Dodge Caliber, Caravan Alternator Noise – Cheaper Fix…January 1, 2011 2:22 pm Alternator, DIY, Dodge Caravan, Drivetrain and Noises
© DenLorsTools.com Summary: DenLors car Auto repair article covering a common problem with Dodge Caliber and Caravan alternators causing a loud noise – may sound similar to a diesel engine. A video with sound is in this article demonstrating the noise that could be heard. Premature alternator failure or de-coupler clutch pulley gone bad? Read on to learn about the possibility of a less expensive solution when the knocking noise is coming from the alternator area.
A mechanics stethoscope can usually be used to help pinpoint under-hood noises.
Pinpointing the noise can be done with the help of an inexpensive mechanics stethoscope. Careful though because the noise may sound like it’s coming from an idler pulley or belt tensioner that is located near the alternator. Many of the “close by” pulleys have been replaced by very experienced auto techs, without getting rid of the knocking! The noise transfers from the alternator through the mounting bracket and is very misleading. Removing the serpentine belt and briefly starting the engine is the next step to help diagnose where the noise is coming from. Check to see if the noise is gone with the serpentine belt off and the engine running. If it’s gone, then it is reasonable to say the cause of the noise is coming from an accessory and not behind the timing cover. With the engine OFF and the belt removed, try spinning all the pulleys including the alternator – this is normally the best way to feel for roughness. Keep in mind, the alternator on this car has a freewheeling clutch type pulley (also called an OAD – Overrunning Alternator Decoupler pulley) which may NOT feel rough. (See our related article at the end of this car repair article for more specific information on this type of pulley and how to trouble shoot.) Because of the design, an alternator that uses the OAD type pulley cannot be checked as easily as a conventional solid pulley type alternator. This is because of the design of the decoupler clutch. In many cases the alternator may be perfectly fine and the problem could be with a faulty freewheeling clutch pulley. Most shops will not gamble on the decoupler pulley alone fixing the problem! It’s much easier for the repair shop to replace the alternator assembly with a new clutch pulley already installed. This is where the less expensive FIX might be gained. There’s a good chance (on cars with 60,000 miles or less) that replacing just the de-coupler alternator pulley will fix the car and save hundreds of dollars. The key point is knowing how to check the pulley. There is also a chance that the alternator may need to be replaced if there is a NO CHARGE condition present (meaning the alternator is not charging properly). The gamble may be worth it for some, to try replacing just the pulley first and see if the noise goes away. Learn how to check the pulley by reading the article in the related link below the video. At the time of this article we have learned from a local Chrysler dealer that 7 to 800 alternators are needed in North America every week to keep up with demand for Calibers, Caravans and Town-N-Country’s. I have to wonder how many of these just need the decoupler pulley!
Removing the Alternator
On the Dodge Caliber, removing the alternator requires taking off the A/C compressor for access. The AC does NOT need to be discharged to move the compressor out of the way for changing the alternator. *Caution, do NOT remove the AC hoses without. The AC system is under pressure. ALLData has good diagrams for Caliber models showing how the compressor should be positioned to allow for alternator removal and replacement. A single car subscription is available for ALLDatal DIY that can provide this access. Also there is a specialty tool needed to change these type of pulleys. See the related links below for more information on this. The Calvan 750 Kit covers ALL alternator types in production, not just the one in this article.
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