do I need a new alternator?
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This is a discussion on do I need a new alternator? within the General Maintenance, Troubleshooting & Accidents. forums, part of the Tech & Modifying & General Repairs category; I was parked at the forest preserve finishing my taco bell value meal #7 and I went to start the ...

  1. #1
    WRX
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    do I need a new alternator?

    I was parked at the forest preserve finishing my taco bell value meal #7 and I went to start the car. Nothing. No clicking noise, no trying to turn over, just nothing. My dash display that shows the mileage even went out. So I waited and the miles came back on so it looked like there was some power. Went to start the car, nothing. So I waited again until the miles came back and then I waited about 5 minutes past that. Then the car started right up! WTF is going on?
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    Check your grounds on your battery, then check the water level in it. Once you get it running dissconnect the battery. If the car dies, then the alternator is bad, if it continues to run its your battery.

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    Administrator Trainrex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by big geek
    Check your grounds on your battery, then check the water level in it. Once you get it running dissconnect the battery. If the car dies, then the alternator is bad, if it continues to run its your battery.
    Some cars need the battery to complete the charging circuit, and won't run with a disconnected battery. Unfortunately, I'm not quite sure which way our cars are wired.

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    I don't recommend pulling the mains to the battery while a modern car is running.

    A bad alternator would have complained before failing in a case like yours, so do focus on the battery though as stated.
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    Last car I did that on was a 89 camaro. I didn't know about the wiring thing, I'll try pulling the cabels on mine after work, let you know what happens

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    WRX
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    it's definitely not the battery, I just bought it when I had my turbo installed a few weeks back. The battery connections are solid too.

    So in that case, I guess it's the alternator?
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    Registered User iMP|2EZiONS's Avatar
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    I gotta get a new one too. For the past couple of days my car's been making a weird winding/screeching sound. It almost sounds like a supercharger after I start up and idle. It doesn't matter if its cold or not. It goes away after a little while. But I can still hear it a little. I think the bearings are worn out or something. Anyone know how much new alternators cost?
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    Registered User Mr.Mike's Avatar
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    Save your self the trouble.... take it to mech. Snap-On makes a wonderful tool that checks batter, altinator and starter draw. It also looks for shorts and bad grounds and takes about 5 or 10 min to run the test. I dont see it costing much, and getting a proper answer the first time makes more sence then guessing your way through.

    Mike just my 2 pennys

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    Moderator GV27's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WRX
    it's definitely not the battery, I just bought it when I had my turbo installed a few weeks back. The battery connections are solid too.
    DEFINITELY not the battery? That's a big statement considering you have total symptoms of a bad battery. It's completely dead, then it comes back with a bit of rest and the car not running? That's a battery sympttom. I would guess you were listening to the stereo while you ate your taco with the car off? There is such a thing as a defective battery.

    Take the car to your local parts store and they'll test the battery and charging system for free.

    Quote Originally Posted by iMP|2EZiONS
    I gotta get a new one too. For the past couple of days my car's been making a weird winding/screeching sound. It almost sounds like a supercharger after I start up and idle. It doesn't matter if its cold or not. It goes away after a little while. But I can still hear it a little. I think the bearings are worn out or something. Anyone know how much new alternators cost?
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    WRX
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    Quote Originally Posted by GV27
    DEFINITELY not the battery? That's a big statement considering you have total symptoms of a bad battery. It's completely dead, then it comes back with a bit of rest and the car not running? That's a battery sympttom. I would guess you were listening to the stereo while you ate your taco with the car off? There is such a thing as a defective battery.
    well I wouldn't have thought it was the battery. I'll go get them both checked out just to be sure I guess. No need to get all hostile about it.
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    Registered User burntclutch4u's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WRX
    No need to get all hostile about it.
    Yes there is.
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    Moderator GV27's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WRX
    well I wouldn't have thought it was the battery. I'll go get them both checked out just to be sure I guess. No need to get all hostile about it.
    Didn't mean to seem hostile, but it's always a mistake to ignore the most obvious causes. The (limited) info you've given points directly to the battery. Yes, perhaps the battery isn't getting a full charge from the alternator, then is running out of juice faster than it should. But if it seems to be getting a charge otherwise - it has a good charge right after shut-off, doesn't falter on the road, etc. then most likely it's not the alternator.

    My buddy who owns my old CRX recently had an alternator problem. The car would stumble on the road, often not start right after being shut off, etc. He'd just put in an alternator a couple months before, so "it's definitely not the alternator". So he put a new battery in against my advice, decided it was bad and bought yet another (he's got "issues"). Turns out he got a bad alternator from Checker. They gave him a new one free.

    C
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    Administrator Trainrex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GV27
    Didn't mean to seem hostile, but it's always a mistake to ignore the most obvious causes. The (limited) info you've given points directly to the battery. Yes, perhaps the battery isn't getting a full charge from the alternator, then is running out of juice faster than it should. But if it seems to be getting a charge otherwise - it has a good charge right after shut-off, doesn't falter on the road, etc. then most likely it's not the alternator.

    My buddy who owns my old CRX recently had an alternator problem. The car would stumble on the road, often not start right after being shut off, etc. He'd just put in an alternator a couple months before, so "it's definitely not the alternator". So he put a new battery in against my advice, decided it was bad and bought yet another (he's got "issues"). Turns out he got a bad alternator from Checker. They gave him a new one free.

    C
    You would be surprised at the return rate of reman alternators. When I used to schlep auto parts, I'd say a good 20% would be defective. Most of the companies are subbing the work to some no name inner city rebuilder that "fixes" them, and throws on a coat of paint. Very few companies are actually going through the whole unit.

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