Failed alternator -- rescued by Toyota

Submitted: Saturday, Nov 30, 2019 at 14:10
ThreadID: 139374 Views:1388 Replies:8 FollowUps:11
Sometimes I wonder why I accept the expense of OEM service and parts.

Last month I was reminded of the reasons ....

While heading from Warrambungle National Park towards Coonabarabran NSW in convoy with others, voltage dropped to 12 volts on the dashboard voltmeter, then a short time later to 9 volts and then the "Christmas Lights" came on as the various on-board systems -- ABS, VGRS, temperature gauge, etc, etc, etc, all decided to take a holiday. Maybe there was prior warning that this was going to happen -- if so, I did not see it. Immediately before the trip, vehicle was pronounced healthy during a service at a reliable independent workshop (not a Toyota dealer).

We pressed on, happily not towing anything, but with fellow travellers in our convoy wondering how this might end, none of us quite sure at the time as to what else might happen, unwilling to turn off the engine (4.2 litre six cylinder turbodiesel), wondering whether the electric fuel pump was essential to progress or whether the engine would continue to draw fuel anyway.

We arrived in town about an hour later and found Coonabarabran Toyota who were most helpful. A knowledgeable Technician tested and pronounced the alternator defunct (original unit, 193,719 kilometres and 13 years old) -- but none held in stock in Coonabarabran. They charged the batteries while I arranged for a new alternator to meet us at Mudgee Toyota -- Mudgee was the next planned stop. A new alternator arrived a day later from Toyota Sydney. We arrived in Mudgee without drama with still-healthy batteries but with voltage on the dashboard voltmeter slowly declining. The old unit was tested again, failed, and the new unit was fitted immediately -- once more with excellent cooperation, this time from Mudgee Toyota team.

Our convoy resumed our journey, eventually to the Blue Mountains before returning home to Brisbane, older and wiser but still on our planned schedule and itinerary, and very appreciative of the backup of the widespread Toyota network and the service we received.

On an older vehicle, parts inevitably will reach their "use-by" date -- but far better if this does not happen by surprise when help is far away!

Comments are most welcome on what electrical tests or examinations I should have done before leaving Brisbane?

John P.
2006 Toyota HDJ100 Landcruiser Sahara 4.2 T/D - AHC/TEMS, BFG A/T 275/65R17, ARB Deluxe Bar, Kaymar Single Wheel Carrier, ARB Intensity lights

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Reply By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Saturday, Nov 30, 2019 at 15:42

Saturday, Nov 30, 2019 at 15:42
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Hi John,

As you say, parts will eventually fail. The game we play is gambling on them lasting "for a bit longer".
If your trekking is to remote locations beyond the "Toyota network" then the odds are shifted a bit and not in your favour.
In industry, where the cost of production stoppage is expensive, then preventative maintenance is practised and the game plan is to maintain or replace just before the damned machine fails. These intervals are largely determined by experience of earlier failures.

I would think that at 193,719km the alternator may be getting a bit close to a failure. Mind you, some preventative maintenance at an earlier date may have prevented an inconvenient total failure. It may have only needed new brushes and some bearing TL&C. But the human tendency is to hang off for "a bit longer" as it "seems to be going alright".

In my own case and the Troopy, a couple of years ago I decided to do just that.... give the alternator a birthday party. After all, these things are spinning constantly at about 6000rpm in a stinking hot environment. However, in getting the alternator out I was clumsy and broke the copper stud of the main connexion. With a broken complex-manufactured component and little time before trip departure I opted to replace it with a new after-market alternator, about $300 I think. So that was the end of that and the start of a comfortable feeling, I can justify anything if need be! lol

A year or so later, the starter motor was exhibiting initiation problems. Maybe only the integral solenoid contacts and right up my alley to service but then I rationalised that (a) the solenoid contacts would need to be obtained and replaced, (b) the brushes would likely need replacing, (c) the commutator may need refacing in a lathe, (d) the bearings could likely do a replacement. After all, this thing hangs right down at the bottom of the motor and has endured the dunkings of many creek crossings and sundry trials. So this time I went straight to a replacement product. Again, "Oh, What a Feeling". Except it was not a genuine Toyota part replacement.

