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I have had 3 alternators replaced since Dec 22, 2014, the second…

Customer Question
I have had 3 alternators...
I have had 3 alternators replaced since Dec 22, 2014, the second on the 5th of Jan and the third on 7 feb. Battery originally purchased on Dec 2, 2014, and another on the 4th of Jan. Yet no one can tell me what the problem is. Can you help me?
Submitted: 7 years ago.Category: Toyota
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Answered in 1 minute by:
2/16/2015
Toyota Mechanic: Toyota Service, Toyota Expert replied 7 years ago
Toyota Service
Toyota Service, Toyota Expert
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Satisfied Customers: 5,693
Experience: 30+ Yrs of auto experience, Award Winning Svc. Manager; Just Answer Customer's Choice Award Winner
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Hello. Welcome to Just Answer. Please allow me to assist you.
Please allow me to ask why you have replaced 3 alternators. Was the battery going dead? Was the Battery Light on at the dash? Please advise
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Customer reply replied 7 years ago

The battery went dead on Dec 2, 2014 and was replaced. On December 22, battery light went on again and I had the alternator replaced in Bloomington, Mn. Driving on I-35S on Jan 4, 2015 at 70MPH the car went totally dead near Lamoni, Iowa. No nothing. Walked to service station who called a tow to a mechanic. Spent the night, mechanic said battery was dead even after being on the charger overnight. Changed the battery. Continued on southbound I-35S, made it to 8 miles north of El Dorado, Kansas and I am doing 75MPH on the turnpike and the same thing happened. Highway patrol rescued me and called a tow truck. Mechanic put in another alternator. Finally made it to Texas 2 days later cuz I was so frazzled and anxious I couldn't make it in one day. February 7 I am driving 35 MPH in residential area and the battery light came on again. February 8 had third alternator put on. Something else seems to be going on other than just plain bad luck with alternators. None of the 4 mechanics said they could find anything else wrong.

Toyota Mechanic: Toyota Service, Toyota Expert replied 7 years ago
What you need to do, before replacing another alternator, is to have what we call a "Parasitic Draw Test' performed.
If those 4 mechanics cannot do it, find one who can. If there is a parasitic draw (something staying one when it is supposed to be off), you can have a dead battery even though the alternator is good. In short, this is akin to leaving the headlights on overnight. The draw could be a radio or radio amplifier, teh body control module, a stuck power relay, several things.
The parasitic draw test will tell the mechanic is there is a drain on the battery.
The next thing to discuss is the alternators purchased. The quality of readily available alternators has diminished quite a lot in the last few years. More often than not, the alternator you buy to replace a bad one is re manufactured. This means that someone has taken this alternator apart after IT went bad, and replaced whatever part or parts were allegedly bad. A LOT of companies cut corners by not replacing suspect internal alternator part, they just replace that what does not work. This lessens the selling price across the counter. The bad part of the lower cost is premature failure, which is Very common.
The best choice here, when replacing an alternator, is to use a "Factory" re manufactured unit. From Toyota, they carry a one-year/unlimited mileage warranty. With that kind of warranty, the unit is certainly being sold with all new interior parts, not leftovers from the original.
The recommendation here is to have the vehicle tested for a parasitic draw. If found, it needs to be diagnosed, traced down, and rectified.
If no draw, replace the alternator with a Toyota remanufactured unit.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reply
Thanks for choosing Just Answer. It was a pleasure to assist you. I trust my input is satisfactory and meets your expectations. A positive rating for my assistance on your request would be greatly appreciated; thanks again and have a great day
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Customer reply replied 7 years ago

The parasitic draw test has been done I know for sure at least twice. The Alternators are factory re-manufactured and have been covered by the original change. So far you haven't given me any new possibilities.

Toyota Mechanic: Toyota Service, Toyota Expert replied 7 years ago
I do not like to speculate on possibilities. Speculation is guessing, and guessing costs you money.
If there is no parasitic draw (IF the test was indeed done, and done properly), there are two things going on here, you have a bad battery or bad alternators. The draw test tells us if the alternators are good (eliminating failed diodes inside the alternator) and if something is staying on inside the car. If there is a bad plate in the battery, which is very possible, the battery will go dead, or not accept a full charge. There is no test for defective battery plates.There is one possibility that I neglected to mention....a loose belt. This will give you an undercharge condition.
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Customer reply replied 7 years ago

What kind of belt???

Toyota Mechanic: Toyota Service, Toyota Expert replied 7 years ago
There is a belt that drives the alternator. If it is loose, the alternator does not spin fast enough to maintain the proper voltage output (which should be 14.4 volts DC at idle). Additionally, there is a possibility that the alternators you have purchased are not of the sufficient amperage-output rating. What that means is this:
If when the car is running, with the headlamps on, and say the heater fan, plus the drain of the engine electrical system, and you have a 50 amp alternator fitted, the car is actually consuming 60 amps of power. This is a 10 amp deficit, which will not allow the battery to be charged while the engine is running. This causes the battery to go dead, as it in not charging at all. This vehicle needs at least an 80 amp alternator or better to properly charge the battery.
Perhaps this is the main cause of the problem....you do not have the correct alternator fitted, and the undercharge condition is causing you all of the issues.
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