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Car diagnosis question

radcen

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Car diagnosis question

1999 Mazda 626, 2L, 240K miles

- Battery won't hold a charge, but battery is new (only 4 months old, Interstate brand). Idiot light is on and came on just a few days before things started happening. I charge the battery on a charger, it charges fully, but drains very quickly when put back in. Makes me think something is artificially draining the battery and/or the alternator needs replacing.

- Overheated badly, out of nowhere. Only once, has been parked since because of the battery thing.

- Sputters when accelerating. Idles fine, though a bit low. Rev engine and it sputters a bit until it gets to higher RPMs then smooths out and runs fine. We were thinking possible head gasket. No water/coolant in oil, and no oil in cooling system, but we know that's not necessarily a clue.

Possible head gasket and alternator coincidentally? Possible that a bad alternator causes both? If you need more information please ask. Any thoughts are most appreciated.

Thanks.
 

KevinKohler

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Take it to autozone, and have them check the alternator. The overheating could be bad battery, the fan is electric...soooo..if the battery was about dead, and the alternator not working, the fan won't work, at least not well.

As for sputtering acceleration....there's lots of possible causes.


Have the zone check which codes you are throwing, and start there.
 

Mycroft

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Car diagnosis question

1999 Mazda 626, 2L, 240K miles

- Battery won't hold a charge, but battery is new (only 4 months old, Interstate brand). Idiot light is on and came on just a few days before things started happening. I charge the battery on a charger, it charges fully, but drains very quickly when put back in. Makes me think something is artificially draining the battery and/or the alternator needs replacing.

- Overheated badly, out of nowhere. Only once, has been parked since because of the battery thing.

- Sputters when accelerating. Idles fine, though a bit low. Rev engine and it sputters a bit until it gets to higher RPMs then smooths out and runs fine. We were thinking possible head gasket. No water/coolant in oil, and no oil in cooling system, but we know that's not necessarily a clue.

Possible head gasket and alternator coincidentally? Possible that a bad alternator causes both? If you need more information please ask. Any thoughts are most appreciated.

Thanks.

I see three problems:

1. Battery won't hold charge. You are on the right track. Check alternator. If that's good, check for a ground in the electrical system.

2. Overheating. My first guess is stuck thermostat.

3. Sputtering. My first guess is fuel system. Check for a plugged fuel filter first. After that, clogged injectors.

I hope these help.
 

Fledermaus

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I see three problems:

1. Battery won't hold charge. You are on the right track. Check alternator. If that's good, check for a ground in the electrical system.

2. Overheating. My first guess is stuck thermostat.

3. Sputtering. My first guess is fuel system. Check for a plugged fuel filter first. After that, clogged injectors.

I hope these help.

To add, daughters car overheated in traffic but not on freeway. Electric fan was shorted out. Water pump issues will lead to overheating at speed or going slow.
 

beerftw

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Car diagnosis question

1999 Mazda 626, 2L, 240K miles

- Battery won't hold a charge, but battery is new (only 4 months old, Interstate brand). Idiot light is on and came on just a few days before things started happening. I charge the battery on a charger, it charges fully, but drains very quickly when put back in. Makes me think something is artificially draining the battery and/or the alternator needs replacing.

- Overheated badly, out of nowhere. Only once, has been parked since because of the battery thing.

- Sputters when accelerating. Idles fine, though a bit low. Rev engine and it sputters a bit until it gets to higher RPMs then smooths out and runs fine. We were thinking possible head gasket. No water/coolant in oil, and no oil in cooling system, but we know that's not necessarily a clue.

Possible head gasket and alternator coincidentally? Possible that a bad alternator causes both? If you need more information please ask. Any thoughts are most appreciated.

Thanks.

If you have a head gasket leak, the easiest check is to pull the radiator cap off cold and start it up, if it has a blown head gasket, you will see a fountain, it is not a 100% method but 99.9% of the time it works. The other .1 % is the automotive world fooling you, where a combustion gas tester is needed.

Battery can be alternator, or if it drains quickly even without runnng the vehicle it could be a dead cell. If it holds a good charge for a while and dies when running it is likely an alternator or a bad ground. On that vehicle, if it is an automatic, check all your grounds, a cd4e transmission will tear itself apart from a loose or faulty ground, and a no start would be the least of your worrys then.

