1997 Chevrolet Cavalier car wont start

Tiny
LESLEYB
  • MEMBER
  • 1997 CHEVROLET CAVALIER
  • 178 MILES
My daughters car won't start in the morning, after we jump it, it works fine the rest of the day, but the next morning won't start again, after oil change 2 days ago it started yesterday, but again this morning, nothing, we changed the battery, someone said could be alternator, or just oil sensor, or switch, don't want to put alot in this it is old, but it's her first car to get her back and forth to school & work any help is appreciated.
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Thursday, October 10th, 2013 AT 11:25 AM

4 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Have the generator and charging system professionally load-tested for maximum current output and "ripple" voltage. GM has had a huge problem with their generators since they redesigned them for the '87 model year. They develop voltage spikes that can destroy the internal voltage regulator and diodes. If one of the six diodes fails, you will lose exactly two thirds of the output capacity. That leaves you with only 30 amps out of the common 90 amp generator. That's not enough to run the entire electrical system under all conditions. The battery will have to make up the difference until it slowly runs down.

It is common to go through four to six replacement generators in the life of a GM car. To reduce the number of repeat failures, replace the battery at the same time unless it is less than about two years old. As they age, they lose their ability to dampen and absorb those voltage spikes.

Given the engine appears to start the rest of the day, and if the charging system passes the load-test, you may just have a weak battery. Your mechanic will load-test that too.
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Thursday, October 10th, 2013 AT 12:12 PM
Tiny
LESLEYB
  • MEMBER
I will try that thanks but the battery is only a week old, and I forgot to mention the brake light and I think its the engine light stays lit on dash, I don"t know any thing about this and my husband is useless, thanks again!
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Thursday, October 10th, 2013 AT 2:31 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
If the battery was old, that would greatly increase the chances of a generator failure. If testing shows the generator to be not developing its full current, the replacement will be much less likely to fail soon because you have the new battery already.

There can be two brake warning lights; a red one and a yellow one. If the car has anti-lock brakes, it will have a yellow warning light. That one often turns on when there's a generator problem because system voltage will start to drop, and that computer knows it can't run the hydraulic controller reliably that way. It shuts down, turns the light on to tell you, and it may set a diagnostic fault code. That problem should go away once the charging system problem is solved.
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Friday, October 11th, 2013 AT 12:05 AM
Tiny
LESLEYB
  • MEMBER
Thanks guys for your your time, finally took to meineke, they checked all systems it wad the radio draining power overnight, they unplugged it, so I will see if that's the problem, I'll go somewhere to get a cheap radio out in for her, you know teenagers have to have their music, but thanks again, I knee what to tell them to check out.
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Friday, October 25th, 2013 AT 4:21 PM

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