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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So I have a 2004 Nissan Altima 3.5L V6 SE (VQ35DE engine). Two weeks ago, I was driving and noticed the infamous battery and brake light on the dash flickering on and off. There was sudden loss of RPM and gas pedal response. I was unsure what was going on. The next day the car started up fine, but after I had parked it and tried cranking the engine the car just wouldn't want to turn over anymore. However, there was enough power left in the battery to turn on the lights and accessories.

I had assumed the battery was going bad. But I didn't want to guess and replace the battery if it wasn't necessary. I jumped the Altima with my other vehicle and drove it back home to park. Luckily I wasn't far.

Now, the car just doesn't want to crank. I researched all over the internet and on this forum. Supposedly its an alternator issue. I call BBBIndustries and asked other mechanics for additional opinions. They all said it was most likely the alternator from the symptoms I was experiencing.

So to further ensure it was the alternator. I did a couple tests and inspections on my own. I cleaned both positive & negative posts on the battery, as well as the cable terminals. I checked the alternator fuse (it was good). I used a digital multimeter (DDM) to test the battery. It was showing 11.47 volts. Apparently not enough voltage to supply to the starter. So I jumped started the car again and hooked up my DDM (red lead to positive and black to negative on the battery) to check the voltage again while the engine is running. Only to find the voltage was reading between 10.3V-10.6V. I then hooked my DDM red lead to the positive cable from the alternator and the black lead to the chasis/negative battery terminal. Still the voltage was reading between 10.3V-10.6V.

In conclusion, the reading should've read around/above 13V with the alternator working. Now I'm assuming the voltage regulator is giving out or that there is a bad coil in the alternator itself. I made sure the serpentine belt tension was good and the connections on the alternator was good as well.

(Sorry for this long thread)
But after doing more research and finding a service manual. I'm actually going to replace the alternator. I have a few options:

  • Buy a replacement alternator I found at the junkyard from a 2006 Altima 3.5 V6 SE (supposedly under 60,000 miles) - $83
  • Buy a rebuilt alternator from an auto parts source. Best price I've found is a ToughOne alternator (part #12366) Lifetime Warranty from Advance Auto Parts Retail before tax $181.99

    After online discount before tax (temporary promocode TRT30) - $152.99

  • Buy a used one off craigslist that i found within my area from a 2004 Altima SE - $50
After doing some thinking, my best option is buy the ToughOne alternator. This upcoming weekend, I'm attempting to replace the alternator with the use of the service manual, and the help of "sostock's alternator thread" and "sostock's radiator removal thread". Thanks sostock
 

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Good call on getting a new/rebuilt alternator, getting a used one is OK as a temporary solution but it's only a matter of time before that goes too (unless you can confirm that it really is a low-mileage one).

Not sure how hard the alternator is on this engine, but I do know that you need to loosen the 17mm nut on the idler pulley before you can start loosening the tensioner bolt to get the belt off. Post some pics of the process when you do it!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Good call on getting a new/rebuilt alternator, getting a used one is OK as a temporary solution but it's only a matter of time before that goes too (unless you can confirm that it really is a low-mileage one).

Not sure how hard the alternator is on this engine, but I do know that you need to loosen the 17mm nut on the idler pulley before you can start loosening the tensioner bolt to get the belt off. Post some pics of the process when you do it!
Thanks. I will keep that in mind. I will take pics as I go.
 

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09 Altima 3.5SE 6MT Sedan
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Discussion Starter #6
Just went through all that a month ago. Can guarantee you that the problem is the alternator (regulator pack specifically).

Here is my thread and the photos/links/advice I used:

http://www.nissanclub.com/forums/2002-2006-nissan-altima-discussion-2-5-3-5/412434-03-altima-alternator-insanity.html

FWIW I went with the Pure Energy $120 (new, Chinese) at RockAuto, so far no issues, also comes with roadside warranty.

