What Is Wrong With My Charging System? - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums
Avalon 1st Generation (1995-1999) Specific discussion of the first generation Toyota Avalon

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post #1 of 17 Old 07-08-2019, 10:49 PM Thread Starter
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What Is Wrong With My Charging System?

Hello everybody. About a month ago my charghing system stareted to act up again. Fast forward to last Tuesday. I was about three miles from home and pulling into Costco, when I noticed my radion going in and out and then lost power for a while. I quickly realized what the problem was and shut down the none essentials on the car. I came out from Costco after about twenty minutes and the car would not start. I pulled out my little genie (NOCO Genius GB40) and started the car and drove home. I had to jump start the car the next morning to get to work and have been doing so every day at least twice a day. Sometimes I get lucky and it started when I punch the accelator as I turn the key, other times it just give that fast clicking soung and I have to pull out my Genie. The battery cables are tight and nice, the terminals and cables are all clean and looking good. One day I started the car at my job and put on the a/c, it refused to come on although the light on the dash was showing tha a/c is on. That is when I realized that the alternator was barely making enough power to keep the engine going and the computer was ignoring the request for a/c because of the limited power. I was at my brother's house this afternoon and the car was off for about four hours, the car started up as if nothing is wrong with it, all the lights were bright and nice. I threw on the a/c and the lights flickered a little but remained bright and nice, further down the road the lights began to dim and flicker. Guys, the a/c has nothing to do with the dimming or flickering, the problem intensified because the a/c is pulling a lot of power from the alternator. I started the car Sunday evening and test the voltage, I was getting 14 volts plus. I put on the a/c, rear defogger, radio and the head lights with high beam on and the volts dropped to 10 plus volts. I checked the groung under the battery tray and other places, they all seemed okay. This problem started back in 2014 when I washed the engine so as to do the head gasket, the problem has intensified over the past month. When it first started, the problem was showing up when I got home at nights. Back then, if I turned off the car with the dash light showing dim, the car would not start unless I jump it. I had to remember and rev the engine for a few minutes so as to bring up the lights to bright. I got tired of doing that and removed the negative lead (not adviseable) from the battery and the car died instantly. I orderded a new ( I think it was rebuilt or remanufactured) Denso alernator and put it in, I removed the negative cable (again, not adviseable) from the battery and the car died instantly. I said to myself that nothing is wrong with the alternator the problem has to be somewhere else. I chaeked the wiring and found nothing out of place. I ordered cables to upgrade the big 3, the cables were supposed to be delivered today. I will do the upgrade and see what happens.
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post #2 of 17 Old 07-09-2019, 07:01 AM
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OK. Get back to us when the "big 3" are replaced -- I'm assuming you mean the 2 large diameter cables to the battery, but don't know what the 3rd might be.

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post #3 of 17 Old 07-09-2019, 05:59 PM Thread Starter
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Battery positive to alternator positive, battery negative to chassis and engine ground to chassis. Those are the big 3. I will get back to you guys as soon as it is completed. I had to jump start the car about four times today, I am off from work and was running errands.
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post #4 of 17 Old 07-09-2019, 10:02 PM
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I'm having the same problem. Replaced the alternator and battery but the problem persists. I figure it must me the cabling. Where did you order from? I can't find them online.

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post #5 of 17 Old 07-10-2019, 03:53 PM
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Voltage regulator? Got this from our friends at rockauto.


ProfessionalAn ACDelco Professional, premium aftermarket Voltage Regulator is the ideal high quality replacement for your GM vehicle. It monitors the proper voltage to your vehicle's critical systems as the starting and charging system starts the engine, maintains the battery's charge, and provides power to the electrical accessories while the engine is running. An ACDelco Professional Voltage Regulator provides outstanding radio noise control for better performance, delivers needed system voltage, and provides the proper fit and function to let your vehicle run the way it was designed. This premium aftermarket replacement voltage regulator is manufactured to meet or exceed your expectations for fit, form, and function.

Features & Benefits:
  • Professional, premium aftermarket replacement
  • Provides the performance and dependability you expect from ACDelco
  • Manufactured to meet expectations for fit, form, and function
Voltage12 2HMounting PositionBolt OnTerminal TypeBlade PinMounting Hardware IncludedNoConnector ShapeRectangular/ScrewTerminal Quantity6Connector GenderFemaleTerminal GenderMale FemaleMounting Bracket IncludedYesAlternate/OEM Part Number(s): 88925165
Warranty Information:
12 Months
Warranty Details
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post #6 of 17 Old 07-10-2019, 10:36 PM
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The regulator is part of the alternator. Replacing the alternator replaces the regulator too.

