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Old 09-03-2005, 01:01   #1 (permalink)
nashjeff
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is "voltimeter" even a word?!?!

My '91 Explorer is alive and almost well. While it may have several
imminent ailments, the most problematic and anxiety-causing is the
upper-left battery gauge. It seems to flicker like a stereo equalizer
whenver I push the brake pedal or come to a resting idle. I have checked
and charged the battery, replaced battery cables, the alternator, checked
fuses-everything short of taking it in for a diagnostic test. This
machine has 209,000 miles and the engine runs super strong c/o Lucas' oil
products? I get between 15-17 mpg and cannot afford to run a computer
test. Any alternatives to spendy mechanics? Does anybody have an
electronical diagnostic chart to send? PLEASE!!!
Signed, The cheapest guy around

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Old 09-03-2005, 05:01   #2 (permalink)
Happy Traveler
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Re: is "voltimeter" even a word?!?!

Indeed, with today's gas prices and 15-17 mpg, who can afford to pay a
mechanic? Or even to drive at all? That's why I parked my Explorer in the
garage and re-commissioned the long mothballed 21 year old LTD. No ABS, no
airbags, no dual-media entertainment system, and the headlights don't turn
on and off on their own; but boy, that obsolete throttle body injected V6
and three speed transmission are still happily delivering an astounding 19
mpg!

Don't know much about Lucas oil products. Electrical products by the same
name have a spotty reputation, but I have not heard of any of those ever
being used in an Explorer... So before we pull out the chart, let's figure
out if this is just the gauge, or the voltage is actually flickering. The
simplest way to tell might be parking at night in front of a wall, taking
your foot off the accelerator and observing the headlights. If the lights
are bright and steady, you can probably leave your vehicle parked right
there and go to sleep peacefully, as there is little to worry about (unless
you are a perfectionist like me, and want every gauge to work in a 15 year
old vehicle with over 200,000 miles).
The other crucial piece of information that you kept secret from us is
whether the engine is idling steadily or not. If it idles poorly, the
voltage will be justified in doing what it's doing and you need to take care
of the idling.

And no, it does not rhyme with 'altimeter'. The word is 'voltmeter'.

"nashjeff" <huntjamison@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:a237822090f70d72ee91a9deff622b6d@localhost.talkaboutautos.com...
>
> the most problematic and anxiety-causing is the upper-left battery gauge.

It seems to flicker like a stereo equalizer
> whenver I push the brake pedal or come to a resting idle.



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Old 09-03-2005, 11:02   #3 (permalink)
carbide@egine.com
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Re: is "voltimeter" even a word?!?!


nashjeff wrote:
> My '91 Explorer is alive and almost well. While it may have several
> imminent ailments, the most problematic and anxiety-causing is the
> upper-left battery gauge. It seems to flicker like a stereo equalizer
> whenver I push the brake pedal or come to a resting idle.


It's "voltmeter".

This reminds me of a maddening problem I had with a Ranger which was
much like this. I traced an intermittant short thru the wiring harness
to the cigarette lighter/ashtray. I don't smoke, so I throw change in
there. I had left the lighter out of the socket when plugging something
else in, and a penny had slid down into the lighter socket- It didn't
make good contact, so it didn't blow the fuse or smoke, but the
vibration at idle would cause it to jiggle and intermittantly short. It
did make the voltmeter needle thrash around. So it could be something
like that- anything that intermittantly draws a lot of current. You
could pull fuses a few at a time to see if you can isolate it to a
particular circuit. Suppose you pull the dome light fuse and the
problem goes away. Look for a pinched wire or other similar problem in
that part of the wiring.

More info would help- does it crank strong? Does the battery hold a
charge if it sits for several days? Do your brake lights work
correctly?
-Paul

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Old 09-03-2005, 11:02   #4 (permalink)
Jim Warman
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Re: is "voltimeter" even a word?!?!

My first inclination would be to wiggle test the harness/connectors involved
in the charging system while an assistant watched the lamp (engine running,
of course). Spread connectors, corrosion, previous repairs or
modifications.... these are just some of the possible causes.

I have found no crankcase oil additives (and few other additives) worth the
expense. Nothing beats timely maintenance and repairing small concerns
before they grow into budget busters.

As for additives.... I'm reminded of a quote I once heard.... "I you build
it, they will come...." (we could follow that up with P.T. Barnums "There's
one born every minute..."). As for repair and maintenence, I have my own
quote...."Cheap ain't".


"nashjeff" <huntjamison@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:a237822090f70d72ee91a9deff622b6d@localhost.talkaboutautos.com...
> My '91 Explorer is alive and almost well. While it may have several
> imminent ailments, the most problematic and anxiety-causing is the
> upper-left battery gauge. It seems to flicker like a stereo equalizer
> whenver I push the brake pedal or come to a resting idle. I have checked
> and charged the battery, replaced battery cables, the alternator, checked
> fuses-everything short of taking it in for a diagnostic test. This
> machine has 209,000 miles and the engine runs super strong c/o Lucas' oil
> products? I get between 15-17 mpg and cannot afford to run a computer
> test. Any alternatives to spendy mechanics? Does anybody have an
> electronical diagnostic chart to send? PLEASE!!!
> Signed, The cheapest guy around
>



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Old 09-04-2005, 00:01   #5 (permalink)
nashjeff
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Re: is

testing...

