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Old 04-01-2019, 03:15 PM   #1
Bruce Rock
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2000 SL2
2006 VUE 2.2L
Default Battery light

The battery light came on and went off twice during my wife's 120 mile ride home. I used my digital voltmeter that plugs into accessory sockets to check voltage. These are the reading:

Engine not running: 12.4 volts
Engine starting: 11.8
Idle: 14.2
Idle - Fan, lights, rear
window defogger and
radio on: 13.8

The battery light, which was off at idle, came on when adding electrical load.

No check engine light at any time.

At this point, I'm thinking it's something other than the battery or alternator. Maybe a loose wire to or from what ever sets off the battery warning light. Would that be the BCM or something else?

Is there a time that has to pass before the light goes off after the condition corrects itself?

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Old 04-01-2019, 08:06 PM   #2
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: Battery light

If we can presume the '05 electrical system is the same for '06, below is a partial reprint of the charging system.

Regulator

The voltage regulator controls the rotor field current in order to limit the system voltage. When the field current is on, the regulator switches the current on and off at a rate of 400 cycles per second in order to perform the following functions:

*Radio noise control
*Obtain the correct average current needed for proper system voltage control

At high speeds, the on-time may be 10 percent with the off-time at 90 percent. At low speeds, the on-time may be 90 percent and the off-time 10 percent.

Circuit Description

The generator provides voltage to operate the vehicle's electrical system and to charge its battery. A magnetic field is created when current flows through the rotor. This field rotates as the rotor is driven by the engine, creating an AC voltage in the stator windings. The AC voltage is converted to DC by the rectifier bridge and is supplied to the electrical system at the battery terminal.

When the engine is running, the generator turn-on signal is sent to the generator from the engine control module (ECM)/powertrain control module (PCM), turning on the regulator. The generator's voltage regulator controls current to the rotor, thereby controlling the output voltage. The rotor current is proportional to the electrical pulse width supplied by the regulator. When the engine is started, the regulator senses generator rotation by detecting AC voltage at the stator through an internal wire. Once the engine is running, the regulator varies the field current by controlling the pulse width. This regulates the generator output voltage for proper battery charging and electrical system operation. The generator F terminal is connected internally to the voltage regulator and externally to the PCM. When the voltage regulator detects a charging system problem, it grounds this circuit to signal the PCM that a problem exists. The PCM monitors the generator field duty cycle signal circuit. The system voltage sense circuit receives B+ voltage that is Hot At All Times through the ECM/TCM fuse in the underhood junction block. This voltage is used by the regulator as the reference for system voltage control.

This vehicle uses Class II and controller area network (CAN) communications. The ECM/PCM are CAN and the body controller systems are Class II. The body control module (BCM) acts as the gateway between the different communication protocols. The ECM/PCM requests the battery lamp on the CAN communication line and then the BCM sends a request to the IPC for lamp illumination.

The ECM/PCM will request the battery lamp on under the following conditions:

*The ECM/PCM interprets the ignition is in the accessory position.
*The ECM/PCM is in the RUN power mode with the engine not running.
*Generator L terminal fault has been detected.
*Generator F terminal fault has been detected.

If the generator is not charging, it pulls the F terminal low causing an F terminal fault. Low voltage threshold is 10.5 volts for 4 minutes and engine at least 1,300 RPM. High threshold is 18 volts for 5 minutes.


Your voltage measurements seem to be ok with but alternator voltages may be questionable. Perhaps the battery is on its last legs (4-5yrs?). If the battery is over 4yrs old, have it tested at any store selling car batteries. Load testing batteries determines if a battery is discharged and needs a full charge (posible alternator problems), dying and shows less capacity than when it was new or fine. Some battery tests may need testing twice and/or with a different tester to be sure a battery is worn out. Most good batteries last the warranty period then die so it pays to know how old the battery is and still test it at auto stores with their load tester. A faulty alternator can shorten battery life. The same for corroded battery cables and connections. Some testers can check alternator output too, while on the car. Others may require removal for in-store testing. Generally, as long as alternator output is greater than battery voltage (regardless of electrical loads), the alternator is ok. Loads should not drop output voltage otherwise the alternator or drive belt are suspect.

The ecm tells the alternator to begin outputting. The bcm only turns on the battery light. The alternator voltage regulator does all the work to provide all the electrical needs of a vehicle while slow charging the battery. There's no rhyme or reason when the battery light turns on or when it turns off. No time limit. All the battery light does is inform drivers of an electrical problem. The battery light turning on and off while driving is indicating an electrical system problem and you're addressing it. The electrical system is; battery, battery cables, their connections, alternator and its connection to power from the starter, and belt drive system.

