Alternator locked up, destroyed new serpentine belt too - Bulletin Board

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Alternator locked up, destroyed new serpentine belt too
Posted by Doug [Email] (more from Doug) on Mon, 11 Aug 2008 18:13:20
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First off, the specifics about my car: 2003 9-5 Linear 2.3t automatic, 49k miles, 1-owner, Saab extended service contract (don't leave home without one!).

While coming back from a long trip last Friday, my alternator decided to lock up. This destroyed the brand new serpentine belt, etc. Car and family towed back to Denver, 175 miles away.

What has been the failure rate of 9-5 alternators? Less than 50k seems like pretty low miles to me. My '85 900T has 176k with original alternator. (Water pump, power steering rack are original too, A/C still blows cold on R12. I love this car.) Even my '79 900EMS managed 90k before the bushings needed to be replaced in the original Motorola alternator, the internal water pump made it to 130k.

The alternator is just another in the litany of problems with this 9-5. At 26k the head gasket cracked. Water pump was also replaced at this time. At 47k, Mike Shaw Saab went ahead and performed the 60k service as the serpentine belt tends to dry and crack prematurely due to the dry air here in Denver. Water pump needed replacing for the 2nd time.

Less than 2500 miles after the major service, alternator siezes. I had noticed a bit of whirring only 1 day prior but wasn't too alarmed at that point. My fault perhaps but we were on a trip about 250 miles from home. Didn't even occur to me that the problem was the alternator but it only traveled about 100 miles from the onset of the noise which was barely audible initially. Plan was to take car to dealer immediately upon return to town. Bad plan I guess.

Second question: Even though prior postings seem to indicate that it's impossible to improperly tension the serpentine belt, is there a possibility that the new belt caused the alternator to fail? Or is it, as Mike Shaw tells me, that there is no correlation between the belt replacement and the failure of the alternator?

I've already been told that the extended warranty will not cover any of the cost of the belt or lower cover (whatever that is). Ballpark repair cost is around $300. Would have been a lot worse without the extended warranty but that cost me around $2700.

In addition, I have lost all confidence in this car, this from someone who has owned five classic 900's. One of them would still be running today if it had not been set afire in East L.A.

Any comments or suggestions would be welcomed and appreciated.


posted by 24.9.145...

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