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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I had noticed in the past that sometimes my automatic transmission won't go into second gear (would keep getting revved), then I would take the foot off the accelerator, wait a while and then accelerate again and now it would drive fine.

This used to happen maybe two or three times a year, so it was not a problem.

Yesterday, I think it did that again, and I wasn't paying attention, and I revved it so high before I noticed, that there was a sudden jolt and a loud noise in the transmission (as if it switched gear without a clutch). Because of the jolt, I think the airbag and check engine lights turned on, but the car was driving fine and I was close to my home so drove to my parking lot and shutdown the car.

A few minutes later I tried to start the car, but now it won't start and would give rapid fire clicking.

I waited an hour. Now the car started, but then shutdown after a few minutes (as if the fuel wasn't getting delivered or something; the engine/exhaust made huffing noise before shutting down). And again it won't start, and would give rapid fire clicking.

I think at this point I disconnected battery terminals and reconnected them, and forgot to tighten the positive terminal that has this extra wire connected to the bolt (meaning the main positive and negative terminal were tightly connected, but this extra wire with positive was loose).

Anyway I waited overnight, and today I cleaned battery terminals (with water and baking soda, followed by plain water). And again it started, and I revved it up so it doesn't shutdown. And the airbag and check engine lights were no longer on. So I was relieved.

But. It did shutdown. (as if the fuel wasn't delivered, and I revved it quite a bit but it didn't work).

But this time I noticed that just before shutting down, the dashboard readings all turned off (like fuel level needle went back to empty, lights turned off, etc, etc). What I also noticed is that there was no power even in off (like when you put the key in, it gives a constant beep for 'seat belt not fastened'. This time there was no seat belt beep, and no lights). So I knew this is a basic power issue. I moved battery wires around while the key was in place, and it would beep and not beep randomly, and that's when I found out that this extra positive terminal wire was loose.

So I tightened that up, and now car has power again. But now it's back to rapid fire clicking and no start.

I'm now waiting for a few hours, maybe whole day. And my guess is that the car would start, and this time I won't have loose wire, so it shouldn't shutdown either. (But of course no guarantees).

As for battery, I bought it brand new less than a year ago, and it had no problems so far. If it's not charged, does that mean the alternator is not working? But what equipment do I need to check if alternator is working (I guess I need a multimeter at the least to check the voltage level of the battery).

I'm thinking of getting a multimeter, and a home car battery charger (just for rainy days). Is getting a home car battery charger worth it? I don't need one with a built-in battery, just a very simple 12 V adapter that stops automatically when the battery is charged (something like this should be dirt cheap, like under $20 or something?).

Any other advice highly appreciated. Thank you very much.
 

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The tranny is failing to do the 1-2 shift properly.Early on letting off the throttle made it shift...now you floor it and force the shift which made the clunk. I'm not sure what fluid circuits are required to complete the shift and so I don't know where the problem could be. Valve body is most likely the area of concern but I don't know.
Now you have starting issues. Both problems would be easier if you hadn't cleared everything out of the modules by dis-connecting the battery.
Get a trickle charger and multimeter from Freight Harbor. They are the cheapest.....in all ways.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hello grcauto, thanks so much for the useful feedback. I guess it was a bad idea disconnecting the battery if I wanted to read off the OBD-II codes.

One thing I forgot to mention is that, maybe, I'm using the car not frequently enough. I only use it once a week for groceries, for a round trip of about 4 miles. So I'm only using the car for a 4 mile drive per week, and not starting the car other than that. Maybe that's why the car battery lost charge over a period of a few months.
 

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Hello grcauto, thanks so much for the useful feedback. I guess it was a bad idea disconnecting the battery if I wanted to read off the OBD-II codes.

One thing I forgot to mention is that, maybe, I'm using the car not frequently enough. I only use it once a week for groceries, for a round trip of about 4 miles. So I'm only using the car for a 4 mile drive per week, and not starting the car other than that. Maybe that's why the car battery lost charge over a period of a few months.
Yes...you're not driving it long enough to charge the battery for it's loss during starting. All things considered for normal starting/charging systems the vehicle should average 10 to 15 minutes of driving to keep full charge.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks to grcauto, I was able to buy multimeter and trickle charger. I just checked the battery voltage with a voltmeter and it reads 11.38 V. Looks like it's fully discharged.

The battery is less than a year old. But I did two things I probably shouldn't have done:

- I only used the car for driving roughly 4 miles a week.

- I left the car in the parking lot in the sun for the whole summer (which is not ended yet).

Is the battery toast or should I charge it with a trickle charger and it should work?
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
So I have some updates, progress and failures.

