about every 4-6 yrs and it sounds to me that you are set. I live in a clod place (Utah) and it is hell on the battery. So the life will be closer to 4 yrs as apossed to 6. If it continues I would look at you starter. If it is clicking then the silinoyed is god (sorry for the misspelling;) and the starter is bad due to not engaging. If you have any other questions or just want more verification you may email me at

Posted on Jan 26, 2009


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