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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all, I apologise if the following question has been answered before.

I have been having electrical problems with my 147 (surprise, surprise) and they seem to be getting worse. It all began a few weeks ago when I went to start my car and the battery was dead. I jumped it and charged the battery again and it seemed fine for a week but then one day I went to start it and the battery was dead again! I thought my battery was finished so I bought a brand new one and hooked it up. All seemed fine again. It worked every day for a week or so but then I left it for a couple of days and again the battery drained. So now I knew it was an issue with the car I began to investigate. I tried a few easy fixes but they didn't work. I then read that I should clean the terminals as they can drain a battery. I cleaned the terminals and charged the battery and this time I really thought I'd cracked it. Everything was working fine. I left the car a few days to test it and to my joy it started!!

Then... a few days later the engine management light came on as well as something on the display (a key that says "code" underneath it). The car drove fine other than these warning lights. Then I went to switch off the engine and the high beams turned on!! Basically if I started the engine the lights went out and when I turned the engine off they came on! Eventually they went out when I turned the engine off for about the 10th time! I was now very worried that something drastic was wrong so I booked it in to a garage. Then the plot thickened as on the day it was due in the garage I went to start it and not only did it start fine there were no warning lights!! No engine management light, nothing. Everything was working! I cancelled my garage appointment and all week have been driving around without issue.

Finally today I went to go for a drive and the engine management light came back on. I was concerned so I drove straight home, I pulled up and turned off the ignition but, not only did the high beams come on, but the engine also stayed on!! I waited for at least 5 minutes and nothing happened. So I tried turning the key etc and still nothing happened. The engine just kept running! In the end I had to stall it just to get it to stop. I tested it again and the same thing is happening.

I am certain it is a major electrical fault and can't really afford to even have it looked at, let alone repaired. My question is: how likely is it that it could just be the ECU that needs to be reset? I know someone who can do that for me cheaply but obviously if it doesn't work I'll be out of pocket and still in the same situation. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers,

Ben
 

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Sounds like you've got a poltergeist in either the ECU or Body computer... The Key/Code icon is the warning for the immobilizer system, since it's draining the battery, I'm gonna guess the body computer...

Exorcism is good call I reckon.
 

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Is the car charging OK when running? If you have a voltmeter you should have at least 12v across the battery terminals with engine off, and 13.2-14.3v when the engine is running. Alfas seem to go a bit insane outside these voltages.

You haven't washed the engine compartment or anything like that? A few people have done so and had rampant ECU psychosis as a result. Once the water is found and removed sanity is restored. Water inside the driver's door can drive the body ECU nuts.

I wouldn't assume anything major or expensive, it's far more likely to be damp, corrosion, a bad contact or earth somewhere. Especially as the symptoms seem intermittent and changeable. Have a good look at fuses too.

As a first step I'd disconnect the battery overnight to allow the car to unconfuse itself, charge the battery fully meanwhile, then start from there.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Is the car charging OK when running? If you have a voltmeter you should have at least 12v across the battery terminals with engine off, and 13.2-14.3v when the engine is running. Alfas seem to go a bit insane outside these voltages.

You haven't washed the engine compartment or anything like that? A few people have done so and had rampant ECU psychosis as a result. Once the water is found and removed sanity is restored. Water inside the driver's door can drive the body ECU nuts.

I wouldn't assume anything major or expensive, it's far more likely to be damp, corrosion, a bad contact or earth somewhere. Especially as the symptoms seem intermittent and changeable. Have a good look at fuses too.

As a first step I'd disconnect the battery overnight to allow the car to unconfuse itself, charge the battery fully meanwhile, then start from there.
Thanks for the reply. The car is definitely charging the battery. I don't have a voltmeter to check, is there another way to check? The car was in a small accident a couple of months ago. The components that were damaged were: the front bumper, the bonnet, the radiator, the air filter and... the fuse box. I had the car fixed and everything was working well. I just wonder whether something has now gone wrong with the fuse box. I did use the old fuses rather than buy new ones, could that be an issue? Do you think finding a bad earth etc is doable by myself or does the car need to go into a specialist?

I am going to attempt an ECU reset myself as I read a way to do it on this forum. I'll see if that helps.

Cheers,

Ben
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the reply. The car is definitely charging the battery. I don't have a voltmeter to check, is there another way to check? The car was in a small accident a couple of months ago. The components that were damaged were: the front bumper, the bonnet, the radiator, the air filter and... the fuse box. I had the car fixed and everything was working well. I just wonder whether something has now gone wrong with the fuse box. I did use the old fuses rather than buy new ones, could that be an issue? Do you think finding a bad earth etc is doable by myself or does the car need to go into a specialist?

I am going to attempt an ECU reset myself as I read a way to do it on this forum. I'll see if that helps.

Cheers,

Ben
I reset the ECU and checked all the fuses & wiring coming from the fuse box and everything looks fine. After I reset the ECU the car worked fine, no issues. I tested it a few times too. Left it overnight and when I went to go to work this morning all of the warning lights were back and when I shut off the engine once I got to work the high beams came on. Am I fighting a losing battle or do you think it is worth me buying a voltmeter? The car has only done 80000 miles, MOT until December and I love the car. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Ben
 

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Could be a worn ignition barrel. I had similar problems on an xj40 a long time ago. Not sure how you can check it really without swapping it out but does it seem smooth and are the ignition stops clearly defined as the key turns? Like you I assumed dodgy electrics and spent ages searching out hidden fuses and bundles of wire.
I hate intermittent faults. They never perform when wanted.
 

