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Old 12-08-2012, 04:28 PM
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dc_wright dc_wright is offline
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Location: Orlando, Florida
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Mein Auto: '06 Z4 3.0si, '11 128CiC
Originally Posted by cj.surr View Post
Last second before purchasing, I decide to get the alternator tested just in case. They strap it up, and it turns out good. What the hell??

we go over to Autozone to get a belt. I try getting it in but there is nearly NO room to work in that damn van. We spent an hour before realizing it was just a little too short.

I replaced it and it was still taking soooo long to jump. Even with the autozone jumper box. Eventually we get it going, but there is still only 12v or so going to the battery. I didn't want to risk getting back on the interstate because I would be screwed if I broke down again. So we drove it around a bit, and the voltage was very slowly climbing. It was around 7pm and I just wanted to get back to CT (3 hours away). So Joe and his buddy follow me for quite a few miles just in case. The car is running well, and the voltage at the battery is 13v. So I decide to go for it, and I had no problems. Around halfway back, I notice the voltage has finally reached normal (14v). Pretty strange, but it got me home. I guess the problem was the alternator after all.
As the others have said, few parts stores do an adequate test on alternators. If their tester does have a load capability it's typically 20-30 amps which barely loads the alternator. Could be the regulator went bad or one of the rectifier diodes. If you lose one of the diodes in the rectifier bridge you only see a few tenths of a volt drop with a typical volt meter but you've lost 30% of the alternators capacity to provide current.

I can count on one hand the number of times Autozone has given me the correct part the first time, and they have NEVER given me the right belt the first time. There's one about 3 blocks from my house but I usually drive the 3 miles to the NAPA store.

Sorry you had such long day CJ. Really, really first class of you to try to help the lady in the middle of the crap you were trying to fix on your own car.
2006 Z4 3.0si Sport Package (But I'll still hang with my "homies" in the E36 forum)