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Car question...
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shifuimam
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Jun 30, 2012, 11:48 AM
 
So in a span of two weeks, my it-never-has-had-an-issue 2005 Hyundai Tuscon GL is suddenly having issues.

Here's what's happened:

The battery died as I was parking the car to get gas a couple weeks ago, during this ridiculous heat wave that hit DC. It died again a few days later. We did some testing and discovered that running the AC causes the alternator's voltage to drop below 12V. Turning off the AC immediately causes the voltage to go back up, and everything is fine.

We only have one car, so once we can find a ride, we're going to take the alternator in to Advance Auto Parts to get it tested. That said, if it's NOT the alternator, does anyone have any thoughts on what might be the problem?
     
subego
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Jun 30, 2012, 12:00 PM
 
I don't think it's way out there to need a new battery after five years.
     
shifuimam  (op)
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Jun 30, 2012, 12:19 PM
 
I just replaced the battery two months ago.
     
subego
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Jun 30, 2012, 12:21 PM
 
Why?
     
BLAZE_MkIV
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Jun 30, 2012, 12:24 PM
 
Also check the contacts for corrosion.
     
shifuimam  (op)
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Jun 30, 2012, 12:56 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Why?
I really, really hope you're trolling me.
     
subego
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Jun 30, 2012, 01:06 PM
 
Yup.
     
chabig
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Jun 30, 2012, 01:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
...if it's NOT the alternator, does anyone have any thoughts on what might be the problem?
Don't jump the gun. Test the alternator, then come back and tell us what happened.
     
LDB
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Jun 30, 2012, 01:48 PM
 
How many miles on it? It's 7-8 years old so depending on mileage it could easily need a new alternator by now. Good luck on it being an easy find and fix.
     
is not
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Jun 30, 2012, 02:40 PM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
So in a span of two weeks, my it-never-has-had-an-issue 2005 Hyundai Tuscon GL is suddenly having issues.
Can you confirm that the engine makes it go, the brakes make it stop, the steering wheel enables changes of direction? In all major respects, is that a car?




The battery died as I was parking the car to get gas a couple weeks ago, during this ridiculous heat wave that hit DC. It died again a few days later. We did some testing and discovered that running the AC causes the alternator's voltage to drop below 12V. Turning off the AC immediately causes the voltage to go back up, and everything is fine.

We only have one car, so once we can find a ride, we're going to take the alternator in to Advance Auto Parts to get it tested. That said, if it's NOT the alternator, does anyone have any thoughts on what might be the problem?
Didn't you know that overheating causes alternators to dead? Now you do. Sorry for being so helpful.
     
reader50
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Jun 30, 2012, 03:53 PM
 
It is the job of the alternator (and voltage regulator, usually built into the alternator today) to maintain voltage under load. If the voltage drops below 12.6 when the air is turned on, the alternator is failing. It's supposed to maintain 14v+, anything below 12.6v means the battery is discharging. The only other possibility is something (the air?) drawing excessive current. But that would blow a fuse.

You can try revving the engine a little while testing. Or test voltage at the lighter socket while driving. At idle if you have the air and headlights on, it's just possible a cheap alternator could be overwhelmed. But if it fails to maintain 13v+ at running speed, it's failing.
     
ghporter
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Jun 30, 2012, 06:32 PM
 
Unfortunately, that wimpy alternator may have hurt your new battery. And the really hot weather hasn't helped the battery either. Here in Central Texas, you can count on having to replace the battery after something like 75% of its rated life if the summers have been as hot as they have been lately; high temperatures prematurely age automotive batteries. Charging the battery poorly also ages it, but that is sometimes reversible, but only if it is actually charging, not running the car because the alternator isn't up to both charging the battery and running the car. Which sounds like what you're seeing.

Most chain auto parts places will do a courtesy test on the alternator and battery, and the reliable ones will show you the results. A good alternator will put out over 14v even with all the accessories running, which it needs to do, since the voltage needed to charge that "12v" battery is at least 14v. The battery should maintain at least 12.5v under a heavy load like running the starter.

The good news is that an alternator isn't horrendously expensive, and should be pretty inexpensive to install, not like having to replace a cylinder head or your whole exhaust system,,,

Get the thing tested so you'll know if you're looking at putting $400 into your "old reliable" or looking at something worse.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Athens
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Jul 1, 2012, 05:42 AM
 
Sounds like a faulty battery, just because its new does not mean its defective. I purchased a battery from Canadian Tire a few years ago that I suspected was faulty. Brought it back, they stuck it in the tester and sure enough the new battery was faulty and I got another one and everything was good. If the battery is bad it can cause a excessive pull on the alternator and you might only see it when something like A/C is running.

