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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
First Cadillac purchase: 21 hours ago as of 5:06pm

This is an introduction thread . . . and an apology will probably be in order as well. ;) Because I didn't care too awful much about Caddies 13 hours ago.

I'm a 20-year old computer programmer. When I was 17 I had my only accident, which was flipping a '98 Ford Explorer Sport 2-door (with firestone tires no less, but they didn't go out) THREE TIMES, straight down a deserted gravel road. Since that single accident, my insurance has cost $200 per month for liability.

Needless to say, getting any kind of newer car is not an option. I make about $10 per hour, and without comprehensive, well, you get the picture!

I got myself a '93 Mazda 626 from a friend that needed money -- I paid them $1600 for it, which was a good deal considering what they were going for in the area. But I recently (a month ago) gave that away to my sister, who had a serious car emergency. (Hey, what's family for?)

Soooooo.

Last night, I bought a '77 Toronado with pristine interior, 2 small thumb-sized patches of rust on the exterior, 101k miles, AND a '90 Cadillac Seville with the air cushion suspension still working, almost-perfect interior, (but minor hail dings on the roof), easy-close trunk and climate control and stuff still all works.

Both of those cars combined cost me $1,200.

Now, here was the plan. The Cadillac was owned by a farmer whose wife was a cook at a local school. She had to get to school even on snow days, because they didn't call school off until after she got there. Anyways, because of the surpassing weight of the car (the farmer said it was heavier than his pickup, heh) it would plow through snow like nothing, never get held up by undercarriage. It started right up, and I drove it 6 miles or so on gravel and paved roads, and it really did run like a beauty. The weight of the car will take a LOT of getting used to, particularly how far in advance you need to start slowing down (!!!), compared to my previous cars, but I absolutely loved the feel of it. It felt like glass.

Still -- my HEART was with the Toronado, because I know how truly f*cking beautiful those cars can be with even just some mild lovin', and basically it was getting thrown in free with the Cadillac, so I wouldn't feel guilty spending money on it. I mean, I *really* wanted some kind of big old car, but if it died I needed a 'responsible' ride so that I wouldn't be stranded. That was (I thought) the Cadillac. From what the guy who sold it to me mentioned, and his wife (this guy is not not NOT a shadetree, heh, he is a REALLY good guy, known him and his wife, they're both real honest, in fact he won't sell to people he doesn't like, arrogant people, so I know that he, at least, is convinced that this was a good car).

ANYHOO. Driving it back home (30 miles away) and I stopped at a rest stop to take a leak. Up until this point the car had run, yea verily, like BUTTER. Not margarine, but real dairy BUTTAH -- amazed at how powerfully and smoothly it responds for the weight. Turn it off, run in, conduct some plumping-related bidness, run back out, try to start car -- dead.

Totally dead. I heard the engine try to turn over, but it was pathetic -- like a half-turn, heh.

It had been sitting MAYBE five minutes.

I will not regale you with what I had to do to get this car jumped. This was not a busy rest stop. I was there into the AM. :)

Jumping the car did work -- but even then, I couldn't just connect the jumpers and start it. It had to charge from the oter car for a good 5 minutes or so.

It ran beautifully all the way home. I parked it, turned it off, checked to make sure no lights were on, and went inside.

This morning, nothing again. This time I can't hear it trying to turn over, but I can hear the starting clicking.

I live in Minnesota, but it was about 50 degrees this morning, so that shouldn't be it.

Ideas? Suggestions? :(
 

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WELCOME to the forums.
for the car that died i would try putting in a new battery and see what happens from there. It also might be your alternator. I would have jumped on that deal tooo. Sounds like you got yourself a great bargain.
 

