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Just like how the human body is composed of key organs, your dear auto comprises of a combination of key mechanical and electrical parts that determine its operation while on the road. One of these components that rest right at the heart of your auto is the alternator. In fact, this component functions more like your car’s brain as it’s the one responsible for most of your car’s electrical systems.  And since this component is tasked to take care of most of your auto’s electrical parts, it might likely break down at one point in life. Since a damaged alternator can really cause you troubles while on the road, this short guide will discuss how to test alternator by disconnecting battery to save you the hassle.

Now, according to car experts, there are several methods you can employ to check the status of your alternator. One of the most common methods is testing the alternator using a voltmeter. Another method, which by the way is the center of our discussion today, is by disconnecting the battery. So, whether you’re taking your auto to a certified mechanic or you’re an enthusiast DIYer looking to take the matter into your own hands, this guide will provide a detailed step-by-step procedure that you can rely on.

 

How to Test Alternator by Disconnecting Battery: Step

by Step Guide

 

Five Signs of a Failing Alternator

But, before we get to our main topic, I think it’s best if I can discuss a little bit about the main symptoms of a failing alternator. You see, if you’re a beginner or maybe you’re new in the auto business, telling the exact components that are malfunctioning can be really difficult. For instance, in our case here where your car fails to start unexpectedly, several components can be at fault.

The problem can be a dead battery, loose battery connection, a bad starter, a faulty relay or, a damaged alternator. With that in mind, let’s look at some symptoms that can alert you ahead of time that your alternator is starting to give up.

  1. Flickering Headlights: This is usually the first symptom that can easily alert you of a failing alternator. You see, the alternator is responsible for supplying power both to the headlights and the dashboard lights. So, if you notice that your headlights are dimming whenever you accelerate your vehicle, then just know your alternator is in trouble.
  2. Electrical Failure: Other than the headlights and the dashboard lights, another area that’s likely to signal some potential issues is your car’s electrical system. This includes all the electrical components that comprise of the windshield wipers, power locks, power windows, heated seats, air conditioning system, and the radio. Since the alternator is responsible for powering all of these components, there’s a chance that most of them may start misbehaving.
  3. Strange Sounds: Some of the sounds you’re likely to hear include grinding and whining sounds. Since the alternator is surrounded by lots of moving parts, a single failure in either one of them can cause unusual sounds like that of a worn-out bearing. Other times, the voltage regulator may send signals to the alternator requesting for more charge. Since the alternator is already worn-out and unable to supply the high power demand, whining sounds may be evidenced in the process.
  4. Warning Indicator: Another direct sign that can easily tell your alternator is in grave danger is a warning light in your dash labeled as GEN or ALT. If you happen to see this alert, then it’s clear that your alternator needs to be checked immediately.
  5. Difficulty Starting Your Car: The last symptom of a failing alternator is difficulty starting your car. In most cases, this symptom can be caused by a dead battery. However, when the battery is at fault, a specific light with a battery shape will appear on your dashboard. At least with this indicator, you can easily rule out the possibility of the battery being the major culprit. So, what you’re left with is the alternator. Since this component is responsible for supplying power to the spark plug, your car will automatically fail to start or it might stall when driving.

 

1. Testing the Alternator by Disconnecting the Battery

 

In this section, I will discuss two major methods you can use to test your alternator. The first one is by disconnecting the battery while the second is by using a voltmeter.

  • Step One:

The first step of testing your car’s alternator is to find a safe spot to park your vehicle. In most cases, it’s recommended that you park in an open space away from kids, pets, and senior people to protect them from toxic carbon monoxide build-up that can accumulate after disconnecting the battery.

  • Step Two:

Next, open your car’s hood and make sure that it’s in a stable position.

  • Step Three:

Just before you start the engine, it’s a good practice to first inspect the battery to ensure it’s in the right condition. To do this, inspect the dashboard to see whether the battery is sending any charge when the car is switched off. Inspect all the electrical components such as the wipers, the windows, the brake lights, and the radio by turning them on and off to check whether they’re working normally.

Lastly, clean any corrosion on the battery terminals then use a voltmeter to check the battery’s voltage. When the engine isn’t running, the voltmeter reading should be 12.6 V. But when the engine is running, the voltmeter reading should be between 14-15 V.

  • Step Four:

When you’re done, go to the driver’s seat and try to start the engine. This step is likely to get a bit tricky as your auto might fail to start if the alternator is the main culprit. Although it will take you some time, the engine is likely to start eventually.

