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How far can I drive with no alternator ?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Driving back from Philly Airport my Alternator belt disappeared, fortunately I was just 2 miles from home. My garage is just 1 mile from my home and the battery is brand new. Can I risk driving the one mile, no lights or anything without the car keeling over ?
post #2 of 19
I think it depends on the car, and how depleted the battery is... what kind of car is it?

My accord dies after ~5-6 miles if either the battery or alternator are not to spec.
post #3 of 19
you can try and tell us how far you went without one :P

seriously, dont risk it unless you are strong enough to push the car for a mile or two..
post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kramer5150 View Post
I think it depends on the car, and how depleted the battery is... what kind of car is it?

My accord dies after ~5-6 miles if either the battery or alternator are not to spec.
It is a 1995 Ford Escort GT and I had to drive ~2 miles with lights and fan and radio, but the battery is brand new (well, under 2 months old).

EDIT:

While we are at it, can anyone reccomend a good but not too expensive jump starter thingy ?
post #5 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by hciman77 View Post
Driving back from Philly Airport my Alternator belt disappeared, fortunately I was just 2 miles from home. My garage is just 1 mile from my home and the battery is brand new. Can I risk driving the one mile, no lights or anything without the car keeling over ?
I had the exact same thing happen at 3AM last week. I drove about two miles before I found a safe spot to pull into. I had to stop at a red light right before pulling into a parking lot and the car stalled. I got it going again, but I don't think it could have made it further. I also had a brand new battery.

BTW, I love AAA.
post #6 of 19
ymmv
post #7 of 19
I tried driving about 40 miles once with a dead alternator.

In theory I thought it was ok, as long as the car was running.

I thought I would make it to where I had to go.

About ten miles into the trip, the car just shut off.

Engine stopped, power steering and brakes went manual.

I had to push on the brake pedal as hard as I could to stop the car.
Fortunately, I was going down hill and I coasted to an auto shop.
Luckily that was at the bottom of the hill.

That was back in the old days, in hind sight. I think it was dangerous because I was on the freeway and if I didn't step on the brakes hard enough.

Boy oh boy, am I a lucky devil.
post #8 of 19
It is at times like this I truly enjoy having a car w/ no computers or electric hog devices (power windows, power door locks, high power stereo, electric overdrive, etc.). My humble 1970 VW Beetle has gone well over 50 miles with the GENERATOR not working.
post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by hciman77 View Post
Driving back from Philly Airport my Alternator belt disappeared, fortunately I was just 2 miles from home. My garage is just 1 mile from my home and the battery is brand new. Can I risk driving the one mile, no lights or anything without the car keeling over ?
Wow, you couldve run into my dad. He's on his way home from the airport too
post #10 of 19
I doubt I'll do it with the snow/ice around here in Philly... pushing cars around in the cold doesn't sound enticing either.
post #11 of 19
About 30 miles with no lights and no stopping. Did it once with an old Volvo 740, dunno about the battery - car wasn't mine. Didn't have AAA at that time, but I was lucky.

With a carburator engine I guess you could run more than that.
post #12 of 19
my old car used to run through a string of 3/4 faulty alternators (i kept replacing them with remanufactured generics)

on a complete full battery charge, running on freeway with no ac/radio/electronics

i could get anywhere from 70-120 miles before the car would stop

of course, if the car was driven in town and required restarts, the life would be much, much shorter
post #13 of 19
I drove like 80km once on a dead alternator, with the car being turned on and off several times in this period. My car uses a pretty big battery, but i think it also uses extra power on startup etc.

I was pretty sure my alternator was dead but my mother told me to keep driving it till it dies incase the battery just got flat somehow (bad advice). Eventually the steering and the brakes and the traction control started acting up a little bit (not too bad, but enough to make driving around other people uncomfortable).

Unsurprisingly, after a while it just wouldn't turn on, so I hill started it. I also thought that once a car is started it doesn't need battery power, but it seems that's wrong because eventually (.. on a main road) the engine just lost all power and it stalled and wouldn't start up again even with a hill start.

The tow truck did the rest

My old car (no fancy stuff, carbie etc) could drive without a battery i think, because we used to "hot swap" the battery (ie change batteries with the engine running) with no trouble. I guess new cars need the battery for the ECU.

So if you just need to do 1 mile you should easily be fine. However, incase the brakes and traction control go mad, drive carefully and try do it when no one else is on the road.

If you wanna be 100% extra safe u can take the battery out of another car and keep it in the passenger seat, incase your one dies. Make sure you keep the battery upright
post #14 of 19
My original alternator died at around 140k miles, and I got a new battery along with a bum remanufactured alternator. It lasted about 60 miles without an alternator. The new one seems just fine, though.

As for driving a mile into the shop, I'd go for it. Take a route where you won't have to be in much traffic and there are good places to pull over, just in case.
post #15 of 19
I once tried to continue driving a vehicle I was not familiar with after the alternator belt snapped... turns out that belt also drove the water pump! Luckily I happened to glance at the temperature gauge very shortly afterwards, and pulled over before disaster could strike.
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