Question about 1997 Cadillac Catera

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1997 Cadillac Catera: When the AC is on and the cooling fan comes on the charging guage drops to almost the red. voltage at battery drops from 14.6 to 13.2 and shows undercharge on a battery testing meter. This problem didnt exist last year. I changed the alternator and there is no difference. I am leaning towards the cooling fan motor, but the wiring to the fan doesnt seam to be excessively hot so i am puzzled.

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  • Cadillac Master
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To check a battery surface voltage, remove the positive terminal protective cover. Connect the +positive side meter lead (red) to the positive side battery terminal. Connect the - negative (black) side meter lead to the negative battery terminal. With the vehicle not running and the car sitting over night the battery voltage should be between 12.5 and 12.8 volts.

Connect the voltage meter lead the same way you would in a battery static voltage check, Start engine (do not drive) at engine idle the voltage should be between 13.6 to 14.3 volts. If not the alternator may need replacing. If the volts are above 14.3, your going to burn out the battery and your going to need to replace the battery also. 

Testing the amperage output of the alternator is good for measuring the amount (not the level) of voltage the alternator can produce. This test can be tricky because if the alternator is weak it can still show it as producing amperage. Which is good, but if the voltage is low, it will still allow the battery to go dead. To check the amperage output of an alternator an amp meter is needed. Once the meter is connected start the engine. Next turn on all electrical accessories and raise the engine idle to about 1200 RPM. The alternator should output the max amperage it was designed to produce. Example: a 90 amp alternator should output about 88 amps. Note: An alternator cannot sustain maximum output for long periods of time. If the alternator is forced to operate at maximum output it will overheat and fail. An alternator is designed to operate at max amperage output only for a reasonable amount of time.

If you don't have a amp meter, you can go to auto zone and they can help you check the alternator for you free of charge just to make sure that it's not your alternator that has gone bad, a old battery will give the same problem since the battery can not hold charge when the electrical system spike for more amps. Good luck and hope this helps, start with the battery if it's been in there longer then 4 years and try to buy the largest CCA that will fit in the battery box. 

Posted on Jul 16, 2009

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  • Cadillac Master
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A charge rate of 13.2 is fine...Likely your battery is getting older and is not charging as well as it used to. You should periodically re-charge the battery using an external charger, as the alternators actual function is to maintain the batteries state of charge, not to re-charge it. Opening the doors, playing the radio with the engine off etc, can and will drain your battery. The alternator will only put a surface charge there and will not actually replace this lost power. I'd begin to worry if charge rate dropped below 12.9.but even then you likely would not have any real problems.

Posted on Jul 16, 2009

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1997 catera


three things spring to mind... slipping belt,,,, voltage regulator or the alternator is going.... you can also unhook the connectors on the alternator... wirebrush them or gently sand them to ensure the best connection.... tighten them back up.... don't over tighten them as you can break a bolt off.

Robert

ps. usually the voltage regulator is built into the alternator... could be replaced seperately or you replace the whole unit.

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