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Old 04-02-2019, 08:33 PM   #3
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2004 VUE 2.2L
Default Re: Battery light

the alternator is a multi phase generator with a bridge of multiple diodes.

one or two diodes can fail and open, and the ones that are left will keep pumping out power to run the car and charge the battery

you might be down to the last pair - if you start the car up and load the alternator with everything you can throw at it, and the light comes on, and you turn the loads off and the light goes off, that is whats happening. in that case your alternator is on its last (diode) leg.

turn on your headlights, high beams, the cabin blower on full, the rear window defogger, the wipers, step on the brake lights... if that does not make the light come on after a minute then its not load dependent.

There is a large cable between the alternator and the battery - finding that connection corroded is the last hope of getting off easy

if you pull that cable off both ends and it looked clean and shiney, you might as well take the bolts off the alternator and take it to an auto parts store and have them test it. Advance Auto, pepboys... most places that sell them can test them.

The alternator on my 2004 failed after 180k miles. I replaced it, and about a month discovered my frame was rusting out to the point of collapsing. That was an expensive $200 alternator (installed it myself) to only have for a month.

Its not hard to replace the alternator, if you get the special wrench for holding the belt tensioner slack. I was able to just barely get a craftman 3/8 low profile rachet drive on the tensioner , there is very little space between it and the frame from under the car. You need to pull the wheel off and take the plastic well liner out, buts its all simple wrenching.

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Old 04-03-2019, 12:48 PM   #4
Bruce Rock
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Default Re: Battery light

I want to thank fdryer for his technical description of the battery light and KCW for his description of his experience replacing his alternator/generator.

The time you two took to reply to my posting makes this all the harder. Went out this morning and started it up. The light came on. I took a close look at it. Why a battery with only one post at top? and why was the case thicker at the bottom? Got out the owners manual, That's the light for the coolant level!

The level in the coolant tank looked low so I added about one quart. There was a strange smell in the engine compartment, it was more flowery than the maple syrup smell I've experienced with coolant in the combustion chamber. I'm thinking it might be from the scented candles I used for some of the wax in my oil/wax rust prevention mix.

Engine oil only had about 300 miles. It was still amber, no sign of the sludge I'd expect if it ingested coolant.

At this point I'm thinking a small coolant leak from the radiator or coolant pump that only occurs at temperature/pressure while underway.

However, when my wife started it to leave, only the red coolant level and a amber one to the left of it came on for the brief light check.

Easier for me to work with a leak in the radiator or water pump than a problem in the logic of the dash warning lights.

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Old 04-03-2019, 04:16 PM   #5
Bruce Rock
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Default Re: Battery light

Wife just came back. No light on. When starting, all lights that should come on for testing did. I must have been too concentrated on the coolant level light to notice the others.

Now to figure out where the leak is.

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Old 04-03-2019, 04:30 PM   #6
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: Battery light

I should have known.........April Fool's Day.

Service manuals usually have a drawing of the instrument panel with numbered circles pointing to each indicator with a list below the drawing. Below is a drawing of the '05 IPC (instrument panel cluster). If different from yours, correct me. Maybe post a copy of the ipc from your owner's manual?
Attached Images
File Type: jpg TifToGif.jpg (112.7 KB, 7 views)

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Old 04-03-2019, 10:42 PM   #7
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2007 VUE 3.5L
Default Re: Battery light

That thumbnail appears to be from 05 Vue owners manual but isn't correct.

I've posted extract from 2007 owners manual which applies to 05, 06 or 07 Vue's and I don't have earlier year to compare to.

Coolant expansion tank / reservoir symbol is nearest number 8 on tach display.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg screen_2019-04-03 21.31.55.jpg (71.6 KB, 10 views)

...
I try to visit forum often but suggest you use private messages if in a rush (comes to cell) and include email address for extracts. I seldom check visitor messages so please don't use.

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Old 04-03-2019, 10:54 PM   #8
Bruce Rock
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Default Re: Battery light

I tried sending you a copy of the file I have but it didn't work. If you click on this link it will take you to a copy of the owners manual for a 2006 vue:

https://my.gm.com/content/dam/gmowne...vue_owners.pdf

The page you want is 145/412. It looks just like the 2005 with the exception the 2006 has a coolant level light just to the right of the security light and below the temperature light.

If the link doesn't work let me know and I'll take a picture of my owners manual and send it to you.

I think it's more I let the Vue play an Aprils Fools joke on me. Wife said it was the battery light, she shut off all the electrical she could on the way home. I quick glanced at the light and though it looked like a battery (The real battery light looks it should be in a Ford, not GM).

