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Old 06-02-2001, 05:05 PM   #1
rogerk
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Default Alternator for the S series

How sad. I was just reading about the Delco CS130-D alternator. It has the following improvements over the CS 130 types that we have in our S cars. It has dual internal fans and more open housing for better air flow, larger bearings, and the rectifier and regulator are located on the outside away from the internal heat of the stator and rotor. Sounds like what we need for our S cars. But as luck would have it, they are not meant to retrofit the CS 130s. I don't know if it will even bolt onto a S car, but even if it did the electrical connections are configured differently. What a shame!!!!

You people who have used the Napa alternators, what kind of luck have you had with them? I know that they have lifetime warranties, but it still is a pain to keep changing them on the S cars. Has any one tried the Iceberg alternators and how did that work out?
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Old 06-02-2001, 05:18 PM   #2
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Over the years, I have done a lot of alternator business with www.mralternator.com & have been very pleased. They can modify them in different ways & will send to you ASAP.
 
Old 06-02-2001, 11:20 PM   #3
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My alternatory puked at 50,000 miles...that is definately unacceptable. Never had an alternator go bad in any other car Ive owned. And at only 50K no less. And I know I'm not alone. I love my car, but Saturn should discontinue this alternator...
 
Old 06-02-2001, 11:52 PM   #4
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How widespread is this alternator problem? I have a '98 SL2 with 33K, but no problems so far. Do I need to worry?
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Old 06-03-2001, 02:19 AM   #5
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My alternator decided to retire itself at a pitiful 40,000 mile lifespan.

What a POS.
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Old 06-03-2001, 02:56 AM   #6
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Well Harpoon im on my third alt..and have 102000 miles...
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Old 06-03-2001, 09:26 AM   #7
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LOL, had to do a double-take on the dates of this thread. Thought I'd read it before, but the dates are all current, so I guess it's a repeat, or I'm clairvoyant.

I'm still with my factory alternator at 95k miles. Inadvertently, I've probably saved it by manually engaging the engine fan with the A/C switch anytime the engine temp gets halfway up the gauge. However, I have been the victim of the crappy AC Delco batteries that also plague our cars. The first 2 each lasted about 2 yrs., so I'm hoping my current one is stronger, cause the 2 yr. clock is about up now. I've always gone with the same battery because the pro-rate credit is only good on the same make, no upgrades. So, for about $35 Saturn checks my charging system and installs the new one. I figure I'm spending about the same as if I was putting in a good battery every 5 yrs.
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Old 06-03-2001, 09:41 AM   #8
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harpoon, how big a problem was it? how bout one of the most dismal pos's in automotive history? us techs call them the 30k alternators due to their constant need of replacing, what burns me is how long i was pointing it out yet it took saturn over 8 years to make a replacement? cmon! ac delco has thousands of units they make ,there was no attempts at retrofitting another one or anything, this is a horrible embarrsment to both saturns engineers and the bean counters who overlooked it.
 
Old 06-03-2001, 09:44 AM   #9
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<blockquote><hr><font size="1">Original Post:</font><!--1-->
LOL, had to do a double-take on the dates of this thread. Thought I'd read it before, but the dates are all current, so I guess it's a repeat, or I'm clairvoyant.

I'm still with my factory alternator at 95k miles. Inadvertently, I've probably saved it by manually engaging the engine fan with the A/C switch anytime the engine temp gets halfway up the gauge. However, I have been the victim of the crappy AC Delco batteries that also plague our cars. The first 2 each lasted about 2 yrs., so I'm hoping my current one is stronger, cause the 2 yr. clock is about up now. I've always gone with the same battery because the pro-rate credit is only good on the same make, no upgrades. So, for about $35 Saturn checks my charging system and installs the new one. I figure I'm spending about the same as if I was putting in a good battery every 5 yrs.<hr></blockquote>

That was my first sign of trouble, the battery going dead. After replacing the battery, I figured that something was up...my jeep cherokee has had the same battery for almost ten years now. At about 45K I started to notice the headlights would be dim(well, dimmer than those useless things were normally) until I stepped on the gas and brought the RPM's up. 3K later the battery died. New battery was acting up about 2K later, so I ripped out the altenator...no problems for the last 12K. And since the one I put in is the same as the POS I pulled out, I suspect I'll be doing it again some day. The location is just plain stupid. I'd rather they had put the AC compressor somewhere else, or had a vent to keep the altenator cool. BTW, my first Delco battery lasted like 6 years...I have a feeling that if you replaced that altenator, your battery problems would go away.
 