On sputtering, it sounds like a vacuum leak, they general run very high or very low rpm at idle, and run terrible below 2k rpm. It can be other things but vacuum is the likely culprit, you can test for it yourself or have a shop check it, depends on how safe you feel with flammable sprays.

Oh and on overheating, I know the mazda 2.0 is different from the ford one, but they both share similar design. I do not remember on the mazda but the ford water pump had plastic fins that would snap off after a certain age.
 

radcen

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First, thank you to everybody who responded. You have been great help. The car is my son's, and I've been letting him use my truck so we haven't gotten to it yet in any depth, but will this weekend.


Take it to autozone, and have them check the alternator. The overheating could be bad battery, the fan is electric...soooo..if the battery was about dead, and the alternator not working, the fan won't work, at least not well.

As for sputtering acceleration....there's lots of possible causes.

Have the zone check which codes you are throwing, and start there.
I have an OBD2 tester, and almost beat myself up that I had forgotten about it.


If you have a head gasket leak, the easiest check is to pull the radiator cap off cold and start it up, if it has a blown head gasket, you will see a fountain, it is not a 100% method but 99.9% of the time it works. The other .1 % is the automotive world fooling you, where a combustion gas tester is needed.

Battery can be alternator, or if it drains quickly even without runnng the vehicle it could be a dead cell. If it holds a good charge for a while and dies when running it is likely an alternator or a bad ground. On that vehicle, if it is an automatic, check all your grounds, a cd4e transmission will tear itself apart from a loose or faulty ground, and a no start would be the least of your worrys then.

On sputtering, it sounds like a vacuum leak, they general run very high or very low rpm at idle, and run terrible below 2k rpm. It can be other things but vacuum is the likely culprit, you can test for it yourself or have a shop check it, depends on how safe you feel with flammable sprays.

Oh and on overheating, I know the mazda 2.0 is different from the ford one, but they both share similar design. I do not remember on the mazda but the ford water pump had plastic fins that would snap off after a certain age.
What do you mean "a fountain"? As in shooting out of the radiator? Continuously, or just at start-up?

I did have the cap off to put some water in while it was running, and there would occasionally be some bubbles come up, but no "fountain", and I figured that was just air being displaced from inside the radiator. (It had lost some water when it overheated, and I removed the cap after I started it, not before.)
 

poweRob

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Car diagnosis question

1999 Mazda 626, 2L, 240K miles

- Battery won't hold a charge, but battery is new (only 4 months old, Interstate brand). Idiot light is on and came on just a few days before things started happening. I charge the battery on a charger, it charges fully, but drains very quickly when put back in. Makes me think something is artificially draining the battery and/or the alternator needs replacing.

- Overheated badly, out of nowhere. Only once, has been parked since because of the battery thing.

- Sputters when accelerating. Idles fine, though a bit low. Rev engine and it sputters a bit until it gets to higher RPMs then smooths out and runs fine. We were thinking possible head gasket. No water/coolant in oil, and no oil in cooling system, but we know that's not necessarily a clue.

Possible head gasket and alternator coincidentally? Possible that a bad alternator causes both? If you need more information please ask. Any thoughts are most appreciated.

Thanks.

Simple alternator check... with your car running, disconnect the negative on your battery. If your car is still running it's because it is running off the alternator. If it stops running after the battery disconnect, it's because the alternator is bad and isn't feeding/charging the battery.
 

beerftw

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First, thank you to everybody who responded. You have been great help. The car is my son's, and I've been letting him use my truck so we haven't gotten to it yet in any depth, but will this weekend.



I have an OBD2 tester, and almost beat myself up that I had forgotten about it.



What do you mean "a fountain"? As in shooting out of the radiator? Continuously, or just at start-up?

I did have the cap off to put some water in while it was running, and there would occasionally be some bubbles come up, but no "fountain", and I figured that was just air being displaced from inside the radiator. (It had lost some water when it overheated, and I removed the cap after I started it, not before.)

Some bubbles is usually just it bleeding the air out. When it shoots out or bubbles violently, it is because the combustion chamber pressure is leaking into the cooling system. All the pressure from compression and combustion forces the water out of the cooling system when there is a blown head gasket or a cracked block in the upper cylinder.


Most of the time overheating does not occur from a blown head gasket anyways, it is usually the result of. When cyl head temps get too high, they warp enough to not hold pressure on the gasket, which causes it to blow.
 