I got the trickle charger, and multimeter, and necessary sockets and ratchet to remove the battery. Last night I started the charge at my home. The voltage level was 11.46 V (probably fully discharged). I kept an eye on the voltage level, and after 16 hours of trickle charge, the votage was at 11.85. The charger adapter says 400 mA, so I assume roughly 7 to 8 Ah of charge went in over 16 hours (probably 15-20% of the battery capacity).

I took the battery to the car, connected the terminals, and started the car. The car started instantly and without any problems. I was happy.

However, about 5 to 7 minutes in, (I should mention I also turned A/C on after the temperature needle rose past cold, about 4 to 5 minutes in), one by one the following started happening (just like previously):

- First, the dashboard needles went dead (fuel, termperature, rpm, etc). But the lights were still on.

- Then, the AIRBAG light started turning on and off randomly.

- The no-seatbelt beep started going off and on.

- And finally, the engine started huffing, and eventually car turned off.

- The whole time, the check engine light didn't turn on.

At this point I disconnected the terminals from the battery and measured the voltage. It was about 11.5 V but within a few minutes, it went up to 11.6 V. And now again, the car won't start (rapid fire clicking).

I've brought the battery back home and have started trickle charging again.

But the fact that battery drained from 11.82 down to 11.6 V within 5-7 minutes is a sign of either some short in the electrical system? or alternator not working? Or maybe this is the regular drop of a single car start and the car needs to be running at least 15-20 minutes to go back to old charge level?

Anyway regardless of the battery level issue, I have this main problem of the electrical system slowly dying one by one. I would highly appreciate if you guys could guide me through troubleshooting this, since a mechanic would probably also have to do the same. I know I've made the mistake of disconnecting the battery so the check engine light OBD-II code is lost.

I should mention that I have some service manual type pdfs of my car (2004 Hyundai Elantra GLS) so I can locate necessary wires (through the manual as well as inspection) if I have to.

My best guess is that, due to the jolt when the car skipped gear, some wires got loose, or shorted, or something. But anyway, it would be great if I could fix this, maybe remove the unnecessary electrical systems from the main load one-by-one and see if the rest of the car still works. I don't know.

Thanks in advance.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
More troubleshooting info:

I watched videos on how to test battery, test alternator, check for parasitic draw, and did the following:

- After trickle charging the battery up to 12.10 V, I put it back in the car.

- I measured current while car was off: 0.20 A. Then I put key in the ignition, and the car door was open (the seat belt beep started). The current was 0.7 A. I think it's a little high but still maybe it's normal.

- I connected the terminals properly and placed multimeter across the terminals (for voltage reading). It was about 11.7 V.

- Then I started the car (it started normally). And now multimeter is reading 11.37 V. This is a useful finding. Now we know that alternator is not charging the battery (it should be more than 11.7 V, not less, according to alternator test videos).

As for the alternator inspection, it was rotating. Then I switched off the car, and checked the alternator belt tension. It feels okay to me. Not super tight but not too loose either. But I don't know high tight an alternator belt is supposed to be.

Given that these issues started happening after the car got a jolt from transmission going from first to third gear, probably the alternator belt got slightly loose compared to acceptable tension, and that was enough for the alternator to fail charging the battery?

Another inspection would be to test the voltage across positive and negative battery terminals and various alternator contact points (according to the videos). But I'm still trying to understand that part. But the bigger issue is that in order to do some of those tests the car needs to be running and that means I only have a few minutes to do all the tests before the battery dies and car shuts down (and then I have to bring the battery back home and trickle charge for another 16 to 24 hours).
 

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After trickle charging the battery up to 12.10 V
Your not leaving the battery on the charger long enough. 12.1V is less than 50% charged.

elantraphysics said:
I measured current while car was off: 0.20 A. Then I put key in the ignition, and the car door was open (the seat belt beep started). The current was 0.7 A. I think it's a little high but still maybe it's normal.
I wouldn't worry about a parasitic drain at this point.

elantraphysics said:
I connected the terminals properly and placed multimeter across the terminals (for voltage reading). It was about 11.7 V.
Like I said, you need to fully charge the battery.

elantraphysics said:
Then I started the car (it started normally). And now multimeter is reading 11.37 V. This is a useful finding. Now we know that alternator is not charging the battery
Correct.

elantraphysics said:
As for the alternator inspection, it was rotating. Then I switched off the car, and checked the alternator belt tension. It feels okay to me. Not super tight but not too loose either. But I don't know high tight an alternator belt is supposed to be.
With no significant load on the alternator it will still produce voltage even if the belt is really loose. It doesn't sound like the belt is your problem.

elantraphysics said:
Given that these issues started happening after the car got a jolt from transmission going from first to third gear, probably the alternator belt got slightly loose compared to acceptable tension, and that was enough for the alternator to fail charging the battery?
I think that's unlikely, but if that's what you think why not just tighten the belt?

elantraphysics said:
Another inspection would be to test the voltage across positive and negative battery terminals and various alternator contact points (according to the videos). But I'm still trying to understand that part. But the bigger issue is that in order to do some of those tests the car needs to be running and that means I only have a few minutes to do all the tests before the battery dies and car shuts down (and then I have to bring the battery back home and trickle charge for another 16 to 24 hours).
Fully charge the battery and you'll get significantly longer to do those tests.

