Alternator Failure: Some kind of warning device?

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Couple years ago, the alternator on my 'burb failed.
Today the alternator on my wife's Lumina failed.
Same scenario in both cases: ----------------------------------------------------------------
- The failure was not detected by the driver by looking at the instrument panel - and it seems to me that in order to detect such a failure in time, the driver would have to check the ammeter every half hour of so while driving - maybe The Right Thing To do... but hardly realistic for most drivers. - The battery got sucked dry by the engine running w/no alternator - Once the battery was dry, all systems just *stopped*: Flashers didn't work, brake lights didn't work... and so-forth. Dunno about power brakes/power steering because I wasn't there on the second one and the first one happened when the vehicle had already stopped. ----------------------------------------------------------------
In both cases, we lucked out and this happened in a relatively friendly environment.
But what if it had happened while doing 70 in the middle lane of I-95?
I see a real chance of a multi-car pileup and maybe loss of life.
So, bottom line: Anybody of an aftermarket gadget that will raise an audible alarm as soon as the charging rate falls below a preset level?
--
PeteCresswell

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No gen, bat or alt lite came on? Turn the key on see if these lamps work.

-
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(PeteCresswell) wrote:

Thats what the gauge is for. You should be checking them every so often, I don't see how you think that isn't realistic for most drivers unless most drivers need to go back to driving school. You would then need the same type of alarm for temp, oil pressure, even fuel level since you can't look at those gauges either. Your gauge gives that early warning, if an ammeter you will see a large negative swing, a voltmeter you will see the voltage drop from ~14 to ~12. Autometer does make a warning buzzer for their aftermarket gauges, you wire it in with your autometer gauge and then set the levle you want the warning to sound.
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Per Eugene Nine:

I'd say that "should" is the operative word there.
I'm probably as paranoid as anybody can get vehicle-wise... and I check my gauges a *lot*. But catching an alternator failure would mean checking the meter at least every half hour while driving.
My average time between alternator failures seems tb about 60,000 miles. I can see somebody forcing themselves to check every 20 minutes or so for the first thousand... maybe two thousand... but I'd venture that it's an extremely rare driver that can keep that up year-in-and-year-out. Couple times a day... no problem.. Now-and-then throughout the day, no problem... but every 20 minutes all day, day-after-day... For myself, at least, I have my doubts.
Thanks for the pointer to AutoMeter... I'm browsing through their stuff right now.
--
PeteCresswell

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wrote:

Agreed. I don't pay attention to the dash as much as I should. These days the danger is running out of gas. - Gordie
Acts 13:32, 33 (NWT) 32 "And so we are declaring to YOU the good news about the promise made to the forefathers, 33 that God has entirely fulfilled it to us their children in that he resurrected Jesus; even as it is written in the second psalm, 'You are my son, I have become your Father this day.'"
Do you mean to tell me that Jesus WAS NOT BEGOTTEN until the day of his ressurection?
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"The Nolalu Barn Owl" <&#103&#111&#114&#100&#105&#101&#64&#110&#111&#108&#97&#108&#117&#46&#111&#110&#46&#99&#97> wrote in message

Checking the idiot light, which many vehicles have, won't always alert you an alternator problem. On many vehicles the warning light doesn't come on if the alternator is still putting out voltage even though the voltage isn't high enough to charge the battery or run 12 volt equipment.
Ron
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(PeteCresswell) wrote:

And that is what I mean, you should be checking all gauges every 5-10 minutes as well as your mirrors, etc. Way back in drivers ed there was some sort of official name for the pattern you follow that I don't recall but it should be quite often you check.
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In pilot training we called it an "instrument scan" and if you don't do it often enough the instructor will bust you for it. Regards JR BTW I still have the habit when driving an automobile.

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That's old fashioned stuff. Now you just look out the windshield, never at the dash unless you already know there is a problem that needs your attention. Our Park Avenue has an HUD (Heads Up Display). It constantly shows your speed, shows if the headlights are on bright, displays turn signals when they are turned on and most importantly, if any gauge or message in the driver info center are out of normal parameters it displays then message 'check dash'. All the info looks like it is about 2' feet in front of the hood just floating in the air. It is really habit forming, wish if had been available for my '06 Chevy 3500!
Ron
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I glance at *all* of my gauges very frequently. Probably every minute. If you feel looking down at your gauges every half hour is unreasonable...you probably should be driving a vehicle with idiot lights. Nothing personal, but idiot lights work best for errr *those* that can't remember to check their gauges.
If I drive a few blocks to the grocery store, I could tell you after the one minute drive what my transmission temp was, what my oil pressure was, engine temp and how my charging system was doing as well.
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I check mine at stop lights/signs in stop an go traffic or when no ones very close at speed every 20-30 mins.Not at speed with people close by when I should be paying attention to traffic and side mirrors.

