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Old January 14th, 2020, 11:57 PM   #1 (permalink)
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4G Electrics Flickering

Have a 2012 (final month of manufacture) GL Sport 2.4l Auto that has a very strage electrical issue. The battery warning light starts to flicker within minutes of driving. The whole dash, lights, CD player, everything will flicker, sometimes all going out for a second, sometimes will settle down during driving and be fine for a few minutes. I have replaced the Alternator, the battery and starter. An electric voltage tester shows voltages to be erratic between 12-18volts. Checked wires, no shorting or bad connections I can find. The car never seems affected in how it drives, just worried about blowing all my lights. Been like this for 7 months, the problem never goes away.

Do I have a bad ECU?

D.J.

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Old January 15th, 2020, 01:07 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Technically, the battery light isn't ONLY related to the battery, it tells you that you have an electrical issue, which the ECU could cause. It could also be the voltage regulator, which tells the alternator to charge or not charge the battery. I'm not entirely sure if there is a voltage regulator on our vehicles, but if it doesn't, I would assume it's the ECU's job to tell the alternator to charge or not.

I'm thinking pcfreak4 would know a decent amount about this, as he's pretty knowledgeable on electrical stuff like this.
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Old January 15th, 2020, 07:49 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iBlackSunday View Post
Technically, the battery light isn't ONLY related to the battery, it tells you that you have an electrical issue, which the ECU could cause. It could also be the voltage regulator, which tells the alternator to charge or not charge the battery. I'm not entirely sure if there is a voltage regulator on our vehicles, but if it doesn't, I would assume it's the ECU's job to tell the alternator to charge or not.

I'm thinking pcfreak4 would know a decent amount about this, as he's pretty knowledgeable on electrical stuff like this.
Haha thanks for the reference

Yes he’s correct in that the battery light is actually related not to the battery at all really, it’s a malfunction indicator telling you something is wrong with the “charging system” of the car, hence the alternator

Without doing further research through the FSM right now I want to say that the voltage regulator is inside the Alternator

Did you get a new or refurbished Alternator? What brand?

Right now I want to say that you got a bad alternator still or a bad ground, check all the major grounds
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Old January 15th, 2020, 08:15 AM   #4 (permalink)
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The voltage regulator is in fact on the alternator, so it has been replaced. Bad wiring off the alternator, such as a corroded, loose, or cracked shielding could cause this, or even just corrosion on the connection to the battery posts or at the chassis ground the battery connects to
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Old January 15th, 2020, 06:28 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks all for the info, the fault was there on the previous original factory alternator, I did purchase a refurb, I just didn't think it likely two alternators could have same defect, although stranger things have happened to me. I checked the wiring and grounding and battery terminals, all the obvious things, since the car is like-new condition, I concluded the only thing left was the ECU. But in case the odds are that way, I will replace with a 3rd alternator.

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Old January 15th, 2020, 06:46 PM   #6 (permalink)
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You could check what the ECU voltage is, and compare it to the actual system voltage. If the ECU thinks the voltage is low, it'll request more.

Otherwise, probably not ECU. I can't think of a single example of one of these ECUs failing either without some form of trauma, and even then, they usually survive a crash
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Old January 15th, 2020, 10:00 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Sounds good, thank you for the advise, I will try that. It's good to know that it probably isn't the ECU.
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Old January 15th, 2020, 10:03 PM   #8 (permalink)
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If it is the ECU, I have read I will need to aquire a MUTIII device and save the setup to then upload into a replacement. Hopefully that won't be necessary

Thanks!
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Old January 15th, 2020, 10:15 PM   #9 (permalink)
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ECUflash would probably be the way to go, but people such as Hackish on here can get definition files and do recoveries.
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Old January 15th, 2020, 10:38 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Thanks for the heads-up!
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Old January 16th, 2020, 07:57 AM   #11 (permalink)
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My car was in a crash in the corner that the ECU sits on and it still works perfectly

I’d say you bought a bum alternator, get a good brand NEW one not remanufactured
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Old January 16th, 2020, 09:58 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Reman is fine usually. It's not complex at all to rebuild an alternator. They are one of the most basic things in the entire car. A brand new cheap one is usually worse than a quality rebuild
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Old January 16th, 2020, 10:15 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I meant buy a brand new good one
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Old January 18th, 2020, 12:52 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Have you considered the dimmer knob on the left side of the dash? It's basically a potentiometer, so it could definitely cause intermittent things like you're describing (although I have to say, I can't imagine it would cause your check engine light to come on). Perhaps that's a separate issue? Have you read the codes to see if it's throwing anything specific?
If you read my post last month (ended up being a bad battery) my car did crazy stuff with lights when the computer wasn't getting enough juice from a failing cell.

Just my 2 cents. Don't know if it's worth checking out, but that little knob would be a very cheap fix if it's indeed bad.

Good luck. Electrical problems are so terrible to deal with.
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Old January 18th, 2020, 04:55 AM   #15 (permalink)
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The dimmer switch will never make alternate alternator voltage hit 18v. That's usually a voltage regulator in the alternator that failed, but he's already replaced his. Not a bad guess otherwise. He also has a new battery
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Old January 18th, 2020, 05:11 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Usually intermittent flickering would tell me it's a loose or corroded ground somewhere. If you check the voltage at the fuses you should be able to find what circuit is having the issue.
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Old January 18th, 2020, 02:51 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessFoe View Post
Usually intermittent flickering would tell me it's a loose or corroded ground somewhere. If you check the voltage at the fuses you should be able to find what circuit is having the issue.
I took the 'flickering' as an increase in voltage, which wouldn't be a failure to provide ENOUGH voltage, but a failure to provide information on how much is enough. It does make sense why this happens with a variable 12v-18v system reading.
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Old January 20th, 2020, 12:58 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Checked the usual fuse box voltages and the system is definitely too high on it's charging. Sometimes the entire dash illumination, radio, everything cut's out for a second, tire warning, engine light, everything flags a proplem for a few miniutes. Stopping, restarting tends to clear for a while. Mostly, when accellerating it triggers the issue, plus the headlights are flicking high low all the time. The alternator regulator does seem the likeliest cause. Waiting for delivery of a new one.