D.
Cool. I haven't checked rockauto yet. Thanks man. I will check out your thread.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
So i found an even better deal, but Advance Auto Parts is being stupid about how they are handling parts with Carquest. So I searched on AAP site again in the process of placing an order on the ToughOne alternator when I see they also carry CarQuest alternators.

After researching about CarQuest, I see they have some good reviews for their alternators. So CarQuest Remanufactured Alternators are build by BBB Industries which is supposedly a good thing! AAP was carrying them for $109.99, and the retail price if you were to buy straight from CarQuest is $293.69. A whopping $183.70 difference, holy crap.

I tried jumping on the deal, and if you enter in the promocode TRT30 you end getting the CarQuest alternator part #13940A for $76.99. Somehow, I think AAP was able to catch this glitch, because I wasn't able to make the final payment or purchase it...(SIGH)...

SEE:









Soooo...I ended up getting the ToughOne. Damn it! If anyone can find a way to pay $76.99 for the CarQuest alternator, good luck. Let me know if anyone had success with it.
 

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09 Altima 3.5SE 6MT Sedan
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FYI I had the manual transmission and that was work enough. With the auto tranny you need to detach the transmission cooler lines from the bottom of the rad and have to deal with AT fluid spillage/refillage. Hope the weather is nice if you're doing it shade-tree style.

While you wait for the alternator to show, start soaking the v-belt tensioner adjuster nut. I repeatedly fill the inside with PB blaster or equiv. You will also want to soak the pulley nut from inside the wheel well. If you cannot get the tensioner working, it's one more PITA to putting it all back together (many reports of overly eager people snapping the tensioner bolt trying to back it off--special order part...more days of the car doing nothing). Also soak the rad mount bolts (from top and bottom) and the alternator bracket bolts, the grounding lug on the bracket above the alternator.

Expect to crack the plastic bushing when you remove the battery cable from the alternator...doesn't take much! Since you're tossing it, it's no biggy.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
So I finally got around doing the the alternator removal and install today. I started today at 5:40 PM and finished at 8:20 PM Eastern time. So it was roughly a 3 hr job, but I could've gotten it done in 1.5 to 2 hrs if I hadn't taken pictures and ran to the store to get the battery charged up. And it wasn't that complicating. It was just very time consuming. The hardest part was removing the bottom bolt on the alternator. I did not need or use PB Blaster or wd40. But after doing the job, i returned the old alternator and got $20 back.

I think the reason why most people I see on this and other forums end up stripping the nut on the bottom of the alternator, is because they are using a shorter 14mm socket. The bolt is bottoming out to the shaft of the ratchet head. Thats why the socket barely seats on the tip of the nut/bolt. But theres a trick to it if you are using a short socket and non-adjustable flex ratchet....that is you let the 14mm socket seat flush to the nut/bolt and you insert the ratchet. And you lay infront of the car, while pulling the ratchet towards you/or bumper.

But here are the pics below. The more the better:



The BASTARD!




Remove the battery negative cable.


Remove the intake front shroud.



This battery powered Milwaukee 3/8 ratchet does wonders!!! Great investment ever.


Take the bottom engine plastic cover off




 

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Discussion Starter #10
Next the radiator brackets




And drain the radiator here, untwist it with a Phillips screwdriver


Drain it! Dont forget to remove the radiator cap, to release the pressure, and allow the coolant to drain quicker.




Next these automatic transmission lines.



Use this trim clip remover tool to undo the electrical plastic clips. Saves you from destroying your clips!!!!
[

 

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Discussion Starter #11


Undo your radiator fan plugs



And throw it to the side:


Remove the reservoir coolant hose from the neck of the radiator. Use a pair of angle pliers if you have to


Then remove the brackets if you haven't already. With a 10mm socket




Next, I'd remove the upper radiator hose from the engine like this.


 

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Discussion Starter #12
And remove the bottom radiator hose from the bottom of the radiator. Sorry if forgot to take pics of that. And plug your transmission lines with a bolt instead of clamps. DONT DESTROY THE RUBBER! I think i used a 12 mm bolt to plug of the lines.



