Monkeying Around the Alternator
Ok, so today I am more of a man that I was yesterday. I know you’re wondering, “How can that be!? Marc is so much MAN, it’s hard for him to contain it! He’s just oozing with manilness!” Yes yes, I agree, but from time to time I have to let my guard down a bit to show my family that I’m not always a super hero. With that rant behind us, I did some more major work to the car (relatively major). I replaced alternator on my 2002 Hyundai Elantra.
The Day the Earth Stood Still
I noticed for a couple days that the brake light was on and the LEDs in my car were not as bright as they were before. Unfortunetly; I didn’t think it could be a serious issue and kept driving the car without looking into it. Well, one Friday morning while driving the car to work – I REALLY noticed the lights being dim and thought to myself, “OK; I’m going to really look into this situation after work.” I was about 1/2 a mile from work when the “situation” finally slapped me in the face and drug my face in the ground. My car shut off. I was shocked, perplexed, and of course, regretful that I didn’t fix this earlier.
A coworker actually helped push my car across the street into a parking lot. I hurried off to work making plans to get the car home. I didn’t want to tow it, because we live too far south. It would have cost an arm and leg. What ended up happening is I borrowed my brother’s car and charged mine for about 3 hours and drove it home.
My wife bought an alternator from AutoZone and a multimeter from Walmart. The instructions were so bad that I had to watch a couple YouTube videos in order to get a better understanding of how a multimeter works. I tested the battery/alternator and it was evident that my alternator died.
Once again, I borrowed my brother’s tools and with my Haynes auto repair manual, I started working on it. The book was also, not much help (hard to see pictures, vague enough instructions). I mostly had to feel my way around the parts. Again; the more I work on my car, the less intimidating it becomes. I have a lot of respect for folks that work on cars and create things with their hands. I’m a programmer, so all my amazing work lives within the realm of software, but people that actually work on physical hardware – those folks ROCK!
So; everything was going great until it was time to actually remove the alternator from the engine frame. I couldn’t figure out how to do it. I tried taking it from the top and pulling it from the bottom and it was looking very grim. I called it a night and said I’ll try again in the morning. My problem was I didn’t want to do any extra work by having to disassemble other parts. In the end, that’s what happened. In the morning, I figured out that if I remove the radiator, I’d have more room to work with. So; I did just that… and to my surprise, getting the alternator out was a breeze.
In my research, I started a Google Group for Hyundai Elantra owners. I was surprised it didn’t exist… but it does now! You can find it here at http://groups.google.com/group/hyundai-elantra.
To make a long story short, because I’m getting tired of writing, I went about a week or two of having the car squeal every time we turned it on or locked the wheels to the left or right. Finally, with the advice of my wife, I tightened up the alternator belt some more and the car is running as smooth as a baby’s behind. Really!? Did I just write that?
In the end, my garage is starting to look like a man’s garage – filled with tools! Right now they’re all not mine, but I’m working on it. I have a spreadsheet hosted on Google Docs with a list of things I’d like to get. I’d love to hear any car stories from you. This is my 3 major work to the car and it’s certainly building my confidence in “Doing it yourself!”