However, to answer your specific question... "What electrical tests or examinations" you may have done before departing, I can only say that unless you have the necessary expertise, and maybe equipment, then there is little you can do to either ascertain worthiness or carry out preventative maintenance of such parts. And alas, to have this done for you by a skilled mechanic may cost more than replacement and with no assurance of reliability because as an electrical wiz, I know only too well that some electrical failures are next-to impossible to diagnose, they will hit when Murphy says so!

But I would say to one-and-all, heed my words above about the stresses on your alternators and carry out either thorough maintenance or replacement at an appropriate time..... whenever that might be. lol
Cheers
Allan

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Reply By: Noel L2 - Saturday, Nov 30, 2019 at 15:54

Saturday, Nov 30, 2019 at 15:54
If travelling with others..... you could probally swap batteries every 3 or 4 hours.... most would have an aux as well.
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Reply By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Saturday, Nov 30, 2019 at 17:23

Saturday, Nov 30, 2019 at 17:23
I carry a set of brushes for my alternator. That may save me but also could be a diode or regulator or bearing. Its one of those items that gives no warning, the warning light just comes on when it fails. I got about 350,000 ks out of my original Patrol alternator, I should really have a look at it and carry with me. They are fairly small so maybe its something we all should carry a spare of! Michael
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Saturday, Nov 30, 2019 at 18:03

Saturday, Nov 30, 2019 at 18:03
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Michael,

Alternator brushes do progressively wear and it is probably best to inspect and replace at home rather than wait until failure at an inconvenient place and time. And also check and service the bearings at the same time.
However diodes and electronics such as the regulator are not able to be checked and will simply fail when they feel like it.
(That is not quite true but it does require specialist equipment and skills to analyse their condition. So expensive that no-one would do it.)
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Saturday, Nov 30, 2019 at 18:34

Saturday, Nov 30, 2019 at 18:34
Hi Allan, I have heard of people damaging brushes driving in deep water and mud, i guess that's possible. But you never know , a set of brushes may even get someone else out of trouble. Agreed, diodes and regulators can fail at any time, that's electronics i guess. What i meant above was, i should get my original Alternator out and fix or have it fixed and carry it as a spare. regards Michael
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Reply By: Dave B18 - Saturday, Nov 30, 2019 at 19:23

Saturday, Nov 30, 2019 at 19:23
You can only wonder why you would to a Toyota dealer for an alternator!
Auto electrician would probably be half to two thirds the price, or buy one yourself for a quarter the price.
Obviously you have to much money and need to lighten your financial 'burden'.
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Follow Up By: Gronk - Saturday, Nov 30, 2019 at 19:30

Saturday, Nov 30, 2019 at 19:30
I agree, but on the road, and in need of a solution, the dealer is the obvious choice.
Given time to think, and not knowing your way round a country town, a few possibilities may come to light, but at short notice, you do what you gotta do....
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Saturday, Nov 30, 2019 at 19:35

Saturday, Nov 30, 2019 at 19:35
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Dave, I think John's choice was apparent from his story. But why not ask him before preaching.

Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Dave B18 - Saturday, Nov 30, 2019 at 19:36

Saturday, Nov 30, 2019 at 19:36
Coonabarabran is not exactly Hicksville and sure you would have found an auto electrician would have had a new Toyota alternator in stock or repaired your unit.
Have you not heard of the Yellow Pages or Google etc?
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Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Sunday, Dec 01, 2019 at 07:46

Sunday, Dec 01, 2019 at 07:46
Dave B18,

Just my observation, but you appear to be a very cynical person.

Macca.
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Follow Up By: Michael H9 - Sunday, Dec 01, 2019 at 08:53

Sunday, Dec 01, 2019 at 08:53
If you're travelling with friends and don't want to hold them up too much, then it's convenient to get the part checked out at one Toyota dealer and get the replacement delivered to the next dealer while you stay on the road. You can't do that with the local auto electricial. There can be reasons other than "obviously having too much money". I know there are obviously better ways of putting that as well.
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Reply By: RMD - Saturday, Nov 30, 2019 at 21:12

Saturday, Nov 30, 2019 at 21:12
Indo
I think that distance is a fair distance without trouble. However, as Alan said , failures can be foreseen and preventative measures implemented long before the item actually fails. I owned a HJ 61 for many years and replaced the alternator bearings at just over 100k . Starter also had new bearings and a decent amount of Nulon grease to all relative parts. Makes a big difference to current draw on startup and lengthens stater life. With alternators I carry a diode pack from earlier Bosch alternator which is fitted with a computer fan. This can be fairly easily wired to the stator in an emergency to continue charge to vitals. I also normally take a small Honda whipper snipper engine with small alt attached. That will run and charge the system. At Katherine I once saw an 80 series owner needing an alternator. Toyota had one for his at $920. Most breakdowns are because of lack of forward planning and maintenance. All is well while all is well! PS. Does your vehicle actually have an Electric fuel pump?????
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Reply By: Member - IndroCruiser Brisbane - Saturday, Nov 30, 2019 at 21:52

Saturday, Nov 30, 2019 at 21:52
Yes Dave B18, Coonabarabran is a very friendly and well-serviced town of about 2,500 people. The alternatives were considered but neither the auto electrician in town nor Coonabarabran Toyota had the particular alternator in stock. And yes, you are quite right -- it was an expensive experience. And yes -- I may have done a better deal on the item by waiting for the three days quoted for an alternator to be delivered in Coonabarabran. Given that I was also responsible for the onwards accommodation bookings and cancellation fees for our convoy throughout the rest of the fixed itinerary, the decision was to avoid delay and disruption and move on – this was both less disruptive and more economic in the circumstances.

However, Allan B and RMD are right and Dave B18 also has made strong points in your response in another string Do I have all the spares I should be carrying? – all to the effect that more thoughtful preventative maintenance in the first place would have resulted in less risk, less requirements for quick decisions under pressure on the road and certainly less cost.

Guilty as charged and I got off lightly given the location was not really "remote" – but lesson learnt!

RMD -- the fuel pump for the 1HD-FTE engine in the HDJ100's is well-described by Ron N and others in replies to the string Typical Diesel Pump Lifetime This gives rise to even more thoughts about preventative maintenance and also the need for a bit more personal research on my part.

John P.
2006 Toyota HDJ100 Landcruiser Sahara 4.2 T/D - AHC/TEMS, BFG A/T 275/65R17, ARB Deluxe Bar, Kaymar Single Wheel Carrier, ARB Intensity lights

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Follow Up By: RMD - Saturday, Nov 30, 2019 at 23:17

Saturday, Nov 30, 2019 at 23:17
Indro Cruiser
Are you meaning the injection pump as being electric, you mentioned an electric fuel pump. A 100 series IHDFTE engine does have an diesel injection pump which pumps it's own fuel to it by a rotary mechanical lift pump. While some control of the Injection pump is performed via electrical connections, it isn't an electric pump with all pumping done by mechanical means. Just a but confusing. Perhaps people call them an electric fuel pump for some reason. Don't know why though.
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Follow Up By: Member - IndroCruiser Brisbane - Sunday, Dec 01, 2019 at 01:03

Sunday, Dec 01, 2019 at 01:03
RMD,

We are at cross-purposes. I have caused the confusion here -- for which I offer apologies. I was not meaning the injection pump but the feed pump in the fuel tank supplying the system.

When the incident described in this thread first occurred and the voltage drop resulted in lights spreading across the bottom of the instrument panel and anxiety levels rose, I wondered whether low voltage would affect fuel supply from feed pumps in the tank which I had called ‘fuel pumps’. I was guessing – but not really knowing -- that the engine would continue mechanical injection and operation as long as it could receive fuel.

The vehicle proceeded with engine seeming to operate normally from the time the alternator gave up until we arrived in Coonabarabran and started making inquiries. In the first post I said the trip took about an hour but referring to the map just now, it cannot have been more than 20 minutes. I remain unsure whether whatever energy was left in the batteries was sufficient to drive the ‘feed pump’ in the fuel tank, or, whether the operation of the engine and the injection pump would tend to create a low enough pressure in the fuel line to draw fuel from the tank. Whatever, the engine did not stop along the way. The accompanying vehicles would have been of assistance if necessary.

