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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All, I have a 2008 MDX with 195K miles. When the engine is on, there is a high pitched squeal and an electrical burning smell. I think it could be the alternator, but it is still charging the battery at about 14.2V at idle. Has anyone had similar symptoms? The AC is working fine so I don't think it is the AC compressor clutch, but I guess that is another possibility.

Also, has anyone replaced an alternator? There does not appear to be much room between the engine and radiator to get the alternator in an out. Any advice is greatly appreciated.
 

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You do not want to see any sparks.
At night, with the hood open, stand over the passenger tire and look down at the alternator.
Have someone start the mdx and look for alternator sparking, thru its fins/gaps.

The difficulty in changing the alt is about a 3 out of 10.
For me, wiggling the old one out and the new one in wasn't too bad, but remembering the serpentine belt route was hard.
 

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id say if the alternator is original just replace it. they never last much longer than 200k miles. they usually start acting up around 100k

also, if your battery is more than 5 years old, replace that too. typically its best to replace the battery and alternator together, if feasible.

for instructions, go to rockauto.com, lookup your car, and you can buy the service DVD for $30. it will tell you step by step what you have to do.
 

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My 06 TSX did the same thing with burning electrical smell. It was the kid's car when he was in H.S. and he didn't notice the alternator was dying until it left him stranded on the side of the road. The alternator completely died and was drawing power from the battery until it was depleted and the TSX stalled. Didn't want to call a tow truck, so I just removed the battery, charged it at home, re-installed, and drove to the repair shop. I also replaced the 4 year old Interstate battery because batteries never seem to bounce back 100% after being completely drained of power.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Alternator Replaced

Thanks for all the advice. I replaced the alternator and it is charging, quiet, and no burning smell - which is just what you want from an alternator. I did not see any sparks at night with the old one, but I went ahead and bought a rebuilt Denso alternator from Amazon and got it yesterday.

If anyone is planning on doing this yourself, I give it an 8 out 10 for difficulty (with 10 being most difficult). I removed the coolant reservoir, engine cover and cover above the radiator which were all simple. I also had to remove the lower hose on the power steering pump reservoir which was messy to get the alternator in and out. It also helps if you can move the tensioner with a breaker bar when you are trying to sneak the alternator in and out which means three hands or push the breaker bar with the top of your head like I did. The accessory belt remove and install is a bit of challenge and not for a beginner and I was glad I sketched the routing b4 I removed it. And I probably should have removed the passenger side radiator fan because my arms got really scraped reaching down along those sharp edges getting to the electrical connections and grabbing the back half of the alternator. Finally, you have to slide the steel collar on lower alternator mount to make room for the new alternator to fit in. There is no room to swing a hammer in there, so I made a mini puller with a bolt, nut, socket and some washers which took some time to work out. Here are some pics with everything removed and the puller needed to move the collar.
 

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