Pull the radiator out carefully




Remove the plugs from the alternator. Theres 3 plugs on cable that needs to be unplugged. 2 on the alternator and 1 under the alternator.









Now remove the plastic shield on behind the passenger side wheel


And you get this:
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Tensioner pulley.


Once removed, the bottom alternator nut/bolt is behind it.


Undo the bolt just enough. Dont remove it. I didn't use PB Blaster or wd40. It wasn't necessary. I dont understand why everyone saying it was needed.




Release the tension, from the adjuster bolt.


I used a universal 3/8 joint, with a 14mm and my power ratchet.


 

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Discussion Starter #14
It was bitch to remove. I advise use a Flex head ratchet and a longer 14mm socket (find one that fits, because the clearance between the alternator and frame is short).






Once done removing. Install everything back the way it was before. And top off the coolant.



After I got the battery back from Advance Auto Parts fully charged. I hooked up the cables and cranked the engine. What do you know. The battery and alternator finally has good voltage readings.





The new alternator sitting nice and snug.
 

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09 Altima 3.5SE 6MT Sedan
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Best pictorial ever...just like reliving the nightmare! Thanks for taking all those pics.

Forgot to mention the bit about using a ratcheting box end wrench for the pulley nut--but doesn't seem to have slowed you down. Needs a little pipe extension to move it the first time, but golden after that. You'd laugh at much rustier all those bolts look after 12 years in the salt belt :) BTW how'd the lower alternator bolt go for you?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Best pictorial ever...just like reliving the nightmare! Thanks for taking all those pics.

Forgot to mention the bit about using a ratcheting box end wrench for the pulley nut--but doesn't seem to have slowed you down. Needs a little pipe extension to move it the first time, but golden after that. You'd laugh at much rustier all those bolts look after 12 years in the salt belt :) BTW how'd the lower alternator bolt go for you?
No problem for the pics. The lower bolt was a pain in the butt. It took me the longest.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
OKAAY! So after 4 months in with the ToughOne alternator i purchased from Advanced Auto Parts....Its dead. I'm not sure if the alternator just died or shorted from something, but now the dash battery light and brake lights are on AGAIN! Damn it. I was hoping it was a glitch or loose connection, but I'm assuming the alternator itself is the culprit. Good thing is, I have lifetime warranty with the part from AAP. I'm going to do this all over again. Anyone want to chime in on why the alternator would go out this quick? Or is it the fact the alternator was remanufactured and wasn't rebuilt with good parts?
 

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Check all of your grounds. If a ground is bad or loose it can cause failures like this. Bad grounds are also the cause of most coil failures with Nissan. Consider upgrading your grouds before installing a new alternator. Something else to consider that most over look...the drive belts. If you over tighten the belt that drives the alternator you literally can cause premature bearing failure. Ensure you have the correct belt tension.
 

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09 Altima 3.5SE 6MT Sedan
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You can confirm the alternator is dead by measuring the voltage at the battery when the engine is running...anything over about 14.4V is too much. The lights should start to flicker around 17V.

If it is the alternator, 4DZC is correct, something is causing the regulator pack at the back of the alternator to fail and this is almost always related to a poor engine ground. The ground strap from the tranny to chassis dies on this car quite early on...mine was replace at about 5 yrs (yeah, salt belt don't help)...and probably needed it again at 11 when I replaced the alternator for exactly the same reason as you.

I noticed that it was actually reman'd by World Class, though it may have been rebranded as ToughOne or AAP or whatever. Plenty of posts where WC remans (done in mexico) have failed. I"m not saying any alternator would have survived a bad ground issue (typically intermittent ground fault is the issue), but WC aren't the best bet.

Still under warranty isn't it ;)

FYI Rock Auto has two new PureEnergies 13940N at $123 left in stock.
 

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I also installed an AAP "tough one" alternator on 7/31/2014. Luckily mine is still working without issues. Like others have said, try replacing your ground cables this time around.

BTW, flex-head ratchet was totally worth the money just for doing this job lol. Made getting that lower bolt 100% easier.
 
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