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Old 03-10-2003, 08:52 PM   #1
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Question Failing alternator?

Tonight as I was driving home, my lights started to dim on me. Then, as they returned to normal brightness, there was a brief squealing sound, almost like what a loose serpentine belt sounds like. Does the alternator seem like the most likely suspect? It is the original, and at 146,000 miles it's probably well past due.
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Old 03-10-2003, 09:30 PM   #2
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The 1997+ cars have good alternators. But 146k miles is a lot of driving - though probably a lot of highway????

You can get most auto parts stores (autozone, discount auto) to check the alternator for free. You may also want pop your hood and check out your belt and tensioner, regardless.

Sometimes I think my lights dim on me. But it never turns out to be anything.
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Old 03-10-2003, 09:50 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by dancingator
The 1997+ cars have good alternators. But 146k miles is a lot of driving - though probably a lot of highway????

You can get most auto parts stores (autozone, discount auto) to check the alternator for free. You may also want pop your hood and check out your belt and tensioner, regardless.

Sometimes I think my lights dim on me. But it never turns out to be anything.
I had to get a new alternator for my 97 sl1 around 50k miles. With this new high tech battery i have no problems using my headlights and have my subs going.
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Old 03-10-2003, 10:35 PM   #4
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Could be the alt? The squeal noise makes me think that you should check the belt and or tensioner as well. If the tensioner is gone then the belt will not have enough grab to run the alt.
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Old 03-10-2003, 11:01 PM   #5
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vthokie, usually the idiot battery light will light up when the alt goes. however the 1st indicator usually is a rough shifting auto transmission.
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Old 03-10-2003, 11:24 PM   #6
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Thanks for the feedback!

Quote:
Originally posted by ssicarman
The squeal noise makes me think that you should check the belt and or tensioner as well. If the tensioner is gone then the belt will not have enough grab to run the alt.
I agree...definitely a possibility.
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Old 03-11-2003, 12:22 AM   #7
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Does your car have ABS? Shortly (i.e. hours) before the alternator went out last year on my SC2 the 'anti-lock' light came on and stayed on.
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Old 03-11-2003, 01:14 AM   #8
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Yep, I have ABS. Wow, hours, huh? Like how many hours? :o:

Question: how long can you last on the battery once it stops charging?
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Old 03-11-2003, 01:29 AM   #9
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Not many hours at all. I noticed the anti-lock light in late afternoon when I went to the store, then returned home. Later I was on the way to a meeting. Light was on when I started. Less than 10 minutes later light still on, wipers slowed, overall lights dimmed, then the alternator died.
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Old 03-11-2003, 01:56 AM   #10
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I was one time driving over 30 miles in my Alt-failing SL2.
Thank god my battery can last the whole trip (60% highway only), and I did use A LOT of (power management) techniques like press less Brake pedal (Tail lights drains a lot!). No fan, No AC and of course No Radio, just to give all the battery power to the motor.

I can verify the Anti-Lock lights up....in my mid-way trip. I thought the ABS started failing too, but not really.

When the Alt gone, the Battery Red does light up.
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Old 03-11-2003, 10:38 AM   #11
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Default Re: Failing alternator?

Quote:
Originally posted by VTHOKIE97SL2
Tonight as I was driving home, my lights started to dim on me. Then, as they returned to normal brightness, there was a brief squealing sound, almost like what a loose serpentine belt sounds like. Does the alternator seem like the most likely suspect? It is the original, and at 146,000 miles it's probably well past due.
wow. 146,000 is excellent. mine only lasted about 60,000 each time. get it checked out.
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Old 03-11-2003, 01:29 PM   #12
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While it is rather embarassing to have one's car there, Manny Moe & Jack did the new alternator for me with a lifetime parts warranty for just over 200 bucks on the 1997.
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Old 03-11-2003, 01:42 PM   #13
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200 bucks. ouch. i recall paying less than that at saturn. it was like $100 for the part and 45 min of labor.
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Old 03-11-2003, 02:48 PM   #14
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Saturn's $125.00 price for a reman exchange alternator seems to have been reasonable. They also have been offering a one year warranty if you install it, and a three year warranty if the dealer does. I have a feeling that the remans they provide are actually brand new units, thus controlling the exchanged cores and keeping them out of the independent rebuild shops. Yet, there has always been a very stearn pronouncement in the various division shop manuals over the last fifteen years that the CS130 alternator was to be serviced as a assembly, and not rebuilt. This opens up the floodgates for the various aftermaket venues to provide "off the shelf" units that may or may not be suitible for a specific model year, especially OBD II vehicles against earlier models.

Mine is still cookin' at 290 K, but I know that some day it'll call it quits, and I'd hate to throw the whole thing away. In contrast, both the alternator and starter on my RSX can be repaired using over-the-counter items such as brushes, rectifier, and voltage regulator. Stator, rotor, armature, and field coils could last forever. This, I think, is the best way to go, and certainly the cheapest.
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Old 03-11-2003, 03:32 PM   #15
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I was a master at making my car last when the alternator started dying! In a period of 20,000 miles on my 93 SL2 I had 3 alternators on it. Once my alternator finally decided to die in Charleston SC, and I drove all the way back home to Spartanburg, SC which is approx 300 miles. I just put all the windows down, turned the radio off, and minimized the load as much as possible. The whole way the speedometer was bouncing all around and not keeping a constant speed. Needless to say by the time I made it back home the car was DEAD...the passive restraints were barely moving! My 98 SL2 is good so far, no alternator problems and over 100K! (knock on wood)

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Old 03-11-2003, 04:38 PM   #16
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The alt on my 95 sc2 (auto), went at 60k. First the alt light came on. I drove to an Autozone and they confirmed that the alt was bad. The next day on the way home from work (50 mile round trip) the alt died. The transmission was stuck in third gear, the speedo stopped working...made it home though. I didn't realize it would go that quickly. I put a new lifetime alt on and everything is fine now.
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