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Discussion Starter #1
The car had 320K miles, with high speeds, aggressive driving, 3 times overheating on the road, lots of abuses over the year, with all original electrical accessories, except a few ignition coils and batteries, had never failed and stranded me.

This time I was on the freeway for a day time 100-mile weekend trip. About half way into it, the battery light lit up and started flickering intermittently. We had a discussion and decided it was an alternator, not a battery fault. We decided we had enough battery juice to reach the destination and buy another battery, or have AAA quick charge the battery to get home.

Got to Costco at the destination. It did not have that size battery, even if it had the battery, it would be only partially, not fully charged by the factory. Went to a familiar repair shop. The guy tested the battery and said it was the alternator failing, but he had no replacement part.

We had no other option but to drive back at night with a bad alternator, hoping the battery would last long enough to get home, and if run out of juice, AAA would quick charge the battery. About half way back, the head and tail lights got very dim then just died out; accessories' lights on dash board all lit up. I knew the head lights drew about 15A or more and drained the battery out of charge, so pulled off the freeway into a gas station. AAA truck arrived in about half hour. The guy jumped the battery and engine immediately started, but he said he had no way of quick charging the battery, and offer to sell me a battery for $150, again he said it may not have enough charge and the engine would die again.

It was after midnight, weather was cold, the gas station was closed, all repairs shops and car rentals agencies were closed. AAA driver said that was all he could do for the service call and the only option left was to call AAA for a tow. AAA said the member policy only cover toes up to 7 miles; the balance 53 miles would cost me $550. Damn. We were really stuck. We should have aborted the trip when that battery light started lighting. We asked the gas station guy to leave the car, the windows were all down with no battery to roll up. He said car should be OK, nobody would mess with it. He was shooing away a few homeless people all night. We decided to call UBER for $150 ride home and took the battery with us.

At home, the battery took all night to charge to near full at .6A I took a battery from another car along to retrieve the disabled car. A friend drove me down. I installed the battery; car fired right up. Unfortunately the freeway had a haz mat spill on the way back in front of us, only 1 lane was open, traffic was backed up for about 15 miles. Damn. I decided to take an alternate route, drove into town towards the alternate freeway about 10 miles further East with my friend's car following. After half hour drive, the roads were jammed up in heavy commuting traffic, GOOGLE MAP said alternate freeway was also jammed up in a few places, the original freeway would take less time. We decided to cross town to return to the original freeway. GOOGLE MAP was still steering me on surface streets back to the alternate freeway, got me really lost in that town, finally decided to override MAP and navigate by sunlight, headed West towards the original freeway, costing another 1.5 hours hard driving in town with my poor wingman following me.

The freeway was jammed with traffic backed up about 15 miles, moving 1-2 MPH. I knew the battery would run out after about 2 hours of driving, even in the daytime without headlights draining current. After about 1 hour inching in traffic, the battery gave out. I pulled off to the side and swapped in the other battery. Inching along in the freeway traffic jam for about 4 hours after restarting the car at the gas station, we finally cleared the spill site and throttled up, swearing at stupid drivers who spill their loads and get into accidents, my wingman following me just in case the second battery gave out. About 15 miles from home I told the wingman to head straight home, I would take the chance of having enough charge to get home. If it ran out i could call UBER without a big fee.

Had more than enough charge to get home. Order a genuine DENSO alternator for replacement, but this alternator failure is a far worse hassle than a dead battery on a long trip. It would have been a very simple problem if it acted up near home and not on a long trip 100 miles away.. the Celica GTS is a very reliable car that I rely on to keep me from being stranded on long trips. This time I was in a big hassle. I searched but could not find any device in the market that can add enough charge to a low but good battery to get home in case of alternator failure.

Short of always carrying a fully charged spare battery in the trunk, would appreciate any suggestion to deal with alternator failure on long trips away from home.
 

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love the story. Sounds like something that would happen to me.
Put in the new alternator and batt and be done for another 320k.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
love the story. Sounds like something that would happen to me.
Put in the new alternator and batt and be done for another 320k.
I was working fine. It showed no indications having any problems and failed suddenly.

Waiting for a genuine DENSO alternator.

A guy made a good suggestion, testing the charge function twice a year in old cars.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
I was a Classic AAA member for 9 years, never needed a tow until this incident. It costs $85 for 2 persons, only tow 7 miles max. After that it' about $10 per mile.

I upgraded to AAA Plus, $135 for 2 persons, combined up to 8 tows a year each 100 miles max.

99% of my long trips are shorter than 100 miles. So this AAA Plus is more than I ever need. But AAA will not let anyone ride in their trucks. So you have to figure booking UBER or rent a car or have someone pick you up.
 

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Not really so on the ride along. I have AAA RV coverage and it includes trucks, autos and RV which I used a few times. I used the 100 mile right down to the inch four years ago before UBER and the driver let me ride along. 100 miles in a bumpy flatbed sure beats a rental, especially if you are in the boonies. Happened in winter when i rolled my Jeep XJ down a steep interstate side, Triple gainer. Ya never know how much "stuff" is on your floors until you hang upside down by the seatbelt.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Not really so on the ride along. I have AAA RV coverage and it includes trucks, autos and RV which I used a few times. I used the 100 mile right down to the inch four years ago before UBER and the driver let me ride along. 100 miles in a bumpy flatbed sure beats a rental, especially if you are in the boonies. Happened in winter when i rolled my Jeep XJ down a steep interstate side, Triple gainer. Ya never know how much "stuff" is on your floors until you hang upside down by the seatbelt.
Wow. Roll over huh?

I drove a Jeep wrangler on a vacation in Mexico, nearly roll over on a rocky road.

I like to stick to low and fast sports car.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Quick alternator test in car:

Two of the easiest methods to determine if your alternator is dying are the headlight test and the battery test. The headlight test is quick and easy, and should be performed outdoors to ensure that you don't have a carbon monoxide buildup inside your garage. To perform the headlight test, start your car and turn on your headlights. With the vehicle in park, press on the accelerator while a second person observes the headlights. If the headlights flicker, dim or get brighter when the accelerator is pressed down, your alternator may be bad. No change in headlight brightness indicates that your alternator is likely fine.

A battery test is easy to perform and can be done at home. First, open the hood and start the car. While the engine is running, remove the negative cable from the battery. If the vehicle stalls or dies, the alternator is likely bad. This happens because the alternator is not generating enough electricity to keep the engine running on its own. If the car continues to the run, the problem may lie with the battery.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Brought the failed alternator home and took it apart.

Both spring-loaded brushes have worn down to minimum, not even touching the commutator. I am betting the regulator is still good.

Will buy the $6 brush rebuild kit from Starting n charging in TX on eBay. It's easy to replace. Will have the part store test it to confirm and keep it as a spare unit.
 
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