You can easily and quickly test your 1.5L Toyota Tercel's alternator with a multimeter and in this tutorial I'll explain how.
With your test results, you'll easily determine if the alternator is bad or not.
Contents of this tutorial:
APPLIES TO: This tutorial applies to the following vehicles:
- 1.5L Toyota Tercel: 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998.
Important Testing Tips
The following tips will help you accomplish the tests in this tutorial:
TIP 1: Before you start the alternator tests, make sure the battery is fully charged (since you'll have to crank and start the engine to test the alternator).
TIP 2: You can use a digital multimeter or an analog multimeter.
TIP 3: Take all necessary safety precautions. Be alert and think safety all of the time since you'll be working around a running engine.
Symptoms Of A Bad Alternator
As you're probably already aware, the alternator is the component that charges your Toyota Tercel's battery while the engine is running.
When the alternator fails, the battery is not going to get charged. This will cause one or more of the following symptoms:
- The charge light (also known as the battery light) will be shining nice and bright on your Tercel's instrument cluster.
- Whenever you turn on the headlights (night driving), they glow very dim.
- The car won't crank. It will only crank and start if you jump start your Tercel.
- The only way the car cranks and starts is if you charge the battery.
TEST 1: Checking Alternator Voltage Output With A Multimeter
Our first test will be to check the battery's voltage with a multimeter (in Volts DC mode) and the engine running.
This test will quickly confirm the alternator is either charging or not charging the battery.
If your test result confirms that the alternator is not charging the battery, your next test will be TEST 2.
These are the test steps:
Start the engine and let it idle.
Place your multimeter in Volts DC mode.
Check the battery's voltage with your multimeter.
The multimeter should register 13.5 to 14.5 Volts.
If it doesn't, don't worry about this just yet, continue to the next step.
Turn on every accessory possible while observing the multimeter. Like the headlights, the A/C or heater (high blower speed), the windshield wipers, the radio, the rear window defroster, etc.
As each accessory comes on, they'll place a load on the charging system (alternator).
As each accessory comes on, your multimeter will do one of two things:
1.) The multimeter's voltage reading will decrease slightly and then stabilize around 13.5 to 14.5 Volts DC (when something comes on).
2.) The DC voltage reading will decrease to 10 Volts DC.
Let's analyze your multimeter test results:
CASE 1: The multimeter maintained a 13.5 to 14.5 Volts value thru' out the whole test. This test result confirms that the alternator in your 1.5L Toyota Tercel is functioning correctly.
Since the alternator is charging the battery, no further testing is required.
CASE 2: The multimeter DID NOT maintain a 13.5 to 14.5 Volts value. This test result confirms that the alternator is not charging the battery.
The next step is to test the continuity of the wire that connects the alternator to the battery. For this test go to: TEST 2: Testing The Continuity Of The Alternator's Output Wire.