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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
99 Camry i4 2.2L, 205,000 miles
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I changed my timing belt, water pump, and oil pump seals. Of course I first disconnected the negative battery terminal. These repairs of course required removing the alternator for more room. When I went to re-connect the negative terminal, I observed a single, unusual spark as I drew the neg battery cable super close to connect to the neg battery terminal. Now, the car does start --the starter is obviously not dead-- and the car runs really rough but:

1. Stereo is dead
2. Can't charge stuff out of the cigarette adapter thingy
3. Trying to pull the selector out of park doesn't work when I push that usual thumb button, I must also push the little unlock tab, to the upper left
4. Can't actuate electric driver's seat
5. Fan switch twists produces no changes.

What should I do..? Man this sucks cuz I'm not really an electronics guy. Should I swap in some relay or circuit breaker...?

As a precaution I immediately ordered a used replacement ECU off of Ebay, though it won't arrive for some days.

The good:

1. Turning the key to ON produces the happy annoying chiming
2. The dash light indicates when my door is open or ajar
3. The trunk light works when the trunk is open.
4. Headlights do turn on when I will that when the key is in the ON position

I have one of those light up circuit testers that lights up after you ground it then use the sharp pointy end to touch different things, shows when there is charge there or not.

Should I use this thing to investigate? Where should I start?

This car has served me superbly otherwise. The TB from the previous ownder lasted 100,000 miles.

A video I saw suggested that if you completely detach the alternator, you're supposed to remove BOTH the neg and poz terminals from the battery...?

:( !!!!
 

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This car has served me superbly otherwise. A video I saw suggeste that if you completely detach the altnerator, you're supposed to remove BOTH the neg and poz terminals from the battery...?
Nah that's dumb. Negative alone is fine.

Check the connection at the alternator and make sure you didn't lose the insulator on the output terminal.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Dayum, I think you're on to something cuz I remember having the feeling I lost something off of there.

When you say "alternator output terminal insulator", is THIS (first photo below, with hand and pointer) what you're talking about...? I'm trying to get super clear.

I observed just one single spark between the neg battery terminal and the cable connector thingy when it got super close, almost touching. This was after I got done with everything.

I just remember that in the course of my fixing something dropped off of there.

I guess I'll also try to post a photo of MINE, that is, what I have, photo 2 (no hand). I'm kind of nooby so sometimes u may have to use baby talk.

If that indeed is the cause, is my car dead and if not, what would I do to remedy this..? If I scare up a new insulator and slap that sucker on there, I think this is not enough, right..? :(
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
I looked at my alternator carefully, considering what you wrote up there:

The alternator produces electricity, carried away by a wire to other needy parts of the car. If that output wire is properly attached to the terminal but ALSO is innapropriately permitted to contact the BODY of the alternator --and not only the output post-- then the current produced also BACK INTO the body of the alternator.

Which is bad.

This is the idea..? Cuz I got up close to what I have, and yeah, I see no kind of "non-conducty stuff" isolating the output wire away from the alternator body. I mean, it does look like something is supposed to go there.

How would you proceed..?

For now I tore off some paper towel, folded it up pretty thick and secreted it between the alternator body and the terminal/wire interface.

Could I drive my car to a shop with this temporary fix...?

Ah, great. My driver's seat is electrically actuated. Even if the key is in the ON position I can't move my seat now.

This sucks.
 

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Yeah looks like the insulator broke or is missing. You should be able to find a replacement at a junkyard or maybe an auto parts store. In a pinch you could sandwich the connector between two nuts to make sure it can't contact the alternator body.

Most likely this blew the big alternator fuse which bolts in to the fuse block in the engine bay. There are a few threads on here about that, you are definitely not the first to short your alternator wire. It also may have damaged the alternator or other fuses, you'll just have to check things step by step. Your battery also may be dead and need a charge.

The alternator produces electricity, carried away by a wire to other needy parts of the car. If that output wire is properly attached to the terminal but ALSO is innapropriately permitted to contact the BODY of the alternator --and not only the output post-- then the current produced also BACK INTO the body of the alternator
Exactly.

Here is a photo of roughly what the part you need looks like..
300469
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Dang, you are really impressive. ONE guess and it sorrrrrta looks like that was exactly my problem.

Based on your photo, I got out a flashlight and my knee-pads and crawled around in the gravel in the dusk:

I found a black plastic thingy that closely resembles your photo. It seems that it indeed was made to fit atop the alternator post. It really looks like my idea of what an alternator output post insulator would look like.

Here is my problem:

When I slip it over the post there is inadequate post length to permit screwing on the nut, something I'm trying to show in my photo. I twist it around in a circle repeatedly, the better to find the trick but still somehow I am defeated. I am VERY disinclined to think I found I different discarded insulator from some other beleaguered car:

I'll post the photo then still keep trying:
 

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Discussion Starter #7
omg I'm such a dummy, I was trying to put it on UPSIDE-DOWN, even though that conformation is a little non-intuitive. Kay, yeah, it fits, bro, and the alternator output post screw goes down perfectly --I have it on there, now. YOU ROCK..!

Now I will wager you are also correct about, what was it..? The alternator relay being blown..? Does this sucker have a usual COLOR to it..? It's big, you say? And it's inside of that slender black plastic side box located at the extreme side of the driver's side of the engine bay..?

Cuz ya know what, last time I was at the junkyard I think I picked up some of those relays just in case, so I might even already have one, although it would probably be in the shed and I have no light out there...

Is the Alternator relay big, square and BROWN..?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Okay:

I took my best guess on where the RELAY BOX would be, popped off the black plastic top, flipped it over and saw a MAP. One map feature was the inscription "ALT". This means alternator, I think. Using that relay map I divined the corresponding relay --which in my case is a small 1.5 x 1 cm blue rectangular box adorned with a plastic top window. I removed the relay top window, permitting better observation of the innards. Using pliers I pulled upwards a bit on that relay plastic side wall while attempting a photo. This action accetuated what I THINK is a BREAK in that alternator relay, which I think means that the relay does not work. I think here you are getting a sense of what an electronics noob I am.

My first photo shows a portion of what I think the relay box.

My second photo shows the innards of what I think is the alternator relay, and what I think is a blown relay.

The bad news is that I believe I do not have this particular relay. How much typically does this Camry relay cost at, say, an AutoZone..?

YOU FREAKING ROCK...!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I am stuck without a working car, a bit far from AutoZone:

Is there such a thing as people SOLDERING a blown relay the better as a temp fix for a 6 mile drive to AutoZone..?

I have no friends or relatives in this place I find myself just now.

But I have a tiny soldering iron, strangely enough.
 

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'00 4 Cyl. Auto Camry LE
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Did the cover you removed say "100" on it? ... If so, that is NOT a Relay, but the 100 AMP [ ALT ] fuse.

Edit: not trying to "preach" here, just want to make sure you identify and get the correct part.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Yup...! The plastic box that I found in the very front (near bumper) part of the slender black plastic box said "100" on the top. So I guess it's the 100 Amp Fuse, thank you..!
 

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Awesome glad you found it!


There's the part you need. See how the mounting terminals are slotted? The original fuse probably isn't like that, so keep that in mind - you'll have to remove the bolts all the way to get it out rather than just loosening them.

As for soldering that one together.. in theory you probably could, and I get the fact that you have to get to the store somehow. Just understand that the reason this mishap didn't start a fire or at least melt your wiring harness is because of that fuse working correctly.
 
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