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Discussion Starter #1
the battery died on me yesterday. b/c i have to move the car due to parking restrictions and the NYC marathon was yesterday, closing down all the major roads, i had to leave it at the local domestic and foreign service station. they replaced the battery but they said the alternator was on its way out. they said that the power is supposed to stay at a steady 14V but it's fluctuating high and low and that as a result, my car could die on me any day. so i'm wondering if they're telling me the truth or if they're taking me for a ride.

i just got off the phone with my saab indie who said that symptoms of the alternator dying are dimming of the interior lights and radio output getting interrupted, as well as the battery light appearing on the dash. i have never experienced any of these problems.

when i went to start the car yesterday, it would barely crank and i would hear clicking, and the lights were dim in the interior and the doors wouldn't stay locked, but i chalked this up to needing a new battery. cranking it more caused the lights to get brighter and the car stayed locked until i got it jump-started.

since the car is still at the local station, i haven't driven it since. can you guys let me know if what the station is saying sounds accurate, and if so, how long i can drive the car without it dying on me? and would i have any problems starting the car if the alternator were to go?

your thoughts are greatly appreciated. thank you.
 

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If the power is fluctuating, that would be the alternator regulator (mounted on the back of the alternator) starting to fail. Alternators get pretty hot, especially right next to the engine, so the electronics in the regulators can fail over time.

This is why I went through the hassle of getting an externally regulated alternator for my replacement. I wouldn't recommend doing that swap for you though, because it entailed grinding off a good bit of some brackets around it to stuff the bigger aftermarket alternator in there.

It's pretty easy to test with the cheapest of multimeters. Just set it in V- (DC) mode, not V~ (AC)... hook + to the + terminal, and - to the - terminal on your battery. With the car off, you should see 11-12 volts somewhere. Start the car... if the alternator is working properly it should remain a constant 13.5-14.5 volts or so.

If you see it fluctuating, that would probably mean the alternator needs to be rebuilt. I haven't heard of many alternator failures on our cars though... in fact I think mine is the only case I have ever noticed. When I checked out my car's service history it had quite a few electrical gremlins, and the alternator had been repaired before, so it's understandable that mine broke.

Fluctuating power levels could also be a corroded power terminal or poor connection on the power wire. Disconnect your battery ground. Follow the power wire from the battery to your starter, and to your alternator. Ensure the terminals aren't corroded (if so brush them off), and all connections are tight!
 
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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
i agree, it seems pretty rare that 9-5s have a failed alternator. there aren't many threads on this issue. i'll try your suggestion.

what symptoms did you see that told you that your alternator was the issue? did you have any problems starting your car until you got it repaired? since i believe the alternator recharges the battery, if i put a new battery in, i'll be ok for at least a few days, is that right?
 

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blixahaha said:
what symptoms did you see that told you that your alternator was the issue? did you have any problems starting your car until you got it repaired?
I was driving down the road, got a "bing bong", and the park light came on with the battery light. If those two lights come on together, it means the alternator isn't putting out a charge. After that my car was running on the battery, so I turned everything off and just barely made it home (it was stalling as I pulled into my driveway).

Luckily eeuroparts does a cheap alternator rebuild:
http://www.eeuroparts.com/productdetail.aspx?searchResults=1&code=8023

When my alternator failed, I had JUST bought the car a week before... so I called the stealership to price out a new one. The guy gave me a "deal" at $1200... :roll: So I had an aftermarket 200 amp externally regulated monster alternator built for $600 instead.

Now that I know about eeuroparts, if I could have done it again, I would have gone with the rebuilt unit. The huge alternator is cool, and it works wonders with my big stereo, but my car was down for about four weeks as I sourced the parts and tried to install it in my spare time.
 
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Discussion Starter #5
thanks for the info. i'm hoping (fingers crossed) that when i drive it tonight, i don't get the warning lights yet. my indie quoted me $500 (parts and labor) in case the alternator really is dying. nice that i spent almost a grand on computer parts this week. well better when it's nearby and nice out than being far from home on a wintry night. thanks again!
 

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I would consider $500 a pretty good price... the job is an absolute pain in the butt. Assuming the alternator was $250, that's only 2.5 hours on labor... hell I couldn't even get the old one out in that amount of time. It's really the worst job I've done on the car.
 
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Discussion Starter #8
my car has 78,000 miles. would you consider that high mileage? i didn't know you could get a regulator separate from an alternator. would definitely like to go that route if possible.
 

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Just had a look at the voltage regulator (W0133-1607137) price - 240$:evil: :evil: :evil:

seems to be more than a rebuilt alternator at some places :eek:

your mileage is not that high that the brushes are worn.
 
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Discussion Starter #10
so i don't need a new alternator.

i <3 shady mechanics. :evil:
i got a hint when i went to pick it up after the new battery and they told me that my car couldn't handle a rebuilt alternator b/c it would disrupt "all 4 computers." they said a new one cost well over a grand and only in my case b/c i own a saab.

thank god i have a good indie.
 

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blixahaha said:
so i don't need a new alternator.

i <3 shady mechanics. :evil:
i got a hint when i went to pick it up after the new battery and they told me that my car couldn't handle a rebuilt alternator b/c it would disrupt "all 4 computers." they said a new one cost well over a grand and only in my case b/c i own a saab.

thank god i have a good indie.
Hah. That's what the main dealers are like here. Any time I go in there they say I need $500000 in work... so I change a $1 vacuum line and fix the issue.

I wouldn't trust anyone who doesn't know Saabs to diagnose anything.
 

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Alternator

Had a similar experience earlier this week. Car startred fine in the morning. Drove to work. Went to leave work that night & car was completly dead, would not even open power locks, no interior lights etc. Tried to boost the battery but once cables were removed car kept stalling. Had the car towed to my mechanic and he charged battery and now tells me that the alternator is bad. I was surprised because all threads on forum point to bad battery and that alternators on Saab's fail rarely. I've had alternator replaced with rebuilt Bosch unit 130 amp. and mechanic says it's now working fine. Will pick it up later today and hope all is well. One problem I have is bought car one year ago and don't know age of battery but looked new when car was bought. Cost of job was, $135 for rebuilt alternator and $110 labour to remove old and install new. Any thought on this experience would be appreciated.

Thanks, Marty
 

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Alternator

Picked up car yesterday morning, alternator was replaced and car appears to be working fine once again. Mechanic confirms alternator was bad and had a burning smell coming from it (one of the signs of a bad alternator). Now hoping that I do not experience any problems in next little while from battery going bad now that we will be entering the colder days of winter here in Canada.
 
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