Did giving a friend a jump fry my volvo's regulator?


#1

I recently gave a guy i started dating a jump on the side of the freeway from my 2002 Volvo S60. He drives a late model Honda Accord (maybe 1999?) and had been having electrical issues and issues with his alternator and battery (car not starting, keeping a charge etc) after having his engine replaced. ANYWAY, he asks me to come give him a jump, which i do (thank god my battery is in my trunk - he is on a 5 lane freeway just shy of rush hour). He assures me he knows how to jump a car - i was feeling nervous - not about his ability - probably about my car’s computer - and connects the cables. (I don’t watch - i get back in my car) he tells me to start my car - then he starts his - and says we will keep them running so that my car can charge his battery. After maybe 10 minutes, maybe more? my car’s warning system comes on and says “Warning: Battery Voltage Low” - so i tell him he has to disconnect and tell him what my warning light says. He unhooks the connection and says it’s not working anyway -his battery isn’t holding a charge and he has to call a tow (not sure if his car turned over at all - it was super loud on the freeway and i was in my car). At this point my cell phone is almost dead so i tell him i need to leave and drive my car for a while, which i do, and the warning light goes off. Next day? Comes back on for a minute, then off. Day 3, same thing light goes on, off. So take it to my Volvo repair guy in my neighborhood and find out it’s not the alternator (thank god, $700) but instead it’s my regulator - which costs me $390. I ask my friend if he is going to pay for it, and he seems shocked. Ok, he is shocked, believing that it’s my car and the damage was non-related. And also that he doesn’t believe my mechanic. I’m shocked at this - thinking Occam’s Razor - warning light/damage happened while he was jumping and running both cars - it’s never happened before- thus:………?
Please any information/advise helps. (oh, and last text from my boyfriend is that he will pay, but he doesn’t believe my mechanic, or that he is at fault, and that he needs some ‘space’). We are both broke, and I had to pay the bill on my credit card because i need my car for work
ps: yes, my mechanic said - well, most likely yes, the damage occurred during the jump. So did another friend of mine who works on his volvo.


#2

If you get off with just a fried regulator…consider yourself lucky. I have a hard and fast rule…I connect the jumper cables if it’s my car doing the jumping…on both ends. I have decades of experience and a lot of people out there have none.


#3

Do you think the fried regulator was due to the jump? I’m wondering if it’s fair to ask him to pay? i’ve already told him i will pay for half….i’m wondering if the cause of the fried regulator was due to the jump?


#4

Your friend already had issues with his battery / alternator. If his battery went dead while he was driving it was probably due to a shorted cell or two. This places a tremendous load on an alternator / regulator. He probably already wiped out his regulator then when he connected the jumpers to your car he did the same to yours.


#5

There are many stories of worse things happening by jumping cars, but most stories have happy endings. This one did not, does he owe you maybe, offer to split the charges as the regulator may have been on its last legs, but a dead amp draw on your car what it sounds like was certainly above your cars capabilities. If you stay together a birthday present of roadside service should be on the list. If he does not pony up ride off into the sunset.


#6

yes, the jump most likely killed your regulator. and if he wants space give it to him. 390.00 bucks is well worth what you learned about him.
needing help is ok.
making a mistake and damaging your car is ok.
being broke is ok.
not excepting responsibility is a bad sign.


#7

if you give someone a jump in the future make sure to keep your engine revved to about 1500rpm to maximize your alternators output. if I jump or get a jump I always remove the cables immediately after the jumped car starts. if that is not enough its a sign that there is more than a simple weak battery problem


#8

Unfortunately it sounds like the work is completed and paid for. In the early 1990s my Fiats amp gauge was going from normal to high. I was sure it was the voltage regulator. I thought it would be best to have the alternator checked so I removed it and took it to a trusted auto electric repair shop. It was a common Bosch with the regulator plugged into the back. I described the symptoms and he was positive it was what he called the “black box” He put the alternator in a machine and confirmed it was the regulator he returned to the counter pulled out a screwdriver, removed 2 screws, unplugged the regulator, produced a new Bosch one from under the counter, installed it, and retested it successfully. This took less than 20 minutes. The total price was $12.50! I don’t know about the Volvo but the part could have easily been replaced on the Fiat X1/9 without removing the alternator. I realize prices have increased since the early 1990s but the only supplier I checked on line had a new Bosch regulator for a 2002 Volvo s60 for less than $60. Any expert opinions on this?


#9

In addition to the the above, I always charge the dead battery for 10 minutes before attempting a start. This allows the jumped battery to quickly develop a good surface charge and prevents over-amping the alternator. The challenge is to get the person with the dead battery to wait those 10 minutes.


#10

“Can you come and jump-start my POS car?? I’m stuck out on the freeway…”

Sorry, but my car is not a repair vehicle…The risk of damaging my electrical system is too great. Please call a tow truck, it’s only a hundred bucks or so, I’ll pay for that before I risk my life and my car…


#11

Buying a $75 jump pack seems like a good idea now


#12

Agree with 2 cents and Caddy. I will never jump another car and don’t carry jumper cables. Thats what the auto club is for. If a battery is drained something is wrong and hooking up a dead battery to a perfectly good car puts a lot of stress on the good car. I will happily give someone a ride though but not a jump.


