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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Howdy all. I will keep it pithy. So I installed a brand new interstate battery around the beginning of November. Been noticing over the last several weeks that I have been having an intermittent electrical drain on the battery. Volt gauge in dash will sometimes read normal and other times low until the truck has run enough to charge the battery. Been driving myself crazy trying to figure it out. Used the multimeter to do a parasitic drain test..and haven't had much luck pinpointing a particular circuit where it is coming from. Noticed the bulb in the glove box appeared to be on sometimes and off others when the drawer was open. Pulled the bulb..but wondering if maybe there is an issue there.
I saw that one guy posted about the dealer needing to refresh the computer after his installed a new battery...is this really true??

Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated.
 

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Refreshing the ECU has nothing to do with battery drain. Did you check your alternator output voltage?

Also, it would help if you actually specified what year Frontier you have.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The truck is a 2010. The alternator output voltage has been a little up and down as of late. Sometimes I will get readings that are up around the mid to low 14s which sounds pretty normal, but then I have had some readings right down around the 13 mark. I did a load test the other day, and saw the voltage actually dipped below 13 volts at one point. I am wondering if there is possibly a bad diode that is causing some current draw back to the alternator once the truck is turned off. Sometimes upon start up I will get a lower reading on the voltage gauge in the cab (but then goes back to normal after the truck has been driving for a bit), and other times it appears normal.

Was looking at possibly getting a used OEM unit off eBay. It is out of a 2014 w/ 24k miles. Guessing this would be compatible...at least courtesy nissan says they are the same part number.
 

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I am wondering if there is possibly a bad diode that is causing some current draw back to the alternator once the truck is turned off.
That's a possibility.

Often, with a bad diode, the alternator will make a louder whining sound than it normally does, particularly when there's a sizable electrical load present (i.e., headlights on).

Some auto parts stores use a battery tester (or "electrical system analyzer") that measures the amount of AC "ripple" present while the engine is running.

An alternator with a bad diode will produce a lot more ripple than normal.

So, if you can find a store that will do this test for free, it might give you a better idea of what's going on.

OTOH, there's not much wisdom in buying and installing a different alternator, without first confirming that the original is bad.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
That's a possibility.

Often, with a bad diode, the alternator will make a louder whining sound than it normally does, particularly when there's a sizable electrical load present (i.e., headlights on).

Some auto parts stores use a battery tester (or "electrical system analyzer") that measures the amount of AC "ripple" present while the engine is running.

An alternator with a bad diode will produce a lot more ripple than normal.

So, if you can find a store that will do this test for free, it might give you a better idea of what's going on.

OTOH, there's not much wisdom in buying and installing a different alternator, without first confirming that the original is bad.
Appreciate your feedback. What are your thoughts on the voltage readings I got? I haven't seen consistent numbers when I have tested, but to have one reading at operating voltage that was under 13 volts seemed significantly low to me.
 

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When everything's working normally, it's not unusual to see voltages in the very low 13's (after the engine has been running long enough to completely recharge the battery).

Mine seems to like 13.3, but I've seen it dip in the high-12's momentarily.

Now that Nissan is using their goofy "networked" alternator (in which the ECM can override the settings of the voltage regulator inside the alternator), the voltages tend to be a lot lower than back in the old days of "dumb" charging systems (where you rarely saw anything less than 13.8 volts or so).
 

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Where'd you get your battery from?

I got a new Interstate battery from Costco either around November or December and it died several weeks ago without warning.

I swapped it for a new one, cleaned the terminals and took it to the shop. All the shop did was measure the voltage before and after start up and I've been meaning to monitor it.

I'm in Maryland not too far away from you. Hopefully it's just a case of getting batteries from a bad batch or something.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Where'd you get your battery from?

I got a new Interstate battery from Costco either around November or December and it died several weeks ago without warning.

I swapped it for a new one, cleaned the terminals and took it to the shop. All the shop did was measure the voltage before and after start up and I've been meaning to monitor it.

I'm in Maryland not too far away from you. Hopefully it's just a case of getting batteries from a bad batch or something.

Good luck!
Appreciate your comment. I got it from a Tires Plus over in Harrisburg. I could always call the shop up and see if they could run a test on it..or even just stop at an advance auto.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
When everything's working normally, it's not unusual to see voltages in the very low 13's (after the engine has been running long enough to completely recharge the battery).

Mine seems to like 13.3, but I've seen it dip in the high-12's momentarily.

Now that Nissan is using their goofy "networked" alternator (in which the ECM can override the settings of the voltage regulator inside the alternator), the voltages tend to be a lot lower than back in the old days of "dumb" charging systems (where you rarely saw anything less than 13.8 volts or so).
I can't thank you enough for hanging with me to try and figure this issue out. I mean it does seem very premature at this point...63k miles on the truck, to have an alternator go out. I replaced the one on my old 99 Frontier, but she had 145k on the clock before that was needed. When you get those lower readings..do you see any fluctuation of the voltage gauge in your dash? I noticed when I see those low readings, my volt gauge needle drops below the "plus" sign which is usually covered by the needle when it is charging normally.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
So I went to the shop where I bought the battery and it checked out fine. So not a battery issue. When I got back home, I noticed the volt gauge looked like it was reading low. I hooked up the meter quick and it was giving me a pretty constant read at 12.89-12.98. I then switched the AC, high beams, fog lights, 4 ways on to put a load on the alternator. The reading dropped and then the alternator kicked on and brought the reading back up to about the 13.6 range. I shimmied under the truck and did hear a little bit of a whine/humming sound coming from the alternator. Thoughts?
 

