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goldiemike
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PostSubject: Thermistor or alternator help?   Fri Mar 20, 2009 8:51 pm

I am having a problem with my entire electrical system. I have changed alternators and battery cables but still have a problem with my power spiking high, making my lights go extremely bright, my airbag light come on, and my air conditioner go crazy. The thing is if i disconnect the thermositor non of these things happen but my charge light stays on so I don't know if my car is charging or not. If any one can help me please help.
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albertj
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PostSubject: Re: Thermistor    Fri Mar 20, 2009 9:34 pm

we need more information such as:

- make, model and year of your car
- when you got it/how long you have owned it (tells us about maintenance)
- when the problem started
- what modifications you have made (stereo/lights/whatever)
- whether it has been wrecked and pulled/repaired
- whether it has been flooded
- whether anything has been spilled under rear seat/drivers seat

Albertj
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goldiemike
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PostSubject: Re: Thermistor    Fri Mar 20, 2009 9:55 pm

I'm sorry. It's a 1998 Buick Riviera 3.8L V6 Supercharged bought it in 2003, everything maintained on schedule. Problem started after i reinstalled my stereo system after getting my car painted in Jan 2008. Hasn't been wrecked, flooded, or nothing spilled. I have also replaced the PCM.
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albertj
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PostSubject: Re: Thermistor    Sat Mar 21, 2009 5:50 pm

OK! I get it now.

First thing I would do is remove and reinstall the stereo, at a time when I could be sure all the connections were correct. Odds are you have an open or a short in the power wiring for that stereo, or that you accidentally shorted something and now have something wrong with the stereo itself.

The Riv's electrical system works, but does *not* like modifications *at all.*

Was the aftermarket stereo in it before you got it in 2003? And what have you been doing if the problem has been there for over a year - does it only misbehave when the stereo is on, and what else have you tied to do to fix it? Please advise.

Albertj
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Ryan from Ohio
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PostSubject: Re: Thermistor    Sat Mar 21, 2009 7:29 pm

Ive noticed also the Riv has an extremely high charge rate. Our Riv charges at almost 15 Volts... lol

This shouldnt hurt anything though.
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goldiemike
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PostSubject: Re: Thermistor    Sat Mar 21, 2009 10:15 pm

I installed the stereo in 2003. The problem does it regardless of the stereo. I removed everything stereo related and it still does it. The only headway I have made is recently when i removed the thermositor and it stopped the power fluxuation but it left the charge light on the whole while. I took it to the dealearship and they told me PCM so I replaced it myself still same problem then I deployed and left it with a automotive electric place they swapped the alternator and said that was it but after I got back and started driving the problem returned.
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albertj
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PostSubject: Re: Thermistor    Sat Mar 21, 2009 11:52 pm

where is the thermistor?

Albertj
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AA
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PostSubject: Re: Thermistor    Sat Mar 21, 2009 11:55 pm

Should be somewhere under the seat, near the battery. Not sure exactly where.

_________________
'98 SC Riviera • 268k miles • 298 HP/370 TQ • 0-60: 5.79s • ET: 13.97 @ 99.28 • 4087 lb • 20.1 avg MPG • Nelson Ledges Lap: 1:30
3.4" pulley • AL104 plugs • 180º t-stat • FWI w/K&N • 1.9:1 rockers • OR pushrods • LS6 valve springs • SLP headers • ZZP fuel rails
KYB GR2 struts • MaxAir shocks • Addco sway bars • UMI bushings • GM STB • Enkei 18" EV5s w/ Dunlop DZ101s • F-body calipers
EBC bluestuff/Hawk HP plus • SS lines • Brembo slotted discs • DHP tuned • Aeroforce • Hidden Hitch


'05 GTO • 49k miles • 0-60: 4.8s • 16.9 avg MPG • Nelson Ledges Lap: 1:26
Because fun
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albertj
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PostSubject: Re: Thermistor    Tue Mar 24, 2009 3:50 am

Removing the stereo and repairing the wiring may be two different things.

