Bearings do wear on alternators - but I'm sure the Mechanic has only given
you a brief description of a fault that could develop - no mechanic can give
a second by second account of how long this alternator will last, just by
turning the engine over and listening to a noise -
this alternator could last another year or two. Tell the Girlfriend to ask
at another garage (second opinion )
Front bearings, exposed to salt spray mist in Winter, do eventually
go, with a whining noise. An overtight fan belt can also cause this.
Try slightly slackening the fan belt slightly.
Local self-employed and recommened auto electrician might
be your best bet. About 12 quid for bearing, 12 to 25 quid
for fitting bearing if you take the alternator to him. 40 to 100 quid
if he has to remove and re-fit the alternator.
Sure it's not the water pump?
New/replacement refurbished alternator plus fitting
100 up depending on how much they charge for labour.
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