I’m not a superstitious person. Not by a long shot. But I was reluctant to post about my reliable car thinking it would break down afterwards. Before I go any further let me tell you that it wasn’t the head gaskets (at least not yet).

I suddenly found myself with yesterday off after I wasn’t used while on airport reserve. I asked my girls if they wanted to go to the science center and although the older one declined (she wanted to stay home and play video games) my 4 year old got excited.

We got ready, jumped in the car and hit the road. 5 minutes from the house the battery light, brake light, and ABS light suddenly came on and then faded out. It happened so fast that I wasn’t even sure I saw it. But then it happened again and again and again.

I told my daughter we would have to head back home and find out what’s wrong with the car. She was disappointed but we didn’t really have a choice.

A quick internet search led to one conclusion: the alternator. Somehow low volts triggers that light combo. Also, the alternator smelt like burning rubber.

I told my father in law and got out the book. While I was wasting time flipping pages, he just jumps in like he had been working on Subaru’s his whole life. 10 minutes later, with my daughter as his helper, the alternator was out. It’s seriously that easy, although it probably would have taken me an hour as I cross referenced the book and YouTube videos 100 times.

Looks like something’s missing

My father in law wanted to see if we could find the problem with the alternator so we took it apart. It looked like a wire came out. He wanted to fix it but I wanted a warranty so we reassembled it and went to the parts store.

Installing the remanufactured alternator was just as easy, with one exception. After we put everything back together the power steering pump made the most god awful squeal. We kept trying to adjust the belt tensioner but the sound remained no matter what we did. YouTube to the rescue! It turns out that the belt cover itself is adjustable and has to be positioned just right to prevent the squealing sound. 3 minutes later and everything was perfect.

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Looks shiny and new even though it’s not

Not the way I wanted to spend the day, I feel like I really let down my daughter, but $139 later and the Subaru is back in business.