Battery and hand brake warning lights stay on.

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Dirty Harry

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Intermittently my handbrake and battery light come on. It started happening after a flat battery and I found on the forum the code remover...pumping, on and off, etc., etc. to get rid of them. I want to know what they are indicating and should I take it to a mechanic.
Thanks
 

ericcs

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you have a failing alternator, or, as I've had twice, the clutched pulley on the alternator is failing. if it's this, you can buy them for 80/100bucks and change it or the alternator whole yourself if your mechanically minded!
 

Dirty Harry

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Thanks Ericcs. How do you determine whether it's the pulley or the alternator? Should I just buy another alternator and be done with it?
Thanks again.
 

ericcs

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the pulley has a clutch in it, so when you decelerate or shut down the car, the alternator can slow down gradually. when they let go, the alternator won't spool up, so no charge. you will have to take the belt off and determine that the pulley spins both ways, while the armature stays still. If so, then the pulley is stuffed!
 

Old.Tony

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As per Eric.

If yours doesn't have a clutch, or if it's the actual shaft under the pulley that gave way, consider a Trump alternator from eBay. I'm on my 3rd alternator now too, first one started slipping on the output shaft and wore it away enough so that the back face of the pulley rubbed against the front face of the alternator. Its replacement blew a diode or something, I just ripped it out and whacked the Trump alternator in. Very happy.

Unfortunately Trump don't appear to be selling on eBay at the moment, but there are other alternatives. I grabbed a 150A unit - develops more power at lower RPM, perfect.
 

Dirty Harry

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Thanks Eric and Tony
It appears to be the pulley works when it feels like it . The alternator currently (ha, ha) is still working. Will order the pulley today.
Thanks for the advice.
Harry
 

Dirty Harry

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I've got the new pulley and hexagonal tool to fit. What do I need to hold the alternator shaft?
Thanks
 

ericcs

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hold the alternator in a big vice, with the pulley facing up. i used a standard phillips head screw screwdriver and placed thru the casing into the armature. just make sure you don't damage any windings. it's a simple task, iv'e done it twice with no problems.
if you live in Brisbane, i can help you!
 

allaroundoz

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Alternator going crazy, stop lights not working and VDC on

Hi,
we are a traveling family and I have just introduced us as new members here.

I will have to start a few posts as various issues on engine, drive train and electronics occur regularly.

#1 ALTERNATOR GOING CRAZY
I have a scan tool on my dashboard telling me the exact output of our alternator. Sometimes it provides less than 12V (including troubles to start the engine when I stopped for the kids to have a break), and sometimes it delivers more than 15V (preventing the AC from doing its job). The "!" (hand break) as well as the "battery" symbol are flickering all the time – especially when driving in low revs. Seems like the alternator is not enjoying our trip and wants to be replaced?

#2 STOP LIGHTS NOT WORKING
Yeah, I changed the blown fuse and thought I did a pretty good job, but it didn't work. The fuse keeps on blowing and non of the lights (LED) worked since then. They are on when I turn on the light, but not when I jam the breaks. Our Redarc TowPro also indicates no breaking signal when I am on the breaks, but our van does slow down.

#3 VDC LIGHTS ARE ON
Not always, and I can not reproduce the issue but from time to time they are on. No matter if bitumen or gravel, doesn't seem to have any influence on what surface we are driving.

Issues #1 and #2 worry me most as I don't wanna end up with a broken alternator and a car smashing into us as there where no stop lights when I tried not to run over a suicidal too ;-)

TIA!

***
driving a Nissan Navara D40 2010, ST (Spanish model), 4WD, automatic, Diesel
167.000 km, all services done, ex-mining car, not a rocket while towing our van
 

Old.Tony

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Ok, it's a 2010 model (didn't notice that before). The alternator may be going nuts, they have failed in the past, my own car has a 150A "Trump" alternator since both the original and its replacement failed on me. You should not have a "smart" alternator in there which is usually what causes this sort of thing.

However, I would remove both battery leads and clean the terminals. It's often the case that dirty battery terminals will make the alternator struggle to recharge the battery or provide power for the rest of the vehicle.

Brake lights: there are two switches on the brake pedal, one is for the cruise control, the other for the brake lights. I don't think these are going to be the problem because if the fuse is blowing when you press the pedal, the switch is obviously working.

I had some problems with poor connections in my tail lights and what would happen is all of my tail lights would light up when I used an indicator. I undid the 10mm bolts holding the tail lights, took the plugs apart, pulled the globes, cleaned everything, reassembled and it worked. No more drama. There are TWO plugs for the tail lights module - clean both of them! I'd also try to check the trailer wiring. It is possible that the trailer is shorting the brake light. I did see a problem once where the trailer was shorting out the lights and there was no obvious reason until we checked and found that the wiring loom for the trailer had gotten caught between the tow hitch and the trailer at some point and crushed the wires, shorting them out. You should check that too.

The VDC may be a result of the other electrical issues you're having. It's usually a sign that one wheel is not moving at the same rate as the others, and that sometimes happens with a failing wheel bearing. It's rare that it's electrical on its own, but things like bad earths (the 2010 D40 had an earth on the ECU that was sometimes connected to painted metal, which provided an intermittent connection and all sorts of weird errors). You can check the wheel bearings by listening to the car as it turns equal force left and right corners - the wheel noise should be identical. Mine used to grind a little louder in left hand bends, and it was my right hand front wheel bearing.

Good luck :)
 

ericcs

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the battery and handbrake light could be the clutched pulley on the alternator. I have replace mine twice, when these lights showed up, the alternator itself is still running fine!
 

allaroundoz

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Slowly but surely I believe the alternator is at it's end. Providing less than 12V and 5 minutes later more than 15V. Battery and handbrake symbol are on more often than ever. Mechanic said it could overnight or in a couple of weeks. Anyway, will not replace it before it's too late … hopefully I won't regret it ;-)

Brake lights are still not fixed, mechanic could find anything. Will try to investigate it with your suspected switches. Replacing the fuse with a stronger one might end up even worse.