So that is why I said that I need to do a bit more personal research -- as my practical understanding of the details of the whole fuel system operation (among other things!) is pretty poor. The discussion in this thread has been very helpful.

John P.
2006 Toyota HDJ100 Landcruiser Sahara 4.2 T/D - AHC/TEMS, BFG A/T 275/65R17, ARB Deluxe Bar, Kaymar Single Wheel Carrier, ARB Intensity lights

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Follow Up By: Member - IndroCruiser Brisbane - Sunday, Dec 01, 2019 at 22:28

Sunday, Dec 01, 2019 at 22:28
RMD,

Put me down as a slow learner -- I am just plain wrong – no other word for it! I have misunderstood how the HDR100 fuel system worked, always thought that there were feed pumps in the fuel tanks, but it has been pointed out to me that this is just not so and there it is, as plain as day, in the 1HD-FTE materials at LCOOL Manuals – if I had taken the trouble to read them carefully. Maybe my misunderstanding came from inexperience and a misreading of an old FSM -- also downloaded from the same LCOOL link -- which does refer at pages 5699 and 5700 to pumps in the fuel tanks but probably meant for petrol engines in the US. Anyway, that's a poor excuse. So it seems I had little to worry about in the incident which gave rise to this thread, so long as I kept the engine going.

Your scepticism was entirely correct. My 'education' continues ….

John P.
2006 Toyota HDJ100 Landcruiser Sahara 4.2 T/D - AHC/TEMS, BFG A/T 275/65R17, ARB Deluxe Bar, Kaymar Single Wheel Carrier, ARB Intensity lights

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Follow Up By: Blown4by - Thursday, Dec 05, 2019 at 10:56

Thursday, Dec 05, 2019 at 10:56
IndroCruiser Brisbane: I may be incorrect but I would have thought the fuel pump solenoid that is activated when you start the engine and shuts the engine down when you turn the key off would be a 12V electric solenoid. If so when the alternator dies and over time the batteries subsequently discharge ,due to keeping the solenoid and other electrical items activated that are essential to the operation of the vehicle, eventually a point may be reached where there is insufficient voltage to energise the fuel pump solenoid. That being the case you were correct to be concerned about the engine eventually dying prior to you reaching the next town. That said an N70ZZ battery has heaps of reserve capacity assuming it was still fully charged up to the point when the alternator carked it. 'Some' modern vehicles will not run at all if the voltage in the system is even marginally below 12V. The ECU senses the low voltage and says: "barlees, the engine shouldn't be running" so it shuts it down, all over, red rover. In your case as others have said, you could borrow a second battery from others in your group or get a tow to the next town or if one in the group had a genny & charger you recharge your own battery. That is one of the big benefits of traveling in a group. Each one can carry a piece of kit for shared use in an emergency rather than have to overload your own vehicle with everything you think you might need if traveling singly.
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Reply By: Member - pedro1 - Sunday, Dec 01, 2019 at 22:26

Sunday, Dec 01, 2019 at 22:26
3 weeks ago my alternator in the 100s died as well - 194,000 km. My mechanic advised using Toyota replacement. I stripped the old one down - it was a diode that was burnt out. Expensive exercise, just short of $950 in Perth which included replacing the three belts . I was returning from the bush at the time and I was thinking of hooking up a portable solar panel to the primary battery hopefully would get me back to civilization. As it was, the vehicle died in my driveway - down to below 6v.
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Reply By: eaglefree - Thursday, Dec 05, 2019 at 16:53

Thursday, Dec 05, 2019 at 16:53
I think the OP did ok, had a convoy to help and wants to know how to avoid a repeat. Put simply you can’t load a car up with 100kg of spares or Murphy’s law say, it will be the part that you didn’t bring.

2016 our friends in their coaster and us stoped at Barkly Homestead. His double fan belt was slipping just a little when moving from stationary. He tried adjusting the adjuster but the bolt broke! We spoke to the manager and he suggested we look at the 80 wrecks at the back, we did and found a Camry with the same mounts and bolt.

The moral of the story, of a problem appears that can be left to be repaired ata major town then leave it till then. The belt wasn’t slipping while cruising.

In the OPs case an alternator is a major item so optionsare limited.
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