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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey fellow focus fanatics! I just had my alternator replaced at Canadian Tire. Everything works great, but there is this mysterious whine coming from the serpentine / alternator area. It gets louder as I accelerate but it is not audible on the highway. It is still audible when the engine is in neutral. What do you think it could be? Perhaps improper torque on the serpentine belt? Or perhaps a defective alternator? Here's a video to help explain:

 

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Might be worth it to try a mechanic's stethoscope or a long screwdriver to see if the alternator is the component that's making the noise. Harbor Freight has the stethoscopes for $4 each. It'll amplify the sound from the component making it easier to narrow down.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the advice. I used a magazine rolled into a tube. The alternator doesn't seem to be making the noise. I only hear it when I point it at the serpentine belt area.
 

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Actually now that I have watched the video again it sounds a lot like a power steering pump. Have you ever replaced your power steering fluid?
 

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Nope never ever replaced it. This sound only started after I got my car back today...
Yeah I would definitely look into doing that. Sounds a lot like the power steering pump.
 

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Interesting... But why would it break after an alternator change?
I'm not sure but you seemed to suggest the sound wasn't coming from the alternator, correct? As far as torque on the serpentine belt goes, the Focus has a spring-loaded tensioner so it doesn't need to be torqued manually. You never can be too sure what the folks at a shop like that do to your car. That's why I try to do as much repair and maintenance work on my cars as possible however I can understand why you might have gone to a shop for the alternator because they're a PITA on the Duratec engine.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
It did look like a pita to change when I was looking at the how to video. I had to have it changed three years ago, and I went to the same Canadian tire shop this time. You're right, it sounded like the noise was coming from the belt area not the alternator. They are going to look at it this evening for me. I'm wondering if I should get this fixed at the dealership?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
The Canadian Tire mechanic said it was definitely the alternator. I'm having it replaced with a properly functioning one tomorrow (by the same Canadian Tire).

This should be done no charge?
 

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Yeah it should be free to you. Whoever supplied the alternator would take it back on warranty and pay the shop a base hourly rate to replace it again. Never worth it for the shop, except that they get to make sure their customer is well taken care of.
 

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Just done it should be a warranty job.

Stethoscope or an equivalent that TOUCHES components is the only way to hear where a problem is accurately, sounds like the Canadian Tire mechanic checked it that way.


(Silly me, replied to the first page by accident)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
They are refusing to replace it due to the fact that it works. The fact that it makes a noise isn't reason to change it under warranty they say... Any advice?

I think it's bs.
 

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Well, if it was me, and I paid with a credit card, I would dispute payment ASAP...let shop know you will be doing that.

Noise IS a reason to replace it. If it is making a noise, there is something wrong with it (probably bearings). Noise like that is not normal and should not be accepted.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I agree! I spoke with the mechanic and he said all REFURBISHED parts they use from local rebuild shops sound like that. I said I would have never agreed to put in a refurbished alternator if presented with the choice. I come to Canadian Tire and expect Canadian Tire parts! NEW parts. Nowhere on the bill does it say that they used a refurbished part! And hey charged me $175 for the darn thing.

Now they are replacing it with a new Canadian Tire piece. They also gave me a free car battery because the existing one was dying (and it was a Canadian Tire one under warranty still).

This is unacceptable and deceptive!
 

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...the mechanic...said all REFURBISHED parts they use from local rebuild shops sound like that.
That's absurd! No other comment needed.

It is good that they are replacing it now, but they should have told you that they were going to use a refurbed part to begin with.

I think I would find another place to take my car next time.
 

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That may not be as silly as it sounds. When last at the parts store we were going through a rash of alts with the one way clutches in them, making noise of all sorts. The aftermarket does not have that issue pinned down yet, MANY alts with those clutches came back and I mean time and time again. Enough that customer eventually got all cash back and went elsewhere to buy them. Over and over. An '07 could easily have that clutch in it. Noise alone if bad enough was legitimate reason to warranty a part that may otherwise appear to be good. It means the clutch is not working correctly and alt testing machine does nothing to check for that.

The clutch by virtue of what it is is all brand new, you can't rebuild them in and of themselves. I am coming to the conclusion that a different value of spring or damping in belt tensioner can have an affect there, if tensioner was changed. The tensioner can set up in harmonic vibrations in the arm swing that aggravate the settling back in of the alt clutch to 100% full lock and drive. If clutch is constantly banging on/off lock/unlock due to a certain harmonic, that noise could easily be a whine of some sort. More fun brought to you by those who want to take old school alts and having turned them from $40 parts into $150 ones are now looking to add $50 with the clutches now. They have to simply to cover all the rejects. Our vendor said at one time the warranty issues with the clutches were going to bankrupt them. $200 for a modern alt ain't spit, that alt will cost $450 from Ford if a cent. All that to get a clutch that works, like the hydraulic motor mount issues these cars have that no one else can make parts correctly for..............

Whoever supplies the original part warranty will supply a replacement part but NEVER pays for the shop to re-install it, it says that on almost every piece of paperwork you will ever get on any new or rebuild part. At least here in Texas. Why the shops try to pick good lines, they eat the extra work if new part is bad. If client is big enough, supplier may choose here or there to help them out of course based on how strained or valued the relationship may be there. If shop could get free replacement labor from part maker then so could the guy on the street, try that here and they'll laugh you right out of the store.
 

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Well I'm glad you at least got the issue figured out but it sucks that they're giving you the runaround. Even with the amount of work involved in replacing an alt myself on a Duratec I know I'll be doing it instead of taking it to a shop. This is a prime example of why I hate when other people work on my vehicles.
 
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