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I think you need to have a good look at the battery connections and earths. This is very simple. Check the battery posts and connectors are clean and bright (remove the post connectors, use Scotchbrite or emery paper to clean), and also check the large +ve terminal connector/main fuse plate looking for bad connections or breaks. Gremlins quite often live in there, with broken connector straps or corrosion from acid fumes.

If you've already been round the replacement fusebox thoroughly, it probably isn't that - unless you missed something. That's the point at which a cheap voltmeter from Maplin or eBay starts to be useful for checking continuity and for high-resistance connections that might pinpoint a bad contact. Personally I think that voltmeters, battery chargers and footpumps ought to be compulsory for anyone who runs a car :)

It appears to be an intermittent fault, which (probably!) points to a bad connection rather than malfunctioning expensive parts, but may be tricky to pin down. Quite mad things can happen from very simple problems in vehicle electrics as current takes a path it wasn't meant to, and I am guessing your headlight-engine weirdness is one of those. Best to assume it's something simple and obvious until you're sure it isn't. >90% of the time it will be.

Or take it to a specialist or auto-electrician, who should be able to pin it down fairly quickly.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I think you need to have a good look at the battery connections and earths. This is very simple. Check the battery posts and connectors are clean and bright (remove the post connectors, use Scotchbrite or emery paper to clean), and also check the large +ve terminal connector/main fuse plate looking for bad connections or breaks. Gremlins quite often live in there, with broken connector straps or corrosion from acid fumes.

If you've already been round the replacement fusebox thoroughly, it probably isn't that - unless you missed something. That's the point at which a cheap voltmeter from Maplin or eBay starts to be useful for checking continuity and for high-resistance connections that might pinpoint a bad contact. Personally I think that voltmeters, battery chargers and footpumps ought to be compulsory for anyone who runs a car :)

It appears to be an intermittent fault, which (probably!) points to a bad connection rather than malfunctioning expensive parts, but may be tricky to pin down. Quite mad things can happen from very simple problems in vehicle electrics as current takes a path it wasn't meant to, and I am guessing your headlight-engine weirdness is one of those. Best to assume it's something simple and obvious until you're sure it isn't. >90% of the time it will be.

Or take it to a specialist or auto-electrician, who should be able to pin it down fairly quickly.
Great, thanks again for getting back to me.

I already cleaned the battery terminals when I read that could lead to the battery draining. The terminals were very dirty so cleaning them definitely will have helped, however, it hasn't fixed the weirdness. I will go to Maplins this weekend and pick up a voltmeter so I can do what you suggest. Fingers crossed I can find the issue, if not, I guess it's time to bite the bullet and take it to the auto electrician.

She ran sweetly today... tomorrow, who knows? :curse:
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Right, I bought a voltmeter over the weekend and ran a few tests. Below are the results:

Car turned off = 12.4v
Car turned on = 14.2v (does drop to 9v when turning key though)
Car turned on with radio, lights & wipers turned on = 13.9v
Car turned off again = 12.8v before dropping back to 12.4v

I gather that the above volts are spot on so the plot thickens again. I really don't understand how the battery can be giving out a normal volt reading but the battery is draining? The car was running fine last week but then on Saturday when I went to start it the battery was dead (literally around 12 hours after I had last driven it). Could it be that something is switching itself on, e.g. the radio? I have since recharged the battery and it has been running fine but I know that some day in the near future it'll happen again.

So if I have ruled out fuses, alternator and battery what else might it be? You mentioned a +ve terminal connector/main fuse plate but I am not sure what/where this is. Is it the metal part connected to the battery? Sorry, I really know nothing about cars.
 

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The plate is the small flat box of connections, fuses and straps that sits on top of the +ve battery terminal.

But it sounds as if you do have a genuine battery drain happening whilst the car is parked, and then things go nuts because of the low volts.

So you need to establish whether there is a drain and what is causing it. This is alas, a fairly common fault, though there are lots of possible causes ranging from boot or glovebox lights not going out, to aftermarket radios taking current when they are switched off, to a defective ignition switch, alarm or alternator diodes. Finding out what is a PITA, and needs a meter capable of reading amps, not volts. That is connected in series with the battery +ve terminal and the circuit that is draining is isolated by removing and replacing fuses. If the drain disappears you've localised the circuit that is stealing your electricity.

If you search the forum for 'battery drain' you'll find a lot of information. Unless you are obsessive, determined and not easily frustrated, this might be the time to take it to a specialist auto-electrician, who should be able to pin it down quickly.
 

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maybe you forgot and forget to switch your lights off when you come home and then in the morning after re-charge you get code error because the battery has been completely drained and you have to re-enter the code. The lights don't suddenly come on, they ARE on and when you start the car with a weak battery it uses all the power and you think the lights are off and you let go of the key and suddenly, the lights come on...
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Right. I unbolted the +ve battery terminal plate (which took me ages!!) and I cleaned it all with WD 40 and gave it a go over with sand paper. I then reattached the plate and went to start the car and something happened... you see I had noticed that I appeared to burning through petrol at a rapid rate. I mean I would put £20.00 worth in and it'd be gone in a couple of days according to my petrol gauge and before I did the above my petrol tank was saying almost empty. However, after I turned the car on this time my petrol gauge shot up to almost full! I thought that it was just another error but it's not. I have been cruising around the last couple of days and there are no warning lights of any kind, my fuel gauge is working correctly and the car is starting up without a single issue. The entire car just feels different somehow, back to what it used to be and I don't want to speak too soon but I think that it's fixed! It's funny how I hadn't noticed things like the windows not working properly before but now they are working better, just stronger. My lights are brighter, my screen wash is stronger and my window wipers work on the timer again. All thanks to Halftone. Thanks so much for taking time out to help me.

Hopefully the gremlins won't return and my car will live a long and happy life!
 
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