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Old 10-14-2008, 11:07 AM   #31
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I agree that working on cars is trial and error when you aren't a "pro" but as stated above, throwing parts at a problem doesn't fix anything either (or if it does, it will not help out your wallet).

I do suggest going with a new alternator. Used ones are generally not a good thing to go with.

I didn't realize this mechanic is your friend, in that case, I wouldn't leave him so quickly, but then again I would have him explain things to you in detail before and while he fixes things so you get a better understanding of what is going on. This is something I had always done with my mechanic and doing so has helped me understand things I didn't used to get at all.
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Old 10-14-2008, 12:32 PM   #32
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Is there any grease/oil/water/dirt getting on the alternator? That can damage an alternator and kill it quickly.

Overtightened belt on the alternator can wear out the main bearing and cause the whirring noise, and death of the alternator shortly afterward. I've had it happen to two different alternators in my cars.
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Old 10-14-2008, 01:04 PM   #33
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So it's okay for other people who are not certified mechanics to work on their own cars or to work on my car, but it's not okay for a self made mechanic who's not certified to work on it? How does that make sense? Everyone keeps naysaying my mechanics--yet you guys encourage me to work on it myself as if I'm more competent than a mechanic! or to get advice from non-certified enthusiasts on the internet? I'm sorry, but that doesn't make sense. This guy is more experienced than me and he's fair. I'm not gonna take it to a "good" mechanic and pay through the nose. If someone on here does work on their car and they don't get it right the first time they don't say "jeez, I'm not even a mechanic! I better take it to a real certified mechanic before I wreck my car." No, you keep working at it till you get it right. As long as my friend isn't charging me twice to fix a problem that "should" have been fixed the first time, who am I to complain? He's not out to rip me off--he doesn't overcharge me--so instead of bashing him why don't you offer <b>constructive</b> help on why the alternator might be failing all the time?
I never told YOU to work on your car.

Some of the best mechanics I've dealt with never bothered with certifications - they started with a early 1950's they bought for 100 bucks and restored so they could drive it as their first car. They've kept up on the changing technologies, and are smart enough to realize that a trouble code is NOT the end all solution, and that everything is inter-related to some point.

I'm no pro - I work on my own cars when I have the time (which I don't have much of these days). I've rebuilt a few automatic transmissions, redone multiple suspensions, done some clutch jobs, done crank jobs, built drag cars, built a car (including the frame and suspension) from scratch, etc. - but I'll be damned if I'm going to call myself a mechanic.

If you keep using used alternators, they're going to keep failing, simple as that. Dew happens in the mornings in most of the world, or rain, mud, whatever - moisture occurs. Alternators have opening sin the casing to help dissipate heat - and if they are not ran, but instead sit for a while, the bearings internally will start to have rust forming on them. It might sound fine when you first pull it and bench test it, but it's going to fail in under 2 months, damn near like clock work. This isn't even counting problems with windings, voltage regulators, pigtails, etc.

If an alternator belt is installed too loose, the pulley will slip and the alternator will not have the proper output. If it is too tight, you can damage the bearings internally from thrust forces (even if the alternator is brand new). My buddy's old Nissan 240 wanted a 1/2 inch of slack on that belt - I haven't seen another car that wants thing that loose, but my point is that every vehicle's specs are different.

While you may think that the money is being paid out of the nose at a pro shop (at 80 bucks an hour, I'd almost agree with you, till you realize the costs involved in running a shop). Why not sit down and think about all the time you lost by having your vehicle go out of commission, MULTIPLE times, his labor, cost of parts, etc. - I think you'll find that they're fairly close.

It's hard to find a good mechanic these days, as many people are parts changers, not mechanics. Whether or not somebody is certified doesn't mean anything to me - I've seen ASE certified techs tighten oil drain plugs with impacts because they won't put on a drain plug gasket. If the person knows how to fix the problem, and fixes it properly, that's all that matters. Like it or not, I'd be looking for a fresh pair of eyes on the problem, in many situations like this the 'mechanic' tends to overlook a simple problem and has the vehicle owner piss away a LOT of money trying to fix the problem.

