Alternator Whine


Asked by Oct 18, 2013 at 09:11 AM about the 2008 Scion xD

Question type: Maintenance & Repair


  A couple of years ago I had my alternator die on me during a road trip. My care was only 3 years old at the time... Since then, it's been nothing but a slew of problem after problem with it. When the alternator initially went out, I was in a very small town that only had one of those "we'll rebuild your current dead alternator" shops. So, I paid $250 to have it rebuilt and went about my way. About 3 months ago I noticed my car was making a constant whining-type of noise. It's most obvious on the outside of the car. As long as the car is running, it's whining. I took it to a local shop, had quite a few repairs done on other problems, and was told that the whine is my alternator, but it is working just fine and doesn't need to be replaced. I don't not have enough mechanical knowledge to argue, so I paid and left. My problem now is that the whining noise is unbearable. It never dies down and is my car is embarrassing to drive around in. It's noticeable to anyone who I'm near. I go to the carpool every day to pick my children up from school and everyone just stares. I'm hoping someone can tell me if the mechanic I took it to just wasn't willing to address the problem, and there might actually be something I can do. I'd have a very hard time justifying spending the money on an entirely new alternator when the one I currently have is apparently "doing it's job and working just fine" according to the mechanic.


3 Answers

Tom Demyan

Well, the alternator is doing it's job of charging, but the pulley bearing is slowly failing. The longer you let this condition exist, the more likelyhood you will be on the side of the road. What will happen is the pulley bearing will heat up so much that it will catch on fire, or sieze up, causing a fire, and or breaking the belt destroying other components in the engine bay. Sometime it isn't worth the labor removing the alternator just to replace the bearing, so replacing the whole assembly is sometimes a better option. So to answer your question, have it replace, sooner than later, you'll thank me.

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Best Answer

Hi Mark, I really appreciate your answer. I forgot to add that my biggest concern other than the sound, was that there is obviously something still wrong with it, and I was afraid I'd end up stranded... again. But I was told there was "nothing wrong with it" and that I didn't need to address it at all, as there was no problem. With this new information you gave me, I'll take it to another shop and just have the whole thing replaced. Even though it's working for now, I hate waiting until the last minute to fix problems. Thanks again! Amber

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Eric Vasaio

You know what? your problem exactly happened on my car. first whining, then burnt rubber smell, finally alternator caught on fire, just as what Tom said above. Thank God, the alternator was on fire when it's just back to my garage, I put it off by a glass of water. so damage was limited. Well it has been 10 months, I hope your problem is long solved.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

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