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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Alright, so this is what happened.

1. For the past week, I've been getting a high pitched screaming/whistling sound out of my engine.
-- Conclusion made: Drivetrain belt is too loose. Must tighten or even replace it. I was planning on doing it tomorrow but this is what happened.

2. I give the car to my friend to use. He leaves it somewhere and leaves lights on for over an hour, draining the battery. It still starts but all the lights are REALLY dim.

3. We are on a street (thankfully close to my house), and the car just dies. ABS and Battery light were on at the same time.
-- Conclusion made: Since ABS and battery lights are on at same time this is DEFENITELY related to the alternator.

4. Some nice Lebanese/Turkish guys in their van stopped by and jumpered us. We turned all the electrical shit in the car off. We made it to my house, the car died again 10m away from my driveway. It would not start again.
-- Conclusion made: Battery not being charged, electronics not working, no current coming from alternator.


So, now I'm stuck with a car that doesn't move. I popped the hood while it was running and took at look at the belt. It was spinning, but no longer making a whistling sound like before (which is weird).

Basically, can anyone tell me if it's my actual alternator that has gone bad or just the belt that needs to be replaced? I am in desperate need for help. Any educated advice will be appreciated as to what to do.

The car is a '91. Highport.

Thanks!
 

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If you can get it running then take the positive side off the battery. If the car dies, the alternator is bad, if it keeps running, it is good. If you can't jump it, check your battery and cables. You should be able to jump a car even if the alternator is bad. It just takes longer. Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
nonsenz said:
If you can get it running then take the positive side off the battery. If the car dies, the alternator is bad, if it keeps running, it is good.
Car starts and runs fine when jumped, with ALL electrical components off. As soon as I turn my lowbeams on, car starts dying and dies after ~2-3min.

I know that the alternator on these cars is a PITA. I'm wondering if anyone can link me to some thread that has detailed info on replacing one with the belts. I've never done anything like this before.


BTW, it was replaced like 2-3yrs ago so it's not that old.. Maybe (hopefully) it is still the belt that is the issue here? :depressed
 

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If you want to risk frying your ecm disconnect positive! That is best way to do it, electric shocks! That method was good for 70s and some early 80s car but not for anything older than 86.
if you want to check the alternator, you could check the voltage yourself. At idle, it should give out 13.5-14 volts. Even if you have the full 13.5 you still may have alt problems. So this test is not fool proof.
 

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If the belt is loose enough, the alternator won't spin enough to keep a charge. I was getting the dash lights and clicking relay and the problem was that my belt was slipping.
 

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could be the belt slipping very definatly. what i did with my g since i put a locomotive alternator/gnerator on it i changed the belt to the straight cut like a dragster blower belt they almost never slip but u will need to change all drive puuleys and put shims and stuff in it. put a new belt on if it stops then ur fine if not take the alt to autozone or something and have it load tested with a vat 40. my recomndation is aftermarket. leece neveille or lexidyne 200-300 amps at 13.8-25 volts
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
K, first thing I'm gonna do is try to tighten the belt.

Can someone give me a visual reference of where the tensioner bolt is, and which way to turn it? What size is it, 12mm?
 

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its 12mm one of the high port guys better kick in though......

It's a long bolt just to the left of the alternator if you are looking at the engine.

On a black bracket for this low port.

Hope this helps.
 

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1st - Never, ever disconnect the battery while the engine is running. This has never been an acceptable test at anytime on any car. You will most likely damage the alternator or fry any number of components on your car.

You can easily test the alternator output. With the car running, measure the voltage at the battery. If it is less than 13.5 volts, then the alternator is not putting out.

This means the belt is slipping or the alternator is bad. In your case my guess would be that you need a new alternator and a new belt.
 

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you can take the battery off as long as you have something that can complete the circuit such as a battery load tester aka toaster. thats how alot of shops change baterys so that they dont mess up peoples radio presets.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
jjacob said:

You can easily test the alternator output. With the car running, measure the voltage at the battery. If it is less than 13.5 volts, then the alternator is not putting out.


Yeah, I've got an easier way to test it. My lights are REALLY REALLY dim. This means not enough output. This means that alternator is fucked. Damnit. Could it still be that something is wrong with the battery at this point?
 

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Have the alt. tested, and the battery charged--

That will answer your question without question-

It could be either of the two or both!!

