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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Greetings All,


I had a catastrophic electrical system failure on an early build 2018 Stelvio TI. It is highly optioned, owned and driven for 11 months, 6800 miles. All recalls done. ABSOLUTELY NO ISSUES, working totally normally electrically and mechanically, until the failure. This report has two parts—the issue itself and the practical consequences.

On the day of failure, the car was in the garage, and instead of starting, every warning light went on and signaled system failure. There was enough power to feel the brake pedal move a little, but no start. Getting out of the car, I found myself locked out. So I had to refresh my memory regarding the emergency key. That done, the car would not recognize the fob and start, but I could open the hood and try a recharge. (I did unsuccessfully try the fob on the picture at the bottom of the middle bin trick for no battery life in the fob.) Be aware that you cannot access the rear hatch, if you have any emergency starters stored there. Then I had to try to figure out the remote charging points under the hood. The photos in the owner’s manual are inadequate. You can figure out where the positive + post is, but it takes some imagination and orientation of the limited manual photo to find (or guess) at the silver (aluminum) negative – post, which is a silver peg, approximately ¼ inch by 1 inch, on the U.S. passenger side near the + post, about a foot from the front. Not sure at first, I found a body area which worked just as well, but the post is convenient.

By the way, I am no longer sure of the sequence—if the lockout occurred and the fob was not recognized after I tried a recharge, or eventually, after I tried a couple of starts. I cannot figure out the logic of the Stelvio in these circumstances. Weird things just occur, without necessarily recurring.


My automatic charger indicated a quick charge up to 100%. But the Stelvio would not start, and while the warning lights did not recur, the Stelvio would not recognize the fob.


Somehow, there was enough of something (charge?) to open the rear hatch, and I tried a recharge at the battery, following the manual. The charger read 100% charge. No joy. Stelvio would not recognize the fob. (I am not going to go into what I did to try to get into the car. I am a little concerned that if someone has a child seat in the rear under such circumstances, you will at least have tor each over the front seat and try to reach the rear door handle to open the door. The manual has other instructions that I did not fully comprehend, and in an emergency, no one has time to try to figure out this manual, especially if you are not technical.)
I called the dealer, who referred me to AlfaCares. The sound quality of the call center made communications hard, but I was told to await a call from another part of AlfaCares that would arrange a tow. An hour later, a better sound quality call was received who confirmed that a tow was being arranged and I would be contacted within an hour or two. This occurred and the contract towing service was professional. Although familiar with the Masarati-Fiat dealer, this was his first Stelvio.

The first tow concern was that I was parked head in in my garage and I could not operate the electronic transmission to put it into neutral. He took out what he called a pro-level battery pack, attached it to the remote charging terminals (see above), and the car started immediately! The Stelviomust have recognized the fob, because he was able to back it out, load the Stelvio onto the tow truck bed, and put it into neutral.

There was no sign the failure would have happened prior to it happening. If I or my wife had been anywhere else but in the garage, e.g., in the city, in the countryside, on a trip, it would have been a much larger hassle, even frightening.

I did not check before the event, but the car has the infamous Varta battery. When I reached the dealer service desk man, he said the electronics issue was well known ,Varta batteries are on back order. I have read this on other forum threads. I asked about a replacement battery, e.g., an Interstate AGM. Silence. I would be willing to pay for a substitute out of pocket. Because of the (to me) complexity of the battery system, with monitors, relays and connections I am unfamiliar with, I would rather the dealer do an install.

My question to all is what would you do to do an emergency start? I had a power pack in back, but did not use it, thinking that my charger did its job. Should I have tried the power pack? How was the tow truck’s portable power pack different from mine, or would my power pack have done the job, if I had tried it?

I have read on the forum that some of you keep the Stelvioon trickle charge. Is this the what I should do? And is there a more permanent solution?

I have read on the forum that some of you have changed theVarta battery (with an Interstate AGM). Alfa is very vague about it’s battery and sizing—I couldn’t find anything in the specs in the manual. Battery manufacturers are apparently still unfamiliar with the Stelvio and do not list compatible replacement batteries. Any thoughts on the/a replacement battery?


I love this Stelvio, with all its quirks, but need to get a handle on this out of the blue, no warning failure that turns the car into essentially a lump of metal. I would like to be able to do an emergency restart without waiting for uncertain tow service.
 

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doesn't sound like a catastrophic electrical failure from here - except maybe by your charger, assuming you have ruled out operator area. I only say that because the underhood charging points aren't uncommon on euro cars.

it does sound like a dead bettery, and once replaced (or maybe the IBS) there shouldn't be a need to use a trickle charger. mine sat over 3 weeks, mostly below freezing temps, without a charger, and started immediately on my return.
someone else did have an Interstate installed, perhaps they will see your post.

anyways, that sucks, but it shouldn't turn into a big deal.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Was just contacted by Alfa Care as follow up. The Alfa rep had already talked to dealer and she confirmed a low voltage issue. Dealer will charge up and call me to pick up. Of course, the real ongoing issue is why there is a low voltage issue.
 