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So I went to the shop where I bought the battery and it checked out fine. So not a battery issue. When I got back home, I noticed the volt gauge looked like it was reading low. I hooked up the meter quick and it was giving me a pretty constant read at 12.89-12.98. I then switched the AC, high beams, fog lights, 4 ways on to put a load on the alternator. The reading dropped and then the alternator kicked on and brought the reading back up to about the 13.6 range. I shimmied under the truck and did hear a little bit of a whine/humming sound coming from the alternator. Thoughts?
Change your alternator.
 

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A competent battery shop should be able to give you a good rundown on how your whole charging system is performing. Sounds to me like your alternator is is underperforming, but that is just an opinion over the interwebs. lol
 

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It's simple -

Battery, Alternator, Voltage Regulator.

That's all that powers the electrical things in a vehicle. They run off the battery when the engine is off, and they run off the alternator when the engine is on. Most voltage regulators these days are part of the alternator.

Since you're seeing issues when you have the engine on, so that alone tells you it's alternator-related. The fact that your new battery died means it wasn't getting recharged enough when the engine was on -
meaning when the alternator was supposed to do its job.

You just had your battery checked and they said it's fine, so there's nothing else it could be other than (wait for it)... alternator.

Don't over-complicate it for yourself and try to fathom why an alternator would fail at 63k - sometimes things just happen and you can either try to resolve it quickly (best move) or just waste more time trying to figure out why why why ::wink::
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
It's simple -

Battery, Alternator, Voltage Regulator.

That's all that powers the electrical things in a vehicle. They run off the battery when the engine is off, and they run off the alternator when the engine is on. Most voltage regulators these days are part of the alternator.

Since you're seeing issues when you have the engine on, so that alone tells you it's alternator-related. The fact that your new battery died means it wasn't getting recharged enough when the engine was on -
meaning when the alternator was supposed to do its job.

You just had your battery checked and they said it's fine, so there's nothing else it could be other than (wait for it)... alternator.

Don't over-complicate it for yourself and try to fathom why an alternator would fail at 63k - sometimes things just happen and you can either try to resolve it quickly (best move) or just waste more time trying to figure out why why why ::wink::
I understand where you are coming from...the truck never died on me however. It has had some low readings after only sitting a day or two without being started...ie 12.2 volts the other morning. I just don't want to go drop money on something when it actually isn't the issue...that's all. Just trying to be a wise consumer. ::smile::
 

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I just don't want to go drop money on something when it actually isn't the issue...that's all. Just trying to be a wise consumer.
"wise" or "cheap"? You had enough info to narrow the issue down to alternator two days ago:

The alternator output voltage has been a little up and down as of late. Sometimes I will get readings that are up around the mid to low 14s which sounds pretty normal, but then I have had some readings right down around the 13 mark. I did a load test the other day, and saw the voltage actually dipped below 13 volts at one point.
So already you suspected it was the alternator; so much that you were already looking at replacing it BUT not with a new one - but an unknown usage obviously used $65 alternator from another truck (?)

Some things you should replace with new. Yes it costs more, but at least you know it's good from day one... as opposed to not "knowing" but hoping that a $65 used alternator on eBay will solve your problem... or worse, cause new problems.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
"wise" or "cheap"? You had enough info to narrow the issue down to alternator two days ago:



So already you suspected it was the alternator; so much that you were already looking at replacing it BUT not with a new one - but an unknown usage obviously used $65 alternator from another truck (?)

Some things you should replace with new. Yes it costs more, but at least you know it's good from day one... as opposed to not "knowing" but hoping that a $65 used alternator on eBay will solve your problem... or worse, cause new problems.
The usage is known, it has only 18k miles on it and it is out of a 2017 truck. The part has a 6 month warranty, which you probably didn't even know but could have if you would've taken the time to look at the link instead of trying to copy and paste clips of things I said a few days ago. Anyone with half a brain, will try to troubleshoot and make sure the issue is what it is before actually buying parts. So please, put the soapbox back in the closet. ::wink::
 

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The usage is known, it has only 18k miles on it and it is out of a 2017 truck. The part has a 6 month warranty, which you probably didn't even know but could have if you would've taken the time to look at the link instead of trying to copy and paste clips of things I said a few days ago. Anyone with half a brain, will try to troubleshoot and make sure the issue is what it is before actually buying parts. So please, put the soapbox back in the closet. ::wink::
To correct your assumption, I did click the link before I replied. It says "18k miles" and it says "out of a 2017" and it says "used" and "$65". So you're sure it's really 18k miles? You're sure it's out of a 2017 truck? The product photo isn't even what you're getting... which I do know because I "took the time to look at the link."

Oh and LOL at your "anyone with half a brain" and "soapbox" comment. Who's the one with all the questions here, again? ::wink::

Dude I'm just responding to your words. You made a thread asking questions, and you're getting answers and feedback. Use logic, no need to get all triggered and offended if you don't like the feedback you're getting ::smile::

Okay back on topic though: FYI A refurbished alternator is about $95-100, and a proper re-manufactured alternator is around $160 or so. Even if you don't want to "drop the money" for a brand new factory OEM alternator that costs $380+, there's better choices that you should consider.

Or just ignore me and drop the $65, I don't really care... in the end it's all going to be on you anyways. I'm just trying to talk you into spending the right amount of money, not just go for the lowest price simply because it's the lowest. After all...

...that is what a wise customer would do. ::grin::
 
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