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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all, first post, been a lurker for awhile. I have a 92 n/a I've been fixing up and have most everything sorted except two issues.

A clunk in the left rear when I hit even the smallest bumps, regardless of speed, sounds like a loose body panel bouncing around in the wheel well. I've checked all the body panels, under body panels, interior, service panel, air box and they're all tight. I've replaced the upper strut mount, ball joint, wheel bearing, Swaybar endkinks and still the issue persists. The axle nut is torqued to spec, there's no play when grabbing the wheel at 12/6 or 9/3. The rear tie rod has some play but I can't replicate the clunking.

Anything else to look at I may be missing?

Second issue is the charging system. Battery light came on, I charged the battery, took an entire day on the small charger I have. Drove it around and light comes back on. With engine off I have 12.3V at the battery, running I'm about 13.9V. At the alternator the voltage numbers are near the same, and the relay box with 2 white wires is the same. I've had the battery tested at 2 different auto parts stores and they both say battery is good but alternator is not charging. My question is is if the alternator is not working why am I seeing 14V at the alternator when running? I held it there awhile to see if it dropped but it didn't. Can it still be a bad alternator even though it's generating power?

Sorry for the long post, I try not to ask questions and figure it out, but these two things have me stumped.


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... there's no play when grabbing the wheel at 12/6 or 9/3...

...The rear tie rod has some play but I can't replicate the clunking...

... if the alternator is not working why am I seeing 14V at the alternator when running?
Try jerking it harder. It can take a lot of force to disclose free play in a suspension component.

I suggest that you replace the part that has the free play in it. The clunk is the symptom, not the actual ailment.

The charge fail indicator is produced by the voltage regulator as a self-assessment of performance. So, either the alternator has failed or the regulator has failed, depending on whether the indication is true or false. Usually both are replaced together, so the distinction may be moot. There is also an uncommon third possibility, that the wiring is defective. I suggest that you at least inspect it for obvious damage, so that you do not replace your alternator for nothing.
 

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Another common suspension fault is the sway bar mount onto chassis. They tend to crack and can cause the issue as described.

On the alternator I agree with checking the wiring and as much as possible before pulling out to re-furbish. More than likely its a rectifier diode that has failed. There are several of these and with one or two gone its produces strange symptoms. Unfortunatley the rectifier & voltage regulator are located within the alternator so your either remove or replace components like I did with it in place.

jim
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Thank you all for the advice. I replaced the rear Swaybar bushings today and dropped the cross member and inspected the mounts and they looked good.

I also removed the alternator out the top thanks to some wood and ratchet straps to get the few more mm needed to get it out.

What a PITA both of those jobs were.




Once I have the new alternator in hopefully that resolves the charging issue and I'll continue on the clunk hunt. I'm tempted to just replace the voltage regulator and brush holder and try that. I can't seem to find any rectifiers if indeed it is a bad diode. The slip rings looked fairly worn and the brushes didn't seem to protrude as much as I would think they should. I couldn't believe how expensive a new alternator is. Although, I really don't want to have to remove it again if it doesn't work replacing components.

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Got the new alternator in. Getting the pivot end inside the bracket was a mf'r. Prybars and 5lb maul keys to success. I found it easier to get the top lock bolt in first so the alternator is supported then you can swing/ pry the lower pivot in place.

I'm glad I don't have power steering, I can't imagine doing it with a pump in the way too.

Intial test with multimeter seems to indicate it's working, and charging. I need to put some miles on it to make sure. Probably get it tested at the parts store again.

I should of payed attention when I ordered the Swaybar bushings, they are too big (19mm) for my 92 n/a model. Seems the only ones available for the rear are 19mm. Both my bars are 17.5mm. I found a 17mm rear one from Moog (k201128) and ordered the 17mm generic prothane (19-1116) for the front.



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Hope the alternator problem is sorted. It looks very oily which is generally an indication of a leaking valve cover gasket. The oil tend to accelerate the internal wear on brushes & bearings.

I led you wrong on the sway bar mounts as its the front that crack. Lots of other possibilities in the back area for clunks'. I think you covered the most obvious faults so you may need to dig a little deeper. I had a strut fail once and the insert was banging on the side of housing. Another thought is the top strut mounts which have a rubber bush to help with dampning. If these fail it will clunk as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yea I've got some oil leaks I've yet to tackle. Previous owner said he did distributor o ring, valve cover gasket and timing belt with idler pulleys. After cleaning everything up a few times to see where exactly it's coming from I suspect valve cover gasket, distributor, and something under the front cover, maybe the oil pump seal.

I'm glad I looked at the front swaybar, I wasn't going to mess with it but the passenger side bracket was bent like it hit something and the bushing all but gone. I tried bending the bracket back in shape but ended up ordering the prothane ones with brackets.

I have replaced the upper strut mount, with no change in clunk. I thought the strut might be moving and I tried to replicate it when I had it off and checked the gland nut too.

I'm going to look at a 91 turbo today, if I get it I'll likely put coilovers on it and swap the stock strut over to see if it helps.

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Discussion Starter #9
If you had power steering you'd have electric power steering pump in the front trunk.
That makes sense, would be a lot of hydraulic hose to run from the rear lol. I like the manual steering on the mr2. My Fiero is manual also and it's not nearly as easy to turn as the mr2, but it's more direct, lower gearing in the mr2 I guess.

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That makes sense, would be a lot of hydraulic hose to run from the rear lol. I like the manual steering on the mr2. My Fiero is manual also and it's not nearly as easy to turn as the mr2, but it's more direct, lower gearing in the mr2 I guess.

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Yeah the few rear steer cars out there have lines that run from the front to the rear rack, very complex.

Contrary to popular