So it happened, my alternator died leaving me dead on the road in the rain last Thursday, February 6, 2014. My day started out normal, wake up, get ready for work, and jumped in the car to drive to work. Not even a quarter mile into, I see the battery icon light up. I thought to myself, "I don't think this means the battery is low because I have had to change a low battery before and this never popped up before." Maybe it's just a false warning. I work only about 5 miles away so I get to work without any issues. Told myself that I will look up this indicator light when I'm at my desk, but never actually do because of the busy day and totally forget about it.
Fast forward about 8 hours, I jump back into my car and start it. Again the battery light is on! So it's probably not a false warning but I don't really know exactly what this light is warning me about, something battery/electrical related. I start heading home, but it's rush hour in the rain, and for some reason most San Diegans are terrible drivers in the rain. All of a sudden, my radio goes silence. I thought to myself, is it just this station or is it my radio? Checked the next station... no sound... Quickly turned off the radio and started to make my way to the left lane in case I am going to breakdown. As I was thinking that, my fuel and temperature gauges drop all the way down to zero. About a minute later, my dash fully lights up! I don't know what's exactly going on, but I told myself, "You need to pull over into this parking lot!"
I parked somewhere out in the open in case I needed to jump my car. I texted my fiancee and brother, both who didn't respond right away. My plan was to wait for traffic to die and try to make it 4 miles home. As I was waiting around, I was googling on my phone the battery indicator. Basically, the internet didn't tell me anything new: electrical problem most-likely alternator. My fiancee finally got back to me about 30 minutes later asking what I wanted her to do. I told her I wanted to drive it home after traffic died down, but as I was saying that, it occurred to me that even if I get it home, it might be stuck there and I will probably need to tow it to my mechanic anyways. So now I wanted to wait until traffic died and drive it to my mechanic, which was about 7 miles away, 6 of which are on the freeway.
My fiancee picks me up and we eat dinner while waiting for the traffic to die down. I get jumper cables out of my car after getting back to it. They're basically part of my bug out bag in my car. I used my fiancee's car to charge my battery. After what seemed like a long time, but was really only 20 mins, we headed out. The plan was to have her drive behind me to block car if anything happened.
After waiting at the first light for 3 mins, which seemed like forever, all the symptoms of electrical problems appeared again! However, this time there was another symptom, my car couldn't really move when I stepped on the gas! My engine revved but I wasn't going anywhere. I played with changing the gears for a little bit and somehow my car started rolling again. I accelerated to the next light and I could see that my headlights are out. So my dash is basically all dead, car isn't going when I tell it to, my headlights are out, all in the rain. There's no way I'm getting on the freeway like this, I need to pull over and get this towed! So I turned off onto a side street to try to turn into the first parking lot I see... but I couldn't make it. My car died at the intersection to the parking lot. :( The lucky thing was I was no longer on the main road, and I wasn't caught in the middle of the intersection. My fiancee pulls up next to me and I start charging my battery again, just trying to make into the parking lot. As the battery was charging, I called a tow truck, $45 hook plus $5 per mile.
The tow truck arrived moderately fast, took about 30 minutes. I towed my car to my mechanic, the tow guy knew where it was. After paying the tow truck, I took my car key off my ring and threw it in my mechanic's mailbox. I thought to myself, I couldn't drive it for 4 miles, good luck to anyone who wants to steal it and drive 4 miles.
The next day, I worked from home and called my mechanic to tell him what's up. He said he would check the battery and alternator and would call me back. As promised, I received his phone call and told me my alternator is bad and I would need a new battery too. $275 for the alternator and $100 for the battery so $375 installed. I asked what happened and his response over the phone was "the battery is too strong and it killed the alternator". I didn't really get it but the conversation ended there.
I picked up my car the next day and wanted to clarify what he meant about the battery being too strong because I changed my battery at Walmart 2 years ago and this is they battery they said went with my car. He told me when he tested my alternator, it was smoking. When he tested my battery it was about 14 volts. The battery is supposed to be around 12 volts. He said the alternator was overworked because it always needed to charge the "strong" battery.
I bought my 2005 Acura TSX in the December of 2005.
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So it happened, my alternator died leaving me dead on the road in the rain last Thursday, February 6, 2014. My day started out normal, wake ...