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Old 12-10-2012, 09:47 PM   #1
GreyVice
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Power Steering Out, Battery Light, Alternator Belt Isn't Running

Hey everyone, here with a problem and hoping to find some answers. I've searched up the problem I'm having and read through quite a bit of threads.

My story:

Car ran fine this morning and I drove it to my friend's house. About 4 hours later when I had to leave for an errand, my car threw a battery light and power steering didn't work. Luckily, my house was really close when this happened (less than 1 mile maybe even .5 miles). Once I got home, I turned of my car and started to do a quick troubleshoot on the computer. Found out it could be a power steering pump failure, serpentine belt snapped or a leak somewhere.

After about 30 minutes of reading a couple of threads, I went out to my car and popped the hood open and inspected. With the car off nothing was wrong, there didn't seem to be a leak at all and all the steering fluid was still topped off.

Called my buddies to come over and give a better check. When they got to my house, we started the car and found out that the alternator belt is not running at all while the A/C belt is running.

Can anyone shed some light on my situation? Really need my car to work since I have an interview Thursday morning. I'll be on for quite some time so if you have some questions, go ahead and ask. I'll try to answer them to the best of my abilities.
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Old 12-10-2012, 09:50 PM   #2
scim459
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not smart to run your car without the main belt turning. it turns the water pump.

you need to inspect the belt and pulleys to see what is broken. if the AC belt is running then the other one should be turning too.
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Old 12-10-2012, 09:59 PM   #3
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Seized pulley? Should be squealing and smoking tho

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Old 12-10-2012, 10:08 PM   #4
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I read about the engine being overheated and got pretty worried, however, I did not see it smoke coming out from my hood and during that short time from when it happend to my house, the temp gauge was still at center. Also, I did not hear any squealing at all

Edit:
Tomorrow morning I'll be doing a full troubleshoot with a buddy.
I'll be back to give some updates.

Last edited by GreyVice; 12-10-2012 at 10:29 PM.
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Old 12-10-2012, 11:13 PM   #5
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From what you've written, it can only be deduced that you are not knowledgeable enough to work on your car by yourself. You lack some very basic knowledge. You need to hang out here and read lots of threads to learn.
And the first thing you should have done is popped your hood to see what was wrong. Not pecked at your computer.
What ails your car is simple to diagnose if you open the engine and examine the drive belt path and components.
Driving your car under the circumstances you describe was 100% the wrong thing to do and could have toasted your engine without the gauge going into the red. Our gauges are glamorized idiot lights.
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Old 12-10-2012, 11:24 PM   #6
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From what you've written, it can only be deduced that you are not knowledgeable enough to work on your car by yourself. You lack some very basic knowledge. You need to hang out here and read lots of threads to learn.
And the first thing you should have done is popped your hood to see what was wrong. Not pecked at your computer.
What ails your car is simple to diagnose if you open the engine and examine the drive belt path and components.
Driving your car under the circumstances you describe was 100% the wrong thing to do and could have toasted your engine without the gauge going into the red. Our gauges are glamorized idiot lights.
this is what's in my head
the fact is: your belt is not moving. (assuming it's actually on your car. you didn't really say)
this means only one thing: one of your pulleys seized or it feel off the engine crank.

you need to find the pulley that seized and replace it.
probably not the PS pump. maybe the water pump. maybe a free standing pulley. maybe the alternator.
the PS typically breaks free rather than seizing.
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:15 AM   #7
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Pulleys don't seize. They are attached to a shaft. So the shaft would have to have seized ie:stopped turning. Water pump? Alternator? Tensioner? Crank? Highly unlikely. If AC is turning then crank ok. Tensioner might have failed leading to insufficient tension on belt hence insufficient traction between belt and crankshaft pulley. Need to check serpentine belt tensioner and replace if necessary. Whatever you do you will need to replace the belt.