Have you checked the ALT/BATT fuse on the engine bay fusebox? Measure the voltage on each side of the fuse and make sure you have the same voltage on both sides. If not, that's where your problem lies.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
AUTOSPARK, thanks so much for the response.

I had not checked the ALT/BATT fuse but I just got back from the car where I opened the engine bay fuse box, and located some fuses. According to the label there are two fuses that are probably closest to what you're describing: A 120 A big BATT fuse, and a 50 A medium sized BATT fuse. I inspected the 50 A fuse and it has a clear plastic top from where I can see that the fuse wires, and solders are in good condition. But the fuse is cleanly fitted inside the plastic holder so there is no place where I can put the multimeter probe, other than by removing the clear plastic top and then I can place the probe at both sides of the fuse. Do you think that's how I should do it? (I guess checking the two fuse terminals by removing the fuse is not how I'm supposed to do it, since in that case the alternator and battery would no longer be connected).

The fuse box label is exactly like in this link: Hyundai Elantra (2006) - fuse box diagram - Auto Genius

As for the belt tension, I watched a video about the 90 degree rotation test. I could rotate the belt to about 80 degrees, and it is difficult to reach, I think I can rotate it to 90 degrees but not more. So looks like the tension is okay, neither too tight, nor too loose.

I brought the battery back in and connected it to the charger. It's reading 11.8 V right now. I will charge the battery to full this time (to 12.6 V) so I have more time for testing next time.

After I fully charge, and check the fuse, and the voltage drops between alternator and battery terminals, I will post an update.

Thanks again.
 

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According to the label there are two fuses that are probably closest to what you're describing: A 120 A big BATT fuse, and a 50 A medium sized BATT fuse.
It's the 120A fuse you should check. That's the fuse for the alternator main power supply. It's secured to the fusebox by two bolts. Touch your meter probe to each bolt and make sure you get the same voltage on both.
 

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Parts canon .. check fuses, then replace alternator and battery
Check for parasitic drain .. next day.

Hey, wild guess here ...
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
AUTOSPARK, avisitor, thanks for the comments.

Today I went ahead with the voltage drop tests on a charged battery. I did the following:

- I adjusted the tension of the belt. I think it was loose, having more than a quarter inch of movement (a youtube video said it should be more on the side of one-eighth of an inch). I tightened it and now the movement is one-eighth of an inch. So I can be sure loose belt is not the issue.

- I started the car, and voltage on the battery terminals has same behavior, decrease by 0.7 V, instead of increase. So the alternator is not charging the battery.

- I measured the voltage on either side of the 120 A ALT/BATT fuse. It is the same on both sides. So I guess fuse is okay.

- I put negative end of multimeter to negative of the battery, and positive end of multimeter to body of alternator. The voltage should be -0.02 or -0.05 V, but it was instead +0.02 V. This is a problem I guess?

- I put negative end of multimeter to positive of the battery, and positive end of multimeter to the bolt of the alternator. The voltage should be less than -0.1 V, and it is -0.07 V, so I think here we are good.

- I put negative of multimeter to body of alternator, and positive to bolt of the multimeter. It is reading around 11.2 V. Meaning with a tight belt, and engine running, the alternator terminals are giving out 11.2 V.

- Finally, I hooked up the multimeter to battery terminals again and revved up the engine. The voltage did not change.

It looks like the alternator is very weak, and it would be worthwhile to change it? I looked up alternator prices on ebay and they're in the $60 range which is not bad. In the worst case, I'll take out the old alternator and if it's in a working condition, maybe throw it in my box of old stuff, or something.

Any advice highly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

EDIT: on second look, google shopping quotes elantra alternator to be in the $200 to $400 range. Oops. I guess a good idea is to be really sure I need to replace it first.
 

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Your voltage drops all look OK.

It does sound like your alternator is faulty, but there's one other thing you need to check before replacing it and that's the charge warning light. Does the charge warning light illuminate when you turn the ignition on (engine off)? Is the charge warning light illuminated while the engine is running?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks AUTOSPARK. I just went ahead and did the check you mentioned.

The battery light on the dash does not turn on at all, neither in 'ignition on with engine off', nor after the car is started.
 

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The battery light on the dash does not turn on at all, neither in 'ignition on with engine off', nor after the car is started.
I'd suggest you check the charge light circuit before replacing the alternator then. If the charge light circuit is open/broken, that can stop the alternator from charging.

