2000 Kia Sportage Hard to no start when cold problem

Hi Everyone,

I have both a question and a problem. I have a 2000 Kia Sportage which has been having troubles starting when cold and I’m not quite sure as to why. In January of 2012 I had to replace both the Battery and Alternator in this car because they were both bad. I bought the alternator from O’reilly Auto Parts and the Battery from Walmart. Once I replaced both the battery and alternator last year things were fine up until recently when I discovered that my car would not start. I did not leave anything on that could have drained the battery, but it acted as though the battery was dead. I had to get a jump start from someone and go back to O’reilly. They tested the battery and the alternator in the car and it was concluded that the alternator was bad. I exchanged that alternator because it was a limited lifetime warranty and put a replacement re manufactured one in straight out of the box and got a jump start again because the battery level was down. Things were working great until after I went to a couple of stores and was heading home. I heard what sounded like an electrical pop and then immediately after that the car started acting up again. When I got home I left the car running and put my multimeter on the battery to test it while it was running. It read 11.8 Volts while running. I went back to O’reilly and swapped that alternator out with another one.

With the first battery and alternator the readings that I was getting while cold was 12.1. After the first replacement alternator was installed it was reading 14.0 while running before the pop sound. After the pop sound it dropped to 8.60.

With the current replacement alternator it is reading between 13.3 to 13.6 while running. While cold it is reading between 12.2 and 12.4.

Are my readings normal or do they indicate a problem? It was suggested by one parts guy that there might be a drain on the system, but at the moment I can’t figure out as to where a drain might be coming from. It was also suggested that alternator connectors might be faulty on the car itself.

I’m frustrated and confused by all this as I’m not really sure as to what is going on with it and I’m trying to figure it out.

When the car is idling and running it sounds like it’s a bit erratic. I did replace the Ignition coils in 2007.

Does anyone have any ideas as to what might be going on with it and what I might need to do to correct the problem? I’m kind of lost at the moment as to what is going on with it and what else I might need to do.

How would I determine if there is a drain on the system and if there is a drain on the system where it might be coming from?

I’m trying to get to bottom of this so that I can figure out how to fix the problem and get it fixed.

“I bought the alternator from O’reilly Auto Parts”
" things were fine up until … my car would not start" [about a year?]

There’s some junk on the aftermarket.
Lifetime warranties aren’t so great if you’re spending your life using them.
With Japanese/Asian cars I recommend OEM for most parts.

“the battery level was down … I heard what sounded like an electrical pop”

After you got the jump you battery was still essentially drained.
Alternators aren’t designed to recharge dead batteries, just maintain a nearly full one plus power accessories.
It worked its little heart out until it overheated.
This is a danger anytime a car is jump started.

My suggestion is to let the engine idle for 15 minutes or so after a jump.
The alternator can only put out a reduced current at idle, which will reduce the stress.
The best solution is a few hours on a good charger.

13.5-14.5V while running is OK. Many newer systems lower the voltage as ambient temperature rises.
13.3V means the alternator is probably working hard.
Get a helper to rev the engine to ~2000 rpm and it will likely rise to ~14V
12.1V while off is low, a full battery will be ~12.7V