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1990 Sedan Deville
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11 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I realized this was a really long post. See bold for important parts.

Just hoping to get some advice on my caddy. I don't know whether I need to buy a new alternator or not. So I started it up this morning and it started to screech and make a mild grinding noise. a few seconds later, the "charge" light illuminated on the dash. I had to get to work in a hurry so I took off. About a mile down the road I could smell smoke and suddenly the sound stopped and I lost power steering. I figured, oh crap the serpentine belt just snapped. When I got to work, I looked under the hood really quick and saw the shredded remains of my belt and hurried into work. When I got to the parking lot this evening, I popped the hood and manually cranked the alternator, which seemed to me that it turned ok, maybe a little rough? (I don't know, I've never turned an alternator by hand so I don't know what it's like at baseline). Anyway, I also noticed that there was some belt shavings? on the wheel of the alternator. So that was a long way of asking, is this a case of a bad alternator or a bad belt? My reasoning is that I started it up, alternator froze, which led the light and screeching sound as the belt tried to make the pulley spin (leaving the shavings). Eventually the belt snapped which killed the powersteering. I don't have a lot of cash, and I'm working away from home so my access to tools is fairly limited, so I was wondering a) do I need to replace the alternator; b) if so, how can I do so cheaply, (autozone, salvage yard, etc?), c) is this something I could tackle in the hotel parking lot?

Sorry for the long winded question. Thanks for your help in advance.
 

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Master of the Dark Art of Diagnostics
2003 DHS - two-2002 DHS, 2003 SLS, 1995 Sedan DeVille, 1989 Coupe DeVille
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19,263 Posts
don't buy a cheap alternator from autozone -
unless you want to replace several of them -

the alternator is easy to replace - with tools -
without tools - impossible -

check the belt tensioner and the idler pulley -
 

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Registered
2001 Seville STS, 1990 Seville (RIP), 1972 Sedan Deville
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26,323 Posts
The alternator should turn smoothly and freely, with no resistance.

Check that the idler and tensioner pulleys spin freely, and that the power steering, compressor, water pump, and A.I.R. compressor pulleys are not seized. Also check that the tensioner is not weak or binding.

If it is the alternator, you can replace it in ~20 minutes. Alternator replacements on the 4.x engines is pretty much as easy as it gets. Just stay out of AutoZone, and don't buy the cheapest replacement offered.

Oops, basscatt beat me.
 

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Registered
1990 Sedan Deville
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11 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Thanks guys. I think it must be the alternator. I'll think I'll try to bear the freezing cold tomorrow after work and replace the thing. Just out of curiosity, how much should one spend on a replacement, and which parts store would you recommend? I really don't want to have to do the repair again. Thanks again!
 

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Registered
2001 Seville STS, 1990 Seville (RIP), 1972 Sedan Deville
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26,323 Posts
Price can vary wildly.

Pep Boys, NAPA, Advanced Auto... Just stay away from the cheapest house brand, and get remanufactured or new, as opposed to rebuilt.
 

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2001 deville base, 2008 dts
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310 Posts
Your issue sounds like a toasted serp belt, they are pretty cheap and shouldn't be too hard to replace. Hopefully nothing else froze up and caused it to self destruct, was it a new belt or one that should have been replaced many miles ago?

I'm putting a rebuild from o'rileys in my 01 today, I just wanted something to get by till I order a H/O alt and the fairly cheap unit I got looks brand new with a "rebuilt in the USA" sticker on it.
 
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