Last edited by RayPooley; 12-11-2012 at 04:20 AM.
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Old 12-11-2012, 10:55 AM   #8
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If you can't pop the hood and realize in 2 seconds by touching the belt (not with the engine running, please) that you don't have belt tension anymore I don't know what to tell you. This is not a complicated issue. It sounds like you need someone with a bit more experience than you have looking at this.
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Old 12-11-2012, 11:31 AM   #9
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Pulleys don't seize. They are attached to a shaft. So the shaft would have to have seized ie:stopped turning. Water pump? Alternator? Tensioner? Crank? Highly unlikely. If AC is turning then crank ok. Tensioner might have failed leading to insufficient tension on belt hence insufficient traction between belt and crankshaft pulley. Need to check serpentine belt tensioner and replace if necessary. Whatever you do you will need to replace the belt.
There's two or three pulleys under there that are not on a shaft. They are only spinning on bearings. These can and have seized on people's cars before.
Technically any of them can seize because they should all have bearings.
The PS pump typically doesn't seize because it breaks off completely and spins freely.
The water pump seizes a lot on the e46.
I've never heard of the alternator pulley failing so I don't know what it would do.
So yeah. They can and will seize.
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Old 12-11-2012, 12:19 PM   #10
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....Also, I did not hear any squealing at all ....
Here's a fanatic thread with some useful pics and diagrams. (I'm sure there are many more .....)

http://www.e46fanatics.com/forum/sho...d.php?t=835944

My comments below assume the serpentine belt broke or slipped off track ....

Usually the alternator on these cars will be fairly noisy for some time before its bearings fail and seize up. The alternator pulley should spin fairly easily by hand and shouldn't make any noises. The stator inside the alt is fairly heavy but you can still spin it by hand if the bearings are good.

In most cases like yours, the belt snaps because it was cracked and old, or a tensioner pulley had seized. The tensioner pulleys should spin without noises, but if they spin too freely, their bearings are dried out and will fail sooner than later. Good tensioner pulleys spin briefly by hand, maybe only 1-2 turns, like they're stuck in molasses.... If one of these pulleys is the culprit, I think you can just buy and replace the pulley itself instead of the entire tensioner assembly.

The water pump can seize, too, however. You should be able to test it by spinning its shaft directly by hand, but again, I'd venture you'd have heard some noises from the WP for awhile before it eventually failed.
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Old 12-11-2012, 03:13 PM   #11
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Thanks everyone for the info. This morning I started to remove the fan to get a good look at the pulleys. Everything seems to spin with any resistance. While I was doing this, the tensioner pulley was really loose, meaning the whole assembly was moving. Freaked out but figured out what happened. About 6 months ago, I was changing my alternator with 2 buddies and towards the end when we put the belts back on, one of them over torqued the bolt that held the assembly to the engine and it broke. Seems like it finally gave out and isn't providing any tension to the belt. Hoping this is the problem, gonna get an easy out to take the last bit of screw inside the engine. I'll update once i get an easy out and put in a new bolt. By the way, does anyone know the size and length of the tensioner lug?
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Old 12-11-2012, 03:20 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by GreyVice View Post
Thanks everyone for the info. This morning I started to remove the fan to get a good look at the pulleys. Everything seems to spin with any resistance. While I was doing this, the tensioner pulley was really loose, meaning the whole assembly was moving. Freaked out but figured out what happened. About 6 months ago, I was changing my alternator with 2 buddies and towards the end when we put the belts back on, one of them over torqued the bolt that held the assembly to the engine and it broke. Seems like it finally gave out and isn't providing any tension to the belt. Hoping this is the problem, gonna get an easy out to take the last bit of screw inside the engine. I'll update once i get an easy out and put in a new bolt. By the way, does anyone know the size and length of the tensioner lug?
Quote:
Tensioner might have failed leading to insufficient tension on belt hence insufficient traction between belt and crankshaft pulley. Need to check serpentine belt tensioner and replace if necessary. Whatever you do you will need to replace the belt.
Who said that?
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Old 12-11-2012, 03:29 PM   #13
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You should really go to a shop at your rate, and your friends shouldn't work on your car. Those bolts you are talking about, will strip the threads out of the block long before the bolt breaks. It's worrisome that your belt would be so loose that it wouldn't spin your accessories and you didn't notice this and it's also worrisome that you think an overheated engine will have smoke coming out of the engine bay...

