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Battery Light after 250 miles driven today

Ok, I changed my spark plugs the other day and the car has been fine (although it’s onky my second time doing it, I am not all that confident that I did it right…) - she definitely sounded a lot better when I was done.

Well, silly me forgot that it’s September which is a very bad luck month for me and has been (aside from last year) for the last 15+ years. In fact, I don’t bother to make plans in September basically ever. And I’m forgetting that it wasn’t August I decided to take my dogs and cat on a mini road trip from Tucson to Sedona to use our new tent and spend the Mon-Wed “weekend” doing nothing but chasing a ball and swimming in a creek.

We drive through Sedona to the dirt road that has my secluded car camping spot I spend at least 10 nights a year at since I found it, and as soon as we turned the battery light came on. Now, I had noticed a small power flicker… but thought it was just my eyes, or a bump in the road making the lights of the car behind me dance as they donwhen that happens. There was no change in how the vehicle drove powerwise, although there was a small clunk — but it drove just fine another several hundred yards to the next parking area. The clink could have been the car, or a small pothole.

There didn’t appear to be any dimming of the lights or stereo (I have had an alternator go out before while on the freeway of a different car). … after letting it sit for five minutes while I panicked in my head about how I did something wrong, I was able to start the car and the battery light wasn’t on… (didn’t test any further) and it still sounded as fine as a 2008 would - she has some rattling and stuff (and the evap canister does need replacing, I can’t actuallybput gas in at a normal pace).

So rather than driving back another 6 miles to nowhere to set up our tent (boo!), I am less than 60 seconds off the highway… internally freaking out.

So two things come to mind… Prayers that it’s a fluke, or a simple need to tighten the battery again (which should have been fine bc I did tighten it) or at least that whatever it is doesn’t cost more than the $100 I have to my name for the next two weeks…

And two - since I am sitting here uncomfortably close to other people camping (not my cup of tea) bc I pulled off at the first spot there was room to park and am now sitting here panaroid and terrified bc I have no clue what I can/will do if I need to find a shop… any ideas on what to check or what it could be? Help soothe my paranoia… or at least give me confidence to maybe diagnose something. :slight_smile:

Well if the battery warning light is ON you most likely are going to need to replace the alternator. Make sure the fuses are good and check the wiring to the alternator along with making sure the belt is tight. If you don’t have a meter to check voltages with then that’s about all you can do at this time. Hopefully you aren’t too far away from a service shop. Use only necessary power so you don’t drain the battery and get stranded somewhere you don’t want to be.

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And I don’t think your sparkplug replacement nor September had anything to do with the battery light. Cougar has given you a good first thing to check, the alternator. Sounds like you’ve had this car a while and is old enough for an alternator problem.

Is the serpentine belt still there?

It is - and it’s still tight.

Lol, I could write a book about all of the worst things that have happened in September. You’d think I’d be prepared, too. :slight_smile:

It very well could be the alternator. I’m about 5 miles from a repair shop, but given the holiday, am not sure I want to chance the drive in today - since it’s a camping spot I’ll wait for some campers to clear out and we will find a decent spot to set up our own camp for the day. Might as well enjoy the vacation one day, eh?

Yes, it’s not like the alternator can break any further. As long as you don’t need to drive anywhere today, you’ll be fine. Five miles isn’t too awful if you end up having to get it towed.

A/C would be nice as it’s a billion degrees on the surface of the :sunny::smirk:.

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Well the dogs seem to be pretty content at least on this adventure, though maybe a little too warm.

They had just got done with fetch - it’s only in the upper 80s. We have lots of water in the cooler. They are always up for play - I have to make them lay down to cool off. Right after that picture the winds picked up and the tent became a kite (fun!) - and then once we got that in place a lightning storm started… so we are back in the car until that passes.


I hope you don’t let your animals roam around at night . . . there is plenty of wildlife that would like a free meal

You almost did write a book. I only made it two paragraphs looking for the point. I can’t believe everyone else read the whole thing but maybe, it’s raining out. At any rate if the battery light comes on, it is not charging so suspect the alternator going south.

