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Discussion Starter #1
It has probably been mentioned before but I can't find it. What does the Charge Battery indicator mean. It started coming on yesterday in traffic when I would come to a stop and then turn off when traffic started moving. Then when I was off the freeway it came on at stop signs and went off when moving again.

My first thought of course is the alternator:crybaby2: Hopefully its only the battery:) I believe its the original battery with 124k on it.

Comments would be greatly appreciated!!!
 

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Hey, fan, welcome to the forum. Please take a moment to update/complete your BW online profile re: vehicle and location information, that information can prove quite useful. Here, for example, the year would be useful knowledge. :)

That isn't a "charge battery" indicator, it's a "charging system" warning, which means that system voltage has fallen enough to trigger the alert.

It seems most likely that either your regulator or alternator has failed; there was a recall on some regulators partway through the W210 run so call your dealer with the VIN to check.

Since it is only coming on at idle speeds, then assuming the belt/belt system is in good condition my suspicion would be the alternator, perhaps the brushes only. But depending upon the year you can replace the regulator which has the brush pack on it.

And mileage means not a thing to a battery, but age certainly does. If you're into/over your 7th year on the OEM battery then it's already on it's last legs; perhaps it's just low on water (bet you haven't checked it previously... most don't). It is possible that a low battery can trigger the alert (part of the system relies on a sustained-charge battery feeding a certain amount of voltage to energize the alternator windings) and if it's old enough just change it as you'll have to do that sooner or later anyway.

That's some things to check, but I'd recommend not driving it until you figure it out. If whatever it is fails completely you'll end up stranded somewhere.

Take care and enjoy the ride,
Greg
 

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Alternator

voltage reg or belt.check that the belt is tensioned properly check alternator output.
before you are stranded:eek:
:bowdown:eek:hlord
be careful,if you don't know your way around an engine bay have a auto electric shop check it for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I stopped driving it last night, learned that when my MAF went out. I have updated my profile now. I have a 97 E320 and live in Houston Tx. I am not a huge do it yourselfer but have to be now with finances as they are.

Are there any DIY procedures on changing an alternator or belts... I will look myself but if you have a quick link that would be great. Unfortunately I probably have to sell it as soon as I get this repaired. I need to stop being a greedy American and live within my means.
 

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I just hate the way they put the battery under the rear seat bench.
Why on earth would you hate that? It's protected from temperature extremes (particularly heat) as well as theft. It is different, I'll grant you, but I appreciate it.


E320fan32 said:
Are there any DIY procedures on changing an alternator or belts?
Hey, fan. I am not aware of any on this site, but the belt is stunningly easy to change, just make sure you map the routing first. Were I you I would start in this order:

Belt and tensioner inspection, very basic. Twist the belt along a long edge and carefully examine for cracks, especially in the "teeth" of the Vs. Push down on the belt, exert some force, it should not deflect much. It should also be clean and dry; if you have an oil leak or coolant leak onto it that could create enough slipping at lower engine speeds to be the issue. If there is enough juice in the battery start the car and watch the pulleys, see if any are vibrating, shaking, etc. Have someone rev the engine quickly a few times (but not too high a rev, just a few thousand is fine) while you stand nearer the open hood, see if you hear any belt squeal (an indication of slipping) or grindy-whiny noises (perhaps an idler pulley bearing seizing up, dragging things, etc.). If everything is good here, move on.

Pop the seat bottom and check out the battery. Ensure (1) that the vent tube is properly connected and routed out through the floor pan, (2) that the terminal connections are clean and tight and (3) that the water level is correct in the battery. If the vent tube becomes blocked or falls off corrosion will increase, and that will keep your battery from taking a full charge, so these things all intertwine. If it's low on water fill each cell (just to the bottom of the filler cap, not up into the neck) with distilled water. If it's really low on water just go get another battery, it's probably been like that for a while and if so is mostly a lost cause. If the battery looks new, date codes suggest it's only a few years old, then it may be worth it to take it to a shop and have it charged and fully tested. Newer machines will run it through a battery (no pun intended) of tests for load, duration, voltage drop, etc. and if it passes then you know you're good. The charge and test could be $20 or $30; your decision if you're better off just buying a new battery. Sams has them for just under $90 with tax, take the old one with you if you go that route. I think that's the best price you'll find on a proper battery for the car.

