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Old 06/04/2019, 07:42 AM   #1 (permalink)
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ECM failure when it comes to charging

Ok, so I am finding problem after problem with my GTS, but alas I am not giving up on it. Right now, one of my main problems is the charging system. I bought a new battery when I first got the car back in December. It would stall every now and then but, when looking at the scanner, the voltage is jumping around everywhere. I swaps out the alternator with a remanu one from DB Electrical and I am still having the same problem. I ordered a new 4 wire plug because mine looks like it's seen better days. The only other thing it could be I am thinking is the ECM as it regulates voltage with the internal regulator. Has anyone had to repair/replace an ECM because of this problem? I am planning ahead here in case I have to have the ECM sent off for repair.
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Old 06/04/2019, 09:26 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I don't know, man... The voltage regulator is in the the alternator, it's just controlled by the ecu. Before I swapped out an ECU, I'd buy a new alternator (not remanufactured like yours is) and see if that solves your problem. Different companies have different definitions for "remanufactured." Some just give it a bath and make sure it generates some power when spun. Others have more rigorous testing methods. Regardless, I doubt they went through the trouble of changing the voltage regulator. Probably just a cleaning and a new set of bearings.

Because a new alternator from rockauto is only like $100, I'd recommend going that route before changing an ECU. From there, I'd check for degraded wiring from the alternator to the ECU. These cars are old and it sounds like yours wasn't well taken car of. If the spark plug wire insulation was cracked, the alternator wiring could have been too causing the regulating circuit to short out or disconnect. ECUs don't fail often because they are solid state and sealed pretty well.

Anecdotal evidence: I've received a bad regulator before. It sucked because I spent a whole weekend troubleshooting my car to find out I had replaced an alternator with a messed up bearing with one that didn't produce enough power.

Reference: P 16-3 of the GTS FSM.

Last edited by buddd; 06/04/2019 at 09:38 AM.
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Old 06/04/2019, 09:36 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Also what do you consider "everywhere" when referring to the voltage level? What is your voltage at 2500 rpm and all of the lights off? The FSM says it should be between 13.9V and 14.9V at 10 amps draw, 68 degrees F, and 2500 rpm.

Reference: p 16-10 and 16-11 of the GTS FSM.
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Old 06/04/2019, 12:32 PM   #4 (permalink)
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With no loads at idle, the voltage one second could be 14 v. Then it will drop to 9 v. The. Jump back up to 12 v. It's not consistent.
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Old 06/04/2019, 01:15 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Just for shits and giggles, measure it at 2500 engine rpm and see if it smooths out. Then trace your wires and connections from the alternator to the ECU and the battery. Look for breaks in wires and insulation and corrosion on connections. Failing that, I'd try another alternator that you know for a fact works. Either a new one or one in a buddy's car that you've witnessed working and maintaining voltage. The ECU can be a big, expensive project sourcing a suitable one and getting it programmed to your immobilizer.

