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Bad Alternator Or Battery-i'm At A Loss!


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OK - I've been having recurring problems maintaining charge in my 1994 ES300. At first I thought it was the battery (way back in August), I replaced the battery with a brand new one.

Now, over the end of the summer/fall I probably played the radio about 7-8 hours with the car shut off - perhaps this killed the new battery I purchased, I don't really know what the likelihood of this is.

Anyway, things were OK for the most part, every several weeks I'd run into problems where my battery light would come on, my radio would shut off, and my idle would feel rough...this always happened as I was decelerrating, usually for a red light. I'd pop the car into park and rev the engine and it would go away. Occasionally, my car would only click when attempting to start it and I'd require a jump start (car would jump start and I'd be fine for several more weeks).

Recently, things got worse, the only reason I neglected the problem to begin with was because I'm a full time student and it's hard to find time to bring the car in...I hoped I could wait till summer. Over the past few weeks, the battery light would come on with increasing frequency and I'd have to get jump started on more occasions. It finally became undoable last week when my car would literally die WHILE i was driving (decelerrating, but still - while in traffic). Fortunately, I was able to get off onto a semi-stable shoulder and get a tow truck. What everyone agreed on was that I needed a new negative battery terminal - the terminal was loose and would not stay attached to the battery regardless of attempts to screw it back on. I made an appointment with Pep Boys, and upon receiving another jump start, duct-taped the terminal down to the battery (not directly on the terminal to avoid fire hazard).

Anyway, I rode on this for about a week with absolutely no problems whatsoever - car started up beautifully and the gauge lights were brighter than they'd been in months while at idle. I was very happy because I was sure this meant the battery terminal was the problem. Anyway, I brought the car in, installed the negative terminal yesterday, and drove problems, until I'd been driving about 2 miles. I braked for a stop sign and the dreaded battery light came on again. At this point I'm getting radio did its' telltale shut-off as well. After driving around for a little while, I seemed to restore some charge and was able to brake without losing much power (although the gauge lights and head lights dimmed). (Also, for the past several months, whenever I depress the power window levers, it causes the head lights to dim. I don't know whether or not this is normal). Anyway...I parked my car and kept it running in idle for a while...when I got back the car was still running but when I turned on the defrost to try and drive away, everything went to hell. I was somehow able to get out of the lot I was in, to drive to a lot where I could keep my car overnight. However, I was in drive and I essentially lost all electric power - I lost my radio, power steering, and ABS - and this is with the radio shut off, gauge lights dimmed to a minimum, etc. I managed to get to the lot and left my car...I tried to start it back up out of curiosity and I got clicking as if the car almost wanted to start up but it didn't (I should add that when I had to get towed a week ago when we thought it was the battery terminal - the car was so dead that I couldn't even run the hazard lights, honk the horn or use the remote key).

So, in short - what the hell gives? Really, this looked like a terminal problem and maybe I did need a new terminal, but I'm still having problems (a bit different from the problems i had a week ago). Does this sound battery or alternator related? I'm bringing my car in for sure but I don't really see having a chance for at least 4 or 5 days so I'd like to know what I'm up against. If I do need a new alternator - what's the cheapest route to go (while not sacrificing too much quality). Thanks.

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I'm in Pittsburgh, PA. I searched a few wholesale parts stores online and found a Bosch alternator for $167....I'd be happy with this deal especially since I have a friend who is willing to install this for me since I'm not all that handy.

My only concern is being too stingy and ending up with a lemon of an alternator.

Are the Camry and ES300 alternators interchangeable? If so, would this be a cheaper alternative?

Also, while I'm at it - I need a new right front CV Joint - how much is this likely to run me and how easy would this be to install myself...

Sorry about all the questions, school has been stressful recently and the alternator issue has only added to my stress...I need to get this taken care of so I don't have tto worry about starting my car in the morning.

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wherever you get the alternator, make sure you get a warranty. Most places (Autozone, etc) will give a 1 year replacement warranty.

As for the CV joint, a reman will do you $60-120 depending on where you get it.

Take about and hour and a half, if you know what you are doing and you have the tools (like sk said).


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usually here a reman cv axle is about 300 the dealer is close to 700

it also depends on why you are changing it

is the boot ripped or is the joint clicking?

if a ripped boot then it is real easy ( yah right)

it includes the same amonut of labour to take the damn thing out anyway to change the boot as it has to be off the car for a good proper repair

it is also a real pain in the !Removed! to change

i have ,and have all the tools check previous cv threads for other prices

always ask for a camry alternator never the lexus one there are lots of assssses who prey on others because of an L MB or BMW and the such on the car use its cheaper cousins name

i had a place quote me 60 over a camry price to tint the windows

yet they have the same window surfaces and angles except mine is easier as they are pillar less windows

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Thanks for the help guys...I brought the car in tonight for a diagnostic check and sure enough, it was the alternator...I got a good deal on a new alternator+labor so I'm happy.

As for the CV Joint - I'm already at the clicking stage unfortunately. Although it's not real bad (yet). I'd imagine I'll go for a remanufactured one...not worth buying a new one for a 10 year old car even though the engine & Transmission are in tip-top shape.

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