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Old 08-10-2005, 08:05 PM   #1
JEG510
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Default is this the sign of a bad alternator?

Driving home from work, I hop in my car and go to target. Simple. Then I get in traffic, and the car completely DIES for about a second, I see all the idiot lights come on like the car was just started (you know, check engine, SES, airbag, and they all turn off. But then I noticed my clock light is fluxuating really badly. Anyhow, the car dies and restarts itself one more time on the way home. I think "ok, this has to be an alternator going out." but I do one more test. I park the car and pull the e-brake at home, and then I turn on the car lights, and the RPM's drop and everything is really very dim.

Is this an alternator going out? I don't wanna deal with doing it myself, so I will go to the shop. Hopefully it isn't more then $300 to fix.

Any ideas?

John

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Old 08-10-2005, 08:12 PM   #2
justin_zink
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Default Re: is this the sign of a bad alternator?

Test the output voltage. I'm not sure what is acceptible but its probly about 13-15 volts. also check and make sure the battery connection is tight and uncoroded. If the altonator is fluctuating in the voltage alot then you might just need to get a voltage regulator.

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Old 08-10-2005, 08:26 PM   #3
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Default Re: is this the sign of a bad alternator?

To Test an Alternator;
- measure battery voltage with engine at normal idle, all electrical loads turned off, and
- measure battery voltage with engine above 2,000rpm, with all electrical loads on.
In each case the voltage should be ~14.5v. If it is less than ~13.0v the alternator is no longer charging the battery. This is either a loose connector, or bad alternator in need of replacement. You can't buy a separate voltage regulator as it is intergral to the alternator.

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Old 08-10-2005, 08:43 PM   #4
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Default Re: is this the sign of a bad alternator?

Sounds pretty good so far for a bad alternator.

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Old 08-10-2005, 09:08 PM   #5
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Default Re: is this the sign of a bad alternator?

Have it checked out at Pep Boys. Think there is one not far from you. If it is either altenator or battery, they got it & should be able to install for a reasonable price.

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Old 08-10-2005, 09:52 PM   #6
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Default Re: is this the sign of a bad alternator?

One other simple check before you spend big money is to make is to make sure the GROUND cable & connection from the negative side of the battery is good. I had a car do the same thing one time and the ground cable was loose at the engine ground connector.

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Old 08-10-2005, 10:12 PM   #7
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Default Re: is this the sign of a bad alternator?

Pretty sure its the alternator. I turned on the lights on the car, and they are as bright as ever. But as soon as I TRY to start the car, it'll start, run for about a minute, and as soon as I pop the lights on. BAM! Dead car. I don't think it's trying to run off the battery at all. Or since the alternator is gone, it's pretty much drained the battery of all available juice while it was running. The funny thing is, if I let the car sit about a minute, turn on the lights, turn them off, and then try to start the car, it'll do the same thing, all over again. So I am pretty sure its the alt. not doing its job.

John

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Old 08-11-2005, 07:57 AM   #8
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Default Re: is this the sign of a bad alternator?

Sounds like the alternator to me. The battery has enough juice to keep the lights on nice and bright but not enough umphf left in it to run an engine

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Old 08-11-2005, 04:39 PM   #9
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Default Re: is this the sign of a bad alternator?

Save yourself a lot of guessing and just have the alternator checked out. Simple process. Then, if the Pep Boys wants $300 to replace, think about doing it yourself and save at least half that amount. There's a detailed write-up in the "How To" section on how to do the job. I did it and it was simple, even for me with zero experience. Good luck,

Jerry

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Old 08-11-2005, 05:00 PM   #10
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Default Re: is this the sign of a bad alternator?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JerryHughes
Save yourself a lot of guessing and just have the alternator checked out. Simple process. Then, if the Pep Boys wants $300 to replace, think about doing it yourself and save at least half that amount. There's a detailed write-up in the "How To" section on how to do the job. I did it and it was simple, even for me with zero experience. Good luck,

Jerry
Make sure you get a quality BOSCH Alternator, they are very good, and they have road side assistance, so in case this happnes again, they cover fee's

...
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....DEAD.... Car towed away Jan 18 2007. RIP

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Old 08-11-2005, 11:25 PM   #11
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Default Re: is this the sign of a bad alternator?

Tomarrow she goes in the shop. It's going to cost me $280 and I am getting a BOSCH installed. Since I don't have jack stands or a floor jack, and it would cost me well over $100 for the tools, I am just going to have it done, and warrentied.

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Old 08-12-2005, 09:55 AM   #12
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Default Re: is this the sign of a bad alternator?

