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Puddle + Charging System Light

I was on my way to the store earlier today and in order to get into the parking lot was forced to drive through what was apparently a rather large puddle (easily over 6" deep and about 10’ long). No problem yet… Went in the store (inside for about 5 minutes) and then started to go home. Drove for about 2 minutes, got stopped at a red light and then went to take off and my car died. I was able to coast through the intersection and could see while smoke coming from the corner of my hood (closet to windshield on passenger side). I came to a stop and tried to restart the car… Success, however now the charging system indicator light has come on. I have let it sit for about 5 hours now and when I start the car it turns on just fine but after about 15 seconds the light comes back on. Any ideas?

The belt may be wiped due to slipping because of the water saturation. That white smoke is probably burning rubber rather than water cooking off. Need a new belt and possibly belt tensioner as I’m assuming since Olds is long gone this is an aged car with high miles.

Its a 2000 intrigue. I had the water pump, belt, alternator, idler, and tensioner replaced about 2 months ago. The white smoke lasted about 10 to 15 seconds.

New belt or not, it needs to be examined closely. Ten or fifteen seconds of slippage (even assuming that is all it was) is enough to glaze a belt which can then lead to slipping.

With the engine off if you can reach the alternator pulley you might try rotating it with a wrench or socket. The pulley should be very difficult to rotate with the belt intact if the belt is good.

Another possibility is that water has damaged the alternator. A Voltmeter can be used to check the alternator output to make sure it’s in the 13.5-14 volt range.
That’s about the best I can do without car in hand.

OK4450 has given you excellent advice, which he always does. He’s a true and experienced pro.

You may want to also check to see if your splash shields under the car are in place, especially if you’re not the car’s original owner.

I’m curious, why the “damnolds” title?

Because I have had to replace so many things on my olds and it is almost a new car. With all the work I have had done on it in the last two years there is not much that hasn’t been replaced.

That’s typical for a 14 year old car. You replace car payment with repair bills. Expect other things to begin to fail or act up, especially electronic stuff. And, I’d be surprised if the car hasn’t developed odd squeaks and rattles.

“Because I have had to replace so many things on my olds and it is almost a new car.”

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but your Olds is 15 years old. A 2000 model was probably built in 1999. @ok4450 is right on the money with his advice…as he usually is. Don’t feel bad…I wrecked a serpentine belt while driving through a very large rain puddle last year…and it was my wife’s Blazer. I had to replace the serpentine belt, tensioner and tensioner pulley just to satisfy her.

Either new belt or new alternator. Autozone or Advance will test the charging system for free. If either is bad, the battery will go soon.

Well I think I found the problem… Would the smoke possible be caused by a melting fusible link wire??? Could that also cause the charging system indicator light??? Here is a picture of what I discovered when I went to investigate today.

Umm, yeah. Usually fusible link wire doesn’t fail that spectacularly. Many times, you need to roll the wire between your fingers to feel for melted sections. That bad has me thinking dead short. I’d make sure there wasn’t one before replacing it.

Yes, that can be the source of smoke. Maybe a waterlogged alternator that shorted out?

If the red battery light on the dash is illuminated with the key in the run position (engine not running) you might take a screwdriver or other piece of ferrous metal and touch the alternator pulley. You should feel a magnetic attraction by the pulley. If not, the alternator is more than likely gone and that cable will also need to be replaced.

A note about driving through deep standing water. Water can work it’s way past seals and dust boots (especially with an aged car) and contaminate the grease in wheel bearings, ball joints, tie rod ends, etc. The grease turns to muck which can cause those parts to fail at some point with no set time frame on when and if they will fail.

Well, a trip to the local car part stores reviled that my 5.0 sq. mm fusible link wire (10 gauge) is not something that part stores around here carry. One trip to the junk yard, a ten mile bicycle ride, and about 15 minutes later everything is hooked up… Started car and no light… Now I just hope it stays that way.

So I drove car to the store and lights were diming and brightening while accelerating / decelerating and even had all the warning lights come on once. Took the car to my mechanic today and got the best news I have ever had on my car… A grounding wire had somehow been rubbing against the engine block… Cost to fix including diagnostics (drum roll please) FREE… Not the only free fix that they have given me before either (could be a result of giving them over 8K in business in the past 2 years)…

Thanks for letting us know. Glad it was free.

Just goes to show, that if you give the mechanic regular business, someday you’ll get a break.
Had you gone to Iffy Lube for the oil changes, Pepper Boys for brakes, and Meineke for your muffler…stopping in for this would be a chargeable job because they rarely see your car for repairs.

Glad you’re back on the road.