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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We just had our 2013 Volvo S60 T5 (50,100 miles) serviced one week ago - having a light bulb replaced ($200) and synthetic Castrol oil change.

My wife & daughter had to go out of town - on their return trip home warning light stating Charging Failure: Service Urgent came on in central Denver along I-25.

When my wife called I told her to pull off interstate and go to a service station. She turned off the car and asked two mechanics at a Sinclair station what it might have been. They told her something at recent service appointment might have not been fully plugged in, or possibly a bad battery or alternator. They suggested driving the rest of the way home without using air conditioning. When she departed the Sinclair, the warning light went off and they made it home safely. I measured the battery voltage at 12.6 volts (think it is 2 years old), and i measured the alternator voltage at 13.6-13.8 volts, so possibly it is a weak alternator? I was expecting to get a voltage of around 14.4 volts from the alternator but apparently Volvo's are less than that.

Thanks for any ideas or help - trying to figure out how to take care of this issue. Nearest dealership to me is about 40 miles away.
 

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Nothing in an oil change or headlight bulb replacement (based on the $200 price I'm assuming it was a HID bulb replacement) would be disconnected with the alternator or battery unless they're pulling the negative cable before unplugging the headlight.

Charging system failure usually means the alternator isn't supplying enough voltage, so that's where I'd start. When you tested the alternator, did you perform a proper load test or did you just measure voltage? The latter doesn't actually tell you much - you need to use a load tester to know if it's really OK or starting to get weak.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Nothing in an oil change or headlight bulb replacement (based on the $200 price I'm assuming it was a HID bulb replacement) would be disconnected with the alternator or battery unless they're pulling the negative cable before unplugging the headlight.

Charging system failure usually means the alternator isn't supplying enough voltage, so that's where I'd start. When you tested the alternator, did you perform a proper load test or did you just measure voltage? The latter doesn't actually tell you much - you need to use a load tester to know if it's really OK or starting to get weak.
Thanks for your feedback - I didn't do any type of load testing, just tested voltage off alternator while idling in driveway.
 

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Nothing in an oil change or headlight bulb replacement (based on the $200 price I'm assuming it was a HID bulb replacement) would be disconnected with the alternator or battery unless they're pulling the negative cable before unplugging the headlight.

Charging system failure usually means the alternator isn't supplying enough voltage, so that's where I'd start. When you tested the alternator, did you perform a proper load test or did you just measure voltage? The latter doesn't actually tell you much - you need to use a load tester to know if it's really OK or starting to get weak.
Thanks for your feedback - I didn't do any type of load testing, just tested voltage off alternator while idling in driveway.
Have someone do a load test on the charging system. Unless your car has very high mileage alternator issues are likely to be a failing diode; brushes usually last a couple hundred thousand miles so that's where I'd start looking if the car fails the load testing.

It's also possible that a few moments of belt slip caused the alternator to slow down and temporarily have a low voltage situation. Usually that's something that happens after driving through a puddle though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Have someone do a load test on the charging system. Unless your car has very high mileage alternator issues are likely to be a failing diode; brushes usually last a couple hundred thousand miles so that's where I'd start looking if the car fails the load testing.

It's also possible that a few moments of belt slip caused the alternator to slow down and temporarily have a low voltage situation. Usually that's something that happens after driving through a puddle though.
Again - thanks! I have an appointment with Volvo in 3 days at 745 AM.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Update - threw same charging failure warning message as I drove into Volvo service bay this morning. They pulled code and said alternator not talking correctly with ECM. Unfortunately, no alternator was on hand, so it's ordered & going to be installed in 48 hours (Saturday morning). Volvo said I can use A/C, charge phones, use headlights, etc - just a communication error. The alternator voltage under load was in the low 13's.
 

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Sure is nice when the car cooperates by sending warning messages as you drive into the service bay.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Sure is nice when the car cooperates by sending warning messages as you drive into the service bay.
What are the odds, right? First time it's ever happened to me.

Must be the Easter egg AI Volvo built in :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The nightmare continues - after waiting at the shop for nearly 2 hours - service manager came out to get me. New alternator (which was double boxed) had a completely shattered connector. Have to wait for part until Tuesday (old alternator out and ready to swap in new one). They gave me an XC-90 loaner with 10 miles on it until then. Pics below:

Original alternator:



Out of double boxed alternator (new):



Shattered alternator connector:

 

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How did they not notice that when they unboxed the new part before starting the repair? Seems to me that double checking to make sure the supplier sent the right part is the first thing they should have done before even popping the hood on your car.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
How did they not notice that when they unboxed the new part before starting the repair? Seems to me that double checking to make sure the supplier sent the right part is the first thing they should have done before even popping the hood on your car.
Exactly what my wife said! She was pissed, so I knew before I left the dealership I had to take pictures of the damage. Parts manager blamed it on FedEx tossing packages around and said they get damaged parts that way all the time. I do know it was double boxed well - but they had two days to check the box with the alternator before our appointment.
 

