Noisey Alternator



What does it mean? My sdealer told me the alternator on my '03 Volvo S60 (80K miles) was noisey but I’ve not heard anything. Is “noise” an early signal the alternator will go or that the belts need adjustment


There is electronic noise, causing static in your radio; and actual noise you hear with your ears.

Assuming this is not electrical noise, the serpentine belt could be the cause. Most likely the bearing on the alternator is showing its age. The bearing is sealed and can’t be lubricated. If it is bad and gets worse the noise will get louder. Failure is either the bearing locks up the alternator which will cause a horrible loud noise as the serp belt slides over the pulley. You won’t be able to drive far before the belt will snap. Or, the alterntor could fly apart (very rare, but it happens) when the bearing comes apart. The pulley will fly off somewhere the belt will slip off and hopefully nothing will get to tangled up in the process. The car won’t run long and you will lose your power steering.

If you can’t hear the noise yet yourself, I’d get another opinion before getting a new alternator. Sometimes noise is hard to track down and this might not be the alternator at all.


If there’s static on AM radio reception; really poor reception for but a couple of stations, does that qualify as electronic noise? If so, what then?

As to a “new alternator,” what should that cost, parts and labor?


AM radio is suceptable to electrical “noise”, but it might be the alternator. Spark plugs and just about everything electronic can cause AM radio interference. Such interference is more noticable in fringe reception areas where the signal from the radio station is weak.

Cost for alternators vary, Volvo is going to be high if a Volvo dealer does the work. $300 to 400 for many cars. My guess for a Volvo dealer installed Volvo brand alternator will run $600 to 800. I’d advise you see if there is a Volvo specialty independant mechanic in your area. You can also get a quote from a good independant mechanic with good experience with European cars or foreign cars. Perhaps you can find a quote from a good mechanic for close to $400.

Labor for a new alterntor is pretty straightforward. Figure it takes be between 1/2 to 1 hour, so labor costs of between $60 to 100 should be in the ballpark. The major expense is the part.


If you can’t hear any noise, don’t worry about it. If the alternator bearings start to go bad you’ll hear them.

I think the sdealer is trying to make a boat payment.