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alternator failure

OnYerLeftOnYerLeft Member Posts: 14
edited February 2014 in Toyota
Last night when driving my beloved 92 Camry with
124 k miles, the battery discharge indicator light
came on. After a few miles, the lights dimmed and
the radio killed. It woudl restart after several
minutes, but the discharge light stayed on, and it
eventually died again.

I had it towed to my mechanic, who tells me the
alternator is bad (I have no problem believing this
due to the 124 k on it). *But* just 2 days ago I
had the timing belt changed (for the second time,
the first being at 60k miles). I'm wondering, is
it possible that they did something wrong on the
timing belt job that affected the alternator, or is
it just a coincidence the alternator went out at
this time?


  • GTRocksGTRocks Member Posts: 48
    I think it's probably coincidence. The mechanic would have to go out of his way to mess with the alternator. Check the belt that goes around the alternator and make sure that it is indeed tight, and turning the alternator. Ask your mechanic if he did indeed check to make sure the alternator is bad. There is a test that they do that will ensure that it is bad. Having your lights go dimmer and dimmer and the radio dying while driving is classic alternator death. The fact that it restarted pretty much locks it in tight. Provided the alternator is getting turned by the belt assembly, you'll be replacing it.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Well, if they did, you'll never prove it, so forget it and think the best of them. I suppose they could have shorted something out (they probably did have to move the alternator out of the way) but at 124K you're past the service life of the alternator anyway, so at best all they'd owe you was another used alternator with 124K on it...not worth even bringing it up, IMHO.
  • gusgus Member Posts: 254
    Mr. S nails it. They probably did have to move the alternator, or at the very least, remove the alternator belt. Who knows if they did anything wrong? At any rate, it's not worth the effort of trying to "bust" them for the failure. Have them do a load test at any rate, just to verify that it's bad.
  • GTRocksGTRocks Member Posts: 48
    Guess I was spoiled with that '92 Probe. Timing belt came off without having to remove but the inner fender (plastic piece) and the timing belt cover. Didn't come anywhere near the alternator. In fact I don't think I really had to open the hood!! Obviously a different design.
  • OnYerLeftOnYerLeft Member Posts: 14
    And now for the rest of the story: I had my mechanic go ahead and throw the "new" (rebuit) alternator on on Friday. Drove home, no problems, other than seemed a little rough. After supper, I decided to head back to the grocery. Started 'er up and the battery discharge light was on again! Saturday morning, I tried to call my mechanic, but found out they weren't open. So I called the Toyota dealer who had installed the timing belt earlier in the week. He had me bring it in for a look. To make a long story short, he tested the "new" alternator and found it was putting out no volts and few amps! So this morning, I went back to my mechanic and told him it appears he gave me a bad alternator. He says he'll make it right for me. Meantime, I've convinced myself that I did not squander $300 on an alternator I didn't need, due to the fact that my old one had 124 k on it anyway!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    You might ask your mechanic where he's buying his alternators and if he's had much trouble with that supplier....some shops try to maximize profit by buying off-brands from god-knows where.
  • jxyoungjxyoung Member Posts: 156
    I would like to know if American auto makers have
    improved their alternators? I owned a 85 T-bird Turbo and went thru 6 alternators in 9 years.
    Have a 92 Bonneville, on my 3rd on it. Had a 88 Suzuki samurai and sold it about 5 months ago with the original alternator! Hope my new Silverado has
    a reliable 1?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I think American cars makers have improved EVERYTHING since 1985.
  • ralph124cralph124c Member Posts: 36
    I should add my own alternator story-here goes...
    I had an '84 MITSUBISHI TREDIA a while back-it was a faily decnt car 9although the body rusted through very early). Anyway, the alternator failed at around 85K miles. I had an independent shop replace it-they gave me a rebuilt one which failed in short order (bad bearings). I knew that Chrysler marketed the same car under the Dodge COLT name, so I called a Doge dealer-bottom line-new COLT alternator =$95.00 vs MITSUBISHI @ $255.00! I bought the Colt alternator-but foung the case ahad a small boss on it that interfered with the attachment bracket. What to do? I filed the boss off (took around 30 min.)!It worked fine till I scrapped the car!
    Part of the reason I hate Japanese cars-they GOUGE you on replacement parts!
  • OnYerLeftOnYerLeft Member Posts: 14
    ralph--I hear ya! The rebuilt alternator for my Camry cost $300 (labor included)
  • quadrunner500quadrunner500 Member Posts: 2,721
    Don't use high pressure detergent car wash sprayers inside your engine bay. It is corrosive! We are talking about electrical apparatus here. There are carbon brushes, exposed windings, voltage regulators, diodes, all kinds of things that don't like water. I started getting better life out of my accessories, including water pumps, idler pulleys, alternators, you name it...by paying less attention to a dirty engine compartment. You may not like the way it looks, but your engine doesn't care about appearance.
  • bcathcartbcathcart Member Posts: 54
    I'M keen to know how this alternator produced amps but no volts,someones at the kidding.OHMS LAW never varies.
  • quadrunner500quadrunner500 Member Posts: 2,721
    Maybe he knew Kirchoff?
  • gusgus Member Posts: 254
  • guitarzanguitarzan Member Posts: 873
    A cousin and I rebuilt my 1980 Delta 88's alternator. That was an EASY job with a $20 kit from Summit Racing. And I would have gotten the $10 kit if I knew the coil included in the upgraded kit was a standard one, not for the large 70A alternator my car had. The most difficult part is simply putting the alternator back on and tightening it. This used to work if the diodes were shot (are you seeing a flickering light on your dash? Did it start flickering slowly, then increase to 2x the frequency?) If the bearing is shot, forget it.

    Are these rebuilt kits available for todays average American built car? Or even Japanese cars?
  • quadrunner500quadrunner500 Member Posts: 2,721
    I can't speak for all cars, but my '91 Mustang had a replaceable voltage regulator screwed on the alternator. At the same time I replaced it, I was able to buy and install new brushes. I think I spent about $30 for the regulator and $10 for the brushes. If the diodes had been bad, the entire alternator would have had to be replaced on that model.
  • lwflwf Member Posts: 223
    These "knock sensors" that were referred to around posts 27 to 30. How would one know if a vehicle has one? Do all have one now? If so, when did that happen?

    I can't even estimate how long it's been since I heard my engine ping. 20 years? 25 years? Maybe more. I guess this is perceived as a major problem for some, but I have always used 87 octane and have never needed any higher in the cars & pickups I've owned.

    But you who have posted above have cleared up one puzzle for me. I've never taken anyone seriously who claimed that higher octane provided better mpg figures. But knock sensors and consequent fine tuning of igition timing on the fly provides an explanation, so thanks for providing it.
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