2003 Chevy Suburban with issues NEED HELP!!

Discussion in 'Chevy Suburban Forum (GMC Yukon XL)' started by nia44, Aug 16, 2013.

  1. nia44

    nia44 New Member

    My sister has a 2003 Chevy Surburban we have been replacing the battery, starter & alternator all summer. It start with her truck not starting in the am & needing a jump start to not starting throughout the day with just running into the store for 20 minutes or so. We replaced the battery the 1st time because it was going completely dead and needing to be disconnected to be recharged. Then after a few days went by it quit working again this time need a alternator, which we replaced, but after a week the battery drained again needing to recharged. I want to say not even a week has been past & the samething happend need a starter this time. Replaced it then maybe a weeks time the alternator again. Long story short we have replaced the battery & alternator 6 times and still is having the same issues. The auto parts store said the parts was just bad parts, but 6 times and they were saling us a alternator for a 02 instead of 03. Would that cause my issues to be more than what we were having. NEED HELP PLEASE!!!
  2. edsmagichands

    edsmagichands Member 2 Years 100 Posts

    Wow! 1st off, sounds like you might want to try a different parts store. let me give you very common chain of events iv'e seen a lot and you can see if it fits yours. go out in morning, battery dead, jump start. couple days later, same thing. time between jump starts gets shorter, finally new battery. ok for a while then dead again. start jump starting again (while scratching your head). numerous jump starts later, replace alt. ok for a while then, AH NOT AGAIN!!! so you start over, same as before, battery,go awhile alt go awhile, repeat over again. bad parts? possible. battery & alt work together. battery runs the system alt is there only to MAINTAIN battery charge, not charge from dead. in my example battery was bad causing alt to overwork trying to charge battery & run the system at the same time. result-alt on the edge of failure. replace battery, all is good but tired alt gives up. go awhile jumping draining battery jumping till alt replaced. meanwhile all that draining jumping draining has taken is toll on a cell in the once new battery. you see the cycle? bad battery kills alt bad alt kills new battery, repeat. this could have started simply due to age of battery/alt, but to make sure you need to check for "parasitic drain" meaning something staying on unknowingly. glove box lights interior lights etc. besides visual check you need to check with an amp meter to confirm. at this point i would think about replacing battery & alt together, check for parasitic drain, make sure the battery cables are good,clean& tight. check there connection at battery & engine. final step is to verify charging. with engine running a/c & headlights on, voltage at the battery should be at least 13.5V & no higher than 15V over 15 and it will kill the battery. it also should be charging at least +5 amps. you must have both voltage & amperage to charge the battery.
    PS: starter was probably coincidence not related.
  3. Pikey

    Pikey Moderator Staff Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 5000 Posts

    I had the same issue at advanced auto parts. 6 alternators in 2 months! Many of the 6 just had bad bearing noise. With 2 of them my lights flickered when I stopped. 1 of them had a cracked case out of the box. I got to know the manager pretty well and he said that advance was considering dropping world wide (tough one) because of all of the issues they have. He said that there have been multiple times that they have opened a "new reman" box and find an untouched core that a customer returned. So, tough one just sent the core back and never even worked on it. I finally bit the bullet spent the $25 more and bought a new bosch alternator. (original equipment on my truck)
  4. edsmagichands

    edsmagichands Member 2 Years 100 Posts

    Pikey is correct, it does happen, that is why i started with trying a new parts store. cheap parts= bad results.
    that being said, it is quite likely your problem started as in my example or with parasitic drain, bad parts possibly compounding the issue along the way. i still stand by my advice if you want to be sure you've fixed the problem. i did however forget to mention you "MUST" have a battery with enough cranking amps to run the electrical demands of the system. this includes (i forgot to ask) super sound system with monster amp!! alt must also be capable of charging enough amps to maintain battery. if your truck does not have extra electrical accessories, just make sure the battery and alt meet or exceed manufacture specs for amperage.
  5. vncj96

    vncj96 Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    All this sounds familiar, I had this issue with a sunbird during college, turned out that it needed new battery cables as they were corroded inside of the insulation. Battery/electrical corrosion is a pain, it will stop power from flowing as it should and give you electrical problems.
  6. edsmagichands

    edsmagichands Member 2 Years 100 Posts

    Thanks for mentioning that. i said good, clean & tight, but did not elaborate on that. always voltage drop the cables. that will tell you you if there is any unseen corrosion.
  7. Jamm3r

    Jamm3r Member 2 Years 100 Posts

    Hello Nia. Welcome to da club

    Years of experience have taught me very little but one thing I have learned is that you MUST have proper test equipment to run down problems of this nature. You need an accurate volt meter and a reasonably accurate clamp on DC ammeter. $200 worth of gear, max, and there's no other way to find out for sure what's going on.

    Depending on the engine and options in your 'burb it should have shipped from the factory with either a Delco AD-244 or a Delco AD-230. Both solid alternators, easily rebuildable, with the AD-244 having a larger case and slightly higher output.

    Many parts stores are selling either the cost-reduced DR44 or cheap copies of it. So one question is whether you're really getting a high quality alternator. You can get good rebuilt ones from http://alternatorparts.com or can go to your Chevy dealer and get one (though they may try to sell you a DR44 it will at least be a good one).

    So you have to check the output current of the alternator to find out what's going on, and check the battery voltage while charging. Start the 'burb and turn on the headlights and crank up the heater fans, and then measure, you should see at least 60 amps coming off the alternator and the voltage across the battery terminals should be at least 14.0, maybe a little less if you're somewhere really hot.

    If the current is low or jumpy then you can use a volt meter to check for a wiring fault the B+ wire. There should be very little voltage between the + terminal on the battery and the + terminal on the alternator, if it's more than half a volt or if it jumps around you have a loose connection somewhere. Then check the frame on the alternator to the - terminal on the battery the same way.

    If the current looks more or less OK but you aren't getting the voltage you should then maybe you have problems in the voltage sense line.

    No current at all then maybe the field power isn't getting turned on or maybe the alternator is just bad. You do have the 4-pin control connector connected, right? Be sure to get a good alternator this time and not Chinese junk

    If you get more failures it might be time to think about tearing the alternator down and seeing what happened. An auto electric shop can do this for you. Maybe there's a short in the battery or starter wiring somewhere, an intermittent one, that's causing the diodes to overheat. That sort of thing is pretty rare but who knows.

    Good luck, check the voltages and current and let us know what you find.
  8. edsmagichands

    edsmagichands Member 2 Years 100 Posts

    Nice description of voltage drop!! voltage drop is critical in any & all electrical testing!!

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