  • Step Five:

Since we’ve already ruled out the possibility of a battery failure, we’re now halfway sure the problem is caused by a failing alternator. So, with the engine still running, get out of the car and go back to the hood. Here, disconnect the positive terminal of the battery to see what happens.

In case the engine stops immediately you unplug the battery’s terminal, then the problem is the alternator. But, in case the engine continues running even after disconnecting the battery, then it means the alternator is perfectly okay.

You see, since the alternator is responsible for supplying electrical power to various components, a good alternator will supply power to the engine to keep the car running even when the battery is disconnected. But if the alternator is faulty, it won’t manage to supply power to the engine forcing it to turn off immediately after the battery is unplugged.

 

2. Testing the Alternator Using a Voltmeter

How to Test Alternator

Although testing the alternator by disconnecting the battery is an easy procedure you can consider, it’s also a risky one as it can end up damaging your alternator. Secondly, this method can give you a false result as there are times when the alternator may have enough juice to power the engine even after being badly damaged. So, to test the alternator using a safe and efficient method, you can try using a voltmeter.

  • Step One:

The first step is to equip yourself with a voltmeter or a multimeter. This is the tool you’ll be using to measure the voltage during the testing phase.

  • Step Two:

With the engine off, connect the positive lead of the voltmeter to the positive terminal of the battery and the negative lead to the negative terminal. Our idea here is to measure the base voltage of the battery before turning on the engine. If the battery’s reading is above 12.2V, then it means it has sufficient juice to start the alternator. In case it reads anything below this, then it means the battery is depleted and must be recharged before proceeding.

  • Step Three:

Now that you’re certain the battery is in perfect working order, your next step will be testing the alternator. To do this, ask a friend to start the car and rev the engine at around 2,000 RPM. This will allow the voltage regulator to kick start the alternator at a higher gear.

  • Step Four:

With the voltmeter still connected to the battery’s terminals, check the battery’s readings on the voltmeter. If the readings fluctuate between 13 and 14.5 volts, then it means the alternator is in perfect condition. On the other hand, if the readings remain the same (around 12.2V) or decrease to a lower value, then there’s no doubt the alternator is at fault.

  • Step Five:

Now that your alternator has passed the No-Load Voltage Test, the final step is to test the alternator’s voltage output at full load. This will involve switching on all your car’s electrical components such as the radio, wipers, AC, and headlights among others.

As usual, ask your assistant to start the car and rev the engine at 2,000 RPM. With the voltmeter still connected to the battery, check the readings to see what develops. Since the alternator is said to be charging, the battery’s readings should be at least 13.1 volts. Anything lower or suspiciously higher than this reading might point out to a faulty alternator.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are many ways you can use to test the alternator. In case you’re too afraid to try both of these methods, then you can try the headlight test where you can try to evaluate the brightness or dimness of your car’s headlights in a darkened environment. Here, you only need to pack your car close to a wall then turn the lights on. Inspect the brightness level when the car is off and when the engine is running to see whether the lights fade in any way.

Now that we’ve come to the end of our discussion, I believe you’re now fully aware of how to test the alternator by disconnecting the battery. Although this method is less demanding, it’s also very risky. For that reason, I’ve added a safer method you can consider that involves using a voltmeter.

Now, running boards, mud flaps, chrome trims, window visors, billet grilles, roof racks, and bed rails are examples of accessories that upgrade the looks and performance of your vehicle fitting in the SUV category. But, while most of these accessories lie more in the aesthetic category, tonneau covers lie more in the performance section as they’re the ones responsible for protecting your cargo against theft and possible damage by the elements. And since these covers are notorious to leaks, learning how to fix a leaking tonneau cover is something you can’t shy away from.

If you own a pickup truck, then you’re aware of how useful this type of vehicle can get. From carrying farm products, commercial cargo to towing ATVs, UTVs, and snow bikes during a recreation hike, these vehicles can do a lot without complaining about the type of terrain they’ve traversing on. But, regardless of how strong trucks are, keeping your cargo safe from theft and the elements is one area you must focus on.

 

How to Fix a Leaking Tonneau Cover: Step by Step Guide

 

For that reason alone, a tonneau cover becomes an absolute necessity if you’re looking to conceal your cargo safely inside the truck’s bed. But, there’s a problem. Tonneau covers are sometimes susceptible to damage caused by age, prolonged use that causes fatigue, using an incorrect size, and mishandling.

All these factors can damage your tonneau cover causing it to rupture and cause leaks which can damage your delicate cargo. For this reason, this guide has compelled a DIY solution that you can use to diagnose and solve this problem. Please read on to find out.

