Dodge Caliber, Caravan Alternator Noise – Cheaper Fix…

2:22 pm Alternator, DIY, Dodge Caravan, Drivetrain and Noises


© 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.

Caliber 2

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 Many of the “close by” pulleys have been replaced by very experienced auto techs, without getting rid of the knocking!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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Related Automotive Repair Articles and Tools

Overrunning Alternator Decoupler – Clutch Type Alternator

Calvan Tools Alternator Pulley Kit


57 Responses
  1. Justin :

    Date: September 11, 2014 @ 5:14 pm

    Thank you for all of the info, Dennis. It’s sounding like it’s the alternator as well on my ’07 Caliber.

  2. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: September 11, 2014 @ 5:18 pm

    Justin thanks for the comment. Good Luck.

  3. Annie :

    Date: June 19, 2015 @ 10:24 pm

    Hi, I’ve been hearing this noise for a few weeks now took it to jiffy lube he told me it may be decoupler so when I took it to Firestone and Michaels tire plus I told them what he said and they kinda jus blew me off Michaels tire told me it was tensions belt for sure $230 well came to pick it up still same noise the didn’t charge me and gave me the parts free and free labor but no fix :/ I’m taking it to best one auto tomorrow how do I tell them I think it may be this without being rude? My car runs great other than this noise?

  4. Annie :

    Date: June 19, 2015 @ 10:26 pm

    Oh and I should add my car is 2008 dodge caliber automatic not clutch does that matter?

  5. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: June 20, 2015 @ 7:39 am

    The clutch on the alternator has nothing to do with the fact that your car has an automatic transmission. I’d tell them that the noise was misdiagnosed before and that you found a video with the same type of car and noise. If you have a smart phone, play a bit of the short video. They may already be familiar with the problem. If not, they will be after your visit. Good Luck.

  6. Annie :

    Date: June 20, 2015 @ 10:25 am

    The place today said they would have to replace the whole alternater and it would be $400 is that a high Price?

  7. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: June 20, 2015 @ 3:27 pm

    Not bad for the whole assembly, but if the alternator is still charging why not replace the decoupler pulley for a lower cost? They may not have the knowledge or tools. But it’s simple really. Good Luck.

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