Side note, if you every kill a battery by mistake, like leaving the lights on, that one time can cause a lot of damage to a battery, even if new.
Blandine Bureau 1940 - 2011
Missed 2012 by 3 days, RIP Grandma :-(
     
Waragainstsleep
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Jul 1, 2012, 09:10 AM
 
Might as well check the battery doesn't need topping up too.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
imitchellg5
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Jul 1, 2012, 01:43 PM
 
It's the alternator. Exact same thing happened to my Accord a couple years ago. Replace it ASAP, as Glenn said, the bad alternator will put undue stress on your battery.
     
Shaddim
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Jul 1, 2012, 02:13 PM
 
Replace the alternator and swap the battery under warranty (just in case).
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
- Thomas Paine
     
CarMechanic
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Jul 1, 2012, 06:16 PM
 
The problem lies in your alternator. It's possible that your battery is also compromised so it would be good to replace it, also.
     
davemchine
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Jul 4, 2012, 04:00 AM
 
I have recently read that some people will install a higher capacity alternator in their car than the stock units. This allows them to run/charge more electronics in the vehicle or to charge the battery more quickly when it is low. I am no expert but if it were me I would consider this option given our constant need for more electronics.
     
imitchellg5
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Jul 4, 2012, 01:25 PM
 
Originally Posted by davemchine View Post
I have recently read that some people will install a higher capacity alternator in their car than the stock units. This allows them to run/charge more electronics in the vehicle or to charge the battery more quickly when it is low. I am no expert but if it were me I would consider this option given our constant need for more electronics.
Depending on the car, you can do this easily. I replaced my Accord's alternator with one from the 2004 Odyssey. I think that the Tuscon, if it's the V6 model, will already have the largest alternator though of any of the Hyundais using that 2.8L V6. So I don't think it's possible to go larger and be OEM.
     
shifuimam  (op)
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Jul 5, 2012, 05:20 PM
 
Well, we spent the holiday replacing my alternator and brakes.

The brakes were, according to the boyfriend, "too easy" to replace - he's done brake work on his Wrangler, and apparently this was a lot easier. The pads came right off, and it was easy to retract the calipers enough to fit the new pads.

The alternator was a nightmare. It took six hours, plus a trip to Wal-Mart to get a jack and jack stands. The geniuses at Hyundai put the alternator beneath the engine block, but above a large metal plate that was not really removable. The space between the engine and the radiator was tight enough that even I could only fit one arm between them to grab the alternator. On top of that, the replacement we bought at Advance Auto was literally less than a freaking millimeter too tight to fit. We ended up using a bunch of WD-40 and a hammer to force it into place.

In the end, it worked, I have air conditioning again, and this is the first time I've ever done any work on my car myself, so it was pretty awesome. It was hard work and ridiculously hot, but worth it!
     
Thorzdad
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Jul 5, 2012, 05:28 PM
 
Tackling brakes and the alternator as your first time at car repair is pretty ballsy.
Congrats on getting it done!

     
sek929
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Jul 5, 2012, 05:30 PM
 
I helped a friend replace an alternator on an older Ford Probe, also located in an incredibly difficult place to get to. There wasn't a single knuckle that wasn't scraped on both hands.
     
ghporter
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Jul 6, 2012, 03:03 AM
 
That's a bit too much of a shoehorn job on Hyundai's part in my opinion. Alternators have been historically up and in front and/or outboard from the engine, which made them easy to get at. My Civic's alternator is that way, and it's a 2007. Anyway, you got it done and you have both air conditioning and a sense of accomplishment! Yay!

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Big Mac
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Jul 6, 2012, 03:16 AM
 
They're not all easy to get to. When my Ford Contour needed a new alternator months ago, the mechanic told me it was a real PITA to access. My brother (who got my Contour after I upgraded to my beloved G37) has had some trouble with the battery, and now I know why thanks to this thread. The failing alternator damaged it. Guess he's got to go get a replacement..

Interesting point Athens made about draining a battery even once may do serious damage to it. I thought car batteries were much more robust than that.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
shifuimam  (op)
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Jul 6, 2012, 04:15 AM
 
It seems really dumb to put an alternator in any car in such a hard-to-reach place. Alternators are consumable, and with that in mind it would be logical to position it somewhere that is easy to access for replacement jobs.
     
Waragainstsleep
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Jul 6, 2012, 06:17 AM
 
Like RAM or hard drives in your computer....
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
Laminar
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Jul 6, 2012, 06:36 AM
 
Once the brakes were replaced, did you bed the new pads?
     
shifuimam  (op)
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Jul 6, 2012, 07:44 AM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post

Like RAM or hard drives in your computer....
Ahahahaha...*cough* Retina MBP *cough*

Originally Posted by Laminar View Post

Once the brakes were replaced, did you bed the new pads?
I don't know what the technical term is, and I'm not even going to pretend to be savvy with car talk. We did break them in by going out to a big empty parking lot and having fun speeding up and braking hard. Haven't had any issues with them since we replaced them.
     
   
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