Old 06-03-2001, 09:53 AM   #10
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When our dealer installs a new battery on 3/36 warranty, they give you a Delco Freedom Professional which was rated #1 by our hated friends at Consumer Reports. The OEM battery is far below that one.
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Old 06-03-2001, 10:33 AM   #11
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I think the 99 and newer models have a "new&improved" model. If that is true, maybe it'll retrofit.
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Old 06-03-2001, 02:41 PM   #12
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My 2 Delco batteries lasted only 2 & 1/2 years each or about 18 k city miles.
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Old 06-03-2001, 08:15 PM   #13
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My '95 SW1 has the original CS130 Delco still going strong at 222,000 miles. On another thread some time ago, there was mention of a dealer advising an owner to limit use of electrical equipment on the car so as to not exceed the alternator's capabilities and flatten the battery. Bull. About four years ago I had to make a trek on a major highway at night and in a blinding blizzard at 20 mph for over four hours. In addition to high beams, radio, and heater fan, there was also the rear window wiper and defogger along with a cell phone charger - all going at once. No problems.

The CS130 was a necessary step up from the old 12 and 15 SI Delcos in that voltage regulation had to be a smooth ramping function devoid of any voltage spikes or electrical noise that would be detrimental to the electronic engine controls. Additional software was incorporated, in some cases, to raise engine idle via the PCM in heavy electrical load conditions. There is also logic to identify internal failures (shorted or open diodes as well as problems in stator or rotor windings) that will activate the warning lamp and alert the driver to get to a repair shop.

Unlike its earlier brethren, the CS130 has typically been serviced as an assembly and not to be repaired. I'm told by an independant shop that repair is possible, but difficult. In some of them, stator leads aren't soldered, they're welded. Don't try this at home. I believe that the control circuits of these alternators are specific to make, model, and year of any vehicle due to the necessary interface with the electronics, and an improper over-the-counter replacement can lead to repeated failure.

With the tender mercies of the serpentine belt and properly functioning tensioner, alternator bearings being wiped out by bar tight vee belts should be a thing of the past. It would appear, then, that the reported difficulties are electrical. How about loose or dirty connections? Has there been any aftermarket equipment added? A CD changer solenoid without a flyback diode can spike the alternator circuit. Has the vehicle been jump started (either the jumper or the jumpee) exposing the alternator to trashy voltage? Ditto for static battery chargers without disconnecting one of the cables. I've also noticed that the shop manual calls for the use of a special wrench (SA9401C) to hold the four-sided stud at the alternator output teminal when tightening the battery wire nut. Apparently, horsing down that nut without the wrench can cause the whole terminal to rotate and crack the black plastic insulator. A resulting short will cause failure now or later.

The CS130 has larger rotor bearings than earlier units, and also smaller diameter slip rings and larger brushes. In theory, reliability and longevity should be there. In our family, two other cars ('88 Pontiac Fiero, and '93 Olds Cutlass Ciera) have original CS130's, and including the Saturn, service life is almost a half million miles. Also, the Fiero has engine compartment temperatures that would bake haddock.

The Delco 27 and 30 SI heavy duty alternators have a worldwide application in industrial and marine engines. We've seen them go in excess of 40,000 hours of use. Delco's a good company, folks, and they make good stuff. Give 'em a chance.
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Old 06-03-2001, 08:49 PM   #14
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what?! deisel jack, if you have 222k on your orignal alt you have one in a MILLION, bro, thats nice how you wrote as many factual things as you could find about a/c delco but this problem was one of the most widely, and still is one of the largest talked about failures that you can find. how long have you been reading the forums? i tend to 4 of them and WEEKLY theres anywhere from 1-3 people with alts crapping out! as the 8 year run of defective JUNK units run out it is a little less wrote about but there is thousands literally thousands of complaints about them lasting 30-40k, not some of them all of them from 91-late 97.
i'm prepared to say this is what leads saturn to believe they can just dump crap on us and doesnt do a damn thing to rectify it for 8 YEARS. instead of reading and rereading thousands of posts about it over and over again they should have been bombarded with complaints, heck, i know they have, theres even archive posts of people that made saturn well aware of it, saturn reads this board almost daily (one of the reasons every time i write something that hits home and is true i get a nice letter and harrasment from there legal eagles).
you have a feiro with a half million miles to? ok, two of the worst cases of cars designed with poorly designed engine bay layouts, the feiros had a problem getting their coolant from the front to the rear and until 88 was a huge automotive failure, when they got it right in 88 they cancelled the car. the saturns unit is destroyed by the layout and location by heat.
is saturn paying you? im begining to think your on there payroll! lol
no way, i cant beleive you read this board and can defend that unit after 8 YEARS of a proven track record of 100% failure rates, oh, 99.9, you got the ONE car that hit over 100k on its original non improved design alt.
bunk. i guess im saturn bashing and im gonna hear it.give them a chance after 8 YEARS and no-one got free ones unless you were under warranty? and isnt it funny how they seemed top fail right after you were off warranty and saturn charged you a weeks paycheck for a new one installed? i have heard people paying from 250-400 depending on dealer, thats real sweet of them.
me and danny augsutin was plowing snow today on alligator alley with our 85 yugo, that 1.3 is an absolute engineering marvel i tell you, we was doing fine until we came across a truck of broken volvos, we thought that was it for plowing today when a chevy citation x-11 came by, since it had that incredable iron duke of early lore and its capable front wheel drive system it moved the truck of broken volvos, we stopped for a drink as we didnt need gas as my yugo plowmobile gets a solid 67 mpg and this really hot babe in a renault le car stopped and asked what year was my yugo? after i informed her it was a 85 and how reliable its been she thought about losing the renault and finding a solid used yugo.
we raised the plow as the sun came up and headed home as the highways lovely covering of christmas snow turned to mush.
 