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wrote:

\ Newer cars place a lot higher demands on them and under hood temps are higher too because they run engine hotter and use less aggressive cooling at times which rasie under hood temps. Luminia's can be really bad about this because the alt in mounted in the hottest part of the engine compartment. ----------------- The SnoMan www.thesnoman.com
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Per SnoMan:

This is third-hand... but does "stator failure" sound like something that applies to alternators?
--
PeteCresswell

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wrote:

Yes because it is made up of four parts, a stator or field, and rotor, a diode rectifier unit, (because they produce AC current internally) and a regulator. The more power they produce the hotter they get and the hotter the environment they work it, the shorter the potentail life span because it is just a question of time before heat breaks them down. ----------------- The SnoMan www.thesnoman.com
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Per SnoMan:

This one almost made it to 50k, but not quite...
--
PeteCresswell

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wrote:

My 89 burb still ahs the original alt in it and other than replacing the rear bearing in it at about 125K miles it has been trouble free and now has 177K on it. I drove a 91 toyota car 215k miles in 12 years and never had any alt problems. The only major work it had was new struts at about 165K miles and a new timing belt and water pump at 190K (water pump was still good but it was easier to change while belt was off) It is not unreasonable to expect more than 50K out of new cars alt though. ----------------- The SnoMan www.thesnoman.com
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Per SnoMan:

You want a few laughs? '98 Burb 1500: ===============================00000: Hood spacers & seat install 05000: STRANDED Rear brake froze 07000: Steering noise 13000: Bad tire 20000: Trans shifting problem 27000: Front rotors warped 29000: Burning Oil 30000: Violent shifts 1st-2nd 34690: STRANDED Alternator 35940: Xmission Valve Body... 36240: Serpentine belt replacement 37000 "Clunking" noise when starting from full or near stop 39000: Steering became hard momentarily (unresolved) 39800: Rear clunk starting to return in rear (re/37000) 61060: New sus parts 67120: Trans shift prob (like 30000/35940) 68260: Pads+turn rotors+ 75040: STANDED Crank sensor 75350: "Check engine..." lite                     (unresolved) 75837: Valve Body (trans) 77100: Water pump 77439: Intake manifold gasket 85000: (approx) Wiper board repair 89000: Wiper board replaced w/new 98000: (approx) Serpentine Belt 98340: Alternator Failed 100000: (approx) Radio's lites failed. Not repairable. Replaced radio 120000: (approx) Trip Speedo Failed                (not fixed yet) 125700: Leaking block heater-replaced w/plug 125700: Leaking front differential pinion seal - replaced 130000: Whining noise, linked to engine speed. Suspect alternator bearing.
===============================
--
PeteCresswell

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wrote:

Wow good records! Newer is not always better, I have even had my 89 cross country more than a dozen times too and it has never failed once even in temps of 40 below. It also has twin block heaters that still do not leak. I do cheat in this regard though because I run 70/30 mix and a 7 PSI cap and have since it was almost new and never had any heating problems and it has seen 105 and abit more. On you clunk, you might check to see if the front slip yoke on rear drive shaft is binding as it slips in and out of tranny or Tcase as this can be a known issue with them. ----------------- The SnoMan www.thesnoman.com
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Per SnoMan:

Every car I buy, I go down to staples and get one of those little hard-cover ledger books that's just small enough to fit in the glove box. When I spend money on the vehicle, I make a note: Miles, Date, Nature of expense.... That includes gas/oil. In the back, I'll write down dates/times/way points when we take it on vacation. Now that I've accumulated a few of these books they're kind of like old family photos: browse through them and memories come back...

What's your feeling on when this thing will be ready to retire?
I was thinking about trying to make it to 250k, but a mechanic I talked to yesterday said more like 200k. I'm at 130 now and drive less than 30k per year so maybe it's moot for the forseeable future... but still...
--
PeteCresswell

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You write down every time you get gas ?That seems excessive...

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