Last edited by buddd; 06/04/2019 at 01:23 PM.
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Old 06/07/2019, 07:59 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I actually found a company in Jacksonville Florida that specializes in ECM repair I might try. I have not had anytime to look at my car lately, but yesterday I did get the new plug in the mail and compared it to the old one to confirm its correct. It is and I did notice the yellow/black wire that is suppose supply power to the ECM is exposed and frayed. This has to be the issue. I will let you tomorrow after solding the new one in what happens.
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Old 06/08/2019, 03:29 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Soldered in the new pigtail connector for the alternator. The old one looks even worse after I got it out. The new one even fits like a glove on the alternator in comparison to the old one but alas! My brand new battery is shot so now I get to swap it out.
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Old 06/10/2019, 08:55 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Did the voltage stabilize though or were you not able to get it started? Even if you had to jump it with a dead battery, the charging voltage should have been correct if you fixed the problem.
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Old 06/26/2019, 07:39 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Ok, so now I think I found the culprit to my charging issue. I soldered the new alternator connector in and plugged into new alternator with new battery. I go to start when the battery is acting like it's dead. Had battery checked, battery is very good. Battery cables on the other hand not so good. The ground cable looks like ass and started smoking. Next move is to replace the ground wire but I don't see where this thing is grounded without digging im to the harness. Anyone know exactly where it's grounded? I checked Tearstone but, I am not seeing it. Also, I searched for a new cable but considering the lug in the center of the cable, I am thinking I might have to make one.
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Old 06/26/2019, 08:50 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Sorry, I'm just working off of memory at this point, but I thought the large cable coming off of the battery attached to the unibody under the battery tray or somewhere near the strut tower or wheel well on that side. There might also be a smaller wire that attaches to the harness, but I'd just cut that and splice it to the new heavier cable.
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Old 07/10/2019, 11:52 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Ok, so the ground wire is grounded to the back of the head for bank 2 (it was clearly in front of me). I replaced just the ground terminal, and checked the opposite end bolted on the head. All connections are good, but the car still will not start. It is acting like the batter is completely dead with the starter only slightly turning over. The battery tested out good which it is only 6 months old. Any ideas? I am lost and starting to hate this car, as much fun as it is to drive.
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Old 07/10/2019, 12:39 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Maybe the GTS is different, but I don't remember the large negative cable coming off the battery grounding to the engine. Can someone else with a GTS confirm? Every car I've worked on had that cable go to the body. I'd believe the smaller wire off the battery goers to the head, but not the big one. Maybe someone before you got creative and grounded the cable to a different spot than it's supposed to be.
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Old 07/10/2019, 02:19 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I'll check my GTS in about an hour when I go to lunch for you guys. Maybe with a picture to boot.
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Old 07/10/2019, 03:55 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Alright, the battery does indeed ground onto the engine block.

Picture of the Ground going from the battery into wire loom


Picture showing direction of ground into wire loom and then into engine.



Ignore the braided line zip tied to nothing... It was an extra piece from my turbo that I didn't remove due to too many zip ties..

Last edited by Kyzaon; 07/10/2019 at 04:04 PM.
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Old 07/10/2019, 09:07 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Have either of you had a starter motor go bad? Battery checks out good, the starter relay is clicking but starter not turning. I need to set up jump wires and volt meter but will have to do later this week.
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Old 07/11/2019, 08:39 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Oh! Thanks, for the pictures, man! Appreciate it.

I have not personally had a starter go bad, but it can happen. Before you do anything, make sure the connections to the starter motor are clean by disconnecting them and taking some sandpaper to them. Make sure they are nice and shiny before you get started. Could have some corrosion adding some resistance.

If that doesn't fix your problem, I think the jumper wires are a good idea. Connect from the battery to the starter solenoid and try to crank with the key to check to see if the wiring between the solenoid and the battery is shot. If it works, your wiring to the starter is broken somewhere. If it still doesn't work, connect directly to the starter. If the starter spins, your solenoid contacts are shot. If it doesn't work, your starter motor is shot. Keep in mind, even though the solenoid is clicking, it may still be the problem because the internal contacts may be worn or corroded.

Since you've had so many other corrosion issues with your wiring, I don't see why the starter couldn't have been affected. Luckily starters are cheap.

Last edited by buddd; 07/11/2019 at 09:07 AM.
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Old 07/18/2019, 09:05 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Just an update, my starter took a shit. I checked voltage to the solenoid and it's good. I unbolted the starter to discover the starter gear would not retract. The thing is the factory starter I believe. It's covered with dirt, grease and road grime. Will keep you updated.
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Old 07/19/2019, 10:45 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Sucks about the starter, but at least you have a problem you can point to and fix. Hope this is the last step.
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Old 07/19/2019, 11:24 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Well this will just get me running again. My exhaust system is rotted out from the cats to the muffler and my cats are clogged. Also while changing plugs, wires, distributor cap and rotor, I found a bad connector for injector 5. I bought all new connectors and factory injectors along with the full exhaust minus the magna flow muffler I hope to still use and O2 sensors. This thing has turn from a simple tune up and is moving toward a complete restoration. But rather this stuff break now the. When driving.
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