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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all - I need your help finding out what could have led the alternator in the Fleetwood to fail.

The other day I went to pick up my kids from school. I got there early so I parked and waited.
Since my cell phone battery was about to die, I decided to start charging my phone. I had never charged anything inside this car since I got it early this year but was worried job recruiters would call me and wouldn't be able to get a hold of me.

Anyway, while the car was off I pushed the USB car charger into the cigarette lighter output and to my surprise the red light on the charger lit up. This told me the car didn't need to be on so I left it charging. Once kids got out of school I turned the car on and drove away. This is what happened next in chronological order:


  1. A/C began to blow warm air
  2. Next, the battery light on dash lit up
  3. Anti-lock brakes light lit up
  4. By now, I had shut off the A/C and radio and had unplugged the charger (hot to the touch)
  5. The transmission then started acting up; I would accelerate but car was barely moving
At this time I decided to pull into a Walgreen's parking lot because I knew we were not gonna make it home. Opened the hood, checked the battery and it was really hot :surprise:.
Left the car and went home to get a battery. Since I wasn't far from the house I figured I could drive it w/o any problems and I did.

Question:
Could this cheaply made USB charger (no certification whatsoever) be the culprit of what happened or could there be something much more serious with the electrical wiring in this car?
What should I check for? I am afraid to even try a different USB charger. I wonder if the alternator which happens to be a REMANUFACTURED one was also reaching its end and it was all a coincidence that everything happened at the same time.

Since i bought the battery at Pep Boys, they were able to charge it fully so it's fine now. Car is now running fine as I borrowed the alternator from the other Fleetwood (the one on my signature).


This is a picture of the USB charger I used, cheaply made like I said but I needed it at that time:






Question: This is the alternator that went bad. Have any of you dealt with a similar model before? Not sure where the last car owner bought it but it's not from Advanced Auto parts (I called and nothing came up using that number on label). I still have to call Pep Boys and Auto Zone as those are the other 2 auto parts stores found in this area.



Any opinions on either of the questions?

Thank you,

Frank
 

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When you buy a remanufactured alternator, they only replace certain parts. IIRC the diodes are not replaced and a couple of other things. The solution is to buy the lifetime guaranteed model and that way they will replace it when premature failure happens. Hang on to your receipt. It has nothing to do with your USB charger or the other things you are speculating. Be sure your battery isn't failing as well, have it tested. Good luck.
 

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First the USB charger:

I pushed the USB car charger into the cigarette lighter output and to my surprise the red light on the charger lit up. This told me the car didn't need to be on so I left it charging.
I am afraid to even try a different USB charger.
The cigarette lighter fuse should protect the car from anything plugged into it. The fuse should blow long before the electrical system is hurt.

unplugged the charger (hot to the touch
The USB charger supplies 5Volts to the phone. So 12V-5V=7V. 7VX1Amp=7Watts
7Watts is like a old Xmas bulb or night light hot to the touch.

the (car) battery and it was really hot
Alternator problems resulting in a hot battery can be over voltage problems from the regulator inside the alternator. Alternator problems resulting in a hot battery can be under voltage problems from bad diodes in the alternator.

I wonder if the alternator which happens to be a REMANUFACTURED one was also reaching its end and it was all a coincidence that everything happened at the same time.
Most of your symptoms are the same as low voltage problems a LT1 car would have. And have gone away with the alternator swap.

The alternator is under peak load after a start it needs to top up the battery from the starter load. This is one of it's prime fail times.

Fbi9C1 also has a good point. A hot battery may be a failing battery.

A little goggle and youtube work and you might be able to fx the old alternator yourself unless the bearings are also bad.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thx

Thank you both. I did take the battery back to Pep Boys where they left it charging for an hour. They provided the printout at the end indicating it was good. Supposedly if it had not held charge during all the time it was connected to that machine it would have been time to replace. Battery is only a couple of months old, one of those BOSCH AGM Technology ones.

Anyway, I bought the car earlier this year and that alternator was already installed. I will now look into buying a new one or as suggested, see if I can rebuild myself.

Thanks again.
 

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The ONLY thing that might have happened due to the charger is the battery might have gotten drawn down a little when charging key off if you had it off any length of time. Not the fault of the charger...

Might be a sign of a weak battery but with the bad alternator, hard to say. Just because the battery tests good doesn't mean anything. Just means today it was fully charged. You may still have to replace the battery in the near future if it is weak.

Does sound like the regulator went out and your lucky the battery protected the rest of your system from high voltage or you would have had other issues other than the alarms you were getting.

Chances are you won't have any further issues.
 

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the alternator being reconditioned is only with new regulator/diodes perhaps if needed bearings ... so what I have found on these is winding problems .. armature fails .

the most load to be created for the alternator is when the battery is warm you sat with electrical equipment on so when you started the vehicle this is when the alternator has the biggest load .then alternator being hot adds to the stress of it..

a cold start cold battery the alternator will have less load as the battery warms up then it takes more charging current ....

the low volts caused those issues of the vehicles operation.
I never use re-conditioned alternators because of winding failures ..
the fuse for the cig lighter is I think 10a /perhaps 15A ...so if your charger shorted out then the small fuse would blow ...
 

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IMHO if getting a replacement alternator, get a "new" one. I found rockauto.com to be the cheapest. Where I got my new AC Delco one. Delphi also is another "new" brand they have. Both are made in Mexico...
 

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IMHO if getting a replacement alternator, get a "new" one. I found rockauto.com to be the cheapest. Where I got my new AC Delco one. Delphi also is another "new" brand they have. Both are made in Mexico...
my 2000 silverado at 5yrs old 100K miles alternator failed intermittently lights would flicker ac blower speed varied. did research and used my voltmeter and the amp probe .. the voltage regulator was a defective design the circuit got corroded I checked this out and it was also well known on this alternator. so I got a autozone lifetime warranty alternator .. that is 12 yrs ago still working and it did have the updated voltage regulator...

others that tried to fix these impala alternators did have winding issues .. buy new...

high powered assy equipment will kill these quickly..
 

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When you buy a remanufactured alternator, they only replace certain parts. IIRC the diodes are not replaced and a couple of other things. The solution is to buy the lifetime guaranteed model and that way they will replace it when premature failure happens. Hang on to your receipt. It has nothing to do with your USB charger or the other things you are speculating. Be sure your battery isn't failing as well, have it tested. Good luck.
The solution is not to buy that garbage in the first place. Unless you like changing your alternator every few months.
 

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Most medium size cities will support a quality alternator/starter re-building service. We have one here,and they go above,and beyond. New internals,bearings,etc,etc... Balancing/polishing armatures,etc... I've found this the far better route than the "lifetime" garbage that I doubt they have $10-15 invested in...
 

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back in the old days of carbs and low electrical power required the alternators had a very heavy metal design to dissipate the heat .. the newer vehicles have lighter / less metal so these get hot then the heat does damage the copper coil insulation and shorts occur.

my 1983 sedan the alternator bushes wore down @225k miles .. I got new brushes for $10.. it continued to run till I sold it at 380K ... I did add some grease in the bearings..

I have gone to part stores and no brushes for starters or alternators.. I did call around on alternator repair and it is not a service done much on new vehicles but they do work on very large alternators and off road type vehicles.. very expensive ...but do able..
 
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