To test the charge light circuit you disconnect the two wire connector off the back of the alternator and use a link wire to connect the warning light terminal on the connector to ground. With the wire grounded the charge light should illuminate on the instrument cluster.

I don't know what colour the charge light wire is on your car off the top of my head, but if the connector terminals are marked on the alternator it's the "L" terminal (L for light). I'll check the diagram later when I'm back at work and tell you the wire colour. The other wire on the connector is a 12V power supply, so you don't want to ground the wrong terminal
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I'd suggest you check the charge light circuit before replacing the alternator then. If the charge light circuit is open/broken, that can stop the alternator from charging.

To test the charge light circuit you disconnect the two wire connector off the back of the alternator and use a link wire to connect the warning light terminal on the connector to ground. With the wire grounded the charge light should illuminate on the instrument cluster.

I don't know what colour the charge light wire is on your car off the top of my head, but if the connector terminals are marked on the alternator it's the "L" terminal (L for light). I'll check the diagram later when I'm back at work and tell you the wire colour. The other wire on the connector is a 12V power supply, so you don't want to ground the wrong terminal
Thanks, I will look at the wiring, and will be careful making sure I don't ground the positive terminal. Let me do this test and give you an update.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
AUTOSPARK, I did the following:

- I took out the two pin plastic clip from the alternator. I did not find the 'L' label, but I measured voltage between negative terminal of the battery and the two pins. The lower pin read about 12 V, so that was the 'live wire'. The upper pin read 0.00 V

- I created a makeshift thin wire, inserted one end on the upper pin, and the other end I tied it to the body of the alternator. Then I set the car key to 'ignition on' but the charge light didn't turn on. Though it's still possible my makeshift wire connection might not be good.

- I guess the clip doesn't need to go back into the alternator for this test? because there is no room for this extra wire to come out of the fitted plastic clip. If the clip needs to be back in place, an option is to rip the rubber of the two connector wire just behind the clip and find the right terminal over there to tie to the makeshift wire. Please let me know if that's what you had in mind.

- Another thing I did was to measure voltage between that upper pin, and the positive terminal. It reads 9.1 V. That means there is more than 2 V drop between that upper pin and the negative terminal of the battery? not sure if that's useful information.

I guess it was night time so I couldn't properly do this wire thing. Tomorrow morning I'll try this again. But so far it looks like the charging light isn't turning on even with this method.
 

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I took out the two pin plastic clip from the alternator. I did not find the 'L' label, but I measured voltage between negative terminal of the battery and the two pins. The lower pin read about 12 V, so that was the 'live wire'. The upper pin read 0.00 V
Both terminals on the connector should show approx 12V with the ignition on.
I've just checked the diagram and the wire for the warning light is blue/orange and the 12V sense wire is red.

elantraphysics said:
I guess the clip doesn't need to go back into the alternator for this test?
No, you ground the wire with the connector unplugged.
 

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Somehow I lost track of this thread. Alternator belt should not be glazed and should be tight....Why not take it to have the battery load tested. See what the charging system is doing.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Thanks grcauto, I will try to do a load test. The two methods that I looked up require either a load tester, or a multimeter with min-max function (for recording min voltage during cranking). However I don't have either (a load tester or a multimeter with min-max). But maybe I should buy one if it's not too expensive.

- I ripped the dashboard panel and swapped two panel light bulbs next to each other (charge warning light, and brake) so I can be sure the problem is not a dead light bulb.

- I also did some very quick continuity testing on the back side of the cluster/instrument panel to make sure the diode is not bad. It looks like things are okay there. I also checked all small fuses in the engine bay, and under the dash, and they are all good.

I just found a collection of pdfs of some service manual, one of which is 'Electrical Wiring System Appendix'. This appendix is amazing. It has pages labelled WS-98, WS-212 etc. What I found out is that:

- The 3 harnesses that connect to the panel are through connectors I13-1, I13-2, and I13-3, while the harnesses connected to the alternator are through E31-1 (B connector), and E31-2 (S/L connector).

- From page WS-98 I found out that pin 4 of I13-1 connects to positive of the charge warning bulb, which then connects to a diode, which then connects to pin 3 of I13-2, which eventually leads to 'L' (pin 1 of E31-2).

- However between, I13-2 pin 3, and E31-2 pin 1, there are a couple of checkpoints: EI01 pin 3, EM03 pin 19. This is great. This means if I can check continuity between these checkpoints, I can locate where the problem is (loose wire or something).

One thing I found strange is that the I13-1, 2, and 3 connectors are a single row of pins in the pdf (on page WS-174), whereas in the car, these connectors each have two rows: top row and a bottom row. Not sure why the pdf mentioned only a single row, and not two. Anyway, now I'm going to locate these two checkpoints EI01 pin 3, and EM03 pin 19.

Kindly let me know if I'm on the right track.
 
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