(Formally "Plan V: A Van Dwelling Blog", when I lived in a 1978 Dodge Xplorer 228 Class B motorhome van)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Alternator replaced

I found my battery was dead this morning when I went to leave Wal-Mart. (Oh, and I stayed parked under a "no overnight RV parking sign" for 2 nights without even noticing it.. but luckily no one bothered me). I managed to get it to charge enough via slight solar charging to get it running. I went over to O'Reilly auto and had them charge the battery then test the charging system with their hand hand portable testing device.

Do NOT always trust those devices! They can be mistaken!

(Before that, I had tried a diagnostic method of my own from the Haynes manual involving bypassing the voltage regulator to see if the alternator would output high volts without the regulator present.. and it didn't. That's a sign of a bad alternator. But I wasn't 100% sure.)

The tester said that it was a problem with my voltage regulator's diodes or some such. Being a $20 part, I figured it might be the problem since the diagnostic said it was.. plus it's a lot easier to change out than the alternator.

However, before I paid for it, I asked the guy if I would be able to return it promptly if it doesn't fix the problem. He hesitated a bit... then said he would do that for me as a warranty exchange.  So I install it.. no dice. He tried again testing the system with the handheld tester (they test at the battery) and it said the same problem, bad voltage regulator and that the alternator was fine. He was scratching his head at that point.

So I removed the new voltage regulator, replaced the old and had him check for a new (rebuilt) alternator. He only had the 1yr warranty one in stock. It would be Monday before they could have anything else. Rather than limp for 2 days more on a bad alternator, I decided to nip it in the bud now.

So, I set out removing the old alternator. They have a BETTER test machine inside the store that cannot be moved, and requires the part to be out of the vehicle. After removal but prior to purchase of the replacement, I had him test the old one. It came up FAILED on that better machine.

So, I went ahead and did the return on the voltage regulator and bought the new alternator. I got it put on and all is well now.

If you are in Benson, AZ and need auto parts, I recommend O'Reilly Auto for sure. They were most helpful and patient. They also lent me a hammer to pound in the roll pin for mounting on the new one where it wasn't put in all the way like it was supposed to be.

A tip to someone who may be doing this: Remove the air cleaner housing and get the alternator out via the area on the right side. Your transmission dipstick tube might be in the way a little and the oil filler cap on the valve cover may be slightly in the way, but I didn't have to remove the cap. It's a tight fit but I got the old out and the new in that way.

Also, double check your belts!! I had them on wrong around the crankshaft at first. I double checked due to one being tight and one being floppy. One was outside of the grove, one was in the wrong groove and the other grove was empty. Thankfully it didn't hurt the belts as it was only run for a minute or less that way. It only took a couple minutes to loosen the alternator again, fix the belts back on the pulley right then tighten back the alternator.

The "new" alternator:

No comments:

Post a Comment