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Old 02-28-2008, 12:59 AM   #4 (permalink)
Coyote X
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Southen West Virginia
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Metro XFi - '93 Geo Metro XFi Convertible
90 day: 62.17 mpg (US)

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easiest way to test if an alternator is charging is to start the car then unhook the battery ground wire. If the car dies instantly then the alt is dead. The rattling could be the brushes came apart and are just rattling around inside the case.

After that idle the car about 5 min and then feel the alternator and if it is really hot the bearings are also shot. If they seize up it will at best just shred the belt and leave you with no belt driven accessories. If the alternator isn't really much different temperature than the rest of the stuff under the hood then it will probably be safe to drive it. You just have to keep the battery charged somehow.

If you do drive it keep track of the temperature of the alternator, if it starts getting really hot then the bearings are getting ready to seize.

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