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Old 11-10-2012, 11:11 PM   #1
KingstonU
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Question Change my alternator before it goes? 2004 Kia Rio

My 04 Kia Rio is getting close to 10 years old and has 120,000 km on it, I'm starting to have a number of issues with it and the cost of maintenance is going up. A big part of that is that it sits parked for 4-8 weeks at a time. The car is just meant to get me from A-B as cheaply as possible and I'm hoping to make it last another ~2 years.

My parents minivan's alternator went at the the 10 year mark with no warning, so we had the cost of towing it plus replacing the alternator. A mechanic said mine is starting to show signs of rust (on the inside components I guess?) and I'm wondering if I should just try and get mine replaced now for as cheaply as I can. I think I can get it done for <$300.

I just changed the battery since that was becoming almost non responsive.

Thought? Thanks
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Old 11-11-2012, 06:02 AM   #2
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If I remember correctly, the symptoms of a failing alternator is not charging or keeping a charge to the battery. If any of the bad symptoms appear, sure. Otherwise, hell no.

You just said the car sits for weeks at a time. I would rather gamble and save my money and use a car rental for the 1 day inconvenience of a repair. And if the car is critical to you for when you need it, then sell and buy something newer. That would be money better spent.
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Old 11-11-2012, 07:05 AM   #3
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'signs of rust' lol. the alternator case is aluminum, maybe there's spots of rust on the rotor ( which doesn't harm anything ).

you can't drive it once a week for a little bit?
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Old 11-11-2012, 09:31 AM   #4
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Alternators are usually not too hard to change out, if you do it yourself it should be less than $150..
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Old 11-11-2012, 12:45 PM   #5
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Unless you are having a charging issue or noise coming from the alternator then do nothing.
I was a service manager at a kia dealership for a few years and alternators rarely go out on those cars.
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Old 11-11-2012, 01:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
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Alternators are usually not too hard to change out, if you do it yourself it should be less than $150..
It's a real bitch if you don't have the right tools, though.
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Old 11-11-2012, 02:06 PM   #7
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Don't fix what ain't broke
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Old 11-11-2012, 03:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
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It's a real bitch if you don't have the right tools, though.
A socket set, a crowbar or breaker bar to move the tensioner and maybe a few box wrenches, if your gonna do any work on a car these are some of the basic tools one would need, nothing exotic IMO..
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Old 11-11-2012, 05:19 PM   #9
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So everyone is confident that it won't just go without warning while on the highway? That's what happened to my parent's minivan.

@ PottedMeat: I am out of town for 4-8 weeks at a time and don't have anyone that could start it for me.
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Old 11-11-2012, 06:35 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KingstonU View Post
So everyone is confident that it won't just go without warning while on the highway? That's what happened to my parent's minivan.

@ PottedMeat: I am out of town for 4-8 weeks at a time and don't have anyone that could start it for me.
If it goes out while driving. You will have enough battery to get to a safe location.

I went from NJ to Boston on an dead alternator with a full battery charge.
Just do not run lights.

Crescent wrench and prybar or even tire iron will get it changed. Just have daylight, not fun at night
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Old 11-12-2012, 07:26 AM   #11
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Another thing that could help is if there's nothing in the car that really matters electric wise (say the clock), just disconnect the battery before you leave. Sure it's a bit of extra work, but then the battery won't self-discharge and put heavy strain on the alternator when you come back to start it.

Also, no one can be confident that it won't just go without warning, it's the nature of cars. My Expedition's failed last year while on the interstate. You always have to have a plan B even with a brand new car.
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Old 11-12-2012, 07:35 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KingstonU View Post
So everyone is confident that it won't just go without warning while on the highway? That's what happened to my parent's minivan.

@ PottedMeat: I am out of town for 4-8 weeks at a time and don't have anyone that could start it for me.
No one can promise you that but there are good reasons why people don't do alternator replacements as preventative maintenance.
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Old 11-12-2012, 10:49 AM   #13
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If your parent's alternator went at the 10 year mark; figure an average of 3 starts per day.
that is 1K per year or 10K starts before it gave out (Minimum).

Alternators will die based on starting use and usage, not by calendar time.

Your KIA is at the 8 year mark; do you drive it as much as your parents did?
For you it would be the same at the 8 year mark as starting your vehicle 25% more and running it 25% than they did.

Do the numbers add up?
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Old 11-12-2012, 03:37 PM   #14
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Thanks for all the responses. This thing barely gets used and when it does it's mostly highway. Though I do get concerned about how the components fare from sitting for long periods of time, my brakes for example give me problems almost every time I go to use it again (feels like I have to wear off a fresh layer of rust every time). and I've already had them seize on me which was really expensive surprize repair.

But I guess I just hope that the alternator along with the rest of the car hold out for the next ~2 years.

Thanks again!
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Old 11-12-2012, 06:12 PM   #15
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Can you keep the vehicle (battery) on a trickle charger?
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Old 11-13-2012, 08:08 AM   #16
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@oldsmoboat: No it just sits in the parking lot outside. If I can find someone who can start it for me once a week or every 2 weeks would that help?
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Old 11-13-2012, 08:35 AM   #17
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Some alternators last 20 years and 300,000 miles. Some last 2 and less than 30,000. Its not really a maintenance item so there is really no way to look into the future and tell when it will start going.

If its not making noise, putting out good power loaded/unloaded in the right direction and doesn't have excessive ripple then you're wasting your money changing it. You could make the same argument and say that since the transmission is old and it might go out, leaving you stranded that you might as well replace that too.
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Old 11-14-2012, 07:19 AM   #18
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No, don't change it.

You might want to get one of those $20 2W solar chargers to float the battery while you're gone, though. Makes life slightly easier for the alt and battery.
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Old 11-14-2012, 03:20 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KingstonU View Post
@oldsmoboat: No it just sits in the parking lot outside. If I can find someone who can start it for me once a week or every 2 weeks would that help?
It would help but...
http://forums.anandtech.com/showpost...1&postcount=18
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