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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Good afternoon. Need of some advice. I have a 2011 pilot w 105k. Just had local mechanic do timing belt service w the Aisin kit. This was a month ago. I’m at a resort right now and when I dropped my wife off to park I noticed a weird whirrrrr sound in the engine. Noticed the thread here about alternators and that it made the same noise as in one of the videos. We’re about 120 miles from home. We go home tomorrow. I’m wondering how screwed I am. Am I good to go back home tomorrow or do I need to have it towed? What problems could arise? Thanks
 

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My daughter drove around a month before telling me that there was a loud whining or screeching noise going on under the hood. Then one day I get the call that the car had stalled a few blocks away from home as the alternator stopped charging the battery. I used a lithium jump starter to repeatedly start the car to move it away from an intersection. The battery was over 4 years old so I replaced it with a fresh EverStart battery and drove the car home to replace the alternator. YMMV but you might be able to drive the Pilot home.
 

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The alternator could fail at any time since you’ve got the whine, and when it does the battery will no longer get charged. Eventually the Pilot will lose all power.

Whether you decide to drive it home or have it towed should depend on many factors, yours and your passengers’ safety being first priority. Only you can make this decision.
 

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Does the whine follow RPMs?

plplplpl said:
Alternator -- Do Not Ignore the Whine

Just as I feared and predicted yet ignored to my own detriment, the couple of times in the past few weeks I heard a whine that accompanied RPMs blossomed this evening into a full-fledged alternator failure. The symptoms described in this thread have it right; first the battery light comes on, then the VTM-4, then seat belt, air bag, ABS, etc.,etc in a cascade of electrical system failures followed by poltergeist-ish mechanical failures like wipers and transmission until finally you're just dead in the water, in my case in the form of pouring rain, although there's really no good time to break down. Being a dad to a couple of teenagers, I've become inured to whining, but this is one I ought not to have ignored. Sorry for the cinéma-vérité videography.

https://youtu.be/4sJKQifudQQ

Two hours and a flatbed later, I managed to get it back home, since all my favorite mechanics were closed on a Sunday night, and hook it up to my mid-'60s battery charger, because I'm hoping to put just enough of a charge into it to make it about 30 minutes away to a trusted mechanic Monday or Tuesday.

Which brings me to my question: How long should I leave a reliable but old school manual battery charger connected at 12 volts and 6 amps? Approximately how long will it take to recharge a pretty much completely discharged battery? Is overnight safe, or should I unplug it overnight and just resume charging in the morning, looking in on it from time to time?


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No when I give the car some gas the whine seems to go away. I didn't notice it until I was idling.
Does the whine fluctuate when turning? Could be the power steering pump. Has the fluid been replaced?
 

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Most auto parts stores will do a charging system test at no cost. If you need a new alternator, I think most recommend a DENSO refurb. Local shops were in the $450-500 when I got mine done.
 

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Good afternoon. Need of some advice. I have a 2011 pilot w 105k. Just had local mechanic do timing belt service w the Aisin kit. This was a month ago. I’m at a resort right now and when I dropped my wife off to park I noticed a weird whirrrrr sound in the engine. Noticed the thread here about alternators and that it made the same noise as in one of the videos. We’re about 120 miles from home. We go home tomorrow. I’m wondering how screwed I am. Am I good to go back home tomorrow or do I need to have it towed? What problems could arise? Thanks
You are 120 miles from home. Drive home and don't freak out, just don't drive at night. You have not mentioned seeing the battery light on the dash. This means that your alternator is still functioning. If the noise is indeed coming from the alternator, it could be a bad bearing or worn out brushes/slip rings. In either case, sounds like you still have full function. If there are no dash failure lights, you can run home before the alternator dies. Just don't put off the repair. Figure out what is making the noise, and follow up on it.

You can have the alternator tested at your local parts store. Check your battery as well, they often fail together. If you are a diy type, then get a voltmeter and a mechanics stethoscope. Your alternator should be able to maintain a system voltage of 14.4 at idle with a moderate load (lights and fan). A stethoscope is cheap and can let you find out just where the scary noise is coming from.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
You are 120 miles from home. Drive home and don't freak out, just don't drive at night. You have not mentioned seeing the battery light on the dash. This means that your alternator is still functioning. If the noise is indeed coming from the alternator, it could be a bad bearing or worn out brushes/slip rings. In either case, sounds like you still have full function. If there are no dash failure lights, you can run home before the alternator dies. Just don't put off the repair. Figure out what is making the noise, and follow up on it.

You can have the alternator tested at your local parts store. Check your battery as well, they often fail together. If you are a diy type, then get a voltmeter and a mechanics stethoscope. Your alternator should be able to maintain a system voltage of 14.4 at idle with a moderate load (lights and fan). A stethoscope is cheap and can let you find out just where the scary noise is coming from.
Thank you for the tips. I did drive home and had no issues however when I turned the car on this morning there was still a noise. Have an appointment w local mechanic today as I have an oil change due. He's going to take a look and see what's needed. As far as if I need a new alternator, I imagine I should go with a Denso or nothing else? Local Honda dealer is trying to sell a remanufactured Denso alternator for about $525. Saw one at Napa without core for $240. Is this an instance where installing one from a Honda dealer makes sense as the car doesn't like other ones or am I good w one not from the Honda dealer?
 