If you need an alternator repair-- try http://nationsautoelectric.com/ , they can help you with new parts----

An alternator usually doesn't need replacing, but only repairing-- hence "reman" alt's being sold at parts houses--- THey just replace the bad part--

SO-- when you get the alt. tested the tester will tell you if it has a bad volt regulator or a bad diode (replace the rectifier if so) ----

Once you know this, that link I gave you will connect you with the very best deals on replacement parts-- I got a rectifier pack for my lexus for $45---

While you're working on it I'd replace the brushes too, they're cheap and easy to replace---

There is no reason to replace the whole alternator just to resolve one issue within yours, which can easily be diagnosed with either a handheld tester like Oreilly's will test it for free with, or the dyno type at Auto Zone-- I know for a fact that the handheld type will tell you what part in the alt. needs replacing--

If you buy one used or reman'd , you won't know what was done--- and what parts are original in that basically used alternator-- at least you'll know what is done in your own--

If you source parts from a dealer-- they gouge you to make you buy the whole thing rather than parts for it--

If you go to a wholesaler/supplier like the guys I linked you too, you'll see what the parts truly cost-- not much at all--

Hope that helps you out--

I sure ain't paying $350 for a lexus alternator, or $150 for one just to get a new rectifier--- which cost $45 --
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Guys, can something be causing the belt to slip past the pulley on the alternator? How can I test for slipping? I just REALLY hope that the alternator is still in good shape..
 

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You can only tension the belt properly, then test the amperage output of the alternator-- and have it load tested-- Oreilly's will do it for free-

If the alt. spins freely when you spin it by hand, and you tension the belt properly so it's fairly tight and pretty firm when you push on it-- but not too firm-- it won't silp--

The best way to determine this though, is to load test it, if you have it set up right, it will produce the proper voltage and amperage it needs to, and that alone will tell you it's not slipping--

Even if it's loose, the belt will spin the alt. enough to charge or it would fall off, and if the belt gets hot from being loose, it will stick better, ensuring it's turning it--

Most likely it's not your belt being too loose--

Parts houses will load test them for free, but Oreilly's uses a hand held type that doesn't require you to remove it from the car like Auto Zone's tester--

Do all that and you'll know what problem you're having--

If it was really loose when you checked it, it may well have been slipping for sure-- And running headlights will kill a battery quick, along with wipers, blower motor, ignition--

There is more than enough info. in this thread to properly diagnose your system and fix the problem--
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
ahh problem is that I live north of the border in Canada, so I'm not sure where to go. I know a place called PartSource (i think equivalent of AutoZone) does testing like that, but you gotta take the alternator out (which is impossible to do in this weather).

The main problem here is that I can't move my car since it won't run and there is 2 feet of snow on the roads.. It will run for maybe 5 minutes when jumpstarted then die right away.

Anyway I'll try to get it jumpstarted again and see if the actual pulley spins.

Anyone have any other suggestion? Maybe a good place to test it in Canada?
 

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if it runs than dies the car is running on battery alon which means your alternators either fucked or theres a bad connection somewhere. take it to a local shop if you can and have them load test it with a vat 40. at this point i think that the problem is not your belt slipping. i still recoment getting a new alt something like a leece neville and yes it will fit into stock location but the pulley size is larger and needs a bigger braket.
 

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Considering the age of your car, most likely your alternator has failed.

You should also check and make sure your battery cable connections are clean and tight.
You can buy a cheap volt meter at Canadian tire for probably less than $10.
 

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Well first thing the loud whistling you're hearing is the alternator belt. It usually does that when the belt is loose or worn. Its very common among SR20 motors. And as for your power problem, I'm not sure if your car has one but my brothers sentra has a fuse for the alternator. The fuse blew on him a while back and we thought the alternator had gone bad. We had to use a jumper pack every 5 blocks or so to get it home. But my dad simply changed the fuse and it was as good as new. The cost of a fuse compared to the cost of an alternator. I'll take the fuse. My brothers car is a 2000 though so I'm not sure if it compares. But it is SR20, so it might be worth looking into. Hope this helps man. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I'll check the fuses tonight but I doubt it is the problem. Alternator is probably bad.

Can someone point me to a good guide on changing the alternator??
 

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mrzuzzo said:
Can someone point me to a good guide on changing the alternator??
Not exactly a guide, but if you do a search we were helping another member change his alternator very recently (like, last week).
 
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