Okay, let's say the belt is awesome and so is the tensioner. The battery and cable ends check out fine.

That leaves you with the primary components of the charging system. The alternator is pretty easy to R&R, particularly on the L6 engine -- which you have, and the regulator is built right onto it. Before pulling it, though, inspect the pulley on the front; it is possible (though stunningly unlikely) that it has started to loosen up so start with that. If it looks okay, then disconnect the battery, take off the belt (remember your diagram) and remove the alternator. It's really straightforward, just a couple of bolts. What I don't know is if the L6 uses those sneaky little torx bolts, if so you'll need to buy the female torx sockets, Sears sells the Lisle set for about $20. Once the alternator is out, on the back you'll see the regulator (you can remove the regulator with the alternator in the car, but since it might be the alternator, may as well start there and make it easy on yourself. (Search the site for the regulator, I know there are pics somewhere). Remove the regulator and inspect the brushes, if they look really worn then you probably have your solution. I'm pretty sure even on the L6 the brushes come with the regulator, just buy the whole thing, it's only like $35 on the older style (mine was $48 at the dealer, and I have the more expensive one). If the brushes look great, then you have to decide whether to roll the dice and buy a regulator or just replace the whole thing. My guess is that there is an electronics (starters, generators, alternators) rebuilder near you -- Houston is a BIG city -- and you can just take the whole thing there and they can test it and tell you what it needs.

Anyway, that's a lot to digest, but that's the nutshell version.

Good luck, let us know how it goes.

Take care and enjoy the ride,
Greg
 

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I don't have this issue at the moment but I appreciate Greg taking the time to explain things in general.

Thanks Greg!
 

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Thanks Greg for your insight, actually I am having this exact problem as E320Fan, my Charge Battery just started coming on. I remember this exact problem happened to me a year ago, where I continued to drive with the sign and the car crapped out in the middle of the road! After towing the car to a local indy he replaced the altnernator and it worked. I am beginning to worry that the rebuilt Bosche altnernator he put in, is no longer working again.

I have ran some tests to narrow down the problem. After having a friend rev the car, I am sure the belt and tensioner seem fine. I checked the voltage on the battery and alternator, the battery seems fine, the altnernator I think was at 12v, which I believe is less than it should be. I really dont feel like spending another $350 on the replacement, this is the first I heard of the Voltage Regulator and praying that it is the cause. Does anyone have pictures on how to access it or know a link? Any additional advice anyone has to help isolate my problem?

Thanks
 

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Thanks Greg for your insight, actually I am having this exact problem as E320Fan, my Charge Battery just started coming on. I remember this exact problem happened to me a year ago, where I continued to drive with the sign and the car crapped out in the middle of the road! After towing the car to a local indy he replaced the altnernator and it worked. I am beginning to worry that the rebuilt Bosche altnernator he put in, is no longer working again.

I have ran some tests to narrow down the problem. After having a friend rev the car, I am sure the belt and tensioner seem fine. I checked the voltage on the battery and alternator, the battery seems fine, the altnernator I think was at 12v, which I believe is less than it should be. I really dont feel like spending another $350 on the replacement, this is the first I heard of the Voltage Regulator and praying that it is the cause. Does anyone have pictures on how to access it or know a link? Any additional advice anyone has to help isolate my problem?

Thanks
If it's less than a year, contact your indy. Most better rebuilds include a year warranty. If it's just barely over a year call him anyway; as goodwill he may at least throw in free labor.

If you want to DIY this is still pretty simple. But you're right, at 12V all you're reading is battery voltage, sounds like you're getting nada through the alternator. Probably worth checking each of the fuses in the compartment by the battery as well particularly since the alternator is pretty new. If the fuses are good then disconnect the battery (-) lead and pull the alternator. It's really quite straight-forward. If you understand electronics you can pull the VR/brush pack and then pop it open and check the diode bridge, continuity across the windings (but not between), etc. If the alternator parts test out okay, then it's probably the regulator. But if you don't have that understanding (and don't want to spend lots of time surfing the web and gaining that understanding) then just buy a rebuilt unit and slap it in. It will come with the regulator, so you're changing all of it at once. Again, just be sure to map your belt routing and disconnect the battery before you begin.