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I don’t let them roam at night - they sleep in the tent with me (although the cat prefers the car). I keep a firearm on my hip always. There is definitely a pack of coyotes around - I heard them last night when sirens went by. Moreover, it’s a super busy dirt road since it’s an off-roading tourist spot

Don’t let your animals out of your sight

Coyotes can be quite bold, and have been known to hang around heavily populated areas, waiting for an open door, which allows them a chance to go inside and investigate. And sometimes the home owners are inside, when they do this. Opportunistic animals. I work in a large city, and I sometimes see them in the morning. They’ve even walked behind us, while we walk from the parking lot to the shop. I hope you don’t need to use that firearm

And I believe they’ve been known to have rabies . . . which could be a danger for all of you

Do you have a digital multimeter?

If so you could easily check what the charging voltage is while the jeep is idling

And then you could see what the charging voltage is with a bunch of loads on, such as high beams, high blower speed, rear window defogger, radio, seat heaters, you get the idea

If you’re in a position to do that, please post the results back to us

And how old is that battery, anyways?

Battery is almosy 3 yrs old - spent a few months in Colorado before moving to AZ.

Cars totally dead now - - must be from the lights using the battery while going in and out - it started just fine when I had to move it earlier…

and I’m in the middle of nowhere, so I’ll call roadside for a tow in the AM. It very well could be a bad battery - fingers crossed

3 years old isn’t that bad, but it could be borderline

I also live in the southwest, and some batteries only last 3 years, but 4 - 5 is more comon

It came from Walmart - so I’m going to error on the short side…

Update: it was the alternator.

$880 later, and I was back on the road…

Did you get the repair at the Jeep dealership . . . ?!

Anyways, glad to hear it’s fixed


Omg - no, but Tuesday was a hell of a day.

Got a tow at 1030 - guy at the shop plugged it in and went to lunch. Came back and tested to find it was the alternator. Looked it up and guessed the price would be about $500. He didn’t have what was needed to replace, jumped the car and sent me on my way. I called my grandpa for his CC info bc no way did I have that, and as much fun as it would be to work from Sedona for a few weeks, finding a place to do that and keep the animals sane wouldn’t have been remotely easy :rofl: -

I called another shop, told them my problem and that it would be a pain bc of where it was located. He insisted he could do it. Got to that shop, and waited for a bit before he took the car back. Five minutes later, he couldn’t fix it but he called a shop that said they could fix it and if I got there fast enough, it could be done that day - and it was just a mile away. They jumped the car and sent me on my way.

A block away the car totally died. So once again we had to wait for a tow. At that point it was nearly 3pm and I knew it wouldn’t be done. I found out I had trip interruption so my hotel/food would be reimbursed - but if you have pets you know finding a pet friendly hotel is sometimes a challenge. I have a pit, a GSD, and a cat. I was lucky and found the Best Western Inn of Sedona has a flat $20 fee per stay no matter now many or what kind of animal. I used a hotels discount I had been saving and paid $88 for the night.

We eventually got to the third shop and got what I needed for the night packed up and they (thankfully!) drove the lot of us to the hotel. He even waited for me to check in and helped carry the stuff to the room.

I got the call with the estimate the next morning and they got to work. I also had hem do an oil change since I was there and they topped up all fluids. The cost was so much bc they also had to discharge and recharge the AC to get to the alternator. I have a problem with pump shutoff when I fill up the tank - there is something clogging the line - you can hear it fill up after a half gallon and it shuts off - takes me forever to fill up. They checked that out and couldn’t see anything obvious but didn’t charge me for checking it out. I am sure they could have figured it out if I had more time, but after having to walk a mile with two dogs, a cat in a bag, my camera/purse and lenses, as well as my work laptop bag… and a litter box… I was just ready to leave. It was the longest mile walk of my life.

Canyon Auto in Sedona was actually pretty fantastic to deal with! She gave me a list of things to have a shop locally check out for that gas issue and they were upfront and clear about EVERYTHING they did. The itemized receipt showed literally everything they did and they did a full road test check before we started out 3.5 hour drive home.

It was a long, crazy weekend. Thanks to everybody here who helped me know what it could be. Not knowing is a huge anxiety point for me. :slight_smile: