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Over the last couple weeks to a month or so, my 2013 XLE 4WD has been harder to start. It would just seem to take just a tiny bit longer like maybe the battery was getting weaker. It wasn't all the time, but in the past week it seemed to happen every time. Most of my drives are 40min long or so, and I don't do that many short trips <10min.

Went to AutoZone, they performed a batt test and alternator test. Batt checked out as charged and with good voltage but a bad cell. He then checked the alternator, and it showed that the voltage regulator was bad.

I went ahead and replaced the battery on the spot. 3.5yrs for an OEM battery, meh, I'm ok with that. 120$ gone.

The alternator was $220 and they have to order it in, 5days to get. SO I held off. Called dealer and they said I'm out of the 36 month period and to call the main cust service for Toyota. CustSrvc Said that I need to go to the dealer and have them test the alternator because they can't accept a 3rd party test..I get that. No problem. CustSrvc also said that out of warranty claims was handled on a case by case basis and that I should try to deal with it at the dealer first. If they say no, then call them back.

It's $119 for the dealer to do the diagnostics, which goes into repair cost if I end up having to pay...though I can totally replace it myself (unless there's some special tool needed, done a Scion and several Nissan's before) oh, and they say it could take them 1-3 hours to check the alternator...jeez!! This is why I do all my own maintenance.

Does anyone have any experience with the AZ test showing up false positives? IF the dealer tests it for 119 I guess that's cheap peace of mind if it's good. but if it's bad, it sounds like I may be in for a fight if the dealer won't help.

Anyone else have alternator issues this early? 3.5yrs old, about 60k miles.

Thanks
Charles
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I do have a pretty good multi-meter at home already. I tried to look into checking it myself but didn't find any good sources for what the voltage should be while running. 13.7 sounds decent, I thought I remembered on some other car 14v was normal. I'll look at that tonight and report back with what I found.

I bought the Toyota because of their reputation for reliability and it was the best suv for us at the time. 60k and a bad alternator did strike me as very odd and though not impossible should be very rare.

Thanks for the suggestions!
 

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Funny you should bring this up.

I just replaced my battery but I also think my alternator might be an issue on my 2013 RAV4 LTD with 50k miles.

The next service has already been scheduled for a couple of weeks but I think I should give them a call to have them add an alternator check to the service. I have an extended warranty so I assume it will be covered under that if it does indeed need to be replaced.
 

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If it is charging the battery than it is probably OK. I would go to another AutoZone, Advance, or whatever you have in the area. If another test confirms that it is bad then it could be believable. Right now I'd be very suspicious that it is really bad.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Took some readings when I got home.
13.43v ,idle, nothing on
13.32v, idle, heater on, lights, brakes, radio

13.45v 2000rpm, everything still on

12.80v car off for about 20 min after taking all the previous readings. It is a brand new duralast gold 5yr batt.

So from what I'm seeing, I don't think there's a problem with the alt unless others have tested and it should be putting out more than about 13.5v, that is a little under the 13.7 mentioned before.
 

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So from what I'm seeing, I don't think there's a problem with the alt unless others have tested and it should be putting out more than about 13.5v, that is a little under the 13.7 mentioned before.
I don't think you have a problem. The actual output voltage is controlled by the regulator. The regulator gets some feedback from the "Battery Current Sensor" which is mounted on the battery post. This sensor will measure the battery temperature and regulate the alternator to only allow enough current flow to be safe for the battery.

If you try the test again when the engine compartment (and battery) are cooler, I thing you might see slightly higher voltages.
 

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FWIW the ideal charging voltage is temperature dependent on the battery; for example in the summer 13.8 and in the winter 14.5. Lower voltage in hot weather and higher voltage in very cold weather.

Frank 2015 Rav4 AWD(because FWD not available) with over 16K miles
 

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I would hold off and not get the alternator yet. First off, if the battery had a bad cell that it's just that - a bad battery. A battery can drop a cell at anytime and really has nothing to do with the alternator. Keep a close eye on battery voltage and charging voltage. If it's charging at 13.5v thru 14.5v and battery stays above 12.6v you are good in my book.
 

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Took some readings when I got home.
13.43v ,idle, nothing on
13.32v, idle, heater on, lights, brakes, radio

13.45v 2000rpm, everything still on

12.80v car off for about 20 min after taking all the previous readings. It is a brand new duralast gold 5yr batt.

So from what I'm seeing, I don't think there's a problem with the alt unless others have tested and it should be putting out more than about 13.5v, that is a little under the 13.7 mentioned before.

Readings seem good. Don't think that you need another alternator. Dealer time requirement for supposedly testing an alternator is absurd.
 

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It's a shame these Toyotas don't come with a voltmeter instead of the idiot light.

When I had my '74 MGB one of the mods I did to it was to install a voltmeter - I also swapped out the 2 six volt batteries for a single 12 volt unit.
 

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I agree with the others. Your charging system is working properly.