When I did mine I didn't do a DIY because it's so straight-forward. Nothing challenging about it at all except for the E-torx bolts as noted above. Even the wiring is all polarized, so you can't even connect it wrong. ;)

Take care and enjoy the ride,
Greg
 

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Thanks for the reply. I will first off check the fuses right now [fingers crossed], if that fails, the indy shop I went to has been a little over a year, plus I remember the guy was saying only a 6-month warranty. And knowing his personality I doubt he would help.

Greg can I ask you question in regards to water in battery. I read a couple of threads in filling up the cells of a battery with distilled water. Is this something that I should do? Would it help my current situation? This is the first I heard of it, I know since I have owned my car, I have never done such a thing, is this a problem?
 

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Most modern batteries will not need water through their life, although their life may be reduced if the electrolyte level does get low.

If your electrolyte is above the level of the plates, you're fine. If the top of the plates are exposed, you should carefully add distilled (only) water, but be sure that you do not add too much. It would be better that the level be slightly low than slightly too high.
 

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Most good

auto chain stores,I don't know the names of the ones up in Canada will hook up a tester to the alternator and be able to tell you quickly whether it is the voltage regulator or an internal stator or circuit problem in the alternator.
Your Parts Search Returned 1 Part(s)
one year warranty if it is not the vr.$182 ,rule out the VR first.
You can charge your battery overnight and drive it several miles to kraggens or whatever they name those stores up north.
ohlord
 

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So the fuses look fine, I will check out the battery water level momentarily. OL, The closest auto retail chain we have where I live is PartSource, I dont know if they can isolate the VR, but I will give them a shot. I am not sure how much battery life I have left to get there, So I guess I will buy a battery charger with a friend and leave charging for the day. Any rough idea how long someone can last without an alternator?

Also OhLord, the link u sent me shows a 90 amp, is 90 amp recommended for a 96 E320 or a 115? Currently I have a 115 amp which I thought was the stock amount?
 

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So the fuses look fine, I will check out the battery water level momentarily. OL, The closest auto retail chain we have where I live is PartSource, I dont know if they can isolate the VR, but I will give them a shot. I am not sure how much battery life I have left to get there, So I guess I will buy a battery charger with a friend and leave charging for the day. Any rough idea how long someone can last without an alternator?

Also OhLord, the link u sent me shows a 90 amp, is 90 amp recommended for a 96 E320 or a 115? Currently I have a 115 amp which I thought was the stock amount?
Hey, AMG. Personally I would not "downgrade" the capacity of the alternator (although it's possible you had a 90 and the mechanic put in a 115 last year), and even more pointedly, I would source rebuilt items locally if at all possible. It may cost a bit more (although you're paying for international shipping and perhaps customs or something to bring it into Canada from autohaus) but then you get it, and if there is an issue you can do a return and exchange locally instead of having the car down for a week while you do it via UPS.

Call the parts shop you're talking about to see if they can check it; I doubt they can. But you may as well ask if they have the alternator and how much.

I would definitely try to avoid driving the car. You have perhaps an hour or a bit more if your battery is in good condition and fully charged and you don't use any accessories (the drain on the car is already significant). Start adding AC, lights, etc. and it will quickly die out. Plus, then if you get there your battery is quite low, you change the alternator, then it maybe doesn't start. It's just not worth the risk, at least to me. Pull your alternator out, buy a friend dinner to take you there, compare them side-by-side to be sure it's the same, then you exchange it, you don't have to pay a core charge, then back home and put it in.

Take care and enjoy the ride,
Greg
 

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Alrighty

then:D
most auto electric shops and some auto supply stores will also test an alternator that is removed from the car.They put it in a test machine and spin it up to get the readings.I would call around and find a place like that before ruling the alternator dead.
:bowdown:
if the oem was bosch it will be fine.
 
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