Thanks for all the ideas.
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Old January 26th, 2020, 06:33 PM   #19 (permalink)
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FIXED!!

It was the Alternator.

So when I replaced the defective alternator with another Alternator and the fault was still there, I spend 6 months trying to find a bad connecition. Turns out I had two defective Alternators with the exact same defect... what are the odds. So the original replacement was a refurb. The second replacement was brand new, resulting in the problems going away.

I wlll never purchase a refurb Alternator again.
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Old January 26th, 2020, 07:11 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daja63 View Post
FIXED!!

It was the Alternator.

So when I replaced the defective alternator with another Alternator and the fault was still there, I spend 6 months trying to find a bad connecition. Turns out I had two defective Alternators with the exact same defect... what are the odds. So the original replacement was a refurb. The second replacement was brand new, resulting in the problems going away.

I wlll never purchase a refurb Alternator again.
Like I said from the beginning haha

Well anyway, glad it is fixed now
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Old January 26th, 2020, 07:44 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Yes sir!

Thank you.
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Old January 26th, 2020, 07:56 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Yeah, I think I'm 3/3 so far, lol. Glad you got it fixed. Some things don't seem like they could be the problem, but usually are. Damn, TWO bad alternators. That's pretty shitty.
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Old January 26th, 2020, 11:47 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Stranger things have happened, I would never have purchased a 3rd alternator and fixed the problem without coming to this forum and taking advise. I tend not to take advise. However, you guys are great and saved me the pain and expense of fitting a new ECU, only to have found the fault still there. So thank you. I hopefully can pay it forward at some point on this site.


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Old January 27th, 2020, 08:26 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Spoke too soon. Back to original problem, this time Flickering with no start. Car drove fine for couple of trips with new alternator, no battery light, no issues. Then this morning after dropping kids to school, went to go to work and everything going crazy when turn on, radio cutting in/out, door locka on/off rapidly, fan on/off rapidly, dash lights on/off.

3rd Alternator, no loose wires, no fuses gone, yet goes crazy.. surely has to be ECU. Now the car won't start, battery reads charged.
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Old January 28th, 2020, 12:43 AM   #25 (permalink)
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I would definitely go with the ECU. At this point, I'm wondering if the bad alternator previously DID mess with the ECU and this could be the reason. I'm not really sure about anything else. You've replaced the alternator 3 times now with no fix, but our cars do have a really rough time with electrical. Maybe somebody around you has a ECU that you could swap and test.

Are ECU's just swap-able? I've heard you need to program them for your car, specifically for the key fob. Idk much about the ECU's of our cars. Electrical has never been my strong suit.
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Old January 29th, 2020, 01:34 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Thanks, I did purchase an ECU (matching the exact model code) months back. From what I understand, the VIN is embedded in the firmware, so I think I have to save some code from the existing and transfer to replacement. I have no issue with the technical, only finding the correct information before messing up my car.

Before I go down that path, the symptoms of 3 alternators do tell something.

Alternator 1 (original) - Battery Light Flickers and no charge of Battery

Alternator 2 (Reman) - Battery Light Flickers, plus dash and all electrical cutting in/out, but Battery Charges, albeit overcharging as fluctuates between 12v-19v output

Alternator 3 (New) - No flickering while running, no issues, runs great, but not charging battery. Any attempt to start after a run, all electrics click on/off. But probably due to depleated battery.

The odd thing is Alternator #2 which has the worst symptoms while driving, charges the battery and allows me to drive the car, but even the headlamps flicker whilst doing so.

To me it looks like the charging circuit prefers overcharging to work.
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Old February 6th, 2020, 11:26 PM   #27 (permalink)
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SOLVED!!!

The Battery terminal clamps where breaking down in conductivity. They looked clean, voltage checked, but weren't passing the necessary current causing the all electrical apparatus to cut in/out. After filing the clamps, everything came to life and happy.

Basically the new alternator was doing it's job, the battery healthy, but the charge wasn't making good contact to battery. Never seen clean terminals and clamps not make a connection. This issue appeared exactly at the time I replaced the defective alternator with a good one, so it appeared the alternator was my 3rd defective.
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Old February 7th, 2020, 01:36 AM   #28 (permalink)
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My last car actually had this issue, but the problem was the connection from the wire to the connector and not the connector to the battery. It simply didn't even allow the car to start. Strange this caused all those other issues. I'm actually shocked that this is what it was. Good thing you figured it out, electrical problems tend to be a major reason people get rid of certain cars.
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Old February 10th, 2020, 12:47 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Interesting similar fault. The other issues in my case were due to the fact that I had a combination of intermittent battery connection in tandem with two defective alternators in row. 2 faults, I like to problem solve 1, which is what happened after the 3rd Alternator actually worked. Scan tools/12v battery testers passed as ok, so it was more art fixing.
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2.4l, 2012, alternator, auto, bad, battery, cd player, dash, ecu, electrical, issue, light, lights, shows, starter

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