Reader Question: Hi,
I have a 1994 Chevrolet Lumina APV. 3.1 V6. I was driving this morning, when I noticed the red Brake light come on, followed by the Service Anti-lock Brake Light, followed by the Check Engine light.
As I drove along to my nearby destination, I noticed all these dash indicator lights were flashing. My headlights began to flicker as well at a similar frequency. When I came to a stop sign, the dash lights would go out, but my headlights would remain on. No dimming occurred. When I started again, the dash lights began flashing again. When I reached my destination and turned off the car, everything went dead. I could not start the car again. No dome light. No radio. When I turn the key to accessory mode, I do not get the radio. I cannot turn on the headlights.
When my car was running the dash meter indicated that charging has occurred. My battery is about a year old. My alternator is perhaps two years old. Funny thing, my brake pedal feels different. Previously when turned off, there is some play in the brake pedal. Now there is none.
I originally thought it was a problem with the anti-lock system. I talked with the local dealer and they thought it could be the alternator.
Do you have any thoughts about the problem? The car is stranded. I did not want to tow it to the dealer. I thought I would pull the battery and alternator, to have them tested.
Any suggestions on what is wrong?
My first thought would be that of the dealers, the alternator has gone bad and quit recharging the battery or there is a bad cell inside the battery and the battery cannot hold the electricity that the alternator is sending it.
All the warning lights, and brake pedal feel are probably associated with the slow loss of electrical power to the onboard computer system.
I would try to jumpstart or charge the battery and limp it to the dealer or an alternator and starter repair shop for a proper diagnosis.
Make sure the battery cables are clean and tight and do not have any corrosion on them, which could also cause problems like this. You should not be able to easily move the battery cables with your bare hands.