Car Dramas

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All of this actually started in March. My alternator died so I had to get a new one. Then in August that alternator died. So I had to get another one, which I was not happy about. Fortunately I didn't have to pay for the alternator, just the labour.

The next weekend I went to Sydney. I noticed the engine seemed to be running pretty rich, and the car was using more petrol than it should. Then on the Wednesday night when I went to come home and the car wouldn't start - the battery was pretty flat and wouldn't turn the engine over. So I clutch started it and came home without any issues.

A couple of weeks passed by and a couple more trips to Sydney.

Then three weeks ago I was about to leave for Sydney when my garage door broke. The power had tripped and when that happens, the door goes up and down to figure out if it's up or down, and in doing that it broke off the bracket that holds it onto the motor. So Damien and Stu manually wound it round so I could get out, but then my was *completely* dead. No power whatsoever. So I thought it was the battery. Because I had a new alternator and all. So got NRMA to come out and give me a new battery.

Off I went to Sydney again, and came back no problems. Left the car parked outside because the garage door was broken. A week later I went to start my car. Dead. Dead dead dead. Brand new battery and it's flat. Stressed about how much damage I've done to a new battery, that I probably didn't actually need a new battery after all, that I needed the car on the weekend and it wasn't working. I caught the bus to work, and Stu connected up my charger. But no lights came on. And in fact when I got home on that Friday night, there was still absolutely nothing. Super super stressed now to the point of feeling queasy. But then Tony was able to come by with his charger and it seemed to work. Same brand, but a different model. So I'm thinking my charger is dead too. Yay.

The Saturday morning I had to go to work, and luckily Tony's charger had worked and I was able to start the car and go to work. I took the "scenic" route to make sure the battery was fully charged. After work it started again no problems, and I went out to the club. Next day came home no problems.

Potty came over with his manly man friend, and they were able to fix the garage door! They reckoned that if I'd had to get a professional, they probably would have declared it too hard and wanted to sell me a new door. So that was pretty awesome.

But my car problems remained: the engine was still running rich and my battery kept flattening. Something had to be done.

So I took it to the mechanic the Tuesday after Family and Community Day and told Mick of my dramas. I told him that I wanted a *real* laser alternator that has a third wire to power the choke heater. I told him I was convinced there was *something* in the alternator that was draining my battery while the engine was off.

Wednesday I got it back. They couldn't find a laser alternator, but he'd had an autoelectrician in to wire in power to the choke. Dubious, I took the car home. At least the choke now worked and turned off when the engine was warm. I measured the voltage on the battery when I got it home. 10V according to our crappy multimeter. Kept an eye on it for the next few days. It stayed at 10V until Sunday morning, where it had dropped to 5V. So my battery problems were still there :(:(

Sunday lunch, the little brother came by after finishing working on the train at the museum. With his multimeter he was able to see that the car was drawing 0.25A of current. We went through all the fuses testing stuff but still there was current being drawn. Then he disconnected the alternator. The current stopped.


How can a mechanic *and* an auto electrician not figure this out? I was furious.

David was able to trace the alternator to a 40A fuse in the engine bay that I can pull out when leaving the car for more than a day. So next time I'm in Sydney I think I'll take it to Bargwanna's and see what they can do. Because I don't think I can ever go back to Melba Motors again.

As a side note, it seems my charger isn't actually dead, but won't work with a completely dead battery - only a mostly dead one.

And thanks *heaps* to David.. have I ever mentioned how much my little brother rocks?!

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Kazza's "Boring Life Of a Geek" aka BLOG

IT geek, originally from Sydney, moved to Canberra in 2007. Married to "the sweetie", aka Stu. Prolific photographer, Lego junkie and tropical fish keeper.

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