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E60 / E61 (2004 - 2010)
BMW 5-Series E60 Sedan was first seen in the Unites States in the fall of 2003 with a 2004 Model Year designation. The E61 wagon followed shortly there after. The E60/E61 5 series is now available as a 528i, 528xi, 535i, 535xi, 550i and a 535xi sports wagon! -- View the E60 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 02-19-2020, 05:43 PM
habbyguy habbyguy is offline
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Pondering new alternator

I'm hearing a fairly faint (to the naked ear) but pronounced (to my mechanic's stethoscope) noise from my 130,000 mile alternator. It's making a high-pitched squeal that sounds a lot like a slightly bad bearing, but I'm wondering if it might not be the brushes (and if so, I could replace the voltage regulator / brush assembly and quiet it down).

I've been looking through all the options, and am trying NOT to spend "BMW money" on this. I've even considered just buying the best used alternator I can find, and having it with me in the event of a failure (looks like a pretty simple repair that could be done in a hotel parking lot (where I did my last alternator replacement). In some ways, I'd trust a used unit more than a rebuilt (or new "other manufacturer" unit). And yeah, I could spend 8x as much and get a new Valeo / BMW alternator, but what's the fun in that? I'm a lot more willing to roll the dice on things that are fairly easy to replace.

Anyone got any sage advice before I do something dumb?
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  #2  
Old 02-19-2020, 05:56 PM
tstiglich tstiglich is offline
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Last time I checked, new Valeo alternators for my car were less than $400. Many on this board have just replaced brushes / regulator, but if you suspect bearing damage I would address it right away. Bad things happen often due to belt failure.
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Old 02-19-2020, 08:27 PM
dharmabmw dharmabmw is offline
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Remy does inexpensive rebuilt units for about $250 CDN. The quality seems ok but the first unit I bought had a bad directional bearing in the pulley after about 9 months. The second unit has been fine. Got mine from Wrench Monkey.
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Old 02-20-2020, 05:38 AM
scottalexander scottalexander is offline
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There are two bearings in the alternator (front and rear).

You could always pull the alternator and press in new bearings to save money.

While the alternator is out, check the length of the brushes.

At 130,000 they should be worn down over 50%.
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Old 02-20-2020, 08:30 AM
dharmabmw dharmabmw is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottalexander View Post
There are two bearings in the alternator (front and rear).

You could always pull the alternator and press in new bearings to save money.

While the alternator is out, check the length of the brushes.

At 130,000 they should be worn down over 50%.
Also check the condition of the commutator rings. If one or both are badly worn, you will need to replace the alternator.
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Old 02-20-2020, 09:54 AM
Kurt_ Kurt_ is offline
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Check the oil filter. If you're not using a Mann, it usually collapses and can make a racket.
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Old 02-20-2020, 10:01 AM
habbyguy habbyguy is offline
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Using a Mann (and a fresh one, at that). With the naked ear, it would be easy to conflate the two sources - but with the mechanic's stethoscope (the best $5 tool you'll ever buy) there's no doubt about the source of any noise.
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Old 02-20-2020, 10:41 AM
SunglassesGuy SunglassesGuy is offline
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rebuilt bosch - rockauto $200, they even have one for $78
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Old 02-20-2020, 11:28 AM
scottalexander scottalexander is offline
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Good point about the condition of the commutator rings / slip rings.

This might be an incentive for people to proactively replace the voltage regulator and brushes at under 100,000 miles (or so), that few people agree is a valuable exercise for $30.

If new brushes were installed, at say 75,000 miles, would it allow the slip ring to last longer and do its job better?
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Old 02-20-2020, 03:43 PM
dharmabmw dharmabmw is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottalexander View Post
Good point about the condition of the commutator rings / slip rings.

This might be an incentive for people to proactively replace the voltage regulator and brushes at under 100,000 miles (or so), that few people agree is a valuable exercise for $30.

If new brushes were installed, at say 75,000 miles, would it allow the slip ring to last longer and do its job better?
It's entirely possible that it might extend the life of the slip rings to replace the brushes sooner. The brushes will last almost 200,000 miles however.
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