Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It wasn't the lights...

There really is a problem that causes my battery to fail... and it wasn't my blue lights.
My 2006 Stampede has been having battery issues. The indicator on the battery was red and, to my knowledge, has always been red since I bought it in June of 2006. On Saturday the stereo would turn off when I shifted into Drive from Park or accelerated. Happened on while playing a CD, while playing AM/FM, or if it was playing the iPod through the Harmon Kardon drive+play.
I took it to Best Buy since they installed the Harmon Kardon and had Tyler check the connections but all was well. We found that there was 15 volts going to both the stereo deck and the Harmon Kardon instead of the normal 12 volts. This spiked to 17 volts when I revved the engine. We tested the battery while the engine was running and it was 16.3 volts. We disconnected the battery positive cable with the engine running and the car died. We then reconnected it and tested the alternator. It too was getting 15-16 volts with spikes to 16.8 volts when I revved the engine. After some discussion Tyler and I agreed it was best to disconnect anything that was not covered by the Ford warranty just in case the higher than normal voltage causes a problem before I got it serviced.
I called and made an appointment with Bankstston (Texan) Ford for Monday, 3/16/09. It was determined that the voltage regulator had gone out on the alternator. Bankston tested the battery prior to replacing the alternator and then tested it again afterwards. They decided it was too damaged and went ahead and replaced it as well.
This apparently happened some time ago and consequently the battery was slowly being damaged. This explains why I couldn't leave the lights or accessories on for more than a few minutes without the battery dying. The iPod player, the Harmon Kardon drive+play, doesn't place a large load on the electrical system. The stock stereo system is the Shaker 500 so the electrical components should be designed to handle that. The addition of the speaker box in the trunk without adding an amp did put a bit more stress on the stock amps but not enough cause this. In other words, I didn't have enough electrical modifications to have explained this.
The car will technically be three years old later this month (built 3/30/06)... so the logical conclusion would be that it was just time for it to go out. However, I know that the battery has had issues since I've had the car. The battery indicator light has always been red, the fuel gauge has freaked out several times and they replaced the whole console as well as the brain unit. (I actually had daytime running lights for a day!) My gas milage as been crap... far worse than it should be. I've had many mornings where it the starter stuttered before starting. For the last several weeks my GPS system has been sending me "Cut Battery Cable" alarms. Lots of little things that now have gone away. Suddenly at 1/4 of a tank I have 104 miles to E? Finally!!
I am very pleased with the service that I received at Texan (I just can't call them Bankston!). Everything was covered by my warranty and, since it was due, they even asked for permission to send it over to the Quick Service Lane for the oil change (part of my extended warranty). I had the car in to them at 8 and back to me by the time I got off work at 5:30 PM. The coolest part is you can't tell they worked on it. There is NO oil, dirt, fingerprints or anything on that engine bay or on the alternator. They topped off all my fluids and all my caps are lined up properly just as I left them and still polished. Kudos Texan!
Today the Stampede is at National Tire and Battery (NTB) for it's tire rotation, balance, and alignment. Later this week I'll head back over to Best Buy so that Tyler can reconnect the iPod player.... again, under warranty... so that it will be ready for Palestine!!