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CarJunky AutoAdvice

Volvo bad battery or alternator? or both?

Showing 7 out of 7 Posts
Question From miiiiike on Volvo bad battery or alternator? or both?

Hi everyone, first post here =]

My car is:
C70 ht
5 cylinder turbo (not sure of size)
109,000 miles

So I was driving home on a very rainy night last Friday, and when I got home, I accidentally left the interior lights on in the car. I know this because my neighbor told me the next day. So the car won't start, I figure the battery is dead. I pop the hood and notice a large snowball on the terminals, so before I jump the car, I disconnect the terminals and clean them pretty well with a wire brush. I jump the car and it starts up, and I let it idle for a few minutes and everything seems fine. My voltometer is reading at about 12v which seems right so I shut off the car.

A few minutes later it wont start again, so I jump it again, and take it for a drive around a few blocks to hopefully charge the battery more. Works fine, park it and shut it off, and start it up again a few times, seems fine. 2 hours later its dead again. I tried a few tests I saw online, like looking for dimming of the headlights or looking at the voltometer when the car actually started up, nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

I take out the battery and get it tested at my nearby auto supply store, they say it comes back with a good result. The battery is charged, I reconnect it and try to start it again in a few hours. It is still working great so I assume the problem is solved. This morning, it started up fine, I drove it to work and parked. I even did a test to start it back up again after I got to work and it was fine. I got off work today though and its dead again and I have to call AAA to come give me a jump. The tow guy said he thinks its the battery. Once it was started I drove it home (about 20 miles) and it worked fine. Im assuming in a few hours it will be dead again, what the heck is going on?

Sorry for the long post, just figured more info might help narrow it down more. Thanks!

Response From Tom Greenleaf Top Rated Answer

Volts alone just sitting there doesn't mean much. What will it put out while running with everything on is a load test of sorts.

Batteries don't age well and not all are created equal. How old is it? More than 3-4 years just get rid of it for a quality new one and charge it even new.

Alternators don't like to charge up a real close to dead or dead one and get about red hot sometimes trying - not good for either. They can go with each other and not good to allow them to go dead but it happens and that alone can kill one. Get an automatic battery charger that will shut off by itself when done. Short bucks really when you consider how useful they are,


Response From miiiiike

Thanks for the reply, unfortunately there isn't a marked date on top of the battery, i just bought the car a few months back. I'm thinking either there might be too much corrosion on the inside of the terminals even though i cleaned them pretty well, or my dad suggested the voltage regulator in the alternator. Either of those sound right?

Response From Tom Greenleaf

You are playing with fire over a battery so far. All batteries are marked as to exactly how old they are - that way if under warranty without a receipt or other reasons they know how old it is.

Ex: Many will say a letter and a single digit. A-2 would mean January, 2012 and so on and some are oblique but you can find out.

Who cares if you have all this corrosion there's a problem going on. Post voltage with it charged and running at least with terminals clean and tight. Don't be guessing on stuff as if that shorts out you might find yourself out thousands in problems! Never mind what the dog, cat neighbor suggests for maybe things, get real answers - too important - trust me!

What brand is it and I could tell you at least my thoughts on the dependability of it. Forget places like Walmart, or similar places as the dang things get so mishandles, dropped or who knows that know nothing about them and choke the hell out of manufacturers for price that quality downright suks.

Get a charger or even (I own at least 4) "Maintainer/charger" that is automatic and will shut off or back on. One by Shumacher is only $21 bucks will show red then amber then green led light when done but still doesn't mean that battery can take a load or has the amps for cranking. You can watch simple voltage drop while cranking that gives you a clue that things are well or have it load tested if you want to play with this one.

Testing alternator on car I find best,


Response From miiiiike

Thanks again for the help guys, so the car started up again this morning which was really confusing, but I decided to buy a new battery regardless, the old one looked... well it looked old and it may have been leaking. We'll see if it starts up tonight, if not Ill just bring it to a mechanic tomorrow morning and have them take a look. Thanks for the help!

Response From Tom Greenleaf

Glad you did that and your choice to let a pro help. It would be nice since you just got this car to get this over with and trust it.

Thanks for the follow up,


Response From Hammer Time

I jump the car and it starts up, and I let it idle for a few minutes and everything seems fine. My voltmeter is reading at about 12v which seems right so I shut off the car.

If you were reading 12 volts with the engine running, then there isn't much question that you are having a problem with the charging system.