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2000 Forester 4eat
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I bought my 2000 Forester in October of 2014. The car had 100% paper service history.

In July of 2015 I had my head gaskets and piston rings done at a shop in the Portland Oregon Metro Area that I was referred to at 236,500. It has been a nightmare since with the work having to be redone.

In January of 2016 I had the shop that did the head gaskets replace the alternator at 243k miles. They put 3 alternators total under warranty in 18 months.

In 2017 I replaced the alternator the shop put in which were Mitsubishi and replaced with a new Subaru Reman unit. This one lasted the longest at about 16 months

In December of 2018 I bought a NAPA reman alternator due to the Subaru one going bad and I was recommended to just get the lifetime warranty. Each alternator except this current one had when tested had a voltage regulator failure. This current one tested today at Napa just says low voltage.

Should I expect about 6 months from an alternator?

Is this a ground issue (my thought) or is this a pinched wire?

The weirdest thing is that the battery light has never come on. The battery usually tests good with good current, just has a bad alternator with no charging system light.

The shop that did the head gasket work is not going to tough the car again.
 

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voltage regulator on most subaru is controlled by the ecu , if yours is, get it checked, often it is bad or weak connections and bad ground by the battery, add a good ground form battery to body
 

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2012 XT Touring 4EAT
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<snip>Should I expect about 6 months from an alternator?
A remanufactured alternator should last for years - perhaps as long as a new one. I don't know who NAPA uses for rebuilds but maybe they got a bad batch. Or maybe the rebuilder got a bad batch of regulators. Or maybe there is some confusion as to model - whether the regulator is internal or ECU controlled. NAPA has always been a reliable source of parts for me, but 6 alternators in a row is not a good sign.

I looked on Rockauto to see if Cardone reman's alternators, but they were not a listed vendor for the 2000 Subaru Forester alternator.
 

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2010 Forester Premium X AT
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I dont know enough of the systems to tell you what the gremlin is, but it sounds like an electrical gremlin to me. I think you've covered the potential for sporadic reman issues.

That said, when I replaced mine, I used a new OEM alternator because I cant risk downtime and get reimbursed from work at $0.55/mi
 

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1999 A/T - 235,000 mi. WA state
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Going to a Mitsubishi dealer (!) for a Subaru repair, along with all the others ...

OP, seems like you've avoided going to your nearest Subaru dealer for the repair.
Why not use them this next time? They're surely better than what you've been doing. My $ 0.02
 

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2000 Forester 4eat
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
voltage regulator on most subaru is controlled by the ecu , if yours is, get it checked, often it is bad or weak connections and bad ground by the battery, add a good ground form battery to body
On my Forester the voltage regulator is in the alternator. I will have the grounds checked.

Going to a Mitsubishi dealer (!) for a Subaru repair, along with all the others ...

OP, seems like you've avoided going to your nearest Subaru dealer for the repair.
Why not use them this next time? They're surely better than what you've been doing. My $ 0.02
I have not been taking the car to a Mitsubishi dealer. The alternator that was 3x replaced sold was a Mitsubishi branded as some Subarus' were made with them.

I have been going to the Subaru Dealer after the independent Subaru "specialist" and they can never find any issue. They are also apparently unable to do any more major work on the car, as their mechanic they had working on my car retired. So I am now driving an hour to a new Subaru mechanic.
 

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2007 Forester Sports XT 4EAT
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voltage regulator on most subaru is controlled by the ecu , if yours is, get it checked, often it is bad or weak connections and bad ground by the battery, add a good ground form battery to body
On my Forester the voltage regulator is in the alternator. I will have the grounds checked.
@ryaninpdx I've never heard of that many failed alternators! No failures on either of our Foresters.

The voltage regulator is part of the alternator, it is mounted internally. The voltage regulator monitors the battery voltage thru lead [2] on the connector, thru fuse #3 in the engine compartment fuse box. Lead [1] on the connector is only used to light the "charge" light in the combination meter... instrument panel. Note that the "charge light" is an incandescent bulb, which can burn out.

The alternator grounding to the engine occurs thru the alternator body, thru the mounting hardware. Aluminum will form a coating that can prevent proper grounding. In addition, all the mounting/adjusting hardware needs to be tight, or proper grounding will not occur.

The earlier models are know to have insufficient grounding, so many member add additional grounding. We did this on our Foresters.
Before adding additional grounding, if you choose to, check the existing grounds.

• Lift off the grounds.
• Check for corrosion, clean if present.
• Coat with dielectric grease, I use NO-OX-ID A, which is a heavier body grease.
• Reconnect the ground. Add a washer &/or lock washer if needed.

I posted the Power Supply Routing wiring diagram on this post in another thread discussion. :wink:

Bobby...

['07 FSXT MODding Journal] ['03 X MODding Journal]
 
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Lots of faults in the charging circuit can toast alternators like that... seems like you're fixing the symptom (bad alternator) instead of the problem (???). I would take it to an shop that is good with electrical and have them check for issues.
 

