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Old 12-25-2009, 09:21 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default diagnosing alternator/battery problem

i have a 2003 forester, parked at bottom of my driveway (15" snow, now rain)...it's been there since last friday. every day i went down, started it up, let it run as i shoveled, then turned it off and hiked back up. wednesday, walked down started it up to actually try and go somewhere and it went whrrr, whrr, whr...then nothing. no click, click, click, nothing. i may have left the driver's door ajar, but really didn't think so. got it jumped around noon; walked back down around 3, started it up...fine. walked down thursday. it started right up...about a mile from home i thought i would check outside temp...nothing there. then i noticed, no tripmeter, odometer, speedometer or tach movement. everything else works (fuel/hotandcold/clock,radio) and no red lights out of ordinary. granted i did not check the headlights, but windshield wipers work. i haven't check fuses, but there is nothing in the manual that says what doesn't work would be fixed by replacing a fuse. the battery has never been replaced, but it only has 72000 miles on it. can't really call the dealer until monday, but was told it sounded like the alternator and it will just stop...any ideas...we are in the middle of an ice turned to rain "storm" so can't check right now about anything else...but if it's running just off the battery (indicating alternator failure) wouldn't the batter light be on (and isn't there a battery light...don't have the manual here either).
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Old 12-25-2009, 09:27 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Try disconnecting the battery overnight and see how it is afterward. I've seen weird issues pop up after getting a jump.
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Old 12-25-2009, 09:30 AM   #3 (permalink)
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If it's the alternator going, while running check the voltage across the battery, if it isn't within +/-1V of 14V then your alternator isn't charging properly. By the sounds of it though you have some weird electrical issues, I would try clearing the ECU like monkey suggested. If it was a dead battery, it would sound labored and most likely start slow or not at all.
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Old 12-25-2009, 02:35 PM   #4 (permalink)
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check the battery posts, make sure they are clean, and check all the fuses, the fuse box should have a diagram that shows what fuse does what
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Old 12-25-2009, 06:22 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Age is pretty important, too, so while 72,000 miles might not be a lot, an original battery from an '03 is likely hitting the end of its life since it's pushing 6 or 7 years old.
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Old 12-25-2009, 07:58 PM   #6 (permalink)
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A battery that old may not fully recover after being run flat.

As to your electrical issues after a jump. I seem to recall similar poster that had the same symptoms. The fix was to reset the system (ECM), which cleared the problems. To reset the system, disconnect the ground from the battery terminal. depress the brake pedal a couple times to drain any residual power. Hook the battery back up & you should be good to go. Keep in mind the engine may die after the first start. It should run fine after that. The system (ECM) will start relearning & all should be normal shortly.


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