How to get your alternator running smoothly and silently

Alternators can be scary things. They play a crucial role in keeping your car going, and if they fail, can leave you stranded. More, as complex and intricate electrical units, they are not the sort of thing many would rush to disassemble should something need to be repaired. So why did I have mine open on the kitchen table the other night?

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Liquid matters

Not counting the fuel in your tank, your car will have at least twenty litres of different fluids in it. Those fluids all perform crucial functions, and you need to keep a close watch on them if you are going to enjoy motoring adventures that do not end in some kind of catastrophic fashion.

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Over at Not £2 Grand (which you ought to follow on Twitter and Facebook, by the way), I have a new post telling you a little bit about all these different fluids and helping you think about how to keep them healthy. Head on over and have a read, because ‘ultimately, your vehicle’s fluids are vital to its life, and there are few more important things you can do for your car than to keep them all clean and topped up’. You can find the full post here.

A display of failure

In the twenty years I have now been working on cars, I have achieved a good deal of success. Brake jobs, every bit of suspension, thermostats and water pumps, more intricate things like valve timing solenoids, and even cambelts – I have done them all and been able to make cars run and drive better. But automotive electrics remains one area I do not have a good working knowledge of, or much experience with, having only ventured into doing simple things, like repairing frayed wiring on a boot lid release.

Still, how are you going to learn if you don’t try? The radio display on my Subaru Outback has not worked since the day I bought the car. This has not bothered me, as I don’t use the radio, but instead use my phone to stream music through the Bluetooth setup the previous owner installed. But every now and then I get an itch to take stuff apart and tinker, and so I figured it was time to have a go at fixing the radio display.

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Leaky Leon

As temperatures have gotten colder, I’ve noticed a lot of condensation on the inside of the Leon’s windows. Today I did a bit of poking around and, to my dismay, discovered the carpet in the passenger’s footwell was soaking wet, and damp in the nearside rear footwell. This is not the type of thing you want to find, because it inevitably means doing what you see below to try and find the source of the leak.

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