2007 Saturn Outlook not charging

Old 01-03-18, 10:14 PM
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2007 Saturn Outlook not charging

Okay, this is on my Son-in-Law's (SIL), so the beginning part is all on him!!
Seems he thought the battery needed to be replaced, as the SUV was cranking slowly and he was trying to stay ahead of getting stranded some where.
However, in the process of the replacing the battery, he inadvertently touched the wires to the wrong posts. Basically, he started to hook it up backwards. It did draw a spark. That is when he realized the replacement battery , when placed in the vehicle so the cables would reach, had the posts placed wrong. So he put the old battery back in.
At first the vehicle wouldn't start. He made some checks and the battery was reading 12 Volts, the SUV would crank slowly but not start. So he called me and I went over, about two hours later.
He had checked the fuses and found the fuse for the radio was blown, but the rest seemed to be okay. I said, he probably had blown the alternator when he cross connected the battery.
We jumped started the vehicle and checked the charging voltage. At first, it didn't seem to be working. The voltage was 12.5 volts and held steady. Then out of the blue, after shutting the vehicle off and starting it several times, every thing seemed to start working again. Charging voltage was a 14.5 volts and all was good again.
So we let the thing run, shut it off, started it up, everything was working as designed. Turned on the lights, A/C, radio, etc and it just kept working.
Next morning, he took the vehicle to work, about a seven mile drive. He made it to the parking lot and it died. He said the battery light came on, the charging system light was on and the battery was dead. Again, I am back to the alternator being bad. So he has it towed home.
He had just replaced the alternator about four months ago, so the alternator didn't make sense, but it didn't show a charge. So he pulled the alternator and we got a new one.
Installed the new alternator, but now the battery was to dead to start the vehicle. So I jumped it with my truck. The SUV fired up. I removed the jumper cables and it died right away. Again, an indication the alternator isn't putting out any charge voltage.
Now I connected the jumper cables, measured the voltage at the connections under the hood (battery is in back under floor board) and was reading 13.5 volts. Jump started the SUV and the charge voltage dropped down to 11.5 volts. Removed jumpers, vehicle dies.....
Is there a possibility, the battery is just so dead the alternator isn't able to put out any voltage?
I tried to remove the ground cable from his battery, jump start, but it still died when the jumpers were removed. But I'm thinking this may have to do with a charge sense that is connected to the battery, Do you HAVE to have a battery in place for the charge system to work?

Just getting started looking at everything on this..... Seems there are some computer controlled stuff going on. Any ideas on how to check with a multimeter, if those signals are good?

Hope this makes sense..... any help would be appreciated.
Old 01-03-18, 11:30 PM
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Not that everything you mentioned necessarily points to it, but being at least a possible culprit and the easiest to address, I would start with the battery. A volt meter, in my opinion is useless in this regard, but his local auto parts store should be able to load test it for him. Remove the battery, charge it before you take it in, and they can check it in a matter of minutes. Part of this process means cleaning and inspecting the cable connections of course, and although I don't always go this far on an otherwise perfectly good operating vehicle, I would consider trying to find, remove, and clean the ground connection(s) prudent in this case.
Old 01-04-18, 04:11 AM
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Most auto parts stores will load test a battery for free. As mentioned above the battery should be fully charged as a low battery may not test correctly. Modern day vehicles aren't designed to run with the battery disconnected.
Old 01-04-18, 09:18 AM
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Thanks for the replies.

I came to the same conclusion as I was typing the post, last night. Going to pull battery and have it tested tonight.
Will see where to go from after that. If battery tests good.... and still no output, any ideas. Have checked connections, all clean and secure.
Old 01-04-18, 12:20 PM
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if the battery doesn't fix it would probably check for battery voltage at the large charge cable going to the back of the alternator if for some reason you don't have power would trace it back and look for a very large blown fuse or fusible link there will be some sort of circuit protection not sure what your vehicle uses for sure.

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