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Dennis, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 189
Experience:  ASE certified since 1988. Washington State certified Phase II Emissions Specialist. Shop Owner
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2001 saturn: electrical problems..flasher..the dash lights..volts

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Our 2001 Saturn SL2 has some obvious electrical problems. At times when we start the car, the dash lights flash (as if the flasher is on, but it is not)...or the dash lights won't even come on until we shut off the car and restart it. The fairly new battery (6 weeks) tests good, but is low on charge (11.92 volts). The charging system test only shows 14.01 volts w/ no load, and 13.56 with a small load. Car wouldn't start this morning, had to jump start it.
Hello and thanks for your question,Customer When you say the alternator is charging 14.01 that is a good voltage reading. Most likely the alternator is doing its job but really the only way you can know for sure is to connect an ammeter to the battery cable and see what kind of amperage load the alternator is capable of. You would need to apply a load to the system and watch how many amps the alternator produces. Without a "VAT tester" you would turn everything possible on; headlights, wipers, heater fan etc. with the engine running. Depending on the car you should see 20-35 amps on the ammeter. If the alternator is doing its job my next test would be for an "unintentional draw". That means something is continuing to draw power after the car is shut off. Again you use an ammeter connected to the battery cable. Make sure everything is off, make sure no lights are on in the glove box or the trunk. A normal draw for a modern car is .075 or 3/4 of an amp. This is the power the computer(s) use to keep their memory alive. If you see more than this then there is something continuing to draw power. The flashing dash lights is probably because the battery is close to dead. If you find a draw you pull fuses one at a time and watch the ammeter. When the draw goes away you have located the circuit. Then you will need a wiring diagram to see what components are on that circuit. You then replace the fuse and disconnect each component until the draw goes away. That is the defective component. Thanks and let me know if I can be of further assistance!
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Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX did accept your answer so I hope you did get your payment. At least I have an idea of what direction to go now. Thank you so kindly! By the way, I do apologize that I couldn't give more...I've been outta work for the past 6 months and money is really tight...not a good time for car problems. I guess there never is a good time for car problems, hunh!?


Thanx again!!