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Exactly what my wife said! She was pissed, so I knew before I left the dealership I had to take pictures of the damage. Parts manager blamed it on FedEx tossing packages around and said they get damaged parts that way all the time. I do know it was double boxed well - but they had two days to check the box with the alternator before our appointment.
My first response to the parts manager would have been, "If you get damaged parts like that 'all the time' then why haven't you learned to inspect them upon receipt instead of waiting until after tearing down a customer's car and wasting the customer's time?"
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
My first response to the parts manager would have been, "If you get damaged parts like that 'all the time' then why haven't you learned to inspect them upon receipt instead of waiting until after tearing down a customer's car and wasting the customer's time?"
I certainly should have - I was super frustrated.

To put it in perspective, I have made 2 trips to Volvo dealership, first trip - no alternator in stock, 2nd trip this morning they worked nearly two hours to pull out old alternator before even checking replacement part. Yesterday found out my daughter's 2017 Hyundai Elantra, which I had in for warranty work re: driver's side driver's lights not working, horn not working and outdoor temperature not displaying on dash - main wiring harness chewed by "varmints" (rabbits, squirrels, mice, racoons, etc). Chewed up 2 foot section of main harness on left side, also chewed smaller left side harness. Main harness ~ $1700, smaller harness ~ $875, 10 hours labor to repair - total cost will be $3158.46 before tax! Checking with our auto insurance company to see about comprehensive coverage (my agent did nothing but give me a phone # to call to initiate claim, have to wait till Monday to see if adjuster calls and accepts claim - what a hassle.

Needless to say I wasn't ready to put up with any crap from the Volvo dealer this morning. When told about the situation with the replacement alternator connector being broken - I replied "Are you ****ting me? What a bunch of crap" - or something along those lines. So besides being down two vehicles now I have to deal with adjusters, service managers - and probably shop for new auto insurance for 3 vehicles plus new home coverage too. We have never had an insurance agent that didn't initiate a claim and handle a lot of the hassle when filing claims. Sorry for the OT rant - I am pretty steamed. To top it off the XC-90 loaner was hail damaged along with the rest of the dealer lot about 1 1/2 weeks ago - when I inquired about insurance they said the loaner is under my primary coverage and dealership is secondary - so I figure the XC-90 will probably meet with Armageddon! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Forgot to add I found out doing research that soy based wiring, easier to fit through wire looms - attract vermin. Class action law suits have been filed re: these wiring harnesses/automotive wiring. I asked the Volvo service manager this morning about it and he said Volvo had starting "treating" their wiring as a deterrent but I don't know any more about the facts concerning that.

Coyote pee and mothballs are not too appealing as remedies!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Update 7/23/2019 - another alternator came in - broken just like the first replacement.
Dealership has ordered another alternator, and also a voltage regulator - so if the 3rd alternator comes in with a badly cracked and broken connector, they will use the voltage regulator to get a good connector.

Hard to believe any of this - it has not been repaired for almost 10 days!
 

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Update 7/23/2019 - another alternator came in - broken just like the first replacement.
Dealership has ordered another alternator, and also a voltage regulator - so if the 3rd alternator comes in with a badly cracked and broken connector, they will use the voltage regulator to get a good connector.

Hard to believe any of this - it has not been repaired for almost 10 days!
Couldn't they just swap the undamaged voltage regulator plastic case from your old alternator and be done with it??
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Couldn't they just swap the undamaged voltage regulator plastic case from your old alternator and be done with it??
You are too smart and think logically - think like a Volvo service center!

I sure hope today is the day they get it fixed - day 10 and we have 8 relatives visiting we have to haul around to various activities.

It's funny the point you made because the dealership ordered both a new alternator and a new voltage regulator to do the very thing you mentioned! (assuming parts aren't thrown like a football by FedEx overnight).
 

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Couldn't they just swap the undamaged voltage regulator plastic case from your old alternator and be done with it??
Case is probably integral to the regulator and they probably don't want to use the old regulator for rather obvious reasons.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
3rd alternator was the charm - S60 T5 charging issue has been rectified.
 

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3rd alternator was the charm - S60 T5 charging issue has been rectified.
WooHoo! I hope they gave you some kind of a break on this for the inconvenience they caused by not checking the alternator before tearing your car down.
 
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