Absentglare

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Car diagnosis question

1999 Mazda 626, 2L, 240K miles

- Battery won't hold a charge, but battery is new (only 4 months old, Interstate brand). Idiot light is on and came on just a few days before things started happening. I charge the battery on a charger, it charges fully, but drains very quickly when put back in. Makes me think something is artificially draining the battery and/or the alternator needs replacing.

- Overheated badly, out of nowhere. Only once, has been parked since because of the battery thing.

- Sputters when accelerating. Idles fine, though a bit low. Rev engine and it sputters a bit until it gets to higher RPMs then smooths out and runs fine. We were thinking possible head gasket. No water/coolant in oil, and no oil in cooling system, but we know that's not necessarily a clue.

Possible head gasket and alternator coincidentally? Possible that a bad alternator causes both? If you need more information please ask. Any thoughts are most appreciated.

Thanks.

Sounds like an electrical problem.

Inspect the wiring harness in the engine bay for exposed wire or worn insulation.

Inspect fuses and relays (may need digital multimeter).

Alternator is a likely culprit, that could explain everything.

Sputtering on acceleration sounds like your fuel system is straining to keep up. Fuel pump relay, fuel pump, fuel sock, inline fuel filter, fuel pressure regulator, or fuel injectors could be related. Or, more likely, your fuel pump which draws power through a long wire from *i'm assuming* your battery in the engine bay to the fuel pump that resides in your fuel tank underneath the back seat- the long wire could have trouble meeting the power requirements of the fuel pump if, say, the car's voltage is low. This is actually a very dangerous situation for the engine so i recommend it driving as little as possible and, when you do, go easy on the gas. Running low on fuel can damage the engine.

You might also want to inspect the spark plugs and replace the air filter.

Best of luck.
 

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Car diagnosis question

1999 Mazda 626, 2L, 240K miles

- Battery won't hold a charge, but battery is new (only 4 months old, Interstate brand). Idiot light is on and came on just a few days before things started happening. I charge the battery on a charger, it charges fully, but drains very quickly when put back in. Makes me think something is artificially draining the battery and/or the alternator needs replacing.

- Overheated badly, out of nowhere. Only once, has been parked since because of the battery thing.

- Sputters when accelerating. Idles fine, though a bit low. Rev engine and it sputters a bit until it gets to higher RPMs then smooths out and runs fine. We were thinking possible head gasket. No water/coolant in oil, and no oil in cooling system, but we know that's not necessarily a clue.

Possible head gasket and alternator coincidentally? Possible that a bad alternator causes both? If you need more information please ask. Any thoughts are most appreciated.

Thanks.

I'm no car expert but...


Battery might simply have a defective cell. If that happens, it can even drain from fully charged to nothing overnight. (It happened to me recently).

If you had charged your battery via jump start and driving, but it lost charge, it could also be the alternator, since the problem wouldn't be that it didn't hold a charge but rather than the alternator didn't charge it when you drove around. But you say you charged using a "charger", so I don't think a bad alternator would result in it draining faster. It's not like your car draws power from the battery while you're driving it around.

No idea on the sputtering.
 

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Simple alternator check... with your car running, disconnect the negative on your battery. If your car is still running it's because it is running off the alternator. If it stops running after the battery disconnect, it's because the alternator is bad and isn't feeding/charging the battery.

That is a good way to check on older, non-computer controlled cars. However, it is not recommended for newer computer controlled cars as a spark or arc can damage the computer.
 

_Sal

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Car diagnosis question

1999 Mazda 626, 2L, 240K miles

- Battery won't hold a charge, but battery is new (only 4 months old, Interstate brand). Idiot light is on and came on just a few days before things started happening. I charge the battery on a charger, it charges fully, but drains very quickly when put back in. Makes me think something is artificially draining the battery and/or the alternator needs replacing.

- Overheated badly, out of nowhere. Only once, has been parked since because of the battery thing.

- Sputters when accelerating. Idles fine, though a bit low. Rev engine and it sputters a bit until it gets to higher RPMs then smooths out and runs fine. We were thinking possible head gasket. No water/coolant in oil, and no oil in cooling system, but we know that's not necessarily a clue.

Possible head gasket and alternator coincidentally? Possible that a bad alternator causes both? If you need more information please ask. Any thoughts are most appreciated.

