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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Problem resolved after I eventually traced the culprit to a contaminated alternator plug (water/coolant entering around the rubber seal) which has shorted and fried something internally within the alternator. I think the radiator may have a pinhole in it that was squirting directly in the vicinity of the plug.

I'm posting this to try and save others from the headaches and head scratching that I've experienced since Christmas 2020. If your vehicle is approaching 20 years old or has over 100,000 klms on it and you have a slight coolant leak, I’d recommend pulling off your front bumper and inspecting the plug, because if I had have known I could have cleaned the plug and pins and saved my original alternator.

Here's a timeline of events:

1. Loss of power steering leaving the shops. Opened hood, checked that drive belt still on. Continued to drive home noticed battery light on. Once home checked ps fluid level (a bit low but not much). Checked battery not much charge. Replaced (stupidly) battery thinking that was the issue (it wasn't).

2. Googled and researched mainly extensively on these forums. Learned that the ps pumps are electric and prone to fail as well as similar issues resulting from faulty ps cooling fans and also radiator fans and alternators. I think I read nearly every single post (and there is a lot on the subject but nothing conclusive – some saying it was ps pump others saying alternator)

3. Disconnected ps cooling fan, went for test drive, smelled electrical smell coming from somewhere (most likely alternator as I learned later).

4. Did more research. Checked fuses - all good. Checked alternator with mutimeter - it was charging - showing over 14 volts with engine running so I was thinking the alternator was not the issue.

5. Turned key to one notch before "start" and listened under car. Heard that ps pump was spooling up after a few seconds which was telling me the ps pump was not at fault either. But still had no ps.

6. Left it for the day - locked the car - heard alarm going that afternoon. Checked battery – flat. Realised I had some sort of electrical gremlin somewhere and after charging battery again and leaving sit overnight, confirmed that I had a “parasitic draw” that was draining my battery.

7. Disconnected ps pump electrical plugs, but this didn’t fix it. Researched parasitic draw and how to locate it. Did test with multi-meter across all the fuses and there was nothing showing up, leading me to think it was the alternator.

8. Removed front end to access alternator and plug and noticed corrosion (see pics - before and after cleaning). Cleaned pins on alternator using contact cleaner and a small flat screwdriver as well the plug. Connected it back up to test but the damage had already been done.


As a precaution I soldered a brand-new plug in place (kindly donated by an auto electrician).

9. Ordered replacement alternator off ebay for a quarter of the price the dealer quoted.

10. Fitted new alternator and reassembled front end. Test drove car – all back to normal!

It was a blessing in disguise really because I noticed a radiator hose that had almost rubbed through (against radiator shroud). It was also an opportunity to clean the countless bugs and tiny pebbles that were lodged in the radiator and air conditioner condenser fins. I also replaced the serpentine belt.

Hope this post helps if anyone encounters the same problems.
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