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When my alternator was giving me problems, I went to my local NAPA retailer to get a new one (and return the core) mainly because it was an easy swap, and the price difference was huge. (Almost half what the dealer wanted).

1st one lasted a week, 2nd one a day, 3rd one lasted two weeks, the NAPA guy insisted it was something else causing the NAPA alternators to die. I went to the Subaru dealer (because i had no reliability) and paid somewhere around $500 out the door for them to "fix" the problem, so with diagnostics and labor, the result was (>drumroll<) the alternator.

When I took the 4th NAPA alternator back (with the dealer work order and bill) I asked him how he wants to resolve this, and his deadpan response was "Well, I guess I should refund your money."

Needless to say I still grumble a little bit when I drive by that place, and I'll never get even so much as a wiper blade from there. ;)
 

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An aside. I had an uncle had a Buick park avenue that started eating alternators. It turned out to be a bent tensioner arm that was slightly twisting the belt. Sounds bizarre, but a clever 1 man shop caught it. I remember looking at the arm and pulley, looking at my uncle, looking at the arm...

They theorized it got tightened with a tire iron at an angle. That was old school pre serpentine belts. Glad I didn’t do it. :grin2:
 

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As the post above mine said I would take it to a small older mechanic. Sadly most people that work for larger shops and dealerships are not true mechanics but technicians. They find a bad part and replace them and/or only do what the computer says is wrong.

There have been many things I have heard, found and repaired myself on different vehicles that dealers and repair shops just can’t hear and find. Examples are misses in timing that are just sounding, bearings going out (including on my Forester), and an out of true wheel by the inside measuring 15 inches and the outside measuring 14.78 inches across. The last one shocked the service writer when I had the mechanic that said everything was fine and I measured the wheel with a tape in front of them.

I agree you can get bad rebuilds and thus I like to use new components whenever possible. I also agree that this sounds like a grounding issue. Check your battery and engine grounds. Thank them apart, sand the ground and where it mounts, use grease to help prevent corrosion. You might also need to add an additional ground to the engine.
 

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2007 Forester Sports XT 4EAT
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That looks like the main ground (-) from the battery to the engine near the starter. It could be an issue if the connection is loose or corroded. Note that the bracket the ground is secured to uses one of the bolts that hold the engine to transmission.

It's difficult to tell, looking at the picture, if the connection is bad? You might lift off the cable, clean, grease with dielectric grease & reassemble. :wink:

Bobby...

['07 FSXT MODding Journal] ['03 X MODding Journal]
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I have an appoinment with an high end audio shop that is going to check things over. My dad has done construction for years and I asked him, he said to check over the alternator/battery cable as it sounds like a wire is shorting out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Took the car to the audio shop. Ended up the person I talked to on the phone did not set up an appointment. The audio guy still looked and said the grounds are good, but he thought that my issue might have been that the alternator belts that have been on the alternators were too tight and were causing the bearings to fail. You can smell something burning. He loosened the belt, I did it again at home. I will continue to keep backing it out until stops making the burning smell.
 

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2007 Forester Sports XT 4EAT
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@ryaninpdxIf the V-belt is too tight, it would stress the bearings, both the power steering pump & the alternator, but that wouldn't prevent the alternator from charging the battery.

The V-belt adjustment is very simple. The chart shows where to press & the amount of defection of the belt that you should see.

► If the V-belt is old & worn, it can slip, even when it's adjusted way too tight!

To be completely honest, I just adjust by feel, if I hear slipping... squeal, I tighten it up a bit.

In simple terms:
• Too loose = slipping & squeal.
• Too tight = PS pump, alternator or A/C compressor bearing stress & possible failure.

► Note that the alternator pivot bolt is the main ground connection to the engine, so make sure it's tight. We ran an additional grounding wire from the alternator frame to the engine.

Bobby...


['07 FSXT MODding Journal] ['03 X MODding Journal]
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Hopefully the final update. Yesterday I took my Forester to an audio shop for a grounding upgrade. I also bought a new battery/alternator/starter ground cable from Subaru along with a new positive connection on the battery.
The shop ran a new ground from the alternator to the battery (I believe) and another power cable from the alternator to the fuse box. So far there seems to be quite the diffenence. Before accelerating with the ac on was a challenge. Now I can accelerate with the ac on up a hill. Attached are a few pics of what they did.



 

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@ryaninpdx if the shop ran a new cable from the alternator + directly to the battery +, that could be a problem. The existing factory cable, from the alternator + to the battery +, is fused by SBF-1, an 80A fuse.

If the new cable is from the alternator + to the fuse box, where the existing factory cable is connected, then no problem.

Also...
[1] Make sure the new battery terminals... all terminals, are coated with dielectric grease, before they're installed.
[2] The alternator + should be protected with a protective, waterproof boot.

Bobby...

['07 FSXT MODding Journal] ['03 X MODding Journal]
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
@2.5x_sleeper I believe you are correct it does go to the fuse box. They also installed a fuse-able link in the alternator line to the fusebox. I had the alternator checked and the boot came off. I need to track that down and put that back on.

Thanks for all your help!
 
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