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Flickering Dash Lights


HastingsIV
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Tonight I was leaving my in laws and noticed that the dash lights for the e-brake and the battery were occasionally flickering on and off. I didn't notice any additional dash lights, and the ones that I have on (missing tire carrier, overdrive) stayed on and didn't flicker at all.

 

Any ideas what this means?

 

I am taking it to the mechanics for a timing belt change in the morning and was wondering what I should tell the mechanics about this new issue.

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That's usually an indication that the alternator is going bad. Those are the lights that come on when low voltage is sensed. It'd be a good idea to have it checked before he tears the front of the motor down.

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So I mentioned the issue to my mechanic, and since my alt belt was so loose on the alternator, and since it didn't act up while in shop, they thought it was just the belt occasionally not gripping the alternator as it should. This made sense, and I accepted it and everything seemed fine.

Unfortunately the issue started back up again last night, only this time it was more than the occasional flicker. The wiper motors were also having issues moving so it was really not getting enough power. Its not constant, in fact I just started the car about at hour ago with no symptoms, but it is getting more frequent and staying longer when it is occurring.

The mechanics want $350 to replace the alternator. That seems excessively steep, and honestly I am a little irked about it since I was hoping to get it replaced when they had torn everything off for the timing belt change. I have replaced an alternator before many years ago on another rig, and I feel that I can get this one changed too I just have a few questions about how to best do that.

It seems that the alternator is best reached from below the pathfinder. Is there any need to remove the wheel for access or can I install the alt from beneath the truck?

 

And where the hell is the tensioner for the alt belt? I have looked at my Haynes manual and it only shows an older style engine despite being for my exact model pathfinder. I think they didn't update images for later model pathfinders and kept the old images from the 80s.

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I think I've got that same manual around here somewhere. The one with the old Datsun pickup on the front? Download the FSM, it's way better.

 

The alty's kind of a PITA but $350 does seem a little out there. The alt pivots at the top and the adjuster is underneath. (Behind the skidplate, if you haven't pulled that yet.) Looking at mine, you should be able to see the fasteners from above, at least well enough to get an idea of what you're up against. Pull it from underneath. I don't remember for sure but I think I may have unbolted the tensioner bracket from the motor to get that out of my way--been a while though. I don't think I pulled the wheel, though cranking the steering hard to the driver's side might give you a little extra clearance, or a place to put a light. Make sure you get the wires off before the alt is hanging from them.

 

If you want an upgrade, the alt from a SOHC Maxima is supposed to bolt right up if you swap the pulley off your old one. 90a vs the stock 70a.

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I've done mine twice in 4 years. I usually start by removing the wiring clip, case ground and whatever the other wire is from the alternator from the top of the engine bay. Grab a 5mm hex wrench and remove the bash guard since you'll need to get the old alternator out, then I loosen and remove the upper pivot bolt and slide back under the truck with a 5mm hex and the 10mm ( and/or 12mm?) socket and ratchet and loosen off the tensioner stop-bolt on the back of the bracket about 1 turn (just enough to let the long bolt move). Then grab the 5mm hex and oil for the thread (since you'll be screwing that _into_ the stop block you do _not_ want that to break off like mine did) and wind the bolt clockwise about 4 full turns, this will release some tension off of the belt. Now you want to loosen off the lower bolt, then remove the bracket retainer bolt off of the back of the bracket. Get your free hand up and pull the belt off, then hold the 16 lbs of alternator while you unthread the lower bolt and bracket. It will want to fall into your head while you are down there so be ready for it!

 

As to getting it back in, I start with the upper bolt resting on its outer holder /perch/ thingy and try to orient the alternator from underneath and use my free hand to push the bolt into the first parts of the pivot. If it seems to be staying there you can swing out and move it around from the top of the motor to get it into place, thread it most of the way in but don't tighten it yet. The rest is place the bracket, get the belt on, get the rear bracket bolt on, then the lower bolt, tension the belt, tighten the stop-block bolt and finally torque the lower and upper alternator mounting bolts, re-check the belt tension (1/2" of deflection mid-way with 20 lbs of force) and either adjust it OR if you are already awesome, put the bash guard on and connect the electrical connections.

Edited by SpecialWarr
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Figured out how to remove the belt with everyone's help and a reading of the FSM. Thanks!

Now I just have to figure out how to get the damn thing out. Will be picking up a set of box end wrenches tomorrow as my socket set doesn't give me enough room to work in the cramped conditions. Nissan really made getting to the alternator a pain in the ass. And the ground wire on the alternator could not be in a more awkward place either hah!

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If the price of 350 dollars included the cost of the alternator, I would have went with that. It is a fair price IMO. And shops usually don't use cheap advance or autozone parts.

 

Go at it from the bottom, you'll have to do the back bolt by feel, unless you have a body lift or small arms that can slide in between the inner fender and frame.

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