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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'll try to cover the timeline of events concisely, but my van is being an absolute nightmare at the moment and I'm trying to get to the bottom of it myself.

A year or so ago I first got the non start error with flashing spanner. Happened once, started again a minute later. Never checked fault codes at the time but would have most likely been 1614, 1616.
This happened again a few months later during winter time. Again, restarted not long after. Around the same time I was having dead battery issues so had to keep charging it. Around the same time still it snowed overnight and while driving to work my dashboard and headlights were cutting on and off and flickering. Turning the headlight dial would turn them on again but would keep cutting out. Fuel gauge would go to zero and not come back up until adding fuel. This got progressively worse. I took it to Vauxhall who didn't want to know as I'd cleared the codes myself previously and the problem hadn't come back to throw the codes up again. I even wrote the codes on a piece of paper for them beforehand but they said they weren't Vauxhall codes (they were). The problem remained on and off.
Battery was flat one night after a few days of sitting so I stuck it on a charger and drove it straight to a garage near work in the morning. I thought I might ned a new alternator as I had a new one fitted previous and they (different garage) bodged it so it was leaking oil all over itself. They found parasitic draw coming from cig lighter and alternator charging fine. Took the fuse out to disable cig lighter. From what I'd been reading I was convinced I'd need a new CIM module to fix the flickering dash and lights etc. They said it's maybe that or the ABS pump. I said order a CIM module and we'll see.
They had the car ages. They found that disconnecting the CD player seemed to fix the issue. Allowed me to cancel CIM order as it was taking ages to ship from Europe due to covid. Got the car back and it behaved. Only issues I had was no cig lighter, no CD player and for whatever reason half the centre console wasn't working. The car has been fine for 7 months.

Fast forward to a week ago after fuel gauge had been misbehaving again whenever fuel got to about a quarter tank. Dash decided to pack up once when driving. Then after car sitting for a few days it went totally mad when driving home. Basically no dash - just flickering on sometimes, headlights on with switch turned off. Back with a vengeance.

I'm off work for a few weeks now and this is what I've done:

A different key to rule out a failing key battery - issue remained from the off.
Took the battery out and stuck it on a trickle charger - was fully charged in an hour so no problems with battery.
Cleaned both battery terminals and clamps.
Removed UEC - no signs of water ingress or rust, but cleaned up connectors with contact spray.
Checked all fuses in UEC - nothing blown. Made sure all fuses and relays were seated.
Checked all fuses in rear - F18 (instruments, switches) was blown and F37 (interior light) contained a 20A instead of a recommended 5A. There's also no fuse in F29 (cigar lighter, front accessory socket) since the cig lighter was found to have parasitic draw. I stuck a new fuse in F18 and replaced F37 with correct fuse. Centre console is now working perfectly.
I've checked and cleaned the grounds under the battery tray, on the inner wing, behind rear left light, within steering column (some rust spots on crossmember) and behind glovebox. The others I can't find or can't access without getting under car I assume. I'm wondering where the bronze earth strap is?
My rear left light also has water ingress, but disconnecting it still gives me the issues. This may have found its way into the REC though so I need to investigate further.

The issue seems to go away whenever I disconnect the battery to check grounds, but return a day or so later.

I got underneath and checked my alternator condition the other day and I've always suspected it of causing me problems since the initial bodge install. This is its condition:

Tire Wheel Motor vehicle Bicycle tire Automotive tire
Automotive tire Wood Gas Automotive wheel system Metal


As you can see it's absolutely caked in oil and has been for a couple of years now. The internals of the unit are all black. It charges fine, but could it be causing me these problems? Someone else suggested maybe the voltage regulator? Maybe the ABS pump like the garage suggested initially? Maybe it is the dreaded CIM fault?

Only codes I'm getting via pedal test are 1614 and 1616. I do have opcom to hand if needed. Sorry for the life story but any suggestions would be appreciated.
 

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If you have OpCom then use that, no point in the pedal test.
Some better clips on the alternator oil return pipe wouldn't go amiss, mine is bone dry.
The alternator takes air in the back, draws it through the internals and chucks it out the front so yours is likely to be an oil mess inside, which would benefit from a clean. Oil and electrics are not a good mix.
 

