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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,
I noticed earlier this week that my 2004 Trailblazer (4.2 I6) was kind of struggling to start. It sounded like it might if you'd left your domelight on all night. My first thought was the battery, but I noticed the volt gauge was still reading around 14, so I decided to go have the battery tested.

The dude at O'Reilly said the battery was fine (based on the battery tester), but the alternator was not charging it sufficiently. I went ahead and replaced the alternator today, but it still seems to be struggling to start. Definitely seems like something electrical.

Should I potentially try to charge the battery, or could something else be causing this, a bad relay or the like? Any and all suggestions or comments would be greatly appreciated.

-Edan

P.S. As an aside, I like this trailblazer. I've owned it about seven months now, put about two thousand miles on it, but I have spent nearly $3k on repairs in that time. I'm wonder at what point to call it quits and move on?
 

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Hard to say with the repairs. A lot of trailblazers right now are worth around only 3k. Was the car pretty neglected when you got it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Seems to have been in a state of semi-neglected stasis. It appeared okay, but once I started to repair and replace things, other stuff started breaking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I should also mention, I usually leave my display on instant miles per gallon, but everytime I've been starting it recently, it defaults to the odometer. It never did that before.
 

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Check your grounds and battery terminal to battery cable connections. All need to be clean and tight. Note, the battery cable terminal to battery connection has a torque of ~10 ft - lbs so do not gorilla tighten them. Also, check the battery cables for green stuff under the insulation at the ends. If there is any, replace the battery cable.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Check your grounds and battery terminal to battery cable connections. All need to be clean and tight. Note, the battery cable terminal to battery connection has a torque of ~10 ft - lbs so do not gorilla tighten them. Also, check the battery cables for green stuff under the insulation at the ends. If there is any, replace the battery cable.
Thanks chem-man for the reply. I did double check those prior to replacing the alternator. The terminals appear to be clean and tightened adequately--not over-tightened. I am wondering if the battery might not be bad.
 

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Get the battery load tested and not conductivity tested. Load testing is really the only way to tell if the battery has a bad cell.

Did you clean and tighten the connections where the negative battery cable goes and on the starter where the battery cable goes?
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Get the battery load tested and not conductivity tested. Load testing is really the only way to tell if the battery has a bad cell.

Did you clean and tighten the connections where the negative battery cable goes and on the starter where the battery cable goes?
Hi chem_man, good suggestion(s). I thought about taking a look at the starter, but hadn't gotten that far just yet. I was really hoping it wasn't going to be that, but there is a possibility that the connection is dirty and causing the issues. It seems like it's pretty easy to get at on this?

I should add, the battery appears to be a 75 month Napa battery from sometime in 2017.
 

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A good rule of thumb for batteries is if it is older than 36 months, it's on borrowed time. While it may have a 75 month warranty, it's a pro-rated warranty and even though NAPA batteries are very good, it should be suspect since it's over 36 months old. After you get the battery situation resolved one way or the other - meaning if it passes the load test, great, if not, then you'll be buying a new battery, there is a quick and dirty way to test the starter. Turn your headlights on, then try and start the TrailBlazer. If the battery is good and fully charged and the headlights stay pretty much at the same intensity while the engine is cranking, your starter is likely OK. If while you are cranking the engine the headlights dim a bunch, then the starter is likely bad.

If you can't get at the battery cable connection at the starter from the top, then remove the driver's side tire and go in that way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well after all that, it turned out to the be the battery! Really wish I hadn't wasted that time and money replacing the alternator yesterday, but I guess it's preventative maintenance...I hope. What a pain though.
 

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OK on the battery in need of replacement. Regarding the alternator, if it was the factory alternator, it was time for it to be replaced because the bearings do not seem to last as they should. I replaced the alternator in my 2004 TrailBlazer 5 years ago because the bearings were bad. I could not believe how much quieter the engine compartment was after it's replacement. I got used to the gradual increase in noise the alternator bearings produced.

Also, a bad battery can kill an alternator as well. Hopefully the alternator you purchased came with a lifetime warranty.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
OK on the battery in need of replacement. Regarding the alternator, if it was the factory alternator, it was time for it to be replaced because the bearings do not seem to last as they should. I replaced the alternator in my 2004 TrailBlazer 5 years ago because the bearings were bad. I could not believe how much quieter the engine compartment was after it's replacement. I got used to the gradual increase in noise the alternator bearings produced.

Also, a bad battery can kill an alternator as well. Hopefully the alternator you purchased came with a lifetime warranty.
It was the factory alternator I believe, and the vehicle does have around 179K on it now, so definitely not a bad move. I'll have to check my receipt on the alternator to see what the warranty is like. I was having a hard time finding one locally in stock, so I bought the first available one I could find so I could get the job done ASAP. It wasn't the bargain alternator, but might not have been the tippy top end product either. It is much quieter at idle though, you're right.

So now, all in all, since October, I've replaced or repaired the following:
  • Tensioner and drive pullies
  • Drive Belt
  • AC Compressor (though seems to be leaking oil)
  • Alternator
  • Battery
  • Fuel Pressure Regulator
  • Cluster
  • Spark plugs
  • Differential fluid and driver's side outer seal
  • Transmission fluid and filter
  • Replaced the stock air filter with a Green filter
I hope it can maintain for a little while now without anything going wrong. Engine seems to be running great, no oil burning and plenty of pep. I'll tell you, I had a GM-era Saab (after having had an earlier Swedish one) and it was basically the same story: one thing after another.

Thanks chem_man for all your help, I sure appreciate it!
 