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post #7 of 17 Old 07-11-2019, 03:06 PM
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You are correct BMR,it is integrated with the alternator. Many years ago I had an old volvo that showed similar symptoms,ie. radio cutting out, lights dimming and the alternator was the culprit.Perhaps your remanufactured unit was defective,they should be able to test it for you and make sure it is functioning as it should.
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post #8 of 17 Old 07-11-2019, 03:43 PM
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3rd times the charm?

I gave up and took it to a mechanic who told me the alternator was bad. wtf???? I just replaced it 2 days ago. That was after I replaced it a month ago. Auto Zone dude says sometimes that happens. Well, not we're on the 3rd one so I hope this is it. It was acting like the alternator was bad but I didn't think it could fail that fast. Should have trusted my gut. Now I'm paying someone to do what I could do in less than an hour. ugh.

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post #9 of 17 Old 07-12-2019, 06:22 PM Thread Starter
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Ok guys, I think the alternator is dying and I will be replacing it on Monday. I checked the voltage this afternoon before I started the car and it was 10. something. I started the car and put on a bunch of things and measured the voltage while raising the rpm to about 2000. I got 11. something volts and I also checked for voltage drop between the negative post and the alternator case and it was whitin specs. Do I have to increase the amperage of the alternator fuse if I put in a 100 amp alternator?
Bryan Jackson, I ordered the cables from Amazon but they have not arrived. They said it was delivered but we have not received anything and our money was refunded when we inquired about the package. I am going to re order the cables with instructions when it must be delivered so that I will be there to receive it. I think it was delivered to the wrong address. I had ordered welding cables because they are more within specs than audio cables and under the hood is their (they can with stand heat better and carry large amps) enviroment. I saw a video on youtube where the welding cable came out on top of the rest of cables. Welding cables may not look pretty, but I am doing it for performance not looks. Will update you guys on the alternator replacement.
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post #10 of 17 Old 07-12-2019, 09:59 PM
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If all else is working properly, and you're just replacing the alternator, why not go with more amperage? See my recent install thread here....

https://www.toyotanation.com/forum/1...ggestions.html
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post #11 of 17 Old 07-12-2019, 11:49 PM Thread Starter
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Jagalag, thanks, I did see your post on that. What about the alternator fuse, do I have to change it? I don't have anything pulling extra power.
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post #12 of 17 Old 07-13-2019, 03:58 AM
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I asked a bunch of people, searched half the internet, and bugged the automotive electrical shops until they got sick of me. The consensus is, the alternator only produces the extra juice IF the demand (current draw) for the electrical loads is there, so not really any need to upgrade the fuse. I too, in the past thought that an alternator might "overcharge" a battery, but It's essentially the function of the internal voltage regulator to prevent that in the first place. That fails, then your problems start. I did, however, run an extra 8awg wire from the alt directly to the + side of the battery, and did the the same for the - battery side to engine ground. Not sure if it's helping, but at least it doesn't hurt the car.
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post #13 of 17 Old 07-13-2019, 09:41 PM Thread Starter
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Jagalag, I realized the answer after I had asked the question. A few more questions about the 130 amp alternator. Did you buy yours at Rockauto? Do you have a part number? I checked Rockauto and they have two engines for the 2002 Highlander, a V 6 and a 2.4 L L4. Which engine did you click on? They have 130 amp alternator for both engines. I just don't want to make a mistake when ordering electrical parts.
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post #14 of 17 Old 07-14-2019, 04:55 PM
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Mine is not from RockAuto. Mine was a warranty exchange from O'Really? [sic] auto parts. The listed 80 amp one I bought in 2017 failed, and the guys at the local shop were pretty cool and let me just pay the difference between the 80amp one and the 130 amp one, and still keep the lifetime warranty. It's my understanding that only the Highlanders equipped with a towing package/additions at the time were equipped with the 130 amp alternator. Just check the mounting screw position in the illustration and compare it with the ones in our cars. The one for the 4 banger engine probably is not the same.
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post #15 of 17 Old 07-14-2019, 08:13 PM Thread Starter
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Jagalag, thanks a lot. That is a good idea, will take some pics tomorrow and match them up.
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