Alternator - What sounds would the car make if that was the problem?


Old 06-22-06, 11:25 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Canada
Posts: 275
Alternator - What sounds would the car make if that was the problem?

What sounds did your car make when the alternator was on its way out? And how long did this go on for before the car totally died?

Or would the car just die every so often? and then be fine for a few days.....Or did it just suddenly die, and then not start back up again, until you actually replaced the alternator?

Also - can someone who has absolutely zero car knowledge replace an alternator? or is it somewhat difficult?

I just really don't want to put any money out to have this done, so am wondering if there's any way I could do it myself...
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Old 06-23-06, 12:02 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Michigan
Posts: 335
Well, if you want to see how your alternator is doing, you can measure the voltage at the battery while the car is running. It should be between 13.5 and 14 volts. If you think the bearings are going, you can take the belt off and see how smoothly it spins. If you think what i said above makes sense and you can do it no problem, then perhaps you can tackle the alternator if it is bad. The amount of time varies alot between vehicles. Some can be changed in 20 minutes, others can take hours. you should post up your vehicle model, year, engine, and miles, that way we can better help you, with whatever problems you have.
Old 06-23-06, 05:11 AM
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You can go to autozone and get the altenator tested for free. You can buy auto repair manuials specific for your vehichle which will guide you thru the replacement - plus other repairs that may come up later.
Old 06-23-06, 11:35 AM
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Location: Hamilton County, Ohio
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Why do you specifically think it's your alternator. You present hypothetical questions, but what applies to your car. Do you hear strange sounds? Is the car stalling for no apparent reason? Also make, model and year would help us help you.
Old 06-23-06, 02:56 PM
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Join Date: May 2006
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I once had a truck that had a bad alternator, it made no noise different from usual. I had noticed that the alternator guage had dropped down quite a bit though from where it usually ran a few days before it stranded me. Do you have a guage or just a light.?
Old 06-23-06, 03:27 PM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: North Texas
Posts: 2,345
it depends

It all depends on how it fails if the diodes fail you will not know it by noise it just will not charge enough or at all.
If the bearings are shot you will hear it and more then likley it will run hot.
You can get a short piece of garden hose and use it as a stetascope.a good one will have a nice hum to it.
As far as replacing it it depends on what type car you have some are easy and some are not if they are buried under a bunch of stuff.
Take a voltage reading with engine running and see what you get.
Old 06-26-06, 12:48 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Canada
Posts: 275
Thanks for the replies. Much appreciated.

Now that I've read your replies, I can see that thinking that I could somehow tackle it myself was ridiculous... I really have no clue about any of this stuff.

Re getting the alternator tested somewhere ....... the problem with that is that if the car does decide to start, I can't see that it'd run long enough for me to actually make it into a shop where they could test the alternator. But I guess I may end up having to have it towed somewhere. I was hoping that I could somehow figure out what the problem might be (without actually having to take it into a shop) so that I could decide if the car was worth fixing.

The reason I was thinking 'alternator' was only because someone that I described the symptoms to immediately came up with the idea.

What happened was when I was driving home, when I was about 2 blocks away, the car sort of sputtered (like it was dying, or out of gas) then stalled. I was able to start it right back up, but only got another 40 feet or so and it stalled again. Then it started right back up, and I was able to go another short distance, and it stalled again. I continued to do this (about 5 times) until I got it in front of my house.

I then tried it a short time later, and it wouldn't start. It just made a banging thudding kind of noise (like it was sort of turning over when a battery is starting to die) but it wasn't a normal kind of noise that happens just before a car actually starts up. Really hard to explain the sound...

Then I went out there later, and it started right up about 5 times in a row.

I'll try again tomorrow.......but I'm just not sure what to do here. If it starts right up, what does that mean? Also, what could it be if it doesn't start right up? I'm totally stumped...

The car is a 90 corsica (I believe it's a 4 cylinder), is very basic and has very few gauges..... gas and speedometer.... not even a temperature gauge. (I only paid $250 for it, and it has around 180,000 kilometers on it.)
Old 06-26-06, 01:57 AM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: North Texas
Posts: 2,345
you can test it yourself

You can test it yourself you will need a multimeter from radio shack (does not have to be a high dollar one) should be digital.
Put on volts DC scale install the red wire to the pos and black wire to the neg of your battery with eng running you should get abot 13.5 volts on your readout.
However you might have a fuel issue maybe a plugged fuel filter.from what it sounds like. Could be lots of things.
The multimeter can be a very usefull tool and can be used for many things around the house as well as car so your money is not wasted if you buy one.
Old 06-26-06, 06:28 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 338
dude if you want some awesomely amazing knowledge that is well layed out and free go to google and type [ autoshop 101 ] then click the first site that comes up and go to online instructions and then understanding alternators so you can learn about them for the heck of it. Or browse around in technical articles to, its free knowledge for the taking so spend as much time there as possible. Can't beat the free stuff.
You can read about every thing on cars here and its explained well to people who aren't gurus either.

Ya I don't put links up to technical info to many people getting band for links.

also noise could sound like errrr gerrrrrr roooooar huummmmmmm, lol forums and describing noises.

Last edited by hotrodder89; 06-26-06 at 07:43 PM.
Old 06-27-06, 10:38 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Canada
Posts: 275
Thanks again for the replies. I will see if I can find someone that could possibly lend me one of those devices that tells you whether or not the problem is the alternator, because I was so hoping to have some idea of what the problem was before I had it towed somewhere.

Someone just told me that it sounded like it was the lock up plug on the transmission which can apparently be unplugged... They said it is a 4 wire plug and to fix the problem would be about $300-$400 for and new Electric Solenoid. (In all honestly, they confused me........are they saying that all I need to do is to unplug something and that then the car would run fine? or that I need a new solenoid (for 300-400)?

Thanks again.
Old 06-27-06, 10:53 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 338
They are talking about the torque converter lock up switch. If you unplug it you will lose your highway mpg. But the car will be driveable

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