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Discussion Starter #1
Right then, hi everyone,

About a month ago I picked up an L-reg 106, 72k on the clock, tidy all round.
Friday the charge light on the top of the battery was green, OK.

Yesterday afternoon when the battery charge indicator came up on the dash. At the time I was driving in the rain with the lights, radio and heaters on. I've driven 100~ miles since, starting and stopping a few times, with no ignition problems.

I put the battery (an Exide Excell EB500) on charge for a few hours today, it drew amps until it reached 12.55V then stopped, so I took it off charge. Indicator light was still off.

At first I thought it was just the battery needed recharging, but this didn't do a great deal. I then thought it could the the alternator. Would the battery hold enough charge to start the car numerous times, power the electrics for 2+ hours driving and still be going if it wasn't being recharged? Or could it just be that the battery is recharging, just is on its way out?

Before me, an old lady kept it in her garage, she sold it to a chap who drove it 1400 miles in 9 months. It has all the paperwork, and the last receipt I can find for a battery is 2011.

Some numbers:
Testing the battery with everything off: 12.23V
Just the lights, radio, heaters on: 11.51V
Just the ignition on: 11.88V varying
Ignition and electrics on: 11.37V varying

These seem really low to me.

I consulted my dad, as you do, and he said it could be the alternator.

Should I start by replacing the battery, or replace the alternator, or both? I find it more believable that the possibly 6-year old battery has failed, as opposed to the alternator. How can I test the output of the alternator?

Many thanks, Duncan
 

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If your alternator is as old as the car, 23 years old, it's probably just as likely to be failing. It could also be a bad earth causing issues. Check the main earthing point. Follow the black battery lead to where it bolts to the chassis. As a rule the battery light shouldn't come on for a flat battery as the alternator is providing the voltage the car needs. It could be weak but still keeping enough charge in the battery. Bear in mind a car of that age isn't as fussy about the voltage it gets to start. (No fancy ecu!)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
If anyone's interested, I swapped the battery out for a spare but that proved disastrous, she started cutting out on me driving along, nursed her home and changed the alternator and she runs like a dream now.
 
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