#13

Partially out of paranoia my dad keeps a Jump pack on hand since he would rather have to call AAA if the jump pack didn’t work than risk doing something to my mom’s Prius. He did have to call her once to bring the pack out to where he was since he ignored the dealers suggestion that the battery was going to need to be replaced soon. After using the jump pack to get his vehicle started he went straight to Costco and bought a new one.


#14

Oh yeah now I remember, when my sons car was stolen, they got the tool box, CDs, and the jump box he had in it. Got the car back but not the stuff. So I went and bought him a new box with the little air compressor in it and light. They are really kind of cheap but handy especially for a kid in school.


#15

An observation: Out there in the aftermarket, a complete rebuilt alternator (which includes the regulator) is cheaper than that voltage regulator as a spare part. And, from long experience, the part most likely to be damaged by a sudden overload to the electrical system while the engine is running is not the regulator, but the diode pack in the alternator. That part is pointless to attempt to replace by itself, for the same reason that the regulator would be; the rebuilt complete alternator is going to be cheaper, and since the regulator is in the alternator, you have to pull the alternator out to replace the regulator. Why would you replace the expensive part and not the cheaper complete assembly? (And if they say they never use rebuilt parts, RUN.) In other words, I think you got hosed.

A sudden overload, by the way, is what can easily happen when trying to jumpstart another vehicle with your own engine already running, if the battery connections on your car are just the least bit questionable or your own battery’s capacity is getting down due to age. When the other car’s starter kicks in, the drain can easily exceed your alternator’s max rated current output. But the regulator? Erm, not so much. In other words, I’m a bit suspicious of the whole “you need a regulator” diagnosis to begin with, in large part because I don’t know anyone who will replace that part preferentially to just swapping in a rebuilt alternator - which is cheaper, and includes the regulator. Part of the reason I’m leery of this is that actually verifying that the regulator has been replaced is one of those “they can’t tell if we’ve actually done it” things that certain types of repair shop adore as a means of charging for something expensive while actually doing something a lot cheaper. Yes, I’m cynical, largely because the reason I got into the repair business 40 years ago was the duplicity of too many of the people in it. And the car repair industry’s deserved lack of trust on the part of the public - which results from that widespread duplicity - is the reason I switched over to the parts end of the business instead.

Lots of parts places will test your alternator and battery for free, right there on the car. If you hadn’t already paid for the job, I’d say you should call around to the parts stores nearby, find one that will do the test, and take the car there. A second opinion was definitely called for, in my experience.

Here’s a video that shows how to replace the alternator, so that you know what’s involved:
http://www.1aauto.com/1A/alternator/Volvo

For future repairs, I think I’d look for a different shop. Good luck.


#16

Pick a guy who is not broke. Chalk it up as $390 lesson. Relationship test for sure sorry it went down this way.

It does reveal lots on character forget the mechanical aspects.


#17

If the battery in the BFs car is junk and the Volvo was idling for 10 minutes it could be that the load from the bad battery fried it in an effort to keep up.

Since your car bought the farm while saving the BF’s bacon it seems a bit low brow to me that the BF won’t step up and cover this. The BF doubts the mechanic over a sound mechanical principle leading to the alternator problem?
Next time tell him he can call someone else while stuck on the side of the road. Trouble brewing…


#18

In response to Evil Wrenchmans post - I believe the regulator is mounted externally on the back of the alternator on this car, an easy swapout. Rock Auto lists 2 regulators for this car - one at $102 and the other at $105. Their rebuilt alternators run from $127 to $412. In these days of solid state regulators I could easily believe a strong pulse could wipe one out.


#19

Im not positive but Im pretty sure you should have your car running before you connect the jumper cables, thats what I always do. I make sure that the car with the good battery that is doing the jumping is already started and running before I connect the cables. From the moment that the cables are connected the dead battery immediately starts to drain voltage from the good battery so when you try to start your car you are starting it with a battery that is already low on voltage and is still be drained by the dead battery,thats my thinking anyways, so I always start the car with the good battery and then connect the cables.
Ive always heard that you arent suppose to connect the ground jumper cable to the ground terminal on the battery,I`m not sure why, but I always make sure to not connect it to the ground terminal on the battery,i find a good spot on the engine block to connect it to.


#20

Always make the last connection to the car being jumped to its engine block…You do not want any sparks near a battery risking an explosion When a battery explodes it sounds like a shotgun being fired and you could get blinded for life…Just for info I did some current checks today with a clip on ammeter to my 89 stang 5.0 on the starter cable…The starter drew a whopping 320+ amps (surge ) to start it turning and drew 150 steady amps while cranking with ignition off for 10 seconds…, This was at 90 degrees so imagine the draw in the winter in freezing temperatures, it could double that. That surge could damage the diodes in an alternator, yet cars get jumped everyday without damage to either. Just for kicks I tried it on my 22 hp lawn tractor with a 30 AH battery… 120 amp surge…70 - 75 amps while cranking.