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89 alternator woes


Spazzaroth
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So I replaced my alternator in my 89 reatta about a year ago.  And for about 6 months I have good charging coming from it.  But for the last six months I've watched the charge slowly dwindle from 14 down to 10v.  Last night the battery had had enough and the reatta decided to die on my way home.  I charged the battery up but the alternator output is still really low.   

Is there anything I should check before I just replace the alternator?  Have any of you guys had bad alternators out of the box?  Thanks in advance.

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I have a local shop that rebuilds my alternators. Fortunately the 3800 has the easiest alternator to change I've ever seen. Slowest part is removing the big red wire. I just keep a rebuild kit with the diode block around.

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On 2/21/2020 at 7:25 AM, Spazzaroth said:

Have any of you guys had bad alternators out of the box? 

 

Yes. Remanufactured alternators got so bad in the 90s that only every third one worked out of the box, and some of those would fail right away. It became a huge problem at the shop where I was working, as we did quite a bit of electrical work. Some supplier's responded to all the complaints with "lifetime warranties". The actual parts were the same old crap. It is no skin off their nose if you have to change it one, three, or eleven times. They must have been betting the owner would get mad and sell the car after two or three. They were probably right.

 

Today quite a few alternators are all-new and Chinese. Those might be a lot better. They couldn't really be any worse.

 

My advice is take the original one from the car to a local auto electric rebuild shop and have them rebuild it. It will probably last roughly as long as it did the first time.

 

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Problem is I don't have the original any more.  When I swapped the alternator out a year ago I turned it in for the core charge.   I'm getting the new alternator from O'Reilly's so maybe I'll have better luck.  Who knows.  But I know I can swap out a "lifetime warranty" alternator once a week and it won't bother me so long as it's not costing me anything.  🙂

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5 minutes ago, Barney Eaton said:

Just did some looking at Rock Auto and the Reatta has a 120 amp unit while the LeSabre and Park Ave only have a 105 amp unit.

I just assumed they used the same unit on all 3800 engines.

And in 1991, the Reatta generator jumped to 140 amps.

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I rebuilt my alternator right after I got my '88 Reatta in 2007.  I rebuilt it as a preventive measure so I didn't have to worry about it's condition. I've never had a problem with it. The original Reatta alternators will last a long time if rebuilt correctly.

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