Bad Battery, Or?

by Bob DeP.

Hi Bob
I have a 1994 Pontiac Grand Am. The battery light has been going on and off for about a month. My battery is only one year old. Tonight I was driving and the battery light came on then the "ABS" (?) light came on. After about two miles in town I got to my destination. Turned off the car, then tried to start it again and it would not even grunt. Battery dead? I went to my meeting and after 90 minutes went out and the car started up fine. However after about a half mile...everything dimmed, and the car shut off completely.

It is now parked. I got a ride home. Returned to my car after about an hour and the car started right up...but lasted about 30 seconds before going dead again. I have noticed a very hit and miss feeling when I accelerate, especially up hills. Alternator? The car was bought 5 years ago with about 3,000 miles. This is the first problem of this kind I have ever encountered with it. The car now has 79,000 miles. What gives?
Tom M.

It sounds like an alternator problem to me. If you let a "drained" battery sit for a little while, it will sorta, recharge. Not much, but some. More of a balancing between the cells. If you have a volt meter, you can tell real easy. Simply take a voltage reading with the car off. It should be close to 12 volts. 11.6 to 12.4 is okay. Then start the car. It should be between 13.8 and 14.4 with the alternator running at around 1500 rpm and all accessories off. If you don't have a volt meter, try this. With the car off, turn on the head lights. Are they bright or kinda yellowish? Now start the car. Are they the same brightness or maybe a little brighter?
Good Luck!
Drive Safely!
Bob, The Auto Answer Man

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