Can the VDC be caused by a slow puncture in my left front tire?
Needs some air every 2-3 days so maybe that's confusing the VDC system?
Bearings are fine, but just spend 500 dollars on new upright bushes, axle shoulder and lower bushes for the suspension spring on the left front wheel.
 

ericcs

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with regards to the alternator, as i mentioned earlier, it could just be the clutched pulley which spins freely in one direction only. when you decelerate or turn off the car, the alternator runs on to keep a smooth power delivery. when this clutched pulley starts to play up, it's because it starts to spin in both directions like a bearing, so the pulley will still turn while the alternator slows to a stop.
 

allaroundoz

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UPDATE: While driving along Bruce Hwy all over sudden "4" and the symbol for 2WD/4WD disappeared from the bottom left display on my dashboard. So I pulled over. Stopped the car and tried to restart. Zero. Nothing. Not even a jump pack did its job.
2.5 hours later we got towed to a small country village (a servo, a mechanical workshop and a caravan park) and the day after the found a blown fuse (#19 ECU control). The alternator provides way above 15V and keeps blowing the fuse. Ordered a new alternator hoping that this will fix the issue. Oh by the way, for some reasons we could hardly drive a car up the workshop ramp, didn't provide any torque. In reverse it did ;-( Any idea on that?

The mechanic replaced the 10A stop-light-fuse with a 15A. He reckons that's still save and we have stop-lights again.
 
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allaroundoz

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UPDATE: Mechanics have replaced the alternator and the car is still not running.
Car's Computer is telling the alternator to provide 15V and as soon as we put in a gear (D - automatic) fuses blow. This countryside mechanics are trying their best but running out of options. Need to be towed back to Mackay to see a NISSAN Dealer and an auto electrician.

Anyone up with an idea how to tackle that very strange behavior of our cars electrical system?
TIA!!!
 

Old.Tony

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Sounds like a challenging car (to say the least).

The ECU should not ever instruct the alternator to deliver more than 14.7V. If it's doing stupid stuff (and along with all of the other things that are being 'weird') I'd suspect it's not the alternator or the ECU, but an electrical connection.

Perhaps the earth point for the ECU? It should be on a bolt on the right hand side guard in the engine bay. Some Navaras didn't have the paint removed from where this bolt was installed and as a result the electrical connection was intermittent. This meant that some time (and usually when being checked) the car operated fine, it worked fine when taking it for a test drive and it also worked fine while in close proximity to civilisation. But as soon as you were out of reach of a decent mechanic or mobile phone service it would start playing up and give all sorts of random errors.

So, I would:

* Remove BOTH battery leads and clean the battery terminals AND the plugs. While you have these off the battery, disassemble them (just undo bolts, not crimped or soldered joints) and clean them completely. Pay particular attention to the black plastic positive terminal arrangement which has several connections.

* Check the ECU earth

* Check the engine negative. The battery negative lead runs from the battery to this point. Remove it, clean it and where it connects to the engine and reinstall.

* Open each of the electrical distribution points in the engine bay and one at a time, remove then reinsert everything. Just take it out, quick look, back in - it should take any oxide off that's causing a problem with the electrical connection. There are a lot of them! One is behind the battery, another is at the back of the engine bay just beside the ABS unit and another behind this and lower down.

The other possibility here is that there's been some damage to one of the wiring looms. This could cause errant voltages to be sent to the wrong place, and is VERY hard to track down. It could send raw 12V through to a 5V sensor line, it could send 12V+ to a ground line, it could force (say) a component (like brake lights) to draw power through a sensor line changing the values for that sensor only while the brakes are pressed - all sorts of crazy things. All modern cars suffer from this sort of thing. A common failure is in the tow cable - but usually only affects the brake/indicator/reverse lights when one of those are used.

The issue of low power when in drive but not in reverse is also odd. The automatic gearbox doesn't report to the ECU about the gears except for:

- signal to the instrument cluster for which gear has been selected by the driver
- signal to the body control module (BCM) to activate the reverse lights

But if there's damage to the wiring loom(s) then it could cause all sorts of confusion.

The wiring loom is also inside the car behind the dash where it connects to the BCM.

There's a lot there, but much of it is "take apart, clean, put together" and costs nothing.
 

tweak'e

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do they even have a smart alternator?
if so can you take a pic of the sensor on the battery earth.

brake lights is actually important as its an input into the ecu.
i would check the towing setup. thats usually where they strike trouble.
 

bazt

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If you can get the car to Mackay, just up the road, see Jade Strack at JLS Auto Electrical. (07) 4952 1280.
113 Archibald street
Paget.
 

allaroundoz

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UPDATE: Mechanics gave up and we got towed to Mackay. Tow operator made us a good deal and I was very annoying on the phone when I rang insurance so they are paying for that tow as well.

Third-Party-Warranty only pays for a aftermarket-second-hand-alternator, not a new one. But we already installed a new one so more money out of my pockets.
Anyway, car is at NISSAN Mackay because they have the scan tools to look in ECU.
THANK YOU for all your tips and recommendations!
Unfortunately my first language isn't english and I am not a mechanic so I need to go through your answers many times. ;-) But as soon as I have access to the car or to a mechanic that works on it I'll try to look at all the "sweets spots" you have mentioned.

Cheers mates!
 

allaroundoz

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UPDATE: They have traced 2 faulty wires linking the ECU fuse box (hope that's the correct term) and the transmission. Will redo the wiring and hope that sorts out the problem. Keep my fingers crossed!
 
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