99 Cavalier Electrical Died

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Hi All,

My car is a 1999 Chevy Cavalier, 2.2L, Automatic. For several months there has been a whining noise under the hood. The noise always there when the car is running and the pitch of the noise is proportional to engine rpm (higher rpm, higher pitched noise). I tried to listen under the hood to isolate, but it was difficult...somewhere on the passenger side...maybe near the power steering reservoir, maybe alternator. The noise seems to have gotten louder recently.

Today I noticed the battery light come on. I drove for about 20 miles and shut off the car. It sat for about 1 hour and it restarted without a problem. Battery light still on, I drove for another 20 miles and then the abs light came on also. Quickly thereafter, the airbag light came on also. I'm not 100% sure, but I thought the car might have hesitated a bit at this point, but it maybe my imagination. Quickly thereafter, the whole dash shut down- all indicator lights shut off, all gauges stopped working, and the radio shut off. Luckily, I was only a few hundred yards from my driveway at this point and the car ran fine until I parked it. I let it idle for a few minutes and popped the hood. I measured the voltage at the battery with the car running. It would occasionally read about 5V, but was 0V most the time (I scratched the terminals with my probes, so I think I had a good connection). I then shut off the car, and it would not re-start (it wouldn't turn over at all, though I might have heard a "click" when turning the key). With the car not running, battery voltage was 2V. I just replaced the battery about 1 year ago. The car was making the noise then, I think.

I think it might be the alternator. What do you think?


posted by  mike8439

Thanks for the reply.

It was the alternator. I removed it and had it tested at AutoZone. It was putting out a maximum of 8 amps at only 2 volts.

What do you mean by "deepcycled the battery"? Although the dash went dead, the engine was actually running when I finally turned off the ignition myself. From the time the battery light first came on until the time I turned off the ignition was probably 40 miles of driving. And from the time the dash went dead to the time I turned off the ignition was only a few hundred yards and maybe 5-10 minutes of idling (while I measured the voltage). It was only when I tried to re-start that it didn't turn over.

I'm trying to recharge my battery as I type this. I have it charging on a Sears car battery charger. Giving all the above info, do you think I can save the battery? The charger has a 2A and a 10A setting, as well as three charging modes: manual, auto deep cycle, and auto regular.

Right now I'm using 2A, auto regular. What mode should I use given my situation?

Thanks again.


posted by  mike8439

Well, the battery charged for about 6 hours and the car started right up. With the new alternator in place, I drove the car today and started it several times. All seems well.

The noise didn't stop with the new alternator. Maybe I'll start a new post about that.

Thanks for the replies.

posted by  mike8439

hello every one. i too have a 99 cavalier, with a similar problem.
i figured i would ask here since we are on the same topic.

today on my way home the battery light came on. when i got home i took out the volt meter and checked the battery, and it read 12.24v. with the car off. with the car on it read about the same. i also got the haynes repair manual and tested it as it stated. and according the the manual the alternator is good and so is the battery. i havnt driven the car since i last checked it.

after reading this thread it seems that my car is on the verge of doing the same. oh i also have the noise when the car is running that only started a week ago exactly. but the noise is only there in the lower rpm's. once the car hits about 35-40mph the noise stops and i hear it less with the AC off.

i guess ill just have to take the alternator to get tested tomorrow.
one question, what would an alternator cost me?

posted by  akira4420

If either of you that own the noisy cavaliers own a mechanics stethescope, hold it against the a/c compressor with the car running. Try it with the a/c off and on. And with the a/c off hold the stethescope against the inner portion of the a/c clutch that isn't spinning. (MAKE DAMN SURE THE A/C AND EVEN THE DEFROSTER IS OFF) Just plain shut the heat controls off completely. Listen for your noise there. Compare the noise you hear there with what you hear when you hold the scope against the alt., p/s pump, and the water pump to try and isolate where the noise is coming from. ]

Personnally, I'm thinking it's either your a/c pump or clutch. Keep up updated on what you find.

P.S. If you don't own a mechanics stethescope, Buy one - They are cheap!

posted by  comet-63

Okay... I know it's been a long time since this thread started... but I wanted to add my two cents here as well for future reference for anyone.

I too have a 99 Cavalier, 2.2L, Automatic... and have had a whining noise under my hood for about a week now. When I started my car this afternoon I heard a funny "click" noise... and then the Brake and ABS light came on. I made another stop... but this time... the car wouldn't start at all... only a clicking noise. I was able to have it jump started... and an alternator test showed about 12V. The guy who jumped me said that was a little low.

I was able to make it home just fine... but I noticed that my clock is now about 5 hours off. I didn't run the radio or the AC the whole way home... I just wanted to GET home.

I just had the spark plugs and wires replaced about 3 weeks ago... I was thinking maybe something was shorting out... but after reading this thread I'm no so sure. I am having it checked out tomorrow. I will post results for anybody that may still care... haha.

posted by  bobnindy

sounds similar,if tested accurately and it only puts 12 v , wiring or alt fubar. good luck :thumbs:

posted by  BanffAutoSpa_ap

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