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My Dr. is going to be mad at me...just reading this makes my blood pressure go up enough to feel it in my left eye...not supposed to let that happen....this is why I got out of repairing cars...

Low voltage with a fully charged battery generally means there is a power drain somewhere. Assuming the battery was charged.

Basically you might have some electrical system that is pulling power when it shouldn't, or more power than it should and that is causing the battery to output insufficient voltage = the car won't start with a charged battery, but give a boost above that charge (attach a battery pack) and it works.

From your story this is tough one. It is really important to remember order of events and the processes you used when dealing with a car, so many variables...


For instance....all of the trying to start the car then you get out and the doors lock behind you??!!! Then it won't recognize the key, then the hatch won't open...then it will...

Obviously the car has power since it was able to lock the doors. Probably not enough to start the car though, depending on how, and how often, you tried to start the car when it couldn't start, you may have tripped the anti-theft system (Think of it like trying the wrong password too many times) which will then fully disable the ignition until it is reset. The tow truck driver may have done something that reset the system which allowed it to recognize the key again and the car starts, however all your attempts with the system fighting you drained the battery so now it needed a jump too. How that could happen...I have no clue, but it conceivably could.

The anti-theft system could operate by pulling voltage so the battery can't start the car...would make it impossible to jump start or "boost" and steal.

It could be that the low voltage was caused by power drain from a malfunctioning system like the brakes too. All of this information MIGHT be stored in the OBD "black box" for the dealer's tech to look up and figure out...maybe not, it might just show low voltage.


If your problems were caused by doing something wrong and tripping the anit-theft...it won't happen again probably (unless you do it again unknowingly, which could happen), unless it is a problem with the system, then it will happen again. Same thing if it is a power drain from a malfunctioning system it will happen again.


A third option is, your battery was drained slightly from short trips not fully recharging it or maybe a cat set the alarm off a bunch of times at night draining the battery, either way the battery was too low to start the car (this will turn the dash into a Christmas tree), and then the battery charger you were using did not have enough juice in it to give the Stelvio what it needs to start (the Stelvio needs ALOT of power in one huge chunk to start, a standard battery pack that will start a Civic will do nothing for the Stelvio), and/or you were misreading the charger when it said fully charged (could you have been looking at the readout for the charger's battery not the cars?), so really all you needed was a strong enough jump start, or a slow trickle charge to get the battery's voltage up. Super simple, probably won't happen again.



OK...based on the possibilities, here are my suggestions.



Don't pay to change the battery. Let that happen under warrenty if it needs to.


DO go out and buy the biggest, most powerful battery pack you can to start the car (if you are really worried about it happening again and don't want to wait for a jump). That way even after this car is gone you will still have a super awesome battery booster which can ALWAYS come in handy (spend your cash on things that help you, let the manufacturer spend money on the car while under warranty).






As far as - is your battery pack enough, or is the tow truck pack that much bigger, or if you should have tried it after the charger...man, I have no clue. You talk about a charger and a battery pack, they are different? Is one something you plug into the wall and the other a heavy plastic box with jumper cables coming out of it?
The charger showed a full charge you say, is it a trickle charger for CAR batteries, or a generic battery charger, or a full blown hard wired way of starting your car with 110volts? (It's probably a trickle charger, you call it an auto charger...pretty sure that is another way of saying the same thing, but the comment about a quick charge indicator makes me think it is not the right type of thing for what you are using it for though. Really not positive what exactly you are using. A picture would help) What is the amperage and at what voltage is it designed to work at...it might not be reading correctly.... Since you didn't try your battery pack there is no way to know if it would have worked like the driver's did, unless you can remember the specs on his pack and compare it to yours. However smart money says it was more powerful, and yours would not have been powerful enough, simply because - in general - 2/3rds of the battery packs on an Autozone shelf will not put out enough juice to jump the Stelvio with a dead battery....you need the packs designed for jump starting full sized trucks and semi's not passenger cars and most of those packs are for jumping small passenger cars.




Being a "ggod tech", or "mechanically inclined", most of the time is nothing more than being patient, organized and keeping track of the variables. Next time try writing down what you do as you do it, also don't try the same thing twice move on to the next (doing the same thing twice and expecting a different result the second time is the definition of insanity...look it up). The charger didn't work, try the battery pack now, or vice versa....it might not seem like it, but this stuff is very rational and logical, just incredibly complex with so many variables.



