Wear and tear, like death and taxes are surefire and unavoidable. Unless you’re the type to change your car everytime you encounter a problem, you’ll eventually reach the stage where your car lights just aren’t as bright as they used to be. Or your car interior lights dim together with your subwoofers bleary boomy beat. ICE just doesn’t sound as good as it used to and you blame your old aging ears for not being able to hear those ‘tings’ or ‘thumps’ or plucking of guitar strings.
That was me a week ago – me and my aging 9 year old beat up Wira.
I recently had my old worn out 70A alternator replaced. It was dying (or dead?) and everything electrical just wasn’t working that great. Plonked in a 90A replacement and hey presto, everything started working fine and dandy again. But I could never figure out why my car didn’t feel the increased load from the bigger ampere alternator. The other thing was why my voltmeter always showed no more than a maximum of 12.8V even without load and with the engine running at capacity (read : high revving). Lowest readings would sometimes go all the way down to 12.1V! That directly affected how bright my headlights were and like most old cars, the more your step on the gas pedal the brighter the lights. The minute you let go it would go back to being relatively not-bright (it wasn’t dim, just not as bright). For anyone who’ll probably ask, I have a grounding kit and a VS installed. Both of which I checked and confirmed is working and in good condition.
As always, whenever I hit a speedbump, I call on the experts for help. In this particular case, Howie from EA Autoworks.
Picture courtesy of EA Autoworks
I’ve known Howie as long as I’ve had my car so he’s somewhat familiar with her (yes.. my cars are always female). He suggested to install this doohickey cable of his that he fabricated, which essentially is just a direct connection from the battery to the alternator.
Why on earth would I want to do that? If you think about it, the reason why you install a grounding kit is because the stock grounding for the car is worn out. So the same reasoning can be used for the original battery-to-alternator wiring too. So a direct brand-spanking new cable from the battery to the alternator would probably do wonders for battery charging when the car is in motion.
But wouldn’t the heat from the extractor and the engine melt that cable? Sure it would… If you were using sub-standard cables and linkages. And it’s all about the installation too. Avoid the heat and it’ll last longer.
And what about in the event of an accident? This cable would be in the way and it’ll start a fire since it’s direct power from the alternator to the battery! Good point. Which is why this cable has a special cutoff feature (fuse) in the event of something catastrophic. And it’s been setup in such a way that it will not break on the engines normal load and even if it does disconnect, nothing will happen. You’ll just be reverted back to using the stock connection.
For cold starts, I now get 13.6V which is a far cry from the highest reading earlier – 12.8V. It stayed within the 13V region throughout the day. Not bad, not bad at all! I’ve been an ICE kaki since god-knows-when and I’m relatively sensitive to any audible changes to my setup, and it was pretty damn obvious there was a difference! Awesome! Headlights now didn’t dim or brighten with the accelerator pedal either. Battery voltage stayed pretty consistently between 13.2V to 13.6V throughout the day. The only time it dipped to 13.1V was when I was stuck in traffic in the middle of the afternoon. Apparently the heat affected the current? I don’t know. I don’t see how it would but it did. Either that or the aircon compressor started working harder therefore sucking up more power? That’s a possibility.
There was however a downside to this upgrade. I started to feel the 90A drag. Take note that this is purely butt-dyno feel only but this being my daily drive for 7 days a week, I’m pretty sure my car is slower to move now. Not significant, but it’s there. Why did I go for the 90A in the first place? I’m an ICEr! Any sort of power increase equals better sound for me. So the alternator upgrade did initially make a difference but now with the custom cable, it made even more of a difference. So much so I had to retune my EQ settings.
Also, I’m not so sure it would be advisable to install it so near the spark plug cables like I have. But I didn’t really have much of a choice and so far everything is working as it should. So I’ll just have to monitor it and see how it goes.
Conclusion? Howie said on his almost new car, it made a difference of a consistent 0.3v. To an avid ICEr and installer who goes for competitions (and wins sometimes) that 0.3V is the world to him. But to the average ICEr like me, it probably wouldn’t make any difference. But from 12.8V to 13.6V I guarantee you it’s worth the upgrade.
I highly recommend this simple upgrade to anyone whose car is experiencing fluctuating electrical power and a grounding kit hasn’t helped. Or to anyone with too much money. Either way works.
It’s also only available at EA Autoworks so contact them if you’re interested.