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posted: 8/3/2014 12:01 AM

Car owner frustrated with string of alternators

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Q. I have a 1992 Toyota Corolla with 105,000 miles on it. I am the second owner. I bought it used at around 40,000 miles. The concern I have is that I have replaced the alternator three times with an aftermarket alternator in the last 5 years, and when I looked at the history of the vehicle, I noticed the alternator was also replaced twice while the vehicle was under warranty with the original alternator.

Any idea if there is something that could cause the alternators to go bad? Or was there a problem with the alternators on these vehicles?

The only thing that seems odd to me on the vehicle is that when the turn signal is blinking (when other accessories are turned on -- headlights, wipers, etc.), the vehicle's RPMs seems to surge.

A. I could not find any pattern failures for your car on the charging system. The only thing I can suggest is to make sure you are getting a good quality alternator and that you have the shop check that every positive connection is good.

I would also have all of the ground connections checked and since you have had so many problems consider having a ground strap connected right to the alternator case to be extra sure that you have a good ground. I hope this helps!

Q. My son and daughter-in-law own a 2007 Kia Sedona minivan. They recently had extensive work done to rectify problems in order to pass the emission test. They passed the test, but now, when the gas tank registers one-quarter of a tank, the Check Engine light comes on.

They fill the tank, and during the next day the light goes out. This has happened three times to date. Any ideas?

A. You did not mention what was repaired or what the current diagnostic trouble code is, so I am flying a little blind here.

I am going to make the assumption there is some type of evaporative code that is being set. If that is the case, there would need to be some testing done around that code to determine why it is setting.

I have seen in the past where the gas tank actually has a vapor leak but not a liquid fuel leak. When the fuel drops below the seam in the tank, the vapor leak is present and it won't pass the test the car's computer is running on that system.

This is purely speculation and some components would need to be tested prior to coming to that conclusion. I would recommend taking it back to the shop that made the previous repairs and see what they come up with.

• Douglas Automotive is at 417 W. Main St., Barrington, (847) 381-0454, and 123 Virginia Road, Crystal Lake, (815) 356-0440. For information, visit Send questions to

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