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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay, I've got a newbie style question.

I'm having trouble getting the car to turn over and it's rapidly getting worse.

Turn the key and the engine barely wants to turn, but it does turn a little and explodes into life.
If I'm lucky.
Unless...I was driving around with the headlights on, then she'll be dead as a doornail when I try to start her later.

Starts immediately with a boost from another car.

So is the 5 year old(at least) Optima Redtop dead?
Or is the alternator(or internal voltage reg) not charging the battery?

How do I test to determine which bit has failed? I have multi-meters available for use.
 

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Have you checked the terminals on the battery? They are known for corroding badly and preventing the battery from charging (poor electrical contact). This is due to cheap cables from the factory...these cars pull a lot of juice due to all the accessories and really should have better battery cables. In order to check it you have to remove the cables and look directly at the spot where they contact the battery. The corrosion looks like white chalk and works like a insulator between the batter and car. Everybody here seems to like this place http://www.innovativewiring.com/ChevyProductPage2/ChevyCarsPage2/ChevyImpalaPage.htm# for their wiring needs. realistically their prices seem pretty good for the quality of their wires. My car had the same problem and I temp solved it by scraping away the corrosion with a small screw driver, but as soon as I can I plan on buying a set of these wires.

Anyway good luck.
 

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Stu,

First, be sure your connections are clean and tight.

Then, with the engine off, check the battery voltage. Should be slightly more than 12 volts. Start the car and check again. Voltage should be around 13.8 volts if your alternator is working.

Low battery + low alternator voltage = bad alternator.
Low battery + normal alternator voltage = bad battery.

If a battery lasts more than 4 years, it's done all you can ask of it. Consider the extra year a plus.

Bob
 

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Or you could take both the battery and alternator into almost any parts store and have both of them tested.
Call around and see who will test them ON the car - a heckuva lot easier. Autozone does if you have them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks Bobb, I'll check that out.

Thanks for the other replies too. Yeah, I could get her running and then drive over to the PepBoys, AutoZone, Strauss or any of the infinite number of indie garages within a ten minute drive of me...
But what kind of car guy would I be if I didn't try to diagnose the problem and fix it with my own mitts? This won't require a lift to fix, just a couple of bolts and a credit card.
 

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def sounds like a bad battery. Red tops arent known to last very long for some reason. Most people dont like them anymore anyways. A diehard, from sears seams to be a crowd fav with 3 year full replac
 

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You could disconnect the battery jump start it and see if the alternator is providing enough power to run on its own. If it stays running it points to battery if it does not run, then could be alternator or both if alternator has caused bad memory on the battery. But 4-5 years is a good life for a battery.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Got a new redtop at Costco, all seems cool.

All connections are clean, tight and coated with No-Ox and the aux post is the updated version. Checked out that stuff a few years back, been here a while.
 
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