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JJhomer83 said:
WELCOME to the forums.
for the car that died i would try putting in a new battery and see what happens from there. It also might be your alternator. I would have jumped on that deal tooo. Sounds like you got yourself a great bargain.
Well, the thing is, this battery is 6 months old -- and it apparently has a lifetime warranty! :eek: Word got back to the guy I bought the car from (hey, it's a rural area) and he was so concerned he called first thing this morning -- he said that he does not think it could possibly be the battery, and that I should clean the contacts.

However -- I'm not a mechanic, obviously -- I have to think that the state of the contacts, dirty or whatever, couldn't possibly be responsible, for several reasons:

1) I moved the contact wires a LOT last night, reseated etc.

2) That wouldn't explain why the battery was so low when I went to jump it!

I guess I should ask about this "alternator" doohickey. I guess I know it's vaguely electrical in nature -- would this be the doodad that would charge the battery back up while the car's running? I have a pretty limited knowledge here, but the battery is used to get the power plant going, and then the engine can keep itself going until it runs out of gas, even if the battery is weak. But if the engine can't return some of that energy back into the battery, that might explain it -- me running it 75mph down the interstate might well have depleted the battery.

/shrug

I have no more ideas really. :(
 

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Discussion Starter #4
http://mypage.direct.ca/k/kdomries/nogo.html

^^^ this seems like a good 'back to basics' kind of thing. I will also try disconnecting cables and soaking the ends in coca-cola to remove nastiness.

I have to get back to work. ;) I am not a mechanic -- I would REALLY appreciate it if someone could look at that link above and tell me which of the steps I should focus on, which are less likely etc. :(

I showed my little brother the car last night and he was all "WOW! Man! This thing is PIMPIN'!" . . . it's that back seat, and the accent lighting. That stuff looks truly jaw-dropping at night.
 

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Ok i am going to be very basic. Don't take this the wrong way if i go to basic. Im just trying to help.

About the contact thing you should be right about the contacts. I still would clean them though. It is good measure to do it b/c that is one thing that you know is not the problem after they are clean.

Now its learning time.
(anyone who can add to my info please do. if i mess up please correct thanks)

Battery should run around 13-14 volts while car is running. You need roughly 11 volts to get it started. If you have a volt meter you can test this to see how much juice your battery has unless your dash inside your car will tell you. The battery sends an electrical signal to the starter to turn the motor over and get it running.

the alternator is on the left side of your engine (normally) and is conected to a belt and it is the size of a cantalope or smaller. The purpose of it is to charge the battery when the car is started. when the belt spins it charges the alternator and then charges the battery. If your alternator dies your battery won't be charged and you won't get very far.
if you need more info let me know
 

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Discussion Starter #6
No man, basic is the BEST. Hey, knowledge of theory is necessary before a coder should ever start tinkering . . . no different with any other advanced system.
JJhomer83 said:
Battery should run around 13-14 volts while car is running. You need roughly 11 volts to get it started. If you have a volt meter you can test this to see how much juice your battery has unless your dash inside your car will tell you. The battery sends an electrical signal to the starter to turn the motor over and get it running.

the alternator is on the left side of your engine (normally) and is conected to a belt and it is the size of a cantalope or smaller. The purpose of it is to charge the battery when the car is started. when the belt spins it charges the alternator and then charges the battery. If your alternator dies your battery won't be charged and you won't get very far.
if you need more info let me know
1) Volt meter -- I need one of those. Should I be able to pick up something like this at Wal-Mart over lunch hour? Would instructions on how to use it correctly likely be included? Would people know what I am talking about if I said "something you connect to the battery that tells you volts, so I know how much power's there, you know, the volt-o-meter thing"?

2) whose left? Driver, or guy looking under hood?

That voltometer is a great one, also the information on the volts necessary to get it started. Diagnostic and point of reference. I can probably start getting some relevant data now . . .
 

