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Altantator or what?

For the past week or so the battery light has been coming lighting up from time to to time on my sisters 97 dodge neon. She went and had the battery tested and the battery place said it was okay. The altanator was just replaced in Nov. 07 so we figured it could not be it. Well she was driving home last night and the car died. I showed up, jumped it and let it charge off my battery and she drove it about a mile again before she lost power. We jumped it again and it started and she drove another mile before it went dead again. We had it towed to the shop at that point. Can an altanator go bad in 3 years? The place we had it put on said the warrenty expired in Oct of 09 or less then 2 years after we had it installed.

Could it be something other then the altanator? We just had a new starter put on about a week ago. Not sure how old the batter is at this point or when it was bought.

The voltage regulator is often part of the engine control computer and could be the problem but most likely it is the alternator. They can fail the day they are installed.

With our luck with cars it probably is that, what i can’t figure out is why the warrenty was for 23 months? ususally they are for a year, 2 year of lifetime.

Accoring to our mechanic the belts were old and not tight enough. Could this really cause the battery to not to be charged properly by the altenator?


Yes and yes, a loose belt might not turn the alternator enough, and yes, an alternator (probably rebuilt) can go bad from day one!!

Yep a loose belt can cause the battery to run down. The belt slips and due to the resistance to turning in armature of the alternator doesn’t spin fast enough to produce enough power to recharge the battery.

The problem has become less frequent with use of serpentine type belts that have a tensioner and grooves in the belt to provide more friction between the belt and pulley.

If your alternator is driven by an old type of “V” belt you need to check its tightness periodically. Wear and stretching can cause a V belt to get loose. It is very simple to tighten it. You lossen the mounting bolts for the alternator, it “pivots” on one and there is a “slide” on the other. Move the sliding bolt via getting some leverage between the block and the alternator and tighten up both bolts.

You’ll know soon enough if the tightening did the trick if the battery no longer runs down and keeps starting the car dependably.

Well I told my sister to go to a secondary place that checks batteries and alternators and see what each is showing to make sure our mechanic was right. But knowing my sister she won’t and she will be on the side of the road again very soon.

All you need is a cheap voltmeter and you’ll have a good idea of how things are going.
Here’s one example.

Battery voltage with the engine running should be between 14 and 15 volts.

At first I thought this was going to be a post with a political slant (Alanta-nato as in CA’s Govern-ator :0) NOTE THE EMOTIONS.

I like to include a “conductance” test along with the carbon pile test when getting a feeling about my batterys health.Indy, perhaps you "google’ conductance meter. It was a “essential tool” at GM Dealers from 1998 or so on.

I was at AutoZone today and an odd thing happened. The clerk actually “laid down the law” when the customer asked for warranty consideration for his 5th alternator in 6 months. The clerk actually suggested that there could be something wrong with the car or the installation process that is causing the “no charge” condition.