Many charging system complaints stem from easily repairable problems that reveal themselves during a visual inspection of the system. Remember to always look for the simple solution before performing more involved diagnostic procedures.
- Before adjusting belt tension, check for proper pulley alignment. This is especially critical with serpentine belts.
- Inspect the generator drive belt. Loose drive belts are a major source of charging problems.
- Inspect the battery. it might be necessary to charge the battery to restore it to a fully charged state. if the battery cannot be charged, it must be replaced. also, make sure the posts and cable clamps are clean and tight, since a bad connection can cause reduced current flow.
- Inspect all system wiring and connections. Many automotive electrical systems contain fusible links to protect against overloads. Fusible links can blow like a fuse without being noticed. Also, look for a short circuit, an open ground, or high resistance in any of the circuits that could cause a problem that would appear to be in the charging system.
- Inspect the a/c generator and regulator mountings for loose or missing bolts. replace or tighten as needed. remember that the circuit completes itself through the ground of the a/c generator and regulator. most a/c generators and regulators complete their ground through their mountings. if the mountings are not clean and tight, a high resistance ground will result.
- If the vehicle passes all preliminary visual checks, listen for noisy belts, bad bearings, or the whining sound of a bad diode. if no unusual sounds are heard, it is time to test the charging system.