My eyes are bad, I really need trifocals for work like this but they cause me other problems.

My rush to judgment.

Sorry.




I'll get a picture of that page

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Old 04-03-2019, 11:27 PM   #9
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Default Re: Battery light

No apology necessary. My copy of the '05 IPC doesn't have the low coolant level indicator as your owner's manual shows/far2grumpy's drawing. Thanks for loading your owner's manual for anyone to use.

Don't feel bad. I have eight eyes - two old eyes, eyeglasses with low, medium and high for varifocal lenses. I'm not insulted if someone called me four eyes as I would have to correct them by saying "I have eight eyes!"

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Old 04-04-2019, 10:27 PM   #10
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Default Re: Battery light

cars use to only have two idiot lights:

one meant you have no oil pressure and you better put the transmission in neutral and turn the key off NOW or your engine is toast

and the other meant your battery is no longer charging - you can keep driving while the battery goes dead, maybe you lost the fan belt or the alternator has died

all the stupid international engine and fault lights they have now are meaningless. They might as well just display FAULT 283 and make you get the manual out and look it up

they have Alladins's lamp, the lamp with an open end wrench, drawings of engines and batteries, they are yellow or red, blinking or not, some stay on, some go off after 10 seconds....

what does any of it mean? I have no clue.

I ride a motorcycle most of the time now. It has no idiot lights - you check your oil and tires every morning and the chances of all your oil leaking out in one day is close to zero.

Regarding your coolant loss - unless you have not checked it in a long time, its more than just a drip. Could be a loose hose clamp, could be the seal on the water pump. If there is a strong smell inside the car it could be the heater core or its hose leaking in the cabin, in which case do NOT drive the car, the fumes are toxic and it will make you very very sick.

I know that smell. On a motorcycle you smell everything you pass, the fabric softener in someones dryer, someone frying bacon, a car passing you with a dragging brake pad, gasoline leaks, and antifreeze dripping on someones exhaust. About 1/3 of all drivers smoke while driving, and they all have the window open to let the stink out.

i know its not coming from my motorcycle, because the engine is between my legs, and I could not smell anything leaking from it while riding. I only smell the fresh air infront of the motorbike. Its always someone else.

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Old 04-04-2019, 10:49 PM   #11
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Default Re: Battery light

KCW, how can you smell fresh air when you're smelling "...the fabric softener in someones dryer, someone frying bacon, a car passing you with a dragging brake pad, gasoline leaks.... antifreeze dripping on someones exhaust,.... 1/3 of all drivers smoke while driving, and they all have the window open to let the stink out. What about pot? I smell it in my local ski area, trailing behind the chair lift of young men taking a quick smoke on the way up the mountain.

With my allergies (life long), my eyes tear up without goggles while skiing, my nose runs all the time and head congested in cold fresh air on ski days. I have a theory - growing up in NYC, I may be accustomed to 'dirty' NYC air, free of head congestion in winter weather but feel congested when skiing, away from the city. Perhaps I'm allergic to fresh air..........

BTW, before catalytic converters and strong emissions controls on vehicles, my eyes would turn red while sitting summer bumper to bumper traffic on the highway, crawling home after work. Those days are when its great to roll down windows and open the sunroof while turning up the radio volume playing CDs.

I gave up riding motorcycles due to more congestion in NYC traffic and a greater chance of being involved in an accident from more distracted moron drivers. My nephew has his Ducati I can take out any time but I'm hesitant. Outside the city would make a great day drive to nowhere.

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Old 04-05-2019, 08:19 PM   #12
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Default Re: Battery light

when you are in a car with the windows up, you have about 300 cubic feet of air trapped in the vehicle. When you pass something with a unique scent, only a little bit of it enters the cabin airspace, so you dont notice most of them. When you pass something strong, like a dead skunk, the smell stays in the car for a couple miles, even if you open the windows.

On a motorcycle there is no place for scents to be captured. You ride down a dip in the road and cross a creek with pine trees on its banks, and you are flooded with the scent of pine needles - as soon as you pass the creek the smell is gone.

Same with all the other things I mentioned. I find it amusing when someone is doing their laundry, and you catch the Downy fabric softner in the air, someone has a fire place going, its there, and its gone.

Its only if you get behind a vehicle that is generating fumes, from the vehicle or the driver, that it persists.

The skunk thing is kinda cool on a motorcycle -if you see one in the road ahead you can take a deep breath, pass it, and 30 seconds later you smell nothing but that fresh air infront of the motorbike.

Unless you have a big windshield that is backdrafting your exhaust up into your air space (that can happen) you never smell anything coming off your own bike.

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