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Tigra Twintop 1.8 AT Z18XE AF17
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Not entirely true, we have oil filled transformers in power distribution industry so per se, alternator windings insulation material is look-a-like. The only issue you get if oil would wash bearings lubrication. I would not wash the alternator, then its nothing left.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
If you have OpCom then use that, no point in the pedal test.
Some better clips on the alternator oil return pipe wouldn't go amiss, mine is bone dry.
The alternator takes air in the back, draws it through the internals and chucks it out the front so yours is likely to be an oil mess inside, which would benefit from a clean. Oil and electrics are not a good mix.
I'll give it a scan tomorrow.

Yeah, they didn't attach one of the oil pipes on properly when they first fitted it and I remember them having a nightmare trying to fit it. Was pissing oil everywhere until I got them to sort the pipe. it's now just covered in old oil but saturated inside and out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Not entirely true, we have oil filled transformers in power distribution industry so per se, alternator windings insulation material is look-a-like. The only issue you get if oil would wash bearings lubrication. I would not wash the alternator, then its nothing left.
Would those bearings losing lubrication cause a rumble noise at certain revs? It started fairly soon after having it fitted. I hoped it was DMF noise but remained after having new DMF fitted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The other thing to mention is my clock display and headlights all pulse with the engine revs at night until engine is warm. Clock display also dims considerably when sidelights or headlights are activated.
 

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Tigra Twintop 1.8 AT Z18XE AF17
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Get an oscilloscope, connect one channel across battery, put it in AC coupling and few ms per division, scale something at 0.5V and lets see the ripple voltage. You want diagnostic lets do diagnostic the real deal right here.

 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the suggestion and it looks interesting. Unfortunately the price to buy one isn't far off the price of an alternator, that I can see on amazon.
 

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Tigra Twintop 1.8 AT Z18XE AF17
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I see your point and not a bad point. How far can one go repairing a car, only with spanners?
 

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Not entirely true, we have oil filled transformers in power distribution industry so per se, alternator windings insulation material is look-a-like. The only issue you get if oil would wash bearings lubrication. I would not wash the alternator, then its nothing left.
Difference between engine oil and dielectric oil used in transformers and underground power lines.

I had a vacuum pump fail on my Corsa B diesel and it wrecked the alternator because it got pumped into the windings.
 

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Yes, however engine oil is not conductive either. On the corsa b might of been oil temperature which got it.
Actually good test idea, I’ll put 1000V in a cup of oil see what the leakage current is. I’ll be back here with a picture.
 

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Thanks for the suggestion and it looks interesting. Unfortunately the price to buy one isn't far off the price of an alternator, that I can see on amazon.
You can buy a little DSO150 Digital Oscilloscope for around £25, it's a bit of a toy, but good enough for testing stuff like this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Your getting the same answers on here as I gave you on the AON


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You gave me you're informed opinion over there, yeah, and it's appreciated. The thing is I'm trying to solve a problem with no one obvious solution and you were the only one over there responding. So I've come here to a more active forum with more opinions. Not entirely sure why that would be a bad thing tbh.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
I've been out there today and first thing this morning the problem was back. Seems to be when the car has been left while the temperature drops and there's moisture in the air.

Because the problem occurs when simply turning the key to the first position, would this rule out the alternator as I haven't started the engine?

I checked the UEC again and there was definitely small traces of moisture on the red rings around the connectors.

First thing I did before anything was disconnect all the plugs on the REC in the back and spray contact cleaner. I pulled all the relays to check pins. One had quite dirty pins I cleaned up. I did this without disconnecting the battery to rule out a battery disconnect resetting anything and making it look as though the problem goes, only to reappear. When I reconnected everything the problem had gone.

The other thing I've noticed is my REC has a yellow Siemens relay in place of a standard black Hella one from GM. It's pretty tired looking and is the one that had dirty pins. I'm also missing the relay in K4 but some images online have it there and some don't, so likely not needed.

Also OpCom isn't too useable. Keep getting a message like "can't connect, or vehicle isn't powering device" whenever I try to scan anything. Could be for a number of reasons I guess.

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Assuming you don't get electrocuted in the process of testing 1KV in a cup of oil!! :ROFLMAO:
Well that was 3 hours ago, hope he hasn't fried his clogs and is laying smoking somewhere 🙄.
 

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Don't get me wrong, I've got a lot of respect for your knowledge, but more respect for electricity, which I like to avoid direct contact with whenever possible.

I also like Holland 🇳🇱 having grown up just a few miles from the Dutch / Germany 🇩🇪 border so we used to go shopping in Holland because it was always cheaper.
 

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Don't get me wrong either, I hold on jokes pretty well. Like it here tbh. Electricity is safe if you know how to respect it and use it.

The only issues I see with oil in alternator if it comes between carbon brushes and rotor collector.
 
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