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Old 09-04-2005, 00:01   #6 (permalink)
nashjeff
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Re: is

The battery cranks like a home run hero on the cream, stays charged like a
hurricane, and the break lights work right. At a steady idle of 900 RPM I
can notice obvious flickering in the radio illumination, not to mention the
dash lights and the heavy-drawing headlights. I replaced the $150+
alternator (rebuilt) 8 or 9 months ago and have had no prob until now. I
will test all fuses-good insight. All connections were tested and deemed
tight and right by an amateur wrench. I was under the impression a
voltmeter was a type of testing equipment, not a gauge. My first vehicle,
a four-door Wimbledon white '68 Lincoln Continental had a similar gauge
labeled ALT, but it never worked after the engine fire. (F.Y.I. The $90
wiring harness was substituted with a $7 trailer wiring harness that
worked perfectly, even after four starters.) Note: I have a
disintegrating muffler- could air compression be a culprit? Did I mention
it is a Ford? Lucas oil additive has silenced the knocking at high speeds
for two years. $7 a bottle x six services is $42. I may be a sucker, but
at least I can hear my radio.
Thank you everyone for dispensing your valuable mech knowledge to unknown
proles like me!!! Thanks for all past and future help!

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Old 09-04-2005, 01:01   #7 (permalink)
nashjeff
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Re: LTD?

Very nice, traveler!!! I was told LTD stands for "La Tee Da" I suspect is
means "Limited" Surely you must know, Shirley? Thanx for the help.

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Old 09-04-2005, 13:01   #8 (permalink)
carbide@egine.com
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Re: is


nashjeff wrote:
> The battery cranks like a home run hero on the cream, stays charged like a
> hurricane, and the break lights work right.


OK, that eliminates your alternator and the battery.

At a steady idle of 900 RPM I
> can notice obvious flickering in the radio illumination, not to mention the
> dash lights and the heavy-drawing headlights.


This could be either an intermittant short (not a total short, but a
resistive one) such as a pinched wire or a wire rubbing a bit on
ground. It could also be a bad ground in the circuits affected, which
instead of being a solid connection, is resistive. Like the screw or
bolt that is supposed to hold it firmly against the chassis is loose
and has some corrosion.

> I was under the impression a
> voltmeter was a type of testing equipment, not a gauge.


It can be either. It measures voltage, which in a water analogy is like
water pressure. An ammeter measures current, which is like water flow.
An ohmmeter measures resistance, which is like the nozzle on your hose,
where you can vary the restriction to change the amount of flow.

The test instrument has a bunch of ranges so it's general purpose (and
it's usually a multimeter, which can measure resistance and current as
well as voltage), and quite accurate, the gauge is made to measure
something specific and usually is less accurate.

You can get a multimeter at Radio Shack for as little as $15. Voltage
is measured between two points, usually ground and something you want
to measure, like the battery.

A shop manual probably has a step-by-step troubleshooting procedure for
the charging system. But you have a tough problem here. It's a lot
easier to troubleshoot something that doesn't work at all than
something that has a subtle problem.

I'm an electronic tech by trade, BTW. Troubleshooting is what I do.
-Paul

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Old 09-04-2005, 22:01   #9 (permalink)
nashjeff
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Re: NEW DEVELOPMENT!!

Thanks for the detailed analysis, Paul. Does TAN compensate you for your
time invested in improving their website?!
Every car repair and maint I perform, the more often I notice once a small
problem is found many others come into play at the same time.
A friend of mine lent to me his multimeter and every current and voltage
tested was optimal. Looking closer, I noticed a slight whistle where
there should be no whistle and found a small piece of tape blocking a
triple nipple vacuum port located on the rear of the right side valve
cover. A larger hose continues a few inches and connects to the rear
right sight of the throttle body. A small nipple(is this the right term?)
protrudes forward and is definitely sucking in quite a bit of air. I can
see no dangling hoses anywhere. Several eyes have inspected the entire
engine compartment-nothing. Is this to some sort of electrical and/or
vacuum sensor?
The gauge instantly resumed normal operation when I unblocked the port.
(Blocked with green electrical tape mostly sucked inside the port-clearly
no professional install) The engine is a V-6 4Liter 4X4 with cruise, air,
power. Thanks for your help
Hunter

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Old 09-05-2005, 00:01   #10 (permalink)
Hairy
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Re: is


"nashjeff" <huntjamison@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:8b7b81a5428a96ae42ec67874962817f@localhost.talkaboutautos.com...
> The battery cranks like a home run hero on the cream, stays charged like a
> hurricane, and the break lights work right. At a steady idle of 900 RPM I
> can notice obvious flickering in the radio illumination, not to mention

the
> dash lights and the heavy-drawing headlights. I replaced the $150+
> alternator (rebuilt) 8 or 9 months ago and have had no prob until now. I
> will test all fuses-good insight. All connections were tested and deemed
> tight and right by an amateur wrench. I was under the impression a
> voltmeter was a type of testing equipment, not a gauge. My first vehicle,
> a four-door Wimbledon white '68 Lincoln Continental had a similar gauge
> labeled ALT, but it never worked after the engine fire. (F.Y.I. The $90
> wiring harness was substituted with a $7 trailer wiring harness that
> worked perfectly, even after four starters.) Note: I have a
> disintegrating muffler- could air compression be a culprit? Did I mention
> it is a Ford? Lucas oil additive has silenced the knocking at high speeds
> for two years. $7 a bottle x six services is $42. I may be a sucker, but
> at least I can hear my radio.
> Thank you everyone for dispensing your valuable mech knowledge to unknown
> proles like me!!! Thanks for all past and future help!
>


You may have a headlight switch going south.



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