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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
ok just got this van 9 days ago and today it started making a whining noise like one of the accessories bearings was going bad. i first thought it was the power steering pump cuz the whole area around it is covered in liquid like its been leaking, ive done enough research to know that is common so its the first thing my mind went to. so i was slowly flushing power steering fluid and suddenly i started smelling a burning circuit board a moment later a poof of smoke came from the alternator and i shut the car down. im not even going to try and drive it, im going out of town this week anyway, so ive got a few days to figure out what part to buy and get it delivered.

so then, what part should i get? ive heard toyota does not manufacture these alternators anymore, im fairly certain the alternator in the van is not oem, it looks too new compared to everything else, also the coolant looks very new, way too new to be 105k miles old, since you have to remove a coolant hose to get the alternator out im assuming this alternator was changed somewhat recently along with the coolant. ive watched a couple youtube videos on how to do it as easily as possible and even then it looks fairly annoying so id like to get the best part possible so im not doing this every 2 years. anyone have any insight into the world of aftermarket sienna alternators?

EDIT: looks like the alternator in the car has 21904309 printed on it, i searched many websites and no results, i guess thats not a part number? i managed to find out what the oem part number is, as it seems denso made many items in this car i checked their website, got the part number and found a rebuilt unit on amazon for 230$ its
Denso 210-0662

i hope this is a quality unit.
 

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AutoZone has a new unit for $275.99 plus tax, (after discount code 20% off), if you're inclined to trust their parts. Did you check Rock Auto? Amayama.com is a Japanese source with great pricing as well. (Just some options for you). I personally like AutoZone because of their warranty and local customer service.

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Discussion Starter #3
great suggestion, i checked rock auto for the part number that was stamped on the car but never checked it for the real part number, their part is basically the same price but with a 79$ core charge to amazons 17.50$ that saves me at least 20$ thanks. im a little hesitant to trust another brand like duralast, im sure they have some good stuff but id rather just get a rebuilt oem part. for all i know the autozone part is better but im fairly certain the alternator in the car is not oem and it didnt last very long. i will soon find out for sure when i remove it.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
well i called the dealer today and they are going to fix the alternator for free, rock auto already shipped the part i ordered so i guess ill just keep it as a backup. upon closer inspection i noticed the bracket that goes behind the alternator and bolts to the engine is totally missing from this part that is in the car right now, so that all but confirms its not the vans original alternator, kinda strange that a 105k mile van already has at least its 3rd alternator, just unlucky i guess. i wasnt planning on keeping this van for a long time when i bought it but i really like this thing a lot, so having this backup part for a van that seems to eat them for breakfast is probably not the worst 240$ ive ever spent.

maybe ill ask them if i can keep the old alternator and try and replace the brushes myself, they probably wont let me tho as they will likely want their core charge back as well.
 

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I hope you got the DENSO 2100662 remanufactured alternator. I've got 20k miles on mine. It's a pain to change out the alternator. You have to drop the coolant to remove lower radiator hose that's in the way.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
and now i present the thrilling conclusion. the dealer claimed the smoke i saw was simply coolant(due to being overfilled?) spraying out of the engine behind the alternator and directly onto the alternator witch ofc is hot enough to instantly ignite the coolant into smoke(totally silently and without any of the coolant reaching the ground), the engine was no where near fully warmed up at this point, and had at several times during the week i owned it fully warmed up and the coolant just waited 10 days to overfill itself and somehow build enough pressure to explode directly out of the engine block when the engine is not even fully hot?!? yeah, thats what happened. i smelled burning circuit board, does coolant smell like burnt circuit board? anyway they said they tested the alternator and it was fine, they took it on an extended test drive and then tested it again and it was not fine, so they replaced it anyway... the car was also making a loud whining noise witch has miraculously disappeared with the new alternator... at least they kept their word and didnt charge me for any of this, gotta love dealers.
 

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I say cover up/smoke screen. At least they did right and repaired it? (Happened with my rebuilt alternator from AutoZone. They made me "remove" the whole thing due to a faulty voltage regulator).

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Discussion Starter #10
oh they replaced it with a car quest alternator as well, should i even bother returning the denso unit i bought? is this car quest unit likely to last a couple years at least?
 

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Parts retailers rarely actually make anything. They just rebrand units that came from remanufacturer or rebuilders. More often than not, you are not getting new or truly new. Just a really cleaned up and polished collection of used parts with a few new essentials and wear items. Do they last? In my experience it's the luck of the draw.

If you want true new OEM, go to the Toyota parts counter and expect to pay around 2x or more what you bought.

From a cashflow perspective, why keep an alternator you will most likely never need?
 

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I've had good luck with Denso remans, some bad luck with auto parts store remans. Denso remanufactures their own stuff at their own facility in Murrieta, CA. Pricey but worth it, IMHO.
 

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I'd only keep it if it has a lifetime warranty. Otherwise you'll just lose warranty as it sits.

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Discussion Starter #15
Eh, I have a strong feeling this car quest unit isnt gonna last long. but i also feel strongly that if i dont return the one i bought it will mean this car quest alternator was built by the one tryhard in the facility who 15 years from now is gonna be running the whole place and this thing is gonna last forever. thats how i feel, its getting returned. there are many reasons not to keep 240$ tied up in something potentially useless.
 

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Return it since they already installed the Car Quest one. It will at least last 2-3 years and replacing it is a pain.
 

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Personally, I would return it, for no other reason than it would take up shelf space in the garage and $240 out of my bank account for no return other than a potential future savings of 2 days waiting for the part to come in. It's not like you will be unable to buy a replacement alternator any time in the next 10 years.
 

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Hi! Couple days ago I had similar issue.
One day when I started engine I discovered that my alternator doesn't charge battery (I have simple voltmeters connected permanently).
When I opened the hood I smelled just like you a burning circuit board - smells comes from alternator.
So I thought that voltage regulator in alternator burned.

After some more diagnosis I discovered that the problem is alternator clutch.
The clutch was pretty rusty. See picture.
45776
 

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Discussion Starter #19
in between the smoke coming out and the dealer taking it for the repair i did start the engine a couple times for a few seconds just to listen, it was very loud. the dash never had a light on, i think the alternator was still technically functional, but it only had .0001% of its life left. i really think it was a bearing that went bad in the alternator and the increased friction was enough to heat up whatever circuit board is in there to the point of off gassing and possibly smoking, but i believe the grease in the bearing is what was probably smoking, could have been both tho.

also i did return the rock auto alternator.
 
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