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2001 Chevy Cav. -- worth the repair?

So I love my Cavalier, and it gets great gas mileage (35 in town), but lately it seems like it is all I can do to keep it going. In the last 3 months I have put in a new fuel pump, a new alternator, and a new battery (all things that wear out, which is ok because it has 150k) but this week it is having so weird electrical problems, The dashboard lights come on and off, and the gauges will suddenly not work. Today I had to turn the defrost on and my car filled with smoke (and had all of the other problems all at once)! My husband moved my car this morning and said none of those things happened to him. I own this car outright, so am hesitant to get a payment, but this electrical thing has me stumped! I love the gas mileage! I fill up every 3 weeks, so am saving a lot of money, and not having a payment is really, really great. I’ve had this car for 6 years, and this is the first time ever it has needed any repairs, but it seems like it is all happening at once. Help?

The vehicle is worth saving if you can get the electrical problem corrected for a reasonable price. Use a good independent mechanic instead of the dealer. Fuel pumps, alternators and batteries all have a limited life and I don’t consider them unexpected repairs.

The thing that makes me hesitate is the “smoke” out of the defrost. Can you elaborate? What was the smell like?

The rest of it sounds like your “new” alternator is no good - or like there’s just a problem with the power cables. Having an alternator be bad off the shelf isn’t odd. Its also possible that your alternator/battery death was from yet a different, underlying issue of old & corroded cables/connections.

Yeah- The smoke smelled like electrical smoke, not like exhaust. It was not all of a sudden either, I got about half a mile away from my house before I noticed it or it started… The other thing I noticed is when I turn on the wipers and this is happening they are really slow, but when the problem isn’t happening they are fine.

I think Cig hit the nail on the head, I think that new alternator of yours is not right and or you have a bad/loose ground… I would bring it in to who ever did the work and have them look at it… DO IT FAST as you dont want to damage any thing else, which it may be too late for already.

PS what was the old alternator doing that caused you to replace it?

The battery would not hold a charge anymore, which is why the alternator was replaced – it literally fell apart. I haven’t had a problem with the battery holding a charge since. As soon as the smoke thing happened, I pulled over, so hopefully that was good…

The battery keeping a charge doesn’t tell you that the alternator is a good, reliable source of power. Someone has to check it out.

Once again Agreed with @cigroller you can still have a bad ground a bad power line or all kinds of other gremlins, such as a bad voltage regulator… Have the Alternator and wireing checked out ASAP!