The Occasional Alternator
courtesy of Bob, The Auto Answer Man
I make a four-hour drive to and from college when I go back home. When I came back from Labor Day, my car was running fine, but when I stopped at a store for about an hour, my car would not start. The lights came on when I turned the key, but it didn't turn over. I eventually got someone to jump-start my car and it ran fine. However, a couple of weeks later, it did the same thing. I had someone else jump my car. After telling them the car's history, the person suggested that my alternator is dying. Before I left home, I had everything in my car checked. The mechanic said that everything looked fine. Does it sound like I need a new alternator? If I do, how do I get a cheap one for my car? I have a Pontiac Grand Am (1992) with a 2.3 liter and it's a 4 quad. I have found some estimates, but they are around $300, which is a lot for a college student.
I would first check to make sure that the ground cables are clean and free of corrosion. It seems like your alternator is working at times. If not, you would not last a day or two without it. My guess is that there is corrosion somewhere, and when everything gets warm, it insulates the cable preventing current flow. Check around the battery. Also, if you feel up to it, disconnect the negative cable from the battery and brush the cable and the battery terminal clean.
Bob, The Auto Answer Man
Have a car care question? Visit our automotive center and see if we've already answered it or a similar question.
Take the Next Step
- Reduce the cost of your gasoline with a 'gas card'. You can compare them here.
Also in Home
- Buying carpet for less
- Inexpensive backyard play areas
- Eliminating bed bugs
- Managing home projects
- Furnishing your first apartment
- 7 low-cost ways to beat the heat
- Happy homemaking the homemade way
- DIY furniture remakes
- Inexpensive ways to change color of laminate countertops
- 5 ways your house can make you go broke
- 5 simple and affordable luxuries for your home
- Does staging really raise a home's price?
- 5 home renovation can raise your insurance rate -- or lead to discounts
- The right way and wrong way to pay down your mortgage
- 6 cheap, effective home security solutions
- 3 ways (and 1 reason) to refinance a HELOC
- 6 home projects that don't pay for themselves
- Should I refinance my home equity line?