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Discussion Starter #1
I recently installed a CD player and high output amp. After doing so, I've noticed that my ammeter is hanging over to the charge (+) side. It's not way over, about 8-10 amps. When I shut the stereo/ amp off, it settles back to middle where it always has been.

Would this mean that my battery is weak and not taking a charge? It's about 3-4 years old. When I put it on my charger, it shows it's not taking much of a charge. Or, does it mean that my alternator is not putting out enough juice to run everything and keep the battery charged at the same time? I believe that the alternator is a stock output, 65 amps??.

Is there an easy way to determine which it could be?

Also, about the same time I put the stereo/ amp in, I installed a high energy coil (HEI). I don't know if this coil has a higher draw on the alternator and can also be contributing to the problem.

Any advice will be appreciated, before I start buying batteries and alternators. Thanks.
 

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My suspicion is that you may have hooked the new sound system on the wrong side of the ammeter, so it is showing the current draw of the sound system. The ammeter should have the battery hooked to one side of the ammeter and everything else (all loads and charging system) to the other. The meter should be showing flow of current between the battery and every thing else. To verify what is going on, test your car with a voltmeter at the battery terminal. Voltmeters are simpler to install and interpret than ammeters I think.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I forgot to add that I'm getting an occasional hot start problem since this occurred.

When I've been driving awhile then shut down for a few minutes, the starter turns slow on restart. I've had no cold start problems though.???????
 

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Is it a factory amp gauge or an after market and JWagner has a valid point - where did you connect the power feed wire for the sound system?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
My stereo requires power from both batt. and switched. Batt is for memory. Switched turns it on. The amp requires power from batt. and a signal wire from the stereo to turn it on.

Originally I had both the stereo and amp batt leads connected to the batt term of the fuse panel and the stereo connected to the switched source at the fuse panel. I connected the amp signal wire to the signal wire at the stereo.

BUT, whenever I turned the headlights on or at idle, the stereo would die then come back on, die then come back on, etc., as though there was not enough power. If I shut the headlights off, it worked fine. So I figured it was a power supply problem.

I have changed only the amp batt power supply directly to the batt. (hot side). I left all else the same. That problem went away, but now I have the hot start problem (sometimes) and the ammeter slightly to charge.

AH_HAH! The plot thickens.
 

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Just a passing thought that doesn't quite make sense to me. Can't quite grasp it but I'll stick it out anyway. The amplifier and stereo are two independent units and power to them shouldn't make a difference. But one is tied at one point in the circuit while the other is tied to another point. Almost as if they parallel the existing circuit but like I said it shouldn't make a difference and doesn't quite make sense. Try moving them both to the same point off the battery. I assume this line is fused under the hood.
The on-off-on-off sounds like low voltage to the stereo. Voltage gets too low for it to operate, cuts itself off, voltage comes back up, turns itself back on again, and so forth. Should be able to see this happening by monitoring voltage on the stereo input wires. Sounds like the regulator is real slow in responding to the changes in the load.
A guess would be to put in a higher output internally regulated alternator. That would give you more current which you can use anyway. Otherwise you could end up replacing one thing then another and still end up with a problem.
 

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I had a very similar problem like this a couple of years ago after I installed a stereo and amplifier.......and I went from replacing the battery and alternator many times over a couple of months.......and my fix was upgrading to a bigger battery........try getting one that has about 875 or more cca.........I think the one I currently use in my chevelle has almost a 1000!.........and I never have a starting problem......
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hey, John and Malibu 350, thanks for the input! I've been kinda leaning toward alternator being low output, but I guess I could use extra cranking amps from the battery also. Mine now is only 700 CCA.

Do you, or anyone, know what kinda output from the alternator I should look for, and can safely install? Thanks.
 

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With the amplifier connected directly to the battery the amp gauge will indicate charge because the current for the amplifier flows of through the amp gauge the same as if the current were flowing into the battery to charge it.

The start solenoid circuit: Starting at the battery via a fusible link to the junction block, then to the horn relay, then to the bulkhead plug, then to the to the ignition switch, then to the park/neutral switch (with a console add four additional connections) then back to the bulkhead plug and finally to the start solenoid. With all the connections and wire there is a potential to drop several volts across the entire length. If you have an after market amp gauge (which is why I asked if you have factory or after market) you add additional connections and an additional 10 to 12 feet of wire. This adds to the voltage drop. When the solenoid is hot the internal resistance increases. A hot solenoid along with the voltage drop across the start circuit results in a less than adequate magnetic field in the solenoid. The solenoid must move the drive gear and make the connection between the starter and battery. With a weak magnetic field in the solenoid the final connection can have an increased resistance (the copper disk inside the solenoid is not held tightly against the battery terminal and the starter terminal). In addition to this the battery cables may have slightly corroded connections. The ground cable at the alternator bracket the alternator bracket to block and the starter to the block may be oily and/or lightly corroded. If you have #6 battery cables with parts store clamp on replacement bat clamps (#4 with molded clamps are better esp with a big block or high comp small block) Any or all can add to the problem. Bottom line is check and clean all start circuit and battery and starter connections. Replace any light duty/repaired battery cables. If you have an after market amp gauge consider removing it and install a volt gauge in its place. Not only to reduce the resistance of the start circuit/under dash power supply but also for safety reasons (a short in one of the amp gauge wires can burn wires and start fires). As previously suggested a higher output battery will help. For a higher output alternator check this ebay item It's a 135 Amp alternator. You can safely install and use it. An alternator will only generate the current needed.



[This message has been edited by Elree Colby (edited 01-25-2002).]
 
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