My personal favorite example of this: less than a week before I quit on the 23rd, I had a customer come in wanting a mass air flow sensor for his 2002 Suzuki. We didn't offer one, but I wanted the customer to show me what he wanted, just to be sure we were on the same page. He popped his hood and I found that the throttle return spring was actually a door spring (uh...what?) He pointed out 5 different sensors his "mechanic" had told him to replace at the tune of $500 in parts and was ready to drop another $200 on this mass air flow sensor. The vacuum line going from the intake manifold to the brake booster had a slit in it. $1.20 and his problem was fixed. People loose sight of the trees when they're looking for the forest.
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Old 10-14-2008, 04:03 PM   #34
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So I drove out of the train station and the car was running fine--no battery light-no whirring-- the O2 CEL came on as usual but instead of turning the motor off I let the car warm up. When I turned it off and bump started it the light came on immediately as soon as the engine started again. I bump started a couple more times when the CEL came back on and it wasn't too long the whirring returned the idle was slightly higher (presumably compensating for the poorly working alternator.) Thanks for the input so far. I will definitely be talking to the mechanic about these possible causes. It seems EOC/bump starting is exacerbating the problem.
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Old 10-14-2008, 07:53 PM   #35
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It seems EOC/bump starting is exacerbating the problem.
Which should have 0 effect on the vehicle once the engine is at or above idle RPM's.
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Old 10-14-2008, 08:19 PM   #36
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probably doesn't help just because it uses battery juice everytime you start the car--in other words, if I was key starting it instead of bump starting it--would probably make the problem even worse. I'm pretty sure the lower belt on the right side is the timing belt--I gave it a little tug--felt pretty tight--but I have no idea how tight it should be. It won't be until Friday or Saturday that i'll be able to take it back to da mechanic.

Btw, I meant people in general, not you specifically--I know you never told me to work on my car myself. But the WORST thing for my car would be if I were to do the work myself... I did the rear brakes with a friend once--wow, did we royally botch that job--had to have the mechanic redo the whole thing anyway--so wasted money buying the parts to do it ourselves--"wasted" lots of time--only to have to spend more than would had I just brought it to mechanic in first place (since we replaced the brake cylinders which the mechanic wouldn't have done)
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Old 10-14-2008, 08:31 PM   #37
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The timing belt should not be visible unless this dude left the timing cover off. The timing belt has teeth that mesh against the pulleys (this should be nowhere NEAR loose, nor visible).

On the 3 90's honda I've worked on, the belt that goes to the back runs the alt. If you go to autozone.com, check out "repair info" on the left, and then vehicle repair guide, and then enter your vehicle information. It's a free repair manual.
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Old 10-15-2008, 05:32 AM   #38
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Other sources for free online repair manuals:
- EBSCO Auto Repair Resource Center, which may be provided by your local library
- http://www.gassavers.org/showthread.php?t=8123

Also, your local library may have good the old fashioned dead tree edition.
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Old 10-16-2008, 08:36 PM   #39
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It seems the alternator woe has gone into remission. Car has been driving fine--short trips around town--some EOC, slowly doing it more and more to see if problem returns but hasn't yet (no bat. light and no whirring) One of my headlights just went out though--as the police officer just now gave me a warning for it (was working Tuesday night--but was dim when the hood was open, and bright when the hood was closed [completing the ground?]) anyway--dunno if that might have any bearing on the issue somehow. (bad ground=bad headlight?)
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Old 10-17-2008, 03:52 PM   #40
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Turns out the battery leads weren't tightened down properly--bouncing around making a poor connection. But he gave me free lunch again and fixed the light inside the car as well as the headlight housing which was broken and causing the left headlight to work intermittently.
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