Hope I helped in someway, I know this stuff is crazy frustrating and way more complex than it should be. Hope you find a nice stretch of open road and have some fun soon!
 

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Was just contacted by Alfa Care as follow up. The Alfa rep had already talked to dealer and she confirmed a low voltage issue. Dealer will charge up and call me to pick up. Of course, the real ongoing issue is why there is a low voltage issue.
Hey R Leong,

We're sorry to hear about this experience with your vehicle, and please PM us any time if you're in need of additional assistance having this addressed.

Jennifer
Alfa Romeo Social Care Specialist
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you Alfaoffroad. Sorry to raise your blood pressure. I used a plug in Shumacher Speed Charger set at 6v, standard (non AGM) automotive battery to charge, not start the Stelvio. I tried to charge through the under the hood jump start points--if that makes a difference. For some reason, the charger read the car battery as 100%, starting from a low point. But it got to 100% really fast, which made me suspicious. I do have a high power emergency starter pack, but it was in the back with the rear hatch locked and by that time, I was fearful of doing anything since the tow was on the way. I used the emergency power pack once before on another car and it wouldn't start it until I used the last resort given in the instructions--turn off the safety restrictions, and the car started right up like the with the tow truck drivers portable pack. I think I will soon look into the biggest power pack I can find, per your advice. As I said when I first joined the forum several months ago, I am more confidant about forum feedback and advice than dealer service. Their hours are short, service departments small, and not enough personnel to talk through issues with the new tech cars with confidence. That's great advice, about being a little more systematic and not as panicky responding to "car won't start."
 

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I'm confused, but why would you set the charger to 6v, it's a 12 volt system

Thank you Alfaoffroad. Sorry to raise your blood pressure. I used a plug in Shumacher Speed Charger set at 6v, standard (non AGM) automotive battery to charge, not start the Stelvio. I tried to charge through the under the hood jump start points--if that makes a difference. For some reason, the charger read the car battery as 100%, starting from a low point. But it got to 100% really fast, which made me suspicious. I do have a high power emergency starter pack, but it was in the back with the rear hatch locked and by that time, I was fearful of doing anything since the tow was on the way. I used the emergency power pack once before on another car and it wouldn't start it until I used the last resort given in the instructions--turn off the safety restrictions, and the car started right up like the with the tow truck drivers portable pack. I think I will soon look into the biggest power pack I can find, per your advice. As I said when I first joined the forum several months ago, I am more confidant about forum feedback and advice than dealer service. Their hours are short, service departments small, and not enough personnel to talk through issues with the new tech cars with confidence. That's great advice, about being a little more systematic and not as panicky responding to "car won't start."
 

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Thank you Alfaoffroad. Sorry to raise your blood pressure. I used a plug in Shumacher Speed Charger set at 6v, standard (non AGM) automotive battery to charge, not start the Stelvio. I tried to charge through the under the hood jump start points--if that makes a difference. For some reason, the charger read the car battery as 100%, starting from a low point. But it got to 100% really fast, which made me suspicious. I do have a high power emergency starter pack, but it was in the back with the rear hatch locked and by that time, I was fearful of doing anything since the tow was on the way. I used the emergency power pack once before on another car and it wouldn't start it until I used the last resort given in the instructions--turn off the safety restrictions, and the car started right up like the with the tow truck drivers portable pack. I think I will soon look into the biggest power pack I can find, per your advice. As I said when I first joined the forum several months ago, I am more confidant about forum feedback and advice than dealer service. Their hours are short, service departments small, and not enough personnel to talk through issues with the new tech cars with confidence. That's great advice, about being a little more systematic and not as panicky responding to "car won't start."

6v? shouldn't it be 12v?
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
My face is red. The charger was set on 6v. Does it make a difference? There is a 12v button.


By the way, I have not received an "all done" from the dealer. Have to check tomorrow to see if there is a bigger issue or a communications problem. Service department is only open from 8 to 5.


Face even redder. Did quick research which concludes that 6v will not charge a depleted 12v battery.
 

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yep it makes a big difference, it means your battery was reading a 100% for a 6v battery.


My face is red. The charger was set on 6v. Does it make a difference? There is a 12v button.


By the way, I have not received an "all done" from the dealer. Have to check tomorrow to see if there is a bigger issue or a communications problem. Service department is only open from 8 to 5.


Face even redder. Did quick research which concludes that 6v will not charge a depleted 12v battery.
 

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guess I kinda hit the nail on the head with charger failure/operator error.

Offroads considerable expertise aside, my .02 cents is still on the IBS being the root cause of your difficulties.
 

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Did you open and close the hatch a few times after you shut the vehicle off? I did that to mine and I think it was 4 times up and down with the lift gate and then a similar issue. It drained the battery enough and once it went through a boost it lit up all the warning lights for a short drive and then all was fine.