What kind of tools are you talking about? Don't think any are specialized for that job. Even if you don't do the R & R yourself, you probably should pick up a good set of work tools, ALWAYS good to have around just in case.
BTW, do you have a shop around here that you trust?

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Old 08-12-2005, 11:07 AM   #13
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Default Re: is this the sign of a bad alternator?

yeah, San Lorenzo Auto Repair on the corner of Grant Ave. and Channel St. in San Lorenzo, across from Arroyo High. Been doing work on my familys cars for years. And I know I should have the tools, but seeing as how I rent, I dont have room to store all that.

Later.

Oh, and when I dropped off my car (at 7:45 this morning) I let it run a minute when it got to the shop. As soon as I hit the brake, all the dummy lights came on for a second, and I hear a really loud rumble from by where the alternator is too. Maybe that is it.

John

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Old 08-12-2005, 11:54 AM   #14
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Default Re: is this the sign of a bad alternator?

May want to put a trickle charge on the battery or get a new battery. Todays alternators are not to be used to recharge a weak or dead battery.

...
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Old 08-12-2005, 02:51 PM   #15
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Default Re: is this the sign of a bad alternator?

^^^ Yeah, what he said. ^^^ Plus, the trickle charge puts the battery in a better charge state than the alternator would.

BTW, rather than a jack & stands, if you're not removing a wheel, you're better off with ramps. Easier, faster, safer, more stable. But I hear ya wrt. the space issue. I spent years as a renter, trying to score space for tools, ramps, jacks, etc. If by chance you live in a cool neighborhood, maybe you could start (or maybe there already exists) a "cooperative" among renting neighbors, to cost-share on tools and the space to store them. A lot of small groups do this with things like office equipment (copiers, fax, etc.). Oh, and a lot of the big parts chains (AutoZone, Checker, etc.) lend tools for free (with a deposit), but I dunno if they have anything as major as ramps.

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Old 08-12-2005, 03:04 PM   #16
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Default Re: is this the sign of a bad alternator?

You're right about the ramps being safer for most jobs, but the passenger side wheel is going to have to be off to get the alternator out. At least that's the easiest way to do it.

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Old 08-12-2005, 07:56 PM   #17
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Default Re: is this the sign of a bad alternator?

Ok, more information now. I just can say "HUH!?!?" Because I went to my shop this morning, and the guys there tested the alternator and battery. They said everything was in tip top shape. Wha?! And so no charge there (price wise) and so I have been driving the car most of the day and no issues at all. No pulsing lights, no stalls or cut outs. Huh?? What happened here? I asked the boys if they charged my battery and they were like "um, nope! We just tested the system to see if everything was ok." So I just thanked them and slipped them a $5 each (2 guys did the work) for their time and went about my way. Should I be wary for this? Lemme know!

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Old 08-12-2005, 08:14 PM   #18
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Default Re: is this the sign of a bad alternator?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JEG510
Ok, more information now. I just can say "HUH!?!?" Because I went to my shop this morning, and the guys there tested the alternator and battery. They said everything was in tip top shape. Wha?! And so no charge there (price wise) and so I have been driving the car most of the day and no issues at all. No pulsing lights, no stalls or cut outs. Huh?? What happened here? I asked the boys if they charged my battery and they were like "um, nope! We just tested the system to see if everything was ok." So I just thanked them and slipped them a $5 each (2 guys did the work) for their time and went about my way. Should I be wary for this? Lemme know!
seriosuly you believe them? thats like listening to canadian tire.... ouch...

...
92 SL1 SOHC TBI
Custom intake
Alpine deck, speakers, amp
JBL Sub
Ultimate amp
Volometer gauge mounted in dash
Magnaflow exhaust
....DEAD.... Car towed away Jan 18 2007. RIP

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Old 08-12-2005, 09:07 PM   #19
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Default Re: is this the sign of a bad alternator?

I guess it's POSSIBLE that a cable or connection was loose, or gummed up & when they tested, they knocked off the gunk & formed a better connection. That could explain it, I'd go over your battery cables REALLY carefully & look for corrosion, both at battery & altenator.

...
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Old 08-12-2005, 09:16 PM   #20
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Default Re: is this the sign of a bad alternator?

Well she's been runnin good even more so, now. Although I now know I need to get a new PS pump sometimes in the near future. I let the car sit with all the accessories on, and a/c and let it idle for 10 minutes. Hopped in, and we were off. Had this been yesterday, as soon as I would have touched the brake pedel, well, dead in the water we would have been. Oh, and my battery needed a little water (distilled) so I added a bit, too.

...
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