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FIRST.
DO NOT GO TO WALMART if you don't know what a voltmeter is.
Go to radioshack type store. Tell them you want to check the voltage on your battery. They make them in all different price ranges and options. You just need one that reads volts up to 15-20+ range. Also it is a good idea to see if the volt meter has a continity (spelling is probably off) tester built in to it. If you don't know what that means it is basically testing something if it can conduct electricity. you won't need this now but its a good thing to have in the future. One of the top brands out there is called Fluke. They are also expensive. I don't know your budget but a generic one will do you fine. (hint hint the one i use cost me around 120 bucks) I would spend around 25.

About the alternator its the guy looking under the hood. Where the belt conects to the alternator it will have a fan type thing right next to where it connects. The color is probably a metallic color.

Let me know what else you would like to know. If i dont get back to you soon im probably tied up at work but ill do my best
 

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The reason i say don't go to walmart b/c the people there really aren't much help. at least with my experience they will have it though but a radioshack type store will help you better b/c they will accually know what you are talking about
 

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Discussion Starter #9
JJhomer83 said:
The reason i say don't go to walmart b/c the people there really aren't much help. at least with my experience they will have it though but a radioshack type store will help you better b/c they will accually know what you are talking about
Ok, I will go to radio shack. They should probably have a test light as well.

That test light sounds like a godsend. That's something I can understand; seems more in my area of problem-solving than belts and stuff. :D

I will give this a go.
 

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mr_luc said:
Ok, I will go to radio shack. They should probably have a test light as well.

That test light sounds like a godsend. That's something I can understand; seems more in my area of problem-solving than belts and stuff. :D

I will give this a go.
Good luck with it. Keep me up to date on your problems. Let me know what you get from the tests and what is still wrong. If you take pictures i can show you what parts are what on your engine.
 

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JJhomer83 said:
Good luck with it. Keep me up to date on your problems. Let me know what you get from the tests and what is still wrong. If you take pictures i can show you what parts are what on your engine.
UPDATE:
Ok, over lunch hour I got a test light and voltometer in one at the Shack.

The battery tested as 'Dead' on the voltometer (it counts anything under 11 as just 'dead'). This was both the cable connectors and the battery itself. There was enough to activate the LED on the voltometer, though . . .

Anyhoo. The instructions that came with the voltometer said that by connecting the voltometer when the car was running, you would be able to read whether or not the alternator was charging. I jump-started the caddy (it took a looong time to get her charged enough, and I was worried about draining the jumping vehicle, a windstar van that's had battery troubles, heh).

Ok, it got started, and it sounded good again! Everything running. I let it run for a full HOUR, by itself, drove it around the block once.

Here's an interesting thing.

Immediately after removing the clamps from the jumping vehicle, I applied the voltometer. It gave me a reading that it said I should expect from an alternator that is charging the battery properly.

After the hour of running, I tested it again with the voltometer, still running. This time, it gave me the same reading -- but this time, the middle LED (the one that is 'normal' for the alternator LED scale) was flickering instead of staying steady. I tested from many different parts of the battery and the cables, scraped a small peice right down to supershiny metal, still flickered. I think that means it was right on the edge of the "your alternator is charging poorly".

So I turned it off. I tested the battery with the voltometer.

It gave me a reading of "Dead".

I got back in the car, tried to start it -- diddly SQUAT. The dinging still occurred when I tried with the doors open, the idiot lights came on like they do when you start it normally, but it was totally dead. This time, I couldn't hear the starter click. This morning, after an entire night of sitting, the car at least CLICKED when I tried to start it.

So, here's the recap:

Regardless of what the shitty 6-LED voltometer interprets the current when the car is running as, I let the car run, and drove it, for an hour, and then turned it off, for no more than 20 seconds. I don't think it's even possible to lose a charge that fast (I would really think that would have serious, visible effects on the battery), so I'm guessing that the battery is not being charged up when the thing is running.

