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Discussion Starter #1
Thanks in advance for the help.

I'm having some trouble with my Caliber. I am getting a very loud noise in my engine compartment. I've read a lot on the forum about alternator problems and am leaning towards that, but want to see if anyone else has any thoughts. I'll just give a quick list of what I know and don't know...

  • The noise sounds like (as a lot of other folks have described it) a diesel motor running. It sounds to me like something is getting ready to fly apart.
  • The tempo of the noise seems to pick up with the RPMs of the engine. At highway speeds it is drowned out by the road noise.
  • The noise goes away if the motor is run without the belt.
  • I had 2 bad pulleys (idler and tensioner) replaced.
  • All the accessories sounded fine when turned by hand, other than the water pump. It made a clicking/grinding sound. I replaced that with no luck on solving the problem.
  • I have changed the power steering fluid. Whether it is at the correct level or low, the noise doesn't change.
  • The noise doesn't change when turning the wheel.
  • The noise doesn't change when running the AC.
  • I've had no electrical problems.
  • I haven't seen any overall performance issues with the car.
 

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It's the alternator. Most of the issues with the alternator are a combination of pulley and bearings.
 

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I'm having a similar issue as benpaxton.

The noise my car makes matches up with most of his bullet points except I haven't tried removing the belt to see if the noise goes away. My engine does kind of sound like a "diesel engine". The thing is my car doesn't always make the noise. When it does, it starts after I drive it around a bit or when the engine gets a little warm. Something that isn't on his list that my car does is that from time to time the lights sort of dim then go back to normal when I'm idling. My old car did this but only when I had the AC on. Also, when I turn the steering wheel it feels as if the car is about to shut off (car sort of vibrates and feels like RPM goes down) and the lights dim as well. I also noticed that when I open and close the windows in the car, it feels as if the car wants to shut off and the lights dim again. This only happens when I'm idling.

Could this be the alternator about to fail on me, or something else? Thanks.
 

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I'm having a similar issue as benpaxton.

The noise my car makes matches up with most of his bullet points except I haven't tried removing the belt to see if the noise goes away. My engine does kind of sound like a "diesel engine". The thing is my car doesn't always make the noise. When it does, it starts after I drive it around a bit or when the engine gets a little warm. Something that isn't on his list that my car does is that from time to time the lights sort of dim then go back to normal when I'm idling. My old car did this but only when I had the AC on. Also, when I turn the steering wheel it feels as if the car is about to shut off (car sort of vibrates and feels like RPM goes down) and the lights dim as well. I also noticed that when I open and close the windows in the car, it feels as if the car wants to shut off and the lights dim again. This only happens when I'm idling.

Could this be the alternator about to fail on me, or something else? Thanks.
Think about it. Bearings heat up as they are spinning. End result is more noise. Alternator is bad.
 

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I'm backing Prop1 on this. We can't count how many times these noises have ended up coming from the alternator. There are numerous threads about this issue that have been traced to the alternator. Unfortunatly the alternator seems to be a weak point that almost all of our Calibers have.

If your still skeptical, take the car to a qualified mechanic and let them diagnose it. If It were me, I'd remove the belt and run the engine. If It goes away I'd go to get a new alternator and put it in. If not, further diagnosis is required.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for all the insight. Has anyone had any better luck with one brand of alternator than another? From what I've read I want a new one and not a re manufactured one...
 

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Thanks for all the insight. Has anyone had any better luck with one brand of alternator than another? From what I've read I want a new one and not a re manufactured one...
NAPA has been reported to be a good choice.
 

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If you have a local NAPA store, I'd go there. Having worked for both Autozone and Advance, I'm not impressed with any of their electrical products. Check both of them and see what kind of price they can give you on one with a limited lifetime warranty. Then see if NAPA will price match them. They do that here.
 

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Okay so I went to my mechanic today and he told me it wasn't the alternator. It is the Drive Belt Tensioner making all the noise. I asked him to check the alternator and battery voltage to see if one of those was the reason that my car seems like it wants to stall out when I turn my steering wheel or when I pull the switches up to close the windows when I'm idling. He said they were both working fine. I first noticed the window thing when I tried to close the windows when they were already closed. I pulled the switches up and my car lights dimmed a little and the engine felt like it wanted to shut off since it vibrated a little. He couldn't check any further since it was closing time. Any ideas on what this might be or could the Drive Belt Tensioner be at fault for this too? (Couldn't get the part installed either because I got there too late, only had time to diagnose the noise. Have to go back on Monday).


This is a pic of the part he pulled out of the car and told me was making all the noise.
 

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Yes - the belt tensioners on many different cars have been known to fail at times.
If the pulley cannot turn freely and smoothly, the tensioner bearings can make a lot of noise and put extra drag on the engine when the load on the belt changes (like when asking the alternator to put out more power)
 

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Well it turns out my alternator is making noise too so I have to replace it. The tensioner was making a clicking noise and the alternator was grinding. $550 for both.
 

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Nisfero even if the alternator tests fine it could still be the culprit. The internal electrical components have no bearing on weather the pulley and bearings are bad. Mine tested fine and it was bad when I had the same issues as yourself.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
OK, so my problem is fixed. It didn't really play out the way I wanted it to, but these things never do. Basically, I had another problem (which I described here: http://www.caliberforumz.com/showthread.php?p=202101#post202101 ) and I was just tired of messing with this thing so I dropped it off at the dealer. Long story short, $600 down the hole, new alternator, no more noise. At least I looked like I knew what I was talking about when I dropped the car off. Thanks for all the help, though!
 

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I am having the same problem with the engine noise. Unfortunately money is a bit tight and i have a couple business trips to make (they only pay for the gas back and forth at .52 cents a km.) I will retain some money from that and put towards a new alternator if that is the case.

I just took it in to Canadian Tire and they changed the oil, engine coolant, rotated the tires (which i know all have nothing to do with this issue) and they also replaced the belt. Aparently calibers run on 1 single belt rather than 2 or 3.

The car still makes the noise, i'm guessing it is the alternator and it needs replacing, so if it is about $600 then i guess i should start saving money aside for that in particular.

Im wondering, since this noise has started up about 3 weeks ago, how many km's do i have left before i run into some big problems? It may take a couple weeks to have the money for this fix.

any help would be appreciated.
 
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