It's a shame these Toyotas don't come with a voltmeter instead of the idiot light.
When I had my '74 MGB one of the mods I did to it was to install a voltmeter...
The last factory voltmeter in a car must have been in 1940. If they put them in they'd have to have an entire new division just to answer the calls on what it should read. :shrug: 'Bout the only vehicles you see them on are motorcycles. I do remember when cars had Ammeters - and most folks not understanding them either.

What I use several of are the 12V outlet combo usb charger/voltmeters. Very handy for continuous monitoring and early diagnosis. I'm in my truck camper in York right now and there's one in the extra 12V outlet I installed to charge my phone. It's reading 13.6V with the camper battery being float-charged by the ELX-45 Power Converter

I would not trust a lot of auto parts stores. I took my GM alternator to O' Reilly's and they said it was bad. Then I went across the street to AZ and they said it was bad. I went to a local place to have it rebuilt. The guy checked it and said it was fine. I threw it back on the car and haven't had a problem. Honestly, I think the belt was loose. It is a single wire alternator and I believe neither AZ or O' Reilly's had a clue on how to test it.
Yep, I saw the exact same scenario at an auto parts store. A customer brought in an alternator for testing and possible replacement. It tested bad on their machine but as I watched I wondered if they had it hooked up right so I suggested they test a new one. It also tested bad until they figured out how to hook it up right. Then the old one tested good too. :oops:
 

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The last factory voltmeter in a car must have been in 1940. If they put them in they'd have to have an entire new division just to answer the calls on what it should read. :shrug: 'Bout the only vehicles you see them on are motorcycles. I do remember when cars had Ammeters - and most folks not understanding them either.
What about my '94 Dodge Caravan? It had a voltmeter, as do many GM vehicles.
 

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What about my '94 Dodge Caravan? It had a voltmeter, as do many GM vehicles.
Yeah okay, I knew someone would correct my date.
As for GM, being a Ford, Toyota & Honda man, I rarely even come close to a GM, but next time I'm forced to I'll look. I do have to admit that when my niece was living with us I did make an exception. I let her park her Chevy on our driveway. I may even have test driven it once when no one was looking.
When the suspension rusted out from underneath it we found an Outback for her.
BTW, I'm at the Harley dealer in York. All the models with fairings have voltmeters.
 

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I agree with the others. Your charging system is working properly.

It's a shame these Toyotas don't come with a voltmeter instead of the idiot light.
When I had my '74 MGB one of the mods I did to it was to install a voltmeter...
The last factory voltmeter in a car must have been in 1940. If they put them in they'd have to have an entire new division just to answer the calls on what it should read.
'Bout the only vehicles you see them on are motorcycles. I do remember when cars had Ammeters - and most folks not understanding them either.

What I use several of are the 12V outlet combo usb charger/voltmeters. Very handy for continuous monitoring and early diagnosis. I'm in my truck camper in York right now and there's one in the extra 12V outlet I installed to charge my phone. It's reading 13.6V with the camper battery being float-charged by the ELX-45 Power Converter

I would not trust a lot of auto parts stores. I took my GM alternator to O' Reilly's and they said it was bad. Then I went across the street to AZ and they said it was bad. I went to a local place to have it rebuilt. The guy checked it and said it was fine. I threw it back on the car and haven't had a problem. Honestly, I think the belt was loose. It is a single wire alternator and I believe neither AZ or O' Reilly's had a clue on how to test it.
Yep, I saw the exact same scenario at an auto parts store. A customer brought in an alternator for testing and possible replacement. It tested bad on their machine but as I watched I wondered if they had it hooked up right so I suggested they test a new one. It also tested bad until they figured out how to hook it up right. Then the old one tested good too.
Toyota's FJ Cruiser has had a battery/voltmeter from it's model inception way back in '06. And, if I am not mistaken, the 2017 Toyota Tundra and Land Cruiser models also have one along with an oil pressure gauge.
 

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My last Chevy pickup had an ammeter and an oil pressure gauge - that was some years ago. So did my 'Ford. I miss having those gauges. Auto makers claimed that drivers would more quickly notice a red warning light than a gauge with a pointer in a different location than usual as an excuse for eliminating the gauges. I would like to have both gauges and red warning lights.
 

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Both my F-250s have voltmeters - of sorts. They only have two numbers 8V at one end and 18V at the other. Between them there are only two white marks, one at about 10V and the other probably 16V. Not much more useful than a red light. Anyway after the glow plugs go off and the voltage stabilizes it's a little over half scale. Meantime my 12V outlet usb/digital gauge reads 14.0V. I'll go by that one.

I looked at the voltmeters on several late model Harleys parked at 1ST Capital H-D. They went from 8V to 16V in 2V increments with scale marks every .25V - much more precise.
 

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This is the exact type of voltmeter by Smiths that I put in my '74 MGB - shame on British Leyland to not install it as OEM equipment.


Sorry for the hyjack OP!
 

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