 

What Do You Need to Seal the Leaks?

 

Now, before we get to our step-by-step procedure on how to fix tonneau cover leakages, I think it’s necessary if we can discuss three of the most common methods truck owners use to seal leaks. The best thing about these three methods is that they’re highly affordable meaning you won’t have to dig too deep into your pocket just to afford them.

  • Water Pipe Insulation

One of the most popular solutions for fixing a leaking tonneau cover is by installing water pipe insulations. You see, what accelerates the rate of tonneau cover leakage is the accumulation of excess water on the surface of the cover. So, by installing water pipes, you actually allow this water to drain thus preventing it from accumulating. Water pipes are affordable, economical, and very easy to install as they come with adhesives for easy installation.

  • Installing Seals

In case the leakage is not too serious, then installing seals on the affected parts of the tonneau cover can help to fix this problem. The best thing about seals is that they’re readily available in your nearest hardware store at an affordable price. When buying seals though, you need to ensure that they resemble the color of your tonneau cover.

  • Bed Seal Kits

Although they’re costlier than the other two options, bed seal kits are generally the best when it comes to waterproofing your tonneau cover. The best thing about them is that they not only waterproof your tonneau cover but also protect it against snow, dust, and road debris that can puncture the cover.

 

How Do You Fix a Tonneau Cover?

  • Step 1: Find the Leaks

The first and the most crucial step of fixing your truck’s tonneau cover is finding the leak spots. There are various ways you can do this such as opening the tailgate to see whether you’ll detect the holes or having someone enter inside the truck’s bed with a flashlight. In either case, you’ll need an extra pair of hands to help you through.

Another way you can detect the leak spots is by putting cardboard on the lining of your truck’s cargo bed. Cover the cardboard with your tonneau cover then use a garden hose to simulate rain by spraying water in an upward motion.

Next, remove the tonneau cover and see whether you can identify any wet spots on the cardboard. Alternatively, you can have someone get inside the truck’s bed, with the tonneau cover on, to see whether he/she can identify any water leakages.

  • Step 2: Mark the Spots

Once you’ve identified the leak spots, the next step is to mark them using masking tape or a marker pen. This step is very important as you’ll have to remove the tonneau cover to fix it. While marking will help you to identify the punctured areas, it also helps you to identify the right method of fixing the leakages.

  • Step 3: Sealing Off the Leaks

In case the leaks are on the surface of the tonneau cover, you can use seals, silicone, or duct tape to fix them. However, this method is ideal if the holes are tiny but not too big. If the leaks are on the edges of the cover, then you can use silicone or seal strips to fix them. Note that, when fixing these leaks, you need to add the seals or the silicone on the top but not at the bottom to prevent water from getting between the tonneau cover and the seals.

  • Step 4: Time to Test

Once you’re through fixing your tonneau cover, the final step is to test it to guarantee you’ve done a decent job. To do this, you’ll only need to repeat the first step of detecting the leakages. So, pick your already repaired tonneau cover and fit it back again on your truck’s cargo area. Once you’ve fitted it, use a garden hose to spray water in an upward position to simulate rain.

Ask a friend to get inside the truck’s bed with a flashlight to check whether he/she will detect any leakages. In case there are none, then congratulations! You’ve just fixed a leaking tonneau cover. However, if you detect some leakages, then it’s about time that you get a professional on board to help fix the issue.

 

Conclusion

As you can see, a tonneau cover is an absolute must if you’re looking to keep your cargo safe from the elements and prying eyes. But, for this to happen, you need to have a waterproof cover that discourages water from getting to your cargo. Although it’s quite uncommon, having a leaking tonneau cover is a very disappointing experience. Thankfully, this short guide has discussed a detailed step-by-step procedure on how you can fix this problem without having to hire a professional.

If you own a new car that doesn’t have fog lights installed, chances are that you’ll need them so dearly to help you in improving visibility when driving in foggy, rainy, misty, or extremely dark conditions. While these lights are so important, one negative factor I’ve noticed is that most of them just have a wiring diagram but not a convenient manual that can help you during the installation. Since this is likely to make the installation process quite difficult, this guide has shouldered your troubles by offering a detailed step-by-step procedure on how to install fog lights.

Now, installing fog lights doesn’t start from connecting the wires. It starts with choosing the right fog lights that will meet your specific needs. Since such information cannot be found anywhere on the manuals, this guide will get started right from the bottom and walk you through to the top to give you a comprehensive understanding of how to install these special lights. If you’re ready, then let’s begin.

 

How to Install Fog Lights: Step by Step Guide

Fog Lights

 

Step 1: Choosing the Lights

Although most people tend to skip this step, it’s one of the most important factors you can’t afford to neglect when installing fog lights. When making your choice, it’s important that you first enquire to ensure that your local regulations approve the use of aftermarket fog lights with certain colors.

Once you’re certain that your specific lights are compliant; then you can proceed to choose the type of bulbs you’ll be installing. Here, you can choose from LED, HID to Halogen bulbs. When you’re done, you need to choose the style of fog lights you’ll be installing.

In most cases, projector fog lights are considered the best as they have a curved center that projects a more focused beam that doesn’t blind oncoming motorists. Also, the type of lights you select should be able to direct light slightly on the edges of the road to guarantee safer driving and earlier detection of obstacles on the side of the road.

 

Step 2: Determine Where You’ll Install the Fog Lights

 

Now that you have an idea of the type of fog lights you’re going to install, the next step is to determine where exactly you’re going to install the lights. Luckily, most vehicles come with slots on the bumper where you can install the lights. However, if you’re unlucky to own a car that doesn’t have the slots on its bumper, then don’t panic as you’ll only need to cut holes on the bumper to fit the lights.

 

Step 3: Gather Your Supplies

 

Whether you’re installing factory sets or universal types of fog lights, the process of installation is pretty much the same with minor differences here and there. In our case, you will need;

  • A screwdriver
  • Wrench
  • Gloves
  • Masking tape
  • Fog light kit
  • Pliers
  • Cutters
  • Drill
  • Zip ties
  • Flashlight

 

Step 4: Remove the Bumper

 

Start by parking your vehicle on a level surface and engage the parking brake. Next, open the hood and disconnect the battery terminals. If your bumper doesn’t have the fog light slots, then you’ll have to remove it to cut the holes. With the hood open, simply loosen all the screws and nuts to take off the bumper.

In case the bumper has fog light slots, all you’ll have to do is to use a plastic pry tool to take off the stock bezel from its socket. This will give you enough clearance to work on when installing the lights.

 

Step 5: Lay Out the Wiring

 

If you’re installing fog lights in a new car that didn’t have them before, then you’ll need to lay out the wiring for your new lights. To do the wiring, you’ll have to study the wiring diagram that came with your fog lights to familiarize yourself with the entire system.

In most cases, the package comes with wires such as a white wire, a green switch wire, a red fog light split wire, a relay, a fog light switch, and a fuse. Since you’re installing fog lights in your car for the first time, you’ll have to locate a pass-through hole in your car’s firewall to make it easier for you to set the fog switch in a convenient position near the steering wheel.

The pass-through hole is used to pass cables from the hood to the inside of a vehicle and it’s usually located behind or under the dashboard. In case your vehicle doesn’t have a pass-through hole, then you’ll have to drill one yourself.

 

Step 6: Connect the Wires

 

Connecting the wires is usually the most delicate step in the entire process and it requires a lot of seriousness as a little mistake can ruin your fog lights. So, to do this, you’ll need to have your wiring diagram close enough for perusal and confirmation.

Start with the black wire which you’ll have to connect one of its sides to the back of the ignition switch while the other side is connected to the grounding terminal (most preferably an unpainted section of your vehicle’s body).

Next, pick a red wire that has a fuse on it. Connect one side to a terminal at the back of the switch. The other side of the wire should run through the pass-through hole from your vehicle’s interior to the hood area where it will connect with the relay then to another red wire that goes to the positive terminal.

 

Step 7: Install the Fog Lights

 

The final step in this guide is to power the fog lights. But, just before you do that, you need to ensure the lights are already installed on the car’s bumper. Not only that, you need to ensure that the bumper is already attached to the car.

Once you’ve done that, it’s now time to synch the wires. Start with the black wires that come from your fog lights and merge them to a ground wire extension that connects to your car’s unpainted metal section.

Next, connect the white wires from your lights to the Y-shaped power wire that runs inside the pass-through hole to the switch inside the vehicle. Once the whole project is through, you can now connect the red wire to the positive terminal of the battery to see whether the fog lights will go “on”.

 

Conclusion

As you can see, the process of installing fog lights in your vehicle is not as complex as rocket science. In fact, the process is fairly easy though it needs a lot of patience and understanding of basic electrical concepts. You need to study the available wiring diagrams to have a solid understanding of how to fix these lights. All in all, fog lights are very crucial accessories that will guarantee you perfect visibility when driving in snowy, smoky, foggy and very dark regions.

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