This just makes me cringe hearing this stuff.
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Old 12-11-2012, 05:53 PM   #14
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You should really go to a shop at your rate, and your friends shouldn't work on your car. Those bolts you are talking about, will strip the threads out of the block long before the bolt breaks. It's worrisome that your belt would be so loose that it wouldn't spin your accessories and you didn't notice this and it's also worrisome that you think an overheated engine will have smoke coming out of the engine bay...

This just makes me cringe hearing this stuff.
The man who never made a mistake never made anything. Its a learning curve. Maybe an expensive one. Advise to OP is read before you do anything. Make sure you know what you are doing. Everything is a stepwise procedure. You just need to make sure you include all the steps. That means you have to find out what they are first.
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Old 12-11-2012, 05:59 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by GreyVice View Post
Hey everyone, here with a problem and hoping to find some answers. I've searched up the problem I'm having and read through quite a bit of threads.

My story:

Car ran fine this morning and I drove it to my friend's house. About 4 hours later when I had to leave for an errand, my car threw a battery light and power steering didn't work. Luckily, my house was really close when this happened (less than 1 mile maybe even .5 miles). Once I got home, I turned of my car and started to do a quick troubleshoot on the computer. Found out it could be a power steering pump failure, serpentine belt snapped or a leak somewhere.

After about 30 minutes of reading a couple of threads, I went out to my car and popped the hood open and inspected. With the car off nothing was wrong, there didn't seem to be a leak at all and all the steering fluid was still topped off.

Called my buddies to come over and give a better check. When they got to my house, we started the car and found out that the alternator belt is not running at all while the A/C belt is running.

Can anyone shed some light on my situation? Really need my car to work since I have an interview Thursday morning. I'll be on for quite some time so if you have some questions, go ahead and ask. I'll try to answer them to the best of my abilities.
You broke the belt. You need to replace BOTH belts, both tensioners and the idler pulley.

This is not a difficult job to do, but by the tone of this conversation, it is more than you are prepared to take on. If you have any friends that actually have mechanical experience, then you guys can get this squared away in an afternoon, but if you are gonna tackle it with the guys that you have had over so far, I see this going badly.
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Old 12-11-2012, 06:16 PM   #16
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The man who never made a mistake never made anything. Its a learning curve. Maybe an expensive one. Advise to OP is read before you do anything. Make sure you know what you are doing. Everything is a stepwise procedure. You just need to make sure you include all the steps. That means you have to find out what they are first.
Learning by messing up your engine is a poor way to learn, as it's a huge waste of OPs time and money. Really, the OP isn't even that sure of what he's talking about, because that alternator guess doesn't even make sense since none of it bolts into the engine, unless he's talking about oil filter housing which does bolt to the engine, and if that was loose, he'd have oil shooting everywhere when his engine was running.

Some people really aren't mechanically inclined and should leave the work to others and work on what they are good at.
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Old 12-11-2012, 06:22 PM   #17
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Learning by messing up your engine is a poor way to learn, as it's a huge waste of OPs time and money.
+1, and dangerous! How about him learning on your brakes?

I'm not bragging, just using my own experience as an example: I did much more reading than doing at the beginning, so when I went into a car to work, I knew enough to not do anything ill-advised or dangerous.
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Old 12-11-2012, 10:03 PM   #18
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Thanks everyone for the advice.

I have fixed the problem. The problem was that my tensioner pulley base plate was cracked. So i replaced the whole tensioner pulley assembly and now it works fine. Of course, I double checked everything to make it was all in place and nothing was loose.
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Old 12-11-2012, 10:15 PM   #19
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Glad you found it, fixed it, and got it back together running.
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:32 AM   #20
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Thanks everyone for the advice.

I have fixed the problem. The problem was that my tensioner pulley base plate was cracked. So i replaced the whole tensioner pulley assembly and now it works fine. Of course, I double checked everything to make it was all in place and nothing was loose.
Well done. Nothing ventured nothing gained is the saying. There was a time many years ago when I took a socket set to my first car. Fraught with trepidation. But its the first step for all DIYers. An informed and methodical approach is the order of the day.
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