What should I try now? :(

My little bro lost my digital camera in Washington D.C., but I have a digital video cam and firewire. I actually made a little video that I posted on the tribalwar.com forums asking for advice on which car/cars I should buy . . . just because I'm such a multimedia guy . . .

http://files.llamahunter.com/car_music2.avi

So it wouldn't be hard for me to get audiovisual of this issue if you guys think it would help in diagnosing it. :lol:

I still feel guilty asking for help and everything . . . since I'm a newbie with Cadillacs . . . but I can already tell how leet it is compared to everything else its age. And the back seat (in pristine condition) is by far the coolest I have ever seen. Although the Toronado comes close.

The Toronado I see as my big project car -- lots of replacement parts, lots of hand-waxing (the Cadillac is pretty, but it has hail dings, and I'm not gonna pay a body shop to fix that; the front driver's-side panel looks to my eye to be about an eighth to a quarter of an inch out of alignment with both doors and the back panel, minor other body quibbles), but I'm keeping them both, and a lot of things are simply stupid to use a clunker '77 boat for. For instance, trips of any distance and/or importance. And if I am going to have a 'reliable' car, why not have one that is powerful and beautiful as well, if that is at all an option?

I got SO lucky with this deal, considering that I was about 2 hours away from spending $3000 on a '92 Caprice. :eek: :( :eek: So I really, really want to get this car up and running; I want this deal to be a success. I want to get it stable, and reliable. And I want to do as much of it as is cost-effectively possible myself.

If I have to spend even a couple of hundred dollars on sending this thing to a mechanic, that removes the Toronado's cost, which was essentially thrown in for free to sweeten the deal. And I can't see that any repairs to this car would actually merit sending it to a mechanic, because the family that sold it to me was flabbergasted, they always use it as their 'go-to' car for when they're snowed in or they absolutely HAVE to make it somewhere.

And if I have to spend 3 or 4 hundred dollars on this caddy right now, I will almost certainly have to sell the Toronado. :( Because I can't justify spending $600 on a paint job for the Toronado, and a couple of hundred on replacement parts, if I've already spent $250-$400 getting the Cadillac startable.

And the thing is, I want to keep them both, but if push comes to shove I gotta stick with the Cadillac. AND I LOVE THAT TORONADO!!!!

:( :( :(
 

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Discussion Starter #12
*bump* so that hopefully, when I get off of work (LAAAAATE tonight . . . since I obviously couldn't get back to work last night, as per my tale of woe above . . .) I will be able to get some useful work done on it.
 

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mr_luc said:
*bump* so that hopefully, when I get off of work (LAAAAATE tonight . . . since I obviously couldn't get back to work last night, as per my tale of woe above . . .) I will be able to get some useful work done on it.
Let me chime in with some old fashioned, pre-computer car tips. And I say that because I vaguely remember reading something about resetting something on the newer caddies after a charging problem. Someone else will have to help you with that one.
Anyway, I used to live up north. And I know that road salt has a nasty habit of getting into odd places. Check the ground end of the neg. battery cable for corrosion. Check the entire length of po. cable for splits and corrosion. It takes surprisingly little salt to rot a cable from inside out.
Now, here's the old fashioned alternator test. Get the car running, jump start or whatever. Let it run 10-15 mins, and while it's still running, carefully disconnect the battery cables. If your car stalls, your alternator is crap.
Either way, you'll need a new battery. They don't like repeated total discharge. But make sure the Alt.is ok before installing it. I'd hate to kill a brand new battery with a bad Alt.
And by the way, most parts stores will check your charging system for free. Some will even install Alternators and batteries free too.
I'm thinking you need both.
Good luck, remember it's nothing to panic over. Just basic maintenace.
Bob
 

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Just another thing to look at: on one of these forums was told a tale of somebody who dumped their Toro because they didn't realize the trunk light mercury switch was faulty and always ON. I wonder if Ma and Pa Kettle ever opened the trunk whereas I KNOW you did to check the thing out...Good Luck!
 