I was drying and detailing it after a wash and learned my lesson.

I think it was genius how they made the hidden key in fob to manual open the door and the boost points are great. I always keep a small boost back in the passenger door for a emergency. Best $100 save myself a couple times or help out a stranger with dead battery.

You should be fine, I had way more problems with my previous Yukon.
 

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OK I'm dense, what are the boost points for?


Did you open and close the hatch a few times after you shut the vehicle off? I did that to mine and I think it was 4 times up and down with the lift gate and then a similar issue. It drained the battery enough and once it went through a boost it lit up all the warning lights for a short drive and then all was fine.

I was drying and detailing it after a wash and learned my lesson.

I think it was genius how they made the hidden key in fob to manual open the door and the boost points are great. I always keep a small boost back in the passenger door for a emergency. Best $100 save myself a couple times or help out a stranger with dead battery.

You should be fine, I had way more problems with my previous Yukon.
 

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Under the hood on the right where you can hook up a set of jumper cables to jump start a dead car.

Since the battery is in the back hatch and that will not open with a drained battery they installed a remote positive point to hook up the boost cables. There is a negative as well however you can ground it off a engine bolt
 

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Thanks very much for the info!!
Under the hood on the right where you can hook up a set of jumper cables to jump start a dead car.

Since the battery is in the back hatch and that will not open with a drained battery they installed a remote positive point to hook up the boost cables. There is a negative as well however you can ground it off a engine bolt
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Car back from dealer. All good. Dealer service excellent and they did an overall check. The car wash was nice. Road salt gone. No explanation for the battery drain, except I may not use the car enough, but that is not convincing to me. I seldom make short trips. But I suppose 6500 + miles in 11 months speaks for itself. Service did acknowledge a known Varta battery issue, noted that batteries were on back order. If a battery issue occurs again, they would change. The Alfa 4 year road side service covered the tow and service and my instance, worked very well. Keep the number handy. Thanks for the kick in the butt regarding proper charger usage, but now I'm ready for the next time. The best advice I got was to approach the situation a little more systematically, rather then hyperventilating and pulling my hair out (my interpretation). Second best advice is keep the emergency booster in the backseat area, rather then the trunk. Third best advice was get a BIG emergency booster, because the Stelvio needs a lot of energy to turn over when battery is totally drained. Thanks guys.


P.S. After it all began, I did open doors and try starts that I believe drained the battery all the way.
 

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Wow! Its like we are twins. I had same thing happen to me and I was in a pkg garage with no tow truck possible solution. I jumped the car, got it to the dealer and they had to reset all the computers after testing the battery. I had them remove the SKYLINK adapter that was drawing on the battery while it sat! No problem since Also being in a pkg garage i dont have the luxury of keeping the trickle charger plugged in.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
WAdbb. I think a lot of us have had some variation of this issue of an undercharged Varta battery (for whatever reason). This has been unique to my experience for essentially a new less than one year old battery. But after reading all the advice here and in other threads, with a portable power pack booster and knowledge of the access point under the hood, the inconvenience seems manageable, although unnecessary. My main concern is that a spouse or child or friend for whom this car is not their daily driver could be in for a big surprise. The failure to start does come without prior warning and the instrument panel flashing like Christmas lights can be pretty disconcerting. Otherwise, I still love driving this car, love the medallion, the triangle front, and bragging that I took a chance on Alfa.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I just found this in the forum from Kidkarter, who had the dealer replace his battery. It was posted in October. So much info in the forum sometimes it's hard to uncover all the knowledge.


" just had a standard, flooded battery replaced by AR with a AGM battery. The standard battery was a dealer-installed replacement for the OEM battery. It was a Mopar part# BBoH8800AC. AR agreed that it was the wrong battery and installed an Interstate MTX-49-H8 Absorbent Glass Matt (AGM) battery. AR and the dealer told me that an AGM battery was the correct replacement for the OEM Varta battery.
AGM batteries are much better than standard batteries for many reasons and are recommended for Stop-Start vehicles. FCA uses AGMs in their Cherokee line (and maybe throughout their vehicles with start-stop.) "


Note it was an Interstate MTX-49-H8 AGM.


Found this on line: The H8 Battery (also known as Group Size 49 Battery)is a popular battery commonly used on luxury vehicles such as BMW,Mercedes, Cadillac, Bently, Rolls Royce, Audi, Land Rover, Porsche, Volkswagen,Volvo etc.Nov 2, 2018. So the U.S. battery we want is sized H8 or Group Size 49, AGM.


Other branded Group Size 49 or H8 batteries are available and Autozone lists it as an Alfa Romeo Stelvio replacement.


I would consider buying a replacement for the Varta, but take it to the dealer for install.


See Mopar replacement battery forum thread.
 
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