many things wrong

Home  \  Repairs & Maintenance  \  many things wrong

hello everyone,

Last summer, I bought a use 98 chevy cavalier. I got it basically just to take me to work and school. I know nothing about cars but here's some of the main things wrong with it. First thing that happened is that after about 2 days of not driving it, the battery died. When my insurance roadside service guy tried to jump it, a wire started burning. So I took it to the shop and they changed the alternator. Since then, it's died twice. Always after I haven't driven it for a few days. The last few times though, I just changed the battery (it was under warranty) because I didn't want any more wires burning up. I've noticed that even when the key is not in the ignition, the radio and the windshield wipers stay on. I don't know if that has anything to do with it.

Also, I've noticed is that it overheats easily. If I'm sitting at a traffic light, it gets very hot. Once I get going, the temperature drops. I don't know what's up with that. I haven't had time to get it checked out. Do you guys have any idea what's causing this?

oh yea, and sometimes the turn signal lights don't work...and then they start working again. electrical problem? should i worry about it?

I just need this car to work. Without this car, I'd probably have to fail a few of my classes so as long as it gets me through another semester, I'll be happy.

thanks

posted by  roraima

your radio and wipers staying on would definetely drain your battery but that depends on how long they stay on. but if they come off after a few minutes then thats not your problem. you have whats called a parasitic drain which means that something(possibly a light or module)is staying on over night and draining your battery. you can check for this by hooking up an ammeter to your battery(-) post and the terminal. don;t really know how to explain this procedure(without actually showing you how) because there are a few things you have to do before doing this test.
as far as your overheating problem it sounds to me like your fans might not be coming on or you have poor air flow through your radiator(maybe some leafs or trash up against the radiator). the reason i say this is because when you are moving, air will flows through the radiator, but when you are stopped your car uses the fans to pull air through but if they don't work then your car overheats

posted by  carlos

Thanks for all the help. The wipers and the radio only stay on if I leave them on. I mean, even without the key in the ignition, if I turn on the radio, it works. Same with the wipers. But I make sure they're off if I'm not in the car because I don't think they turn off by themselves after a while. I'll see if I can find someone to hook up the ammeter thing you were talking about though. I'll check the fans though like you said too. Thanks!

posted by  roraima

Yeah sounds like a chassis ground fault. The burnt wire should lead you to the problem.

Carlos no one uses ammeters anymore = get one of the hall effect tongs (clamps) that read AC and DC amps.

posted by  Wally

I have one, a decent one will cause you $100 plus do you think someone who doesn't do this alot will spend that kind of cash on something they'll use once or twice?
not only that one that will read milliamps will cost $400+

posted by  carlos

True.

posted by  Wally

do you not use digital voltmeters? or multimeter(multi being the key word)

posted by  BanffAutoSpa_ap

yes i do have a DMM, it's one of the most useful tools i have

posted by  carlos

roger that, just making sure no one is left outa the technological loop here :mrgreen:

posted by  BanffAutoSpa_ap

okay the overheating thing, thats your thermostat, go get another and put it in or have someone who knows how to do it, install it for you. It is by no means complicated. For the battery thing, I'd suggest following the burned wire and seeing where it leads and what needs to be replaced. With the battery burning off juice it sounds more like a bad ground or voltage problem but it could be something as simple as a dome light in your dash that stays on, hell who knows!

posted by  wrecked00

bad ground? I don't get how a bad ground would cause the battery to drain,a bad ground usually presents itself as something not operating at full capacity due to excessive resistance, or it not operating at all due to no amperage flow.as far as a bad thermostat you could be right there, a thermostat that doesn't open all the way could cause poor flow, a water pump thats worn would cause the same problem at idle or low RPM, these are all things you should look into.
as far as just replacing your thermostat i would first find out at what temperature its suppose to open then put it in a pot filled with water heat it up until it reachs the proper temp. and see if it opens completely(use a thermostat to measure the temp of your water). If you just replace it and it overheats again then that brand new thermostat you just put in is trash. its good practice to replace your thermostat, but after you've fixed your overheating problem unless of course you've found that the thermostat itself is your problem.

posted by  carlos

Hmmm just noticing the thermostat / overheating thing. Car past warranty...suspect thermostat??? Man unless you live somewhere that truly freezes out (I mean upper Canada or Alaska) yank that thermy...first trick to overheat probs when nothing else is obvious.

Then...second bet when nothing else OBVIOUS is wrong. Fuggin catalytic converter is messed up. Can make every OVERHEAT obvious problem apparent seem like the solution yet no one ever thinks about it.

posted by  Blue_Frog

how can a cat. cause an overheating problem?and how do you diagnose it?

posted by  carlos

The funny thing is you cant. My dad had an 86 camero he loved that kept overheating and until it caused a grassfire from the cat overheating nothing he did would explain it. I had an old 85' Ford Explorer longbed I fixed up that I replaced EVERYTHING that I could cooling system wise before I figured it out.

If that converter is clogged nothing (or not enough) cooling wise is going out your exaust. It is all going back into the engine. A good breakfix or test is to get a sledgehammer and bang the hell out of that converter for about 10 mins to break up the mesh filter and see what kind of garbage comes out the tail pipe (you'll see a lot of burn off coming out if that is it...almost like its burning oil but it will smell different). If thats the case then best thing to do is replace it (80-150 bucks depending where you are) or keep banging the hell out of it to break up the filter in the converter and maybe cut some holes in areas into where the pipe goes into the converter (not a recommendation....its gonna be loud as hell driving it if you do and you'll attract attention) to make it run cooler.

I've done it before...but only after going through every other possible cooling prob....water pump...radiator and such. But it does happen.

Another good test is to drive it at night til its hot enough to shut down then immediately look under the car. Often times if the converter is fugged it will be red hot (like metal hot).

Hope that helps

posted by  Blue_Frog

to my understanding a red hot cat. indicates an excessively rich mixture.
and about the clogged cat. wouldn't that cause a poor performance concern due to no flow. never heard about a cat fixing an overheating problem,but you could be right.

posted by  carlos

Been right about 5 times about it being a possible overheat prob.Like I said not something that strikes anyone as the most apparent problem but it is there. Not talking about tweaks here like you are in the mixture thing, thats tweaked cars and I know nothing about that. I know keeping them running stuff. A cat that is clogged or clogged enuff will put that heat right back into the block and will often be red hot on sight.

But you gotta check the simple stuff first like the rad n the water pump.....just seemed like you had already done that.

posted by  Blue_Frog

Your Message