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RLLOVETT said:
Just another thing to look at: on one of these forums was told a tale of somebody who dumped their Toro because they didn't realize the trunk light mercury switch was faulty and always ON. I wonder if Ma and Pa Kettle ever opened the trunk whereas I KNOW you did to check the thing out...Good Luck!
Heh, s'funny -- I ran into that googling.

I came up with a lot of great resources, including a few that mentioned the necessity of simply tracing from the power sources outwards, and if there are fluctuations in power even stabbing the thing into the cables themselves to make sure that, as mentioned, road salt hasn't corroded it.

I got a voltometer that's a lot more accurate; I should be able to gather a LOT more pertinent data now, and trace very accurately to the source of the problem.

Much love!
 

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Hey Mr_Luc
I have been reading your posts about your problems. I would do these things no matter what. Change the alternator, battery, and connections to the battery. Now i highly recommend doing the work yourself for the alternator, trust me this is a repair that you can do yourself. It sounds a lot more complicated then it really is. When you go to buy the alt. take your old one with you to save you the trip. They will charge you a core charge when you bring the other one back since you already have the old one with you, you can forget about the core charge. Keep us all updated on your repairs. Don't hesitate to ask if you have any problems at all.
About the volt meter it told you a lot of important info. the alternator is working but not working properly. Your next investment should be a shop manual. Chiltons is a great one to have. 25 bucks on average for a new one. good luck
 

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bob2231 said:
Check the ground end of the neg. battery cable for corrosion. Check the entire length of po. cable for splits and corrosion. It takes surprisingly little salt to rot a cable from inside out.
I agree. Check the cables. It's safe to assume that the battery is completely new at this point and shouldn't have problems. Cables go before alternators do, so once you've verified they're okay, you won't feel like you're wasting time swapping out alternators.

The battery could very easily go dead if it's not getting a re-charge during normal driving, even if it's a brand new battery.

The previous owner had to know about this. But he didn't know you had a weak bladder. Don't worry, it's not a major problem.
 

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Elvis said:
I agree. Check the cables. It's safe to assume that the battery is completely new at this point and shouldn't have problems. Cables go before alternators do, so once you've verified they're okay, you won't feel like you're wasting time swapping out alternators.

The battery could very easily go dead if it's not getting a re-charge during normal driving, even if it's a brand new battery.

The previous owner had to know about this. But he didn't know you had a weak bladder. Don't worry, it's not a major problem.
Heh, thanks for the advice, guys.

I was up until 2 in the morning last night (I work 50+ hours in 4 days, and then have another job that takes up 18 hours between Friday and Saturday, so I don't have a lot of free time during the week. Everything I do is done at a breakneck pack.

Last night, I got the better voltometer -- one with an analog dial, so I could get a better 'feel' than a half or full volt LED sensor would tell me.

As for checking the alternator -- I tried a LOT of things on that car. I gathered a ton of data. For instance, I took the battery reading, then an alternator reading -- same voltage at both, a perfectly steady 14 (while it was running; I had to jump it first). I cross-connected the leads on the alternator to the ones on the battery while the car was running, and it still stayed at a rock-solid 14 (well, except for when my hands slipped and so on).

Then I hooked it up with the alligator clips and set it where I could see it, and threw the kitchen sink at it -- opened doors and trunk, turned on the high beams, turned up the air conditioning, turned on the radio (it was classical. screw the neighbors, rock hard! /me does Beethoven's signature "Opera Pit Mosh"). The needle never even wavered.

Some thing I did notice, though, that indicates that the battery was gone even while running, and never really getting charged:

-The interior lights had a very slight, almost imperceptable fluctuation that coincided with engine events, and you could feel it connected to the revving of the engine. Revving the engine fast with no AC on made the lights a lot steadier -- I think that's a sign that the battery was pretty much gone at the time, because otherwise any fluctuation in power caused by engine events or just ordinary vibration and continuous usage would be picked up pretty much instantly by the reserves in the battery -- it would smooth things out even over milliseconds.

