Signs alternator is going out - GM Forum - Buick, Cadillac, Chev, Olds, GMC & Pontiac chat


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Old 04-21-2003, 03:11 AM   #1
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Default Signs alternator is going out

Long time lurker, first time poster.

What are some of the signs the alternator is on it'* last leg? I have 87,000 on the original one, and my mechanic said it should be going out soon. Before it completely dies will it give me any indicators first?

Right now when I drive at night I do notice that my dash lights fluctuate in brightness, is that an indication or is that related to something else? I just recently had to get to new battery after my stock one died after 86,000 miles, so it'* not the battery causing the lights to flicker.

Any help would be appreciated.
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Old 04-21-2003, 03:27 AM   #2
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Default Thank you JR

I kinda thought that is what it was doing but wasn't' sure. My volts have been steady no fluctuating or anything, and he already checked the connections when I got a new waterpump and thermostat a couple of months ago.

I trust my mechanic ever since he told me when I got a tune-up to only use ac delco wires I had read about that on here and kinda used it to test him, and he passed with flying colors! lol He also said he'd put in an ac delco alt with lifetime warranty for $400. I could get a cheaper one for $200 but he said since the stock one lasted so long I should really just stick with that brand. I guess I'll go ahead and get it taken care of ASAP.
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Old 04-21-2003, 04:44 PM   #3
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Default Re: Signs alternator is going out

Quote:
Originally Posted by BonnieBabe
Long time lurker, first time poster.
Audience: HI BONNIEBABE!

Quote:
Originally Posted by BonnieBabe
What are some of the signs the alternator is on its last legs? I have 87,000 on the original one, and my mechanic said it should be going out soon. Before it completely dies will it give me any indicators first?
Yup...

Quote:
Originally Posted by BonnieBabe
Right now when I drive at night I do notice that my dash lights fluctuate in brightness, is that an indication or is that related to something else?
That'* one indication, yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BonnieBabe
I just recently had to get to new battery after my stock one died after 86,000 miles
That'* another indication. In other words, your alternator doesn't seem to have enough power output to even light your dash properly; just think about how much it'* [not] charging your battery. Your last battery was probably on its last legs anyway, but not getting a proper charge is most likely what finally killed it.

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Originally Posted by BonnieBabe
Any help would be appreciated.
Okay, it'* not all that difficult to remove your alternator yourself, or have a friend do it, and take it in for a free bench-test at a local auto parts place. Most all of them will do that while you wait, so you can call around to see who can do it, get yourself a second opinion, etc.

Your mechanic is probably correct in what he'* saying, but his prices don't seem to be all that great to me. If you like his work otherwise, I would suggest buying your own rebuilt AC-Delco alternator over the counter somewhere and having him install it for you. (Make sure he returns your old one to you, which you take back to the store for a "core charge" credit; they will rebuild yours for later resale.) Right now it looks like you're paying his full markup price, which seems a bit high, and maybe double what a warranted alternator rebuilt by AC-Delco is going for around here.
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Old 04-21-2003, 05:38 PM   #4
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LOL!! Hi Andy!!

I know where the alternator is I'm just sure I could that sucker out myself. What tools would I need?
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Old 04-21-2003, 05:55 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BonnieBabe
LOL!! Hi Andy!!

I know where the alternator is I'm just sure I could get that sucker out myself. What tools would I need?
Just off the top of my head:

-- Small socket or wrench to unbolt battery cables from battery (undo the negative ground first, then the positive)

-- Large-ish metric socket, like maybe 15mm or so, and 1/2"-drive socket handle (preferable, though 3/8"-drive will do as well) to back off belt tensioner to enable you to lift the serpentine drive belt off the alternator puller. Use longest socket handle you have (a breaker bar handle is ideal) for maximum leverage, and back off tensioner by turning the bolt head in the middle of the pulley _clockwise_. You're pressing against a pretty powerful spring; wrapping a rag around the socket handle will help cushion it. Press down on the handle to relax the tensioner with one hand as you work the belt off the pulley with the other. (Whatever size it is, it _is_ metric, it _is_ a powerful spring in the tensioner, and you want a proper fit of the wrench to prevent any sudden unpleasantness.)

-- Unscrew and/or unplug wiring connections at alternator. It may be easier to do this either after or during the next step when you're undoing the mounting bolts.

-- With various sockets and short extensions as appropriate, unbolt the two large bolts holding the alternator. One bolt is a large pass-through going through front and rear mounts; I think the other is shorter. Pay attention to which is which, what the order of nut-bolt-washer is for each, and which way the bolts are facing. It'* probably easier to pull the long bolt out last, and have it be the first one going back in.

-- Lift out alternator. It'* probably a bit heavier than it looks, so lift it out carefully to avoid bonking it on other expensive components under the hood. Temporarily put the mounting bolts back in their holes in the mounting brackets while you're out running around town, so you don't forget which goes where.

When trading it in for a new/rebuilt one over the counter, make sure that the new one has all the necessary bits 'n' pieces such as retaining nut(*) on the wiring connection studs, that kind of thing. Ideally, get the new one home first, install it, _then_ take the old one back for your core charge credit, so you don't accidentally trade in any vital pieces that you should have swapped over. Have fun; it'* not that hard of a job.
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Old 04-22-2003, 04:28 AM   #6
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Andy,

That seems like alot of work for someone who has only ever changed a tire on my car. lol I think I'm going to go buy a rebuilt alt and let my mechanic install it. He said he'd only charge me $50 to put it in.

Thanks for the info.
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Old 04-22-2003, 04:32 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jr's3800
Be sure to get the AC Delco units... The rebuilt AC Delco units seem to be a lot better than the aftermarket parts... I have had 3 faulty ones from discount auto parts... And I have a friend that had had 4 bad ones from autozone... But My Ac Delco unit has been perfect for almost a year now... I never had this with the others...
I was definitely planning on getting an AC Delco unit. The one I have has lasted for 87,000 miles so obviously it'* an excellent alternator.

Thank you guys for all your help. I do appreciate it.
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Old 04-22-2003, 11:41 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BonnieBabe
Andy,

That seems like alot of work for someone who has only ever changed a tire on my car. lol I think I'm going to go buy a rebuilt alt and let my mechanic install it. He said he'd only charge me $50 to put it in.

Thanks for the info.
Let'* put it this way: It took me longer to _type_ that than it did to actually remove my alternator. But your plan sounds fine: Get a proper AC-Delco-rebuilt alternator over the counter and have your mechanic install it for $50. As we said, you'll need to get the old one back from him to return for your core charge.
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Old 04-23-2003, 04:47 AM   #9
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Well.. if you got a lil cash or can find a good deal on it.. get an Alternator off an SSEI since they're rated for 140 AMPS and the stock ones are 110 AMPS this may eliviate some of the voltage droppin running off battery at idle problem. And it might help if you intend to BUMP up your stereo a bit..
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