: Whirring noise.....you thinks its the alternator?



powerglide
03-02-06, 04:50 PM
Hi Everyone!
I'm gonna need your input on diagnosing this one.

Last night my 98 Deville (100K Miles) started making this whirring noise from the lower front passenger side of the engine (I think).
Its not a screeching but more of a whirring/whine sound.
The sound speeds up and down with RPM.

This morning, I noticed that my battery voltage while driving is reading 13.6 V, when it used to read 14.2 V.
Also, I noticed the voltage fluctuates sometimes even while driving between 13-13.7 V.
Also I smell ozone. (that subway smell of electrical burning)

So my gut reaction was that its the alternator going bad.
I visited autozone was told the alternator checks out at a steady 13.99 Volts.

What do you think it is?

I don't think its the powersteering pump because the noise seems to be coming from lower engine and not on top.
I don't think its AC because its off always.
I don't think its idler pulleys because of the whirring and not screeching sound.
Could it be the air pump?

Any suggestions on how I could troubleshoot it?

PS Not sure if its related but I swear that I noticed the fuel gauge fluctuate from 7 gals to E back to 4, then 5 then 6.......it never did this until last night when the whirring started.

eldorado1
03-02-06, 06:17 PM
I had an AC clutch go bad on another car that made a terrible howling noise, even when the AC was off... It could still be your alternator's bearings going out... The northstar doesn't have an air pump, just AC, alt, PS, and idlers.

What you can do is remove the belt (use a 1/2" drive in the tensioner to relieve belt tension and slip the belt off), and just start spinning things to find out what's making the noise...

powerglide
03-03-06, 12:28 AM
Well, things got worse.
On the way home today it started making a clunking sound.
Now it sounds like something has come loose inside the engine and is rattling around in there (clunking around).
The RPMs are jumping up and down while at idle, and I seriuosly ha ve doubts if it is gonna make it the 3 miles into work tomorrow.....

Any thoughts?

Ranger
03-03-06, 12:41 AM
I don't think I would be driving it anywhere without closer diagnosis.

powerglide
03-03-06, 12:54 AM
Yeah.....I'm kinda stuck though, I don't have another car.
If it was the alternator I could have fixed it myself but now it defintely needs to head to a mechanic. Tow truck?

Any guess as what it could be Ranger?

powerglide
03-03-06, 12:58 AM
I had the oil changed at EZ Lube on tuesday.
Next day car broke.....I hope its just a coincidence...

Checked oil level, seems good. Powersteering level is good too.

They were quite dumb. First told me tranny fluid was low.
Asked them if they checked and they insisted they did "we know what we're doing" Then they came back and said, it has no dipstick or anything since its a sealed system!?

Ranger
03-03-06, 03:49 AM
They are incompetent! The trans dipstick is on the cap, under the air intake duct. Check out the belt tensioner as well as the idler pully bearings. Then back off the belt tension and check the alternator as eldorado1 suggested.

eldorado1
03-03-06, 11:14 AM
Well, things got worse.
On the way home today it started making a clunking sound.
Now it sounds like something has come loose inside the engine and is rattling around in there (clunking around).
The RPMs are jumping up and down while at idle, and I seriuosly ha ve doubts if it is gonna make it the 3 miles into work tomorrow.....

Any thoughts?

My thoughts: That would be not good.

It's possible the whirring was a bearing, judging by this post it sounds like a rod bearing. If you're up to the challenge, try draining the oil to check for metal filings. You might also want to cut the oil filter open to see if any shavings made their way into there. Your "rpms jumping up and down" concerns me, because something playing with the crankshaft would do just that.

powerglide
03-03-06, 01:48 PM
Thanks for the comments Ranger and Eldo!

As for EZ lube: They are incompetent indeed.....I',m never going back to EZ Lube....those idiots.

UPDATE:
So this morning I got up at a ridicluously early hour with a vision of an alternator with broken internals. (no joke) It occured to me that if the mechanical components of the alternator are broken (bearing seizing) and the electronics were fine, it would continue to charge but make noise.

So I took a good look at the alternator and noticed the it was vibrating pretty bad, and it seemed to instantanteouly bind causing the engine rpm to hiccup.

That kinda convinced me it was the alternator, so I made some calls and priced parts and labor:

Penske Caddillac 580 + tax
Firestone 420 total
Pepboys 280 total
Local mechanic 240 total
Another Local mechanic 165 total

The local guys were a bit shady and I needed a ride to get back from their shop (in fact I went by their shop and found the gates closed) so i went to pepboys.

On the way over, the battery light came on and the dash messaeg read : BATTERY NOT CHARGING
SERVICE CHARGING SYSTEM

So its over there now.
120 for parts and 2 hours labor at 77/hr.
Figured I'll just bite the bullet and let them do the job.
Although I was looking forward to a DIY, I didn't want to drain the battery anymore or give up my Saturday.

eldorado1
03-03-06, 02:20 PM
So I took a good look at the alternator and noticed the it was vibrating pretty bad, and it seemed to instantanteouly bind causing the engine rpm to hiccup.


good find! Glad it was nothing serious! You had me worried there!

powerglide
03-03-06, 02:46 PM
good find! Glad it was nothing serious! You had me worried there!

Oh yeah me too...thanks again!

Last night I was very depressed thinking of remanufactured engines and things.... although it wasnt a restful sleep, I'm glad I slept on it and saw the vision! :-)

This isnt the first time I solved probelms in my sleep.
Its like there's a dude in my head who works overtime and stays up all night calmly thinking through the problem. (I say calmly because 'awake-me' has a tendency of getting a bit freaked out and jumping to conclusions)

Good stuff.

powerglide
03-03-06, 05:12 PM
The caddy is back!

It was the alternator. $280 later, all is back to normal!

(turns out my body shop guy also does this stuff of work, and he told me he coulda done it for 190.....now he tells me!)

Eitherway, all done and pretty happy.

Thanks Eldo and Ranger.

Ranger
03-03-06, 06:00 PM
"Although I was looking forward to a DIY, I didn't want to drain the battery anymore or give up my Saturday."

Sometimes you just gotta make a choice.

"Its like there's a dude in my head who works overtime and stays up all night calmly thinking through the problem. (I say calmly because 'awake-me' has a tendency of getting a bit freaked out and jumping to conclusions)"

I tend to do that sometimes too. I think that "little dude" has helped me out on occassiaon as well. Glad you are back in business.

Not a bad price for the labor involved, but I would assume for that price, they did not use an A/C Delco alternator?

powerglide
03-07-06, 03:16 PM
Nah....its some pepboys remanufactured thing.
3 year warranty on the part though.

Guys, I just posted another thread:

http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums/northstar-performance-technical-discussion/67581-day-after-alternator-replace-now-i.html

Basically the day after the alternator repair was done, the belt started making some seriuos noise. Now pepboys wants another $70 for a new belt.....WTF!