Albertj
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Ryan from Ohio
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PostSubject: Re: Thermistor    Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:35 am

Sounds like a voltage regulator to me...
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deekster_caddy
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PostSubject: Re: Thermistor    Wed Mar 25, 2009 8:35 am

What happens if you completely disconnect the stereo? Do things return to normal?
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goldiemike
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PostSubject: Re: Thermistor    Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:08 pm

Nope it still does it. Here's an update. If i disconnect the thermistor under the back seat it doesn't do it. The bad side to this is my battery light stays on. I took it to a alternator place and they said everything seemed normal and it was charging at 14 volts.
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AA
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PostSubject: Re: Thermistor    Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:21 pm

I would bet the thermistor is bad, or there is a break/short somewhere in the thermistor wire. Reason I think this is, the thermistor wire (light blue) goes directly to the alternator via the 3-wire plug in. The thermistor's job is to "tell" the voltage regulator when to cut back on voltage (and when to increase it).

If the the battery should get too hot, the thermistor increases voltage on the light blue wire, and the voltage regulator compensates by lowering the output voltage. If the voltage on this wire should go low, the regulator will increase by a proportionate amount. In this way, you can actually boost charging voltage by running diodes inline with the blue wire. I've done it to mine, increasing voltage from 13.9 to 14.5.

If anything is wrong with the wire or thermistor, causing the voltage to drop, it would create the problem you are seeing. Also, the regulator could be bad, as someone mentioned, but I would think this would be a more consistent problem than you are reporting.

_________________
'98 SC Riviera • 268k miles • 298 HP/370 TQ • 0-60: 5.79s • ET: 13.97 @ 99.28 • 4087 lb • 20.1 avg MPG • Nelson Ledges Lap: 1:30
3.4" pulley • AL104 plugs • 180º t-stat • FWI w/K&N • 1.9:1 rockers • OR pushrods • LS6 valve springs • SLP headers • ZZP fuel rails
KYB GR2 struts • MaxAir shocks • Addco sway bars • UMI bushings • GM STB • Enkei 18" EV5s w/ Dunlop DZ101s • F-body calipers
EBC bluestuff/Hawk HP plus • SS lines • Brembo slotted discs • DHP tuned • Aeroforce • Hidden Hitch


'05 GTO • 49k miles • 0-60: 4.8s • 16.9 avg MPG • Nelson Ledges Lap: 1:26
Because fun
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The Carpenter
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PostSubject: temp   Sat Jun 23, 2012 2:00 pm

where is the thermister located?I would really like to have this car fixed for that 10 min. that it worked I fell in love,brought back many memories from my younger years.Thank for any replies
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albertj
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PostSubject: Re: Thermistor    Sun Jun 24, 2012 3:02 pm

The Carpenter wrote:
where is the thermister located?I would really like to have this car fixed for that 10 min. that it worked I fell in love,brought back many memories from my younger years.Thank for any replies

It's in the positive battery cable, look for it and you will find it - but if in your stereo wiring you *replaced* the positive battery cable, that's your problem. You **neeed** the original cable or the car's charging system will not work correctly.

That said if you are handy I understand that for less than $10 you can get a replacement thermistor from Radio Shack and solder it in yourself.

IIRC thermistor is in the terminal housing on the positive battery cable - someone else please verify that for me.

Albertj
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designer1962
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PostSubject: Thermistor    Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:48 pm

While charging the battery in my 95 Riv (Series one engine w SC) I noticed that the thermistor was not attached to the battery cable, and was unplugged from the wiring altogether. It was just lying on the floor under the rear seat.

Should I be experiencing any issues with the thermistor not being active? The biggest electrical issue I have had since owning the car (4 years) has been the battery slowly discharging if the car stands for four or five days unused. Could this be from the unhooking of the thermistor?

I don't really know what the thing does anyway. What is it's function?

Thanks for any input.
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albertj
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PostSubject: Re: Thermistor    Wed Feb 04, 2015 11:25 pm

designer1962 wrote:
While charging the battery in my 95 Riv (Series one engine w SC) I noticed that the thermistor was not attached to the battery cable, and was unplugged from the wiring altogether. It was just lying on the floor under the rear seat.

Should I be experiencing any issues with the thermistor not being active? The biggest electrical issue I have had since owning the car (4 years) has been the battery slowly discharging if the car stands for four or five days unused. Could this be from the unhooking of the thermistor?