Thanks.

it's the alternator

I just had mine done

be careful, once it goes you won't get it started again
 

DVSentinel

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Car diagnosis question

1999 Mazda 626, 2L, 240K miles

- Battery won't hold a charge, but battery is new (only 4 months old, Interstate brand). Idiot light is on and came on just a few days before things started happening. I charge the battery on a charger, it charges fully, but drains very quickly when put back in. Makes me think something is artificially draining the battery and/or the alternator needs replacing.

- Overheated badly, out of nowhere. Only once, has been parked since because of the battery thing.

- Sputters when accelerating. Idles fine, though a bit low. Rev engine and it sputters a bit until it gets to higher RPMs then smooths out and runs fine. We were thinking possible head gasket. No water/coolant in oil, and no oil in cooling system, but we know that's not necessarily a clue.

Possible head gasket and alternator coincidentally? Possible that a bad alternator causes both? If you need more information please ask. Any thoughts are most appreciated.

Thanks.

Definitely sounds like a bad alternator. As others have said, pull it, take in and have it checked at an auto-parts store. (does not have to be autozone, personally I won't use their parts)

Cooling issue could have many causes. Is it only overheating at idle/slow speeds or at highway speeds?

Sputtering at idle also can be caused by many different things. Have you ever run injector cleaner through the system? Cheap gas over time can clog or partially clog injectors. This happened to a friend of mine's vehicle little over 100K, a good fuel injector cleaner (I use STP Full System once every 3-5K and occasional Lucas Treatment between) Do you keep the fuel filter changed regularly?(not for sure what the recommended change times are but I change mine every 25-30K) At 240K, have the spark plugs been changed?
 

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I wonder if a loose or worn serpentine belt would have anything to do with it?
 

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Bad charging could have lead to the head gasket problem, especially with city driving. When the car is up to speed, the airflow would have taken care of the cooling, but not in slower city traffic where the electric fan would be most needed. A fairly new battery sort of tells me that the charging was the initial problem.

The sputtering engine happens easily these days because the (computer/ignition) goes to crap right around 11.5 volts in most cars. In the older cars, the coil and points would keep working (although not well) all the way down to 6 volts in some systems.

Hard to say until you have the charging system read/checked.
 

Utility Man

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Car diagnosis question

1999 Mazda 626, 2L, 240K miles

- Battery won't hold a charge, but battery is new (only 4 months old, Interstate brand). Idiot light is on and came on just a few days before things started happening. I charge the battery on a charger, it charges fully, but drains very quickly when put back in. Makes me think something is artificially draining the battery and/or the alternator needs replacing.

- Overheated badly, out of nowhere. Only once, has been parked since because of the battery thing.......

Does the battery lose voltage merely because it is connected to the vehicle when it is not running("parasitic drain") ?

Or does the battery only lose voltage while the engine is running(charging problem) ?

The 99 Mazda probably has electric cooling fans(overheating?)and electric fuel pump(sputtering?), beside the OBDii computer etc. Maybe the charging/voltage problem should be resolved before diagnosing other issues.

:twocents:

Ps, I would guess that if there is a parasitic drain, when you are connecting the freshly charged battery to the vehicle you might witness some larger sparks due to the current flow/power being drawn.

Do you have a volt meter ?
 

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Does the battery lose voltage merely because it is connected to the vehicle when it is not running("parasitic drain") ?

Or does the battery only lose voltage while the engine is running(charging problem) ?

The 99 Mazda probably has electric cooling fans(overheating?)and electric fuel pump(sputtering?), beside the OBDii computer etc. Maybe the charging/voltage problem should be resolved before diagnosing other issues.

:twocents:

Ps, I would guess that if there is a parasitic drain, when you are connecting the freshly charged battery to the vehicle you might witness some larger sparks due to the current flow/power being drawn.

Do you have a volt meter ?

There is some drain, even when the vehicle is not running. OBDII has a memory hold. Also, stereo memory and clock (if you have one separate from the stereo). However, I have left cars sitting for more than 6 months and they still started, so drain is minimal.
 

Utility Man

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There is some drain, even when the vehicle is not running. OBDII has a memory hold. Also, stereo memory and clock (if you have one separate from the stereo). However, I have left cars sitting for more than 6 months and they still started, so drain is minimal.

:roll: Glad to hear that your car is functioning normally, the OP says their car is not.....


.....I charge the battery on a charger, it charges fully, but drains very quickly when put back in.......
 
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