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Old 10-31-2023, 03:44 PM   #1
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Wondering if anyone ever has had this electrical issue before??

I was doing my return trip after driving to middle Michigan from St. Louis. I think that the Illinois Highways shook something loose last night all of a sudden my headlights, dash lights stated to flicker and and temperature gauge would go in the opposite direction. This only happened if the RMP was over 2000 and the closer to 2400 I got (going up hill for example) the more they would flicker.

1998 International 3800 T444E

The voltage gauge on the dash and voltage reading on my Scanguage D showed that there was over 13 volts from the alternator. I also checked the battery voltage and connections. Voltage was 13.2 V when the bus was not running on both batteries that are less than a year old and are not cheap walmart batteries.

I am thinking something with the alternator or a short somewhere. I will be doing some other troubleshooting later this week but was looking for other possibilities to check or if someone has fixed this problem before.

Thanks

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Old 10-31-2023, 05:00 PM   #2
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Check all the terminal connections for all the batteries. You probably have some fuses or breakers in there so trace through all the main battery wiring including the grounds.

You might be able to simulate the problem while sitting stationary with the headlights on by pointing your bus at a wall and proceeding to rattle wires.

It could also be in the wiring harness to your dash. Jiggling the harnesses might help narrow down where the problem is
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Old 10-31-2023, 06:26 PM   #3
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13.2 volts

That is not enough voltage. To charge a lead acid battery that is nearly fully charged, I like to see 13.8 volts. Batteries that are more discharged I think can handle more. I dont like to see more than 14.5 and 15 volt will boil the fluid in the batteries.

If you can check voltage right at the alternator with engine about 1500 rpm. also check at the batteries at 1500 rpm. should read close to the same. more than .5 volt difference, you have less than stellar connections. could be the wire, could be poor terminal ends, could be poor connection.

turn on headlights- high beam and all the running lights and defrost blower motor s. the check voltage again at 1500 rpm.

the headlights and dash light flickering sure sounds like a light switch problem. You may also have one bad diode in the alternator. at idle you wont have enough voltage. then even revved up the voltage is only adequate.

C'mon other people, chime in, especially Cadillac Kid. I would like to hear what you think.

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Old 10-31-2023, 07:15 PM   #4
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Some good thing to start with. The battery terminals are clean and in good condition. One more thing to add is I did stop last night rather than risking the headlight going out completely. When finishing my drive during daylight the dash lights were flickering with all lights turned of exit the daytime running lights. I think I will disconnect those and check the above suggestions
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Old 10-31-2023, 07:23 PM   #5
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its a bad body ground. make a ground lead about 30 ftoot long ground it to the battery and start probing on the volt scale with the red positive lead. start at the dash ground and check everywhere while you have all the lites on. any voltage will start pointing out your issues
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Old 10-31-2023, 09:08 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by mmoore6856 View Post
its a bad body ground. make a ground lead about 30 ftoot long ground it to the battery and start probing on the volt scale with the red positive lead. start at the dash ground and check everywhere while you have all the lites on. any voltage will start pointing out your issues
My immediate thought was a bad ground. I donít understand your troubleshooting steps though. Can you explain some more?
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Old 10-31-2023, 11:28 PM   #7
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When testing grounds make sure you have one end of your tester on the ground terminal of the battery and no where else then use the red lead and touch the ground on the dashboard that the gauges are and check for voltage. Should be zero. Then touch (with red lead) the ground spade tab the dash grounds on. Should be no voltage. Then try the metal floor pan or any part of the bus shell and again no voltage should be present. Then go to the frame .again no volts. If you pick up voltage anywhere rather than spend hours tracing it you can just take a 10 or 8 gauge wire and make a new ground from dash to body to frame to battery and call it good
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Old 11-03-2023, 09:55 PM   #8
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I might not have been clear in my original post. The battery voltage was about 13.2 when the bus was not running. When the bus was running the voltage was about 13.6 -13.8 at the battery. I am going to check the body grounds this weekend as it is supposed to be warmer in the mid 60s. I want to get this corrected before the full time cold set in this winter. I will post more tomorrow. I did check the voltage at the alternator and it was in the low 14s. I will clean the terminals on it and the batteries recheck voltage and look for the ground points and make sure the have good connections. I might have a manual that list them.

Thanks for the trouble shooting suggestions. I hate electrical issues.
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Old 11-04-2023, 09:50 AM   #9
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Never hesitate to just add grounds as bodies rust . Just make sure you clean it good to bare metal and after securing your ground spray it with battery preservative
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Old 11-04-2023, 05:58 PM   #10
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I may have found the problem I'll take it for a test drive tomorrow. While following ground wires I found the negative cables on the starter were very very loose. I had to turn the nut at least one or two full turns to it made contact a little bit.
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Old 11-05-2023, 07:17 PM   #11
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I tightened up the ground connector and drove about 20 miles and had no more flashing lights.. I will post any updates if anything changes.
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Old 11-05-2023, 07:20 PM   #12
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Was that a ground? All the starters I’ve ever seen just have a positive cable and use the engine as ground

It’s a good thing to find that before you’re arc welding and lighting your bus up like a Christmas tree
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Old 11-05-2023, 08:49 PM   #13
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My starter has a positive and negative lugs or bolts, whatever you want to call them.
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Old 11-05-2023, 09:07 PM   #14
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Congratulations on finding the problem so easily
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Old 11-08-2023, 03:22 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gorzie View Post
I was doing my return trip after driving to middle Michigan from St. Louis. I think that the Illinois Highways shook something loose last night all of a sudden my headlights, dash lights stated to flicker and and temperature gauge would go in the opposite direction. This only happened if the RMP was over 2000 and the closer to 2400 I got (going up hill for example) the more they would flicker.

1998 International 3800 T444E

The voltage gauge on the dash and voltage reading on my Scanguage D showed that there was over 13 volts from the alternator. I also checked the battery voltage and connections. Voltage was 13.2 V when the bus was not running on both batteries that are less than a year old and are not cheap walmart batteries.

I am thinking something with the alternator or a short somewhere. I will be doing some other troubleshooting later this week but was looking for other possibilities to check or if someone has fixed this problem before.

Thanks
We've had this same occurrence with our 1997 international Amtrans RE t444e bus. What turned out to be was the dash connectors. All of them. Took them apart and cleaned them with crc electrical terminal cleaner and a little wire brush. Problem solved.
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Old 11-08-2023, 03:27 PM   #16
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You don't get off that easy, just tightening it is just a temporary thing, that connection needs to be taken apart, sanded and put back together with a conductive grease or anti-seize to protect and conduct. You can't take anything for granted or it will rear it's ugly head at the worst time.
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Old 11-08-2023, 04:52 PM   #17
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You don't get off that easy, just tightening it is just a temporary thing, that connection needs to be taken apart, sanded and put back together with a conductive grease or anti-seize to protect and conduct. You can't take anything for granted or it will rear it's ugly head at the worst time.
I was planning on doing that this weekend. Thanks
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