I don't really know what the thing does anyway. What is it's function?

Thanks for any input.

The thermistor measures the temperature of the battery to modulate the charging rate. With it missing the battery will charge more slowly.
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chitown_riv98
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PostSubject: Re: Thermistor    Wed Feb 04, 2015 11:35 pm

Dam, I didn't know that. How does it look?
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AA
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PostSubject: Re: Thermistor    Wed Feb 04, 2015 11:56 pm

It measures temperature at the battery. A cold battery likes a higher charge voltage. A hot battery shouldn't get much over 12V. Using a thermistor keeps the battery healthier, and is one of the reasons many of our original batteries lasted 10 years or more.

_________________
'98 SC Riviera • 268k miles • 298 HP/370 TQ • 0-60: 5.79s • ET: 13.97 @ 99.28 • 4087 lb • 20.1 avg MPG • Nelson Ledges Lap: 1:30
3.4" pulley • AL104 plugs • 180º t-stat • FWI w/K&N • 1.9:1 rockers • OR pushrods • LS6 valve springs • SLP headers • ZZP fuel rails
KYB GR2 struts • MaxAir shocks • Addco sway bars • UMI bushings • GM STB • Enkei 18" EV5s w/ Dunlop DZ101s • F-body calipers
EBC bluestuff/Hawk HP plus • SS lines • Brembo slotted discs • DHP tuned • Aeroforce • Hidden Hitch


'05 GTO • 49k miles • 0-60: 4.8s • 16.9 avg MPG • Nelson Ledges Lap: 1:26
Because fun
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Lmck3
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PostSubject: alternator lamp illuminated on panel   Wed Apr 01, 2015 5:30 am

one fine summer day, when my 95riv engine was "awakened",
the instrument panel said “ALTERNATOR”.  This was a first.

These generation8 Riv alternators are v powerful and they are expensive.
I have a friend who was head mechanic at a CarMax and because he could get me the maximum
discounts at NAPA/autozone/Advance, we were most respectful.

Upon hearing of this problem my “certified master mechanic” pal announced that the
Riv's charging system is very simple, and he opined that I needed a new alternator.  
[ about $150 ]  He stated that the alternator itself was the only thing that could go wrong.

further investigation revealed that, even though the instrument panel was illuminating the
ALTERNATOR lamp, it turned out that,  at idle,  the battery voltage indicated 14.1 volts.

Idling output of 14 volts did not seem like a big crisis, so I got out the trusty Buick Service Manuals,
[ they were 2 volumes, printed by General Motors, and,  
the pair was bought on ebay for $100]
they are exactly what Buick mechanics used for reference when working on 8th-gen Rivs back in the day ]

Image – Buick factory service manuals
http://s279.photobucket.com/user/Lmckinley99/media/riv_service_manuals_1416.jpg.html?sort=3&o=5

page from GM manual here:
http://s279.photobucket.com/user/Lmckinley99/media/riv_diagnose_alternator_manual.jpeg.html?sort=3&o=0

turns out there is a diagnostic tree for alternator problems.  Also, it turns our that the info is
difficult to discover because the Buick service manual calls this device a “generator”, which is a charming anachronism, but not an accurate name for the Riviera's dynamo.  Grrrr....

so, I began to figure out this “thermistor”.
Results:
Rivs have them.  otherwise, only Caddy Eldorados use this part number.
It is a device that senses heat and translates that to varying resistance [ like a temp gauge sending unit ].
this thermistor is no longer available as a GM part.  There are none in the GM system now. [year 2014]

image:  thermistor collection
http://s279.photobucket.com/user/Lmckinley99/media/riv_thermister_collection.jpeg.html?sort=3&o=3

What the thermistor does for a gen8 Riv:
this device is clamped onto the battery positive terminal.
It senses how warm the battery is.
[ when the alternator pushes a lot of amps into the battery, the battery heats up ]
because the battery lives inside the passenger cabin, the system carefully monitors
the rate of charge. A runaway battery would be no fun for the backseat passengers.
The thermistor dials back the charger rate if necc.

The thermistor performs the monitoring mission and it sends temp data to the
alternator, and thus dials back the output of the alternator if the battery gets hot.

So:
if the thermistor fails, the charging system gets confused.
This is what caused this 1995 Riv's “Alternator” lamp to turn itself “on”,
even though the alternator was constantly producing it's maximum output.

The 1995 Riv's thermistor quit sending info to the alternator. This was caused by corrosion
on the pins inside the small white electrical connector leads which send info upline.
[ the corrosion was caused by H2O in the battery well, but that's another story ]

The fix:
cut off the excellent GM Delphi plastic 2-pin connector and simply re-connected
the wires using high quality squeeze crimp units.

Bottom line:
Thermistors were rarely used by GM.
New ones cannot be had.
Whenever I see a gen8 Riv at the junkyards, the back seat gets lifted and the thermistor
is removed.  At checkout, the cashier usually has no idea what she is attempting to
put a price on, so the cost is often $2 or, sometimes, free.

The very fact that I have 4 thermistors under the workbench guarantees that i'll never have
a failure of the one which was installed in my RIV at Lake Orion, Michigan in 1995.

moral of this story:
the thermistors in our Rivs are rare and made of a “element” on the periodic table named
“un-obtanium”.
As a service to our community, whenever any one of has the opportunity, these devices should
be harvested.  [ if anybody requires one of these thermistors, contact me ]

Bottom line:
my original alternator continues to hum along after 130,000 miles.
Repairing the 2 wire connections extinguished the ALTERNATOR lamp.
The expensive GM service manuals paid for themselves then and there.

EDIT: the previous (this) post named the offending lamp as "alternator" but that was a mistake. the red lamp which illuminated had no written word description.
it is a little image of a battery located within the left-most circular "idiot light" gauge
and it is located directly above the headlamp switch.
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AA
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PostSubject: Re: Thermistor    Wed Apr 01, 2015 9:11 pm

To add a few details for clarity (I don't disagree with much of your analysis, but there is more for consideration):

As you mentioned, the thermistor protects against thermal runaway, and it also regulates (optimizes) charging voltage at colder temperatures. In very cold conditions, the alternator will deliver 15 volts or more. In hot summer, or when the battery is warm for whatever reason, charging can be just over 12 volts. What this does is keep the battery healthy for years of long life. Most lead acid batteries prefer higher charge voltages when cold.

Thermistors are not black magic nor rocket science. They're just simple components found in every modern car serving various functions, and normally they are very reliable. Elsewhere on the Riviera, thermistors report ambient temperature and intake air temperature - both are vital for correct engine and HVAC operation. The exact part for use with our OEM batteries may no longer be available, however thermistors are readily available in component form.

One source for raw thermistors is Omega Corp. When my intake air sensor failed (from exposure to elements), I did not bother finding an OEM replacement, I made my own from a mil-spec Omega thermistor ($15). The result was vastly decreased (faster) refresh rates for IAT. The write-up is here:

http://rivperformance.editboard.com/t8404-write-up-omega-intake-air-temperature-sensor-iat

For the battery thermistor application, I am not sure of the exact Omega component to use, but it would be easy to figure out with a few simple tools, resistors, and an ohm-meter. In bypassing the OEM thermistor and running a fixed 3k ohm resistor (a common value) in line to the alternator, the resulting charge voltage can be observed and recorded. Using a different value (e.g. 10k ohm) we see the adjusted charge voltage, and can begin to understand the charging curve and range. Choosing an appropriate thermistor to cover that range is now pretty easy.

Another option would be to just choose a fixed resistor that results in a proper charge voltage (14.4v is normal). A fixed resistor can be purchased for $0.25, or a multi-pack can be ordered for a couple dollars. There is a good chance that using a fixed resistor would be a forever fix, as they are extremely durable. Again, I don't know the correct value, but it would be easy to determine from trial & error, or using a trimmer (variable) resistor and ohm-meter.

Your idea to harvest used thermistors of course works well! I feel there will be a day when this option proves more difficult, so hopefully this thread can grow with new information to help Riv owners in the future, when parts are no longer available.

_________________
'98 SC Riviera • 268k miles • 298 HP/370 TQ • 0-60: 5.79s • ET: 13.97 @ 99.28 • 4087 lb • 20.1 avg MPG • Nelson Ledges Lap: 1:30
3.4" pulley • AL104 plugs • 180º t-stat • FWI w/K&N • 1.9:1 rockers • OR pushrods • LS6 valve springs • SLP headers • ZZP fuel rails
KYB GR2 struts • MaxAir shocks • Addco sway bars • UMI bushings • GM STB • Enkei 18" EV5s w/ Dunlop DZ101s • F-body calipers
EBC bluestuff/Hawk HP plus • SS lines • Brembo slotted discs • DHP tuned • Aeroforce • Hidden Hitch


'05 GTO • 49k miles • 0-60: 4.8s • 16.9 avg MPG • Nelson Ledges Lap: 1:26
Because fun
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http://www.cardomain.com/ride/657082/4
albertj
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PostSubject: Re: Thermistor    Thu Apr 02, 2015 3:22 am

To AA and Lance:

The use of thermistor to modulate charge rate is clever but there's other ways to do it and I bet GM implemented a different strategy such as measuring voltage change over time via the PCM.

If when and as my thermistors quit I'd do what AA did, get a better spec thermistor as component and install. What I learned when rebuilding my HVAC control is that GM did use adequate components in the custom electronics but for $0.02 more could have used better and avoided some of the problems we see. However, that would cost a little more and might not be necessary to get through the warranty period.
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PostSubject: Re: Thermistor    Mon Apr 20, 2015 8:22 pm

Here is a good read on remote voltage sensing for batteries. Thermistor is mentioned in there.

http://www.madelectrical.com/electricaltech/remotevoltagesensing.shtml

The Aurora has one as well. The set point of the voltage regulator is 14.6V @ 77*F on our CS144 alternators. I built a high output alternator recently for my Aurora and audio system. There is a strict formula used for temperature compensation in the industry.




Quote :
Charging Temperature Compensation:

Charging voltages are based on a temperature of 77ºF (25ºC). For average operating temperatures below this range (colder than) the maximum voltage set point should be compensated with an increase at a rate of 0.018 volts / ºF (0.032 volts/º C.) For average operating temperatures above this range (warmer than) the maximum voltage set point should be compensated with a decrease at a rate of 0.018 volts / ºF (0.03 volts/º C.) Example: at 65ºF and 14.2 volt set point Corrected Voltage = 14.2 + ((77-65) x (0.018)) = 14.42 volts




My DIC voltage readout is ~0.2V higher than voltage at both of my batteries. I also run AGM batteries.
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Jack the R
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PostSubject: Re: Thermistor    Tue Sep 27, 2016 1:00 am

What's striking me as remarkable here is that GM went to so much trouble to adjust the charge voltage based on the temperature swing of a battery that is inside the car. The temperature swing Riviera batteries see can't be anything like what a battery under the hood of the car sees, and I wonder if that isn't the real reason why they last longer. I can hardly believe the battery even needs to have the voltage adjusted because the Riv's interior will not be -20 or 120 degrees for very long after start. You're going to get it to 70-80 degrees within minutes. How much charging is the alternator going to do in a few minutes?

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albertj
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PostSubject: Re: Thermistor    Tue Sep 27, 2016 5:46 pm

Jack the R wrote:
What's striking me as remarkable here is that GM went to so much trouble to adjust the charge voltage based on the temperature swing of a battery that is inside the car.  The temperature swing Riviera batteries see can't be anything like what a battery under the hood of the car sees, and I wonder if that isn't the real reason why they last longer.  I can hardly believe the battery even needs to have the voltage adjusted because the Riv's interior will not be -20 or 120 degrees for very long after start.  You're going to get it to 70-80 degrees within minutes.  How much charging is the alternator going to do in a few minutes?


Battery temp not necessarily same as interior car temp due to heating while charging; have to have some way to detect an prevent thermal runaway if you're going to boost the charge rate.

Think of it this way: of all the Rivs owned by people on this forum what % have had the thermistor crap out at all?

Right.

Not that many.

Enough to give us something to talk about and not enough to make an epidemic.

@AA: It would not surprise me a bit to find that the IAT and battery thermistors are electrically the same.
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