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Well, you have been busy but considering the number of miles on your buggy, it does not seem unreasonable.. I've replaced everything you have except for the driver's side outer seal and the cluster. Regarding the green air filter, I used to run K&N air filters in most every vehicle we have. I have, however, returned back to the regular paper type air filters after finding dust inside the air hose between the air filter box and the throttle body. I don't need that stuff getting into the engine and scratching the cylinder walls.

Remember, it it's mechanical, regardless of whatever brand, it will require the replacement of parts sooner or later, and sometimes it's better to do it sooner and use quality parts than to wait for all out failure.

One thing to remember - stay on top of the oil and filter changes because the VVT solenoid uses engine oil to do its thing with the exhaust cam shaft variable timing. If oil changes are neglected, the screens of the VVT solenoid clog up and cause troubles, and the inner moving parts also get gummed up. Run a decent quality 5w30 oil and a decent oil filter and a reasonable mileage for oil change intervals, and you'll be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Well, you have been busy but considering the number of miles on your buggy, it does not seem unreasonable.. I've replaced everything you have except for the driver's side outer seal and the cluster. Regarding the green air filter, I used to run K&N air filters in most every vehicle we have. I have, however, returned back to the regular paper type air filters after finding dust inside the air hose between the air filter box and the throttle body. I don't need that stuff getting into the engine and scratching the cylinder walls.

Remember, it it's mechanical, regardless of whatever brand, it will require the replacement of parts sooner or later, and sometimes it's better to do it sooner and use quality parts than to wait for all out failure.

One thing to remember - stay on top of the oil and filter changes because the VVT solenoid uses engine oil to do its thing with the exhaust cam shaft variable timing. If oil changes are neglected, the screens of the VVT solenoid clog up and cause troubles, and the inner moving parts also get gummed up. Run a decent quality 5w30 oil and a decent oil filter and a reasonable mileage for oil change intervals, and you'll be fine.
You're absolutely right. I suspect the water pump and thermostat might be next.

I had read a few things prior to buying the air filter and the consensus seemed to be that the green was the best filter for this vehicle. I havent taken it off since installing to inspect the intake hose. I could see that being an issue though.

As far as the oil changes, I appreciate the heads up. I'm not one to miss scheduled maintenance, that's for sure, but especially not knowing now that so much is dependent on that!
 

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I would have started with a jump start before expense and hassle of alternator. A bad alternator would never cause a slow start unless the battery was dead as a result, which it wasn’t according to your “test”. Some people should not work in auto parts.
Hi all,
I noticed earlier this week that my 2004 Trailblazer (4.2 I6) was kind of struggling to start. It sounded like it might if you'd left your domelight on all night. My first thought was the battery, but I noticed the volt gauge was still reading around 14, so I decided to go have the battery tested.

The dude at O'Reilly said the battery was fine (based on the battery tester), but the alternator was not charging it sufficiently. I went ahead and replaced the alternator today, but it still seems to be struggling to start. Definitely seems like something electrical.

Should I potentially try to charge the battery, or could something else be causing this, a bad relay or the like? Any and all suggestions or comments would be greatly appreciated.

-Edan

P.S. As an aside, I like this trailblazer. I've owned it about seven months now, put about two thousand miles on it, but I have spent nearly $3k on repairs in that time. I'm wonder at what point to call it quits and move on?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I would have started with a jump start before expense and hassle of alternator. A bad alternator would never cause a slow start unless the battery was dead as a result, which it wasn’t according to your “test”. Some people should not work in auto parts.
You've got a good point, rgt. I mean my initial suspicion was the battery almost immediately. I never should have listened to that kid at the auto parts store, but I guess hindsight is 20/20 eh?
 

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Hopefully something stupid. I bought my 04 new. Was best car ever owed. Almost no problems till water went out at 195k. I replaced with ac delco pump (replacements made in China) long story short it had a leak, car overheated and I kept driving (long story but had to chance it) blew head gasket and that was the end of her at 222k.
You've got a good point, rgt. I mean my initial suspicion was the battery almost immediately. I never should have listened to that kid at the auto parts store, but I guess hindsight is 20/20 eh?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Hopefully something stupid. I bought my 04 new. Was best car ever owed. Almost no problems till water went out at 195k. I replaced with ac delco pump (replacements made in China) long story short it had a leak, car overheated and I kept driving (long story but had to chance it) blew head gasket and that was the end of her at 222k.
Well, sounds like a good run though anyway! I keep getting frustrated with this thing, then I drive it (and it's not a thrilling drive by any means), but I always end up enjoying both the ride and the power. As a side note, I've received a few replacement AC Delco parts now that were made in India, which I thought was surprising. My wife and I have a Lincoln MKZ too and it seems most of the Motorcraft parts are out of Mexico nowadays.
 

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Hi all,
I noticed earlier this week that my 2004 Trailblazer (4.2 I6) was kind of struggling to start. It sounded like it might if you'd left your domelight on all night. My first thought was the battery, but I noticed the volt gauge was still reading around 14, so I decided to go have the battery tested.

The dude at O'Reilly said the battery was fine (based on the battery tester), but the alternator was not charging it sufficiently. I went ahead and replaced the alternator today, but it still seems to be struggling to start. Definitely seems like something electrical.

Should I potentially try to charge the battery, or could something else be causing this, a bad relay or the like? Any and all suggestions or comments would be greatly appreciated.

-Edan

P.S. As an aside, I like this trailblazer. I've owned it about seven months now, put about two thousand miles on it, but I have spent nearly $3k on repairs in that time. I'm wonder at what point to call it quits and move on?
Have you tried unhooking battery cables for 30 min
 
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