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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Was out driving today (which is good as it means the van is actually running for a change) when I suddenly started to hear a whine (like a dry power steering pump) combined with burning rubber smell coming through the vents. The noise was tied to the engine running and not movement of the van. The whine would increase with engine RPM. Fortunately, it all happened within 2 miles of the house so was able to get it home this time.

Just lifted the hood and the burnt rubber smell is very strong even though the engine has been off for a few hours. Steering pump reservoir is full to mark so not low on fluid and pump was making a difference to steering when driving after the noise started.
However, looking at the alternator I can see burnt insulation on the main copper wires.
Is that most likely the cause?
If so, what would have caused an alternator that is only a few months old to burn up like this?
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2007 T&C Touring 3.8L 230k+ mi
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I had the same whine for several weeks before the alternator started to burn up and get smoky like that, just replaced it last month.

Though I had planned to disassemble the old one and find out what caused it to fail, I never got around to it out of nearly stripping the screws. I’m placing my bet that’s what burned up in your engine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I had the same whine for several weeks before the alternator started to burn up and get smoky like that, just replaced it last month.

Though I had planned to disassemble the old one and find out what caused it to fail, I never got around to it out of nearly stripping the screws. I’m placing my bet that’s what burned up in your engine.
Good to know that it seems like I am on the right track for the source of the smell. This alternator was just installed in April so I will send it back for warranty replacement. In the meantime, I have an older alternator I just replaced the brushes on that I can use in its place.
My only concern would be that I am relying on the burn being down to a bad alternator as opposed to another fault elsewhere causing an alternator overload.
If I can just get 6 months reliable driving at a time from the van, I would be happy. Constant project at the moment.
 

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If that really is burnt insulation and not overspray paint from a cheap rebuilt alternator, then the stator shorted. It's the alternator. Cheap rebuilds aren't that reliable, and better to rebuild one yourself. Lifetime warranty just means you'll spend a lifetime replacing it.

I once had a burning smell in my 3rd gen van, and it turned out to be a bad radiator cooling fan. It smelled bad for a while and I finally found it by spinning each fan when turned off, and the one closest to the exhaust manifold was binding a bit. It finally blew the square 40amp fuse for the fans. I unplugged just that one fan, replaced the fuse, and it worked again with only one fan (didn't overheat). A year or two later I was recharging the A/C trying to get it to work during a very humid hot spell, and the alternator failed (burning smell again). I removed it and took off the rear cover thinking it might only be brushed, but the solder was melted off of the diodes in the bridge! Had to get a new alternator from a store, and it was a Global Parts or Worldwide brand. That one has worked well ever since.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Alternator is off.
Catastrophic failure for the alternator.
50% of the stator wires are burnt.
It is mostly seized (hard to turn), and the + wire lug to the alternator had melted.
A quick job is now slow as I have to install a new wire lug. I pulled out the wiring to make that easier which was time consuming.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Finally back up and running. New crimped wire lug installed on the positive wire to alternator and wires put back. The old alternator I had pulled out in April because we thought it might be causing stalling (but was the engine computer) is back in with its new brushes and happily churning out 14.0 volts.
Broken alternator (only 4 months old with less than 1000 miles) is on its way to Returnsville.
Till the next breakdown.
 
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