Question about 2003 GMC Sierra

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Battery light on, Battery not charging code on dash, voltmeter on dash shows 12 volts only, Occasional service break booster falt on dash readout. Truck has a new battery. Is it alternator? Or other problem? ed.division15@mac.com

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Take alternator off and take to local part store they can check for free

Posted on Apr 18, 2011

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Test the alternator. The battery light is for the charging system. Once the charging system is working with the engine running, the light should go off. If your light stays on with engine running, the alternator may need service or replacement.

To test the charging system, just put a voltmeter on the battery with engine running. The voltmeter should register at least 13.5 volts- alternator is charging. If you only show battery voltage with engine running, like 12.2-12.8 volts, the alternator or charging system is not working. The battery light should be on to signify this.

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Clearly, the battery is either dead or the power from it is not reaching the starter circuit. The battery is used only to start the engine and the alternator provides power for the car once started. Since the car shuts off when the booster cables are removed - I'd make sure all the connections at the alternator are made up tight. I'd also have a check on the fuses for the alternator's output. A voltmeter on the battery should provide 12 - 12.5 Volts when the car is off and 13.5 to 15 Volts with the car running. I suspect you only see those voltages when booster cables are connected.

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Brother Mark, changing the battery with a new one being done won't make the light go out, as you noticed. Light is still on so you changed the alternator. Good, but the battery light is STILL on. This only means that the charging circuit from the alternator is not working in the voltage regulator or the wiring is not connected properly to the alternator/regulator. A new battery will show over 13 to 13.5 volts not connected. An old battery will still show 12 volts and still be weak or bad. After connected and engine running, the system will show at least 14 volts because alternator/regulator is working properly, using a voltmeter/load tester connected to the battery. If after replacing the battery and alternator it is still reading 12 to 13.5 volts, it is not working and the light will stay lit on the dash. You may have purchased a faulty alternator if the system tests out this way. Have your system checked with a volt meter or load tester bit be sure all the connections are proper and clean.

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Maybe it wasn't running long enough to charge up the battery?
Stop trying to jump it, when you are having problems with it dying, take the battery off and have it charged. And/or buy a $20 voltmeter to see what the battery shows. If it says less than 12 volts, it is discharged, and needs charging. A good battery that is not run down should have at least 12.5 volts. A new battery that is charged should have very close to 13 volts, maybe 12.8 volts.
When you have the truck running, check the alternator for charging. You put the voltmeter right on the battery and check it again. This time, with truck running, battery should show at least 13.5 volts. That shows the alternator is working. A good alternator will put out about 13 or 14 volts-the regulator will keep it from going any higher to prevent problems, like a melting battery or electrical parts burning out.
I would say get the charging system working right, then address the problem of dying at stop lights. That could be a carburetor problem, if the alternator is working.

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If the lights drain the battery when the engine is running, then you have a bigger problem of the alternator not charging, not working. When the engine is running, the alternator supplies all the current to run the car's electrical systems, while also charging up the battery for the next start-up. If you know the alternator is good, then maybe a fuse or fusible link has blown, preventing the alternator from working. To check, put a voltmeter on the battery with engine running-it should show over 13.5 volts if the charging system is working. If the alternator is not putting out, the voltmeter will read same voltage on the battery as when the engine is not running. A fully charged battery should show "around" 12.6 volts. A discharged battery will show less than 12 volts. That should give you an idea of the range to look for on a voltmeter. I believe some parts stores will check the voltage for free. I know most stores will test the alternator and battery for free if brought into the store, but you need the voltage read while on the car and engine running. If the system is charging normally and the lights kill everything, you may have a short in the lighting system.

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Ford Escort 1998 not starting. Replaced Alternator, Belt and Battery. Fully charged Battery starts straight away, but after a while of driving, switch engine off and the the car doesnt turn over like the...


Not a sensor or fuse. Possibly the battery: only way to know is have it checked. Best way is check when car wont start. Should have over 12 volts. I would suspect alternator is not charging battery. Put a voltmeter on battery when car is running. Voltmeter should read 13.5-14 volts. If not, something's not right. Check your battery grounds for tightness and cleaness. Sometimes a loose connection will keep battery from either charging or starting. If you still have the problem, check your starter for a short, drawing too much amperage.

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My mom has the same problem w battery w. chrysler 300m(2002) she allready replace w. new battey then chrysler service dept. told her the battery was fine n replace her starter now electric shop says it is...


Sounds like alternator if the battery is not staying charged or the output from alternator the big red wire is lost connection to battery +.
a voltmeter you can check with across battery and it should show minimum 13.8 volts minimum to be charging.
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