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I didn't notice the noise when turning. Fluid has not been replaced to my knowledge.
If the PS fluid is black, I'd get it flushed out using Genuine Honda. There are YouTube videos on how to do this if your into DIY. I prefer methods that do not introduce air into the system.
 

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Thank you for the tips. I did drive home and had no issues however when I turned the car on this morning there was still a noise. Have an appointment w local mechanic today as I have an oil change due. He's going to take a look and see what's needed. As far as if I need a new alternator, I imagine I should go with a Denso or nothing else? Local Honda dealer is trying to sell a remanufactured Denso alternator for about $525. Saw one at Napa without core for $240. Is this an instance where installing one from a Honda dealer makes sense as the car doesn't like other ones or am I good w one not from the Honda dealer?
Does the dealer price of $525 include installation? $525 for the alternator only is pretty high. I experienced a total alternator failure while travelling with my 2003 Pilot. I was 150 miles from home, but I did have a place to work on the car, and enough tools to do the job. I went to the local Auto Zone and purchased their lifetime warrantied remanufactured alternator. The reman alternator cost about $150, if I recall correctly. I am fairly capable when it comes to wrench work, so I installed the reman alternator myself. About 3 years later, my son is still driving this 2003 Pilot, with no problems. If the alternator does fail, we still have the paperwork to get a replacement unit for free.

Since you have the luxury of time to decide what to do, this is what I suggest. If you trust your local mechanic, and he is agreeable, then purchase a high quality remanufactured unit. Ask him where he gets his parts. Save the paperwork for the warranty, pay the mechanic his labor charges, and be happy. If the reman alternator fails within the warranty period, then you bring it in to the auto parts store and get a new one. Of course, you will have to pay your mechanic again to install the replacement. In my opinion, a high quality reman is basically equal to a new part.

If you are not comfortable with this plan, then by all means go to the dealer and pay full price for a new OEM alternator, and pay them their shop rate for the installation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Does the dealer price of $525 include installation? $525 for the alternator only is pretty high. I experienced a total alternator failure while travelling with my 2003 Pilot. I was 150 miles from home, but I did have a place to work on the car, and enough tools to do the job. I went to the local Auto Zone and purchased their lifetime warrantied remanufactured alternator. The reman alternator cost about $150, if I recall correctly. I am fairly capable when it comes to wrench work, so I installed the reman alternator myself. About 3 years later, my son is still driving this 2003 Pilot, with no problems. If the alternator does fail, we still have the paperwork to get a replacement unit for free.

Since you have the luxury of time to decide what to do, this is what I suggest. If you trust your local mechanic, and he is agreeable, then purchase a high quality remanufactured unit. Ask him where he gets his parts. Save the paperwork for the warranty, pay the mechanic his labor charges, and be happy. If the reman alternator fails within the warranty period, then you bring it in to the auto parts store and get a new one. Of course, you will have to pay your mechanic again to install the replacement. In my opinion, a high quality reman is basically equal to a new part.

If you are not comfortable with this plan, then by all means go to the dealer and pay full price for a new OEM alternator, and pay them their shop rate for the installation.
Had my appointment with the mechanic. He did the oil change and took a look for me. According to him, and I trust him as he isn't trying to sell me on anything he can, it was the power steering pump. The sound wasn't as bad as before though. He ended up suggesting to just ride it out for now as it wasn't bad. As far as the alternator he said there was absolutely no concern. He said that if he was buying an alternator to get a denso remanufactured unit and I could bring it in. No need to go through dealership as the one on rockauto would be fine.
 

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Glad you made it home OK.

Since it appears to be the power steering pump, has the PS fluid ever been changed? What color is it?

An easy thing you can do on your own is turkey baster the PS fluid out of the tank and refill with fresh (OEM only) PS fluid. If it's been particularly neglected, you can do that 3x in a row, driving a little and turning the steering wheel lock to lock between each time, as I did last summer with felicitous effect.

There's also that infamous o-ring. Slightly more involved, but not as much as having to change out the PS pump.

 

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I have an original power steering pump in a 264k mile Crosstour. The original fluid had been neglected early on when I had little control in doing it's maintenance. I now flush with new fluid every 50k. If your vehicle were mine, I'd flush the old fluid out with new and replace the top O-ring. It could save you from buying a power steering pump anytime soon. The old fluid or any air making it past that O ring will be a certain death of your PS pump.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Well... as we were pulling into a parking garage the alternator went. Also I’m 1000 mi from home so I can’t wait to take it on the chin. Anyone know of anyone in Orlando? I’m thinking just taking the L and going to a Honda dealer
 

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Don't know anyone in Orlando, but if you are on a short timeframe then the dealer might be your best bet. They can knock it out tomorrow or next day if you call early and then you're trip won't be interrupted. Check dealer website for coupons - most will give a least 10% off repairs. They will probably match other dealers too if the one you go to doesn't have a coupon listed.

A decent independent mechanic might have a longer wait time.

Wherever you go, be sure to get a Denso reman unit.
 

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Since you have a 2011, it would be important to check and see if engine oil from the vtec solenoid assembly, just above the dipstick, has been dripping into the alternator. This my be why the alternator died.
 
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