Old 06-03-2001, 11:27 PM   #15
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I've still got the original alternator and battery at 95,000 miles. Should I be planning on replacing them soon? Also, I've got the original struts on all four corners. How long are they usually good for?

I should probably get my steering pump fixed one of these days, since it's probably leaking all over the alternator! (Actually, the leak in the front seal isn't bad, so I've been putting it off...)
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Old 06-04-2001, 07:22 AM   #16
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VTHOKIE97SL2, my attitude is usually "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." I've had bad batteries, but every time it's been replaced, Saturn has checked out the charging system. I haven't noticed things like dimming headlights, so I think it was just bad batteries. If you're concerned, you can check the output of your alternator. Since the battery is now 4 yrs. old, it may need to be replaced in 1-2 yrs. since it seems to be sound up 'til now. I've never had a battery last more than about 5 yrs., but I suppose it depends on conditions.

As for the struts, I still have the originals with 95k miles. I do my best to crawl over speed bumps and entering driveways, and they still feel good to me. Ride and handling deteriorate slowly, so it's hard to notice with a daily driver. You can test them by bouncing your car's corners to see how well they dampen the springs' rebound, but I think it's better to notice how they handle on freeways, when you go over bridges or slight dips and the car starts bouncing. In these situations, my struts still feel like new.
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Old 06-04-2001, 08:59 AM   #17
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Joey:

No, I'm not on Saturn's payroll nor Delco's for that matter. I'm trying to address this alternator problem objectively. Reports on two or three replacements within a 70,000 mile period indicates that something is wrong and should be investigated. The half million mile alternator service life I mentioned is a cumulative total of three cars in our family, not just the Fiero.

You might be correct in stating that the location behind the engine is a problem, but engine compartment temperatures in a Saturn aren't even close to that Fiero - they're brutal. Also, will the same alternator location in the L series V6 (although it might not be a Delco) cause the same failures?

Wholesale bashing of Delco as a component vendor without looking at the whole picture is no better than what CR does to Saturn as a manufacturer.
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Old 06-04-2001, 09:35 AM   #18
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dieseljack--well put!

My parents have a 88 1/2 Fiero Formula and I can attest to the under-hood (deck) temperatures. Amazingly, their car has never had a alternator problem in it's 120k mile lifespan. I will probably warn my dad to keep an eye on the voltage gage, though.

Speaking of running hot, my VW Corrado has under hood temps that rival any production car--it normally runs oil temps like 260 degrees F and coolant temps over 240. Belts and hoses take a beating! The newer VR6 cars have a much larger engine compartment, so they don't have as much of an issue. If you guys haven't seen a Corrado--it's the size of a second generation GTI with a VR6 motor jammed between the shock towers. I've been watching for alternator problems with the Bosch 120 amp alternator in these VR6 cars and there doesn't seem to be a history of problems with this one. There's plenty of other problems, however. And most make the my Saturn problems a walk in the park. Good thing I love to work on it, cuz' I do it on regular basis!

-Newt
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Old 06-04-2001, 09:39 AM   #19
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well said deisel jack, but, my whole point is they knew of this problem for many years, both saturn and delco so i feel that its compelty proper to bash away! &lt;joke&gt; no seriously, this problem was so widespread that any tech that worked at saturn for longer than 6 months has replaced more alts than they have hairs on their head usually!
it was improved by 95 but didnt realyl work until about 97 when the unit was updated again, ealry ones failed 99 out of a 100. people used to even post about replacing them as PREVENTIVE maintence they were so bad! lol
i have found tow items from saturn to be above average quality, one the clutchs are strong as hell and i have seen many of them go 150+ k on the original units, thats outstanding, second, while i dont recomend it many cars are running around on their original struts at over 100k so i find these to be extremely durable units also, but as far as the alts? absolutly no excuse nor should anyone defend them, they were and are crap units they we were force fed for years upon years, who wants to be on the side of the road?
 
Old 06-04-2001, 09:43 AM   #20
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ps, newt, you will notice in my post that 87 and 88 feiros were the only ones that were decent cars overall. by then they had made so many imporvments to make the car run but sadly after to many years of failure they gave up on it.
feiros were plastic before saturn was even a thought, know why you dont see any left on the road? they were all junk except for a few.
 
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