-When I turned the car off, the voltometer reading instantly went down to 11. It then slowly (over the course of several minutes) sank down to 10 or so, where it bottomed out. I was trying to start the car within 5 seconds of turning it off. I got minor response, but the engine never turned over. That battery is dead.

For tonight:

gonna clean off the connectors, and possibly also get a new battery for testing. Going to see if there's any place around here that will test my alternator for free if I buy a battery.
 

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Mr_luc
to save you some trouble if you have another "working" battery i would try that in your car before you go out and buy another one. Put your current battery in another car as well. Experiment. Good choice on getting a better voltmeter. They are an extremely valuable tool if you know how to use one and all of the things that it can be used for.

Since all of the readings are what are expected for the most part it seems like its just a dead battery. So work from there. A dead battery will still work with the alt. but a dead battery won't start a car.

I have a silly question what the hell does bump mean when people type it. Also all of the ima, imoa, etc....... what do they mean.

As usual keep us updated on your findings.
 

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JJhomer83 said:
Mr_luc
to save you some trouble if you have another "working" battery i would try that in your car before you go out and buy another one. Put your current battery in another car as well. Experiment. Good choice on getting a better voltmeter. They are an extremely valuable tool if you know how to use one and all of the things that it can be used for.

Since all of the readings are what are expected for the most part it seems like its just a dead battery. So work from there. A dead battery will still work with the alt. but a dead battery won't start a car.

I have a silly question what the hell does bump mean when people type it. Also all of the ima, imoa, etc....... what do they mean.

As usual keep us updated on your findings.
Finally. Something that I know that some of you don't. :(

'Bump' is just an acknowledgement that the only point of the post was to make the thread more visible, "bumping" it up to the top of the list. It's standard practice for a thread like this, but is annoying and selfish if overdone.

IMO -- in my opinion
ATM -- at the moment
IANAL -- I am not a lawyer (the last letter is swapped out with whatever profession; kind of tongue in cheek interweb humor, think slashdot started it)
imho -- in my humble opinion
iirc -- if I recall correctly
lmao -- laughing my ass off
rofl -- rolling on floor laughing
roflmao rolling on floor laughing my ass off
wtf -- what the fudge

and many, many more.

:p

Heh, ok, for the battery:

The guy that sold me the car gave me a call at around 7 this morning. He was concerned about the car not starting. I told him exactly what happened when I tested the battery, and he said the same thing you guys did -- it sounds a LOT like a dead battery.

(Of course, I think it is a dead battery -- it tests dead, so therefore it's a dead battery -- my question is, what's the REASON it's dead, and also, why it won't charge up when the car's been running for 2-3 hours?)

Also -- and I feel that this is *potentially*, although not necessarily, pertinent -- I took a reading 15 minutes ago, when I ran out to "lunch" (at 5pm . . . *sigh*) and the battery is now holding steady at 8 volts flat. When I tested it last night -- admittedly, only a minute or two after shutting it off -- it was around 10.5 volts. So in approximately 15 hours it drained 2 and a half volts.

I *did* check for things like any lights that might be left on -- but there weren't any (not even trunk light, heh). I guess the electrical system stays on, even after I shut it off and leave the car (remember reading it somewhere) -- so maybe that 'passive' drain is affecting things?

OK. So, here's my game plan:

The guy that sold me the car called and listened, then said 'man, i'm sorry, look, come on out to the farm, i'm going to be out in the field but I'll leave a battery sitting beside your Toronado' -- which I get the title to in a few days or a week, woot! ' so you drop off that dud battery and put in the new one and see if that helps.'

So I'm going to try that. Plus, he said that he has a replacement warranty on that battery still, so it won't cost either of us anything.

I don't know if I'll have time to run out there, though. :( Would take about 40 minutes round trip . . . been about a mild static electric shock away from a heart attack all day today, so I don't know if I can get away from work in time. :p
 
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