2011 GMC Terrain Charging System Design

2011 GMC Terrain Charging System Design

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On: 28 Jun, 2019

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The charging system used on this Terrain is a little different from the Ford Windstar. Although both charging systems supply power to run the electrical systems of the vehicle, the later model GM system does its job a little differently.

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The charging system used on this Terrain is a little different from the Ford Windstar. Although both charging systems supply power to run the electrical systems of the vehicle, the later model GM system does its job a little differently.

The generator regulator is again controlled by the PCM. The GMC charging system uses a battery current sensor, which monitors the current going in and out of the battery (see wiring diagram in Figure 4). This charging system has six different charging modes controlled by the PCM.

- Battery sulfation mode

– Battery charging mode

– Fuel economy mode

– Headlight mode

– Startup mode

– Voltage reduction mode

Each of these different charging modes have a specific purpose, with the ultimate goals of increasing battery life, improving fuel efficiency and improving cold weather engine starting.

2011 gmc terrain charging system design 1.png

Testing the Charging System

When it comes to diagnosing any charging system issue, it is always a good thing to take a look at a wiring diagram of the system (see Figure 4) and reference the theory of operation to brush up on how the system works. Now that we know how it works and how the wiring is laid out, we can test the system using a voltmeter, battery tester, scan tool and labscope. A digital voltmeter can be substituted for the labscope steps, though testing accuracy is greatly limited.

First, use your battery tester to check the open circuit voltage (OCV) and test the condition of the battery. If the battery is compromised, replace it with a battery that meets the specifications for the vehicle and proceed with your testing. This is important because it is critical to have a properly charged and functioning battery in the vehicle in order to accurately assess the other system components. Don’t consider substituting a battery change as tossing a part at the problem. It is a necessary step. Before you exit this phase of your test, use your positive voltmeter lead to test for B+ voltage at the B+ terminal of the generator.

With a good battery in the vehicle and proper voltage at the B+ generator terminal, it’s time to use your scan tool to check for any diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs). On all smart computer controlled charging systems, checking for any stored diagnostic trouble codes is a critical next step because you can get some very good clues from these codes. For instance, the vehicle is in with a starting complaint and the battery light is not illuminated, do not assume the generator is charging. It is best not to trust the gauges and indicator lights in the instrument cluster. I trust the scanner or labscope data taken from the vehicle much more. If there are DTCs stored, research them and follow them up to see if you can get a direction for further testing.

If you have a known good battery, any diagnostic trouble codes applicable to the charging system have been addressed and proper voltage to the generator, yet the generator still is not charging, it’s time to analyze scan data. By selecting the generator charging command and charging feedback data, the technician will know what the generator is being commanded to do.

Your testing procedure needs to include both the inputs to the generator and the output from the generator. This is where it is critical to understand the way the particular system you are diagnosing is intended to perform. A scan tool is needed to see what the PCM is telling the generator to do. Without proper inputs to the generator, the generator will not output the correct voltage or amperage. A labscope should be connected to verify the outputs from the generator.

testing the charging system 2.png

testing the charging system 3.png

Figure 5 shows scan tool graphing data, including engine speed, engine at idle and electrical loads being turned on and off. Notice how the engine speed remains constant, but the throttle is being opened by the PCM, which is causing the engine load to increase. On the right side of Figure 5, the engine, generator load and command is displayed.

The generator installed on this vehicle is rated at 125 amps output. The scan data is showing the generator to be close to its maximum output and the labscope data backs up the scan data. If the scan tool on your tested vehicle is telling the generator to charge, the proper signals are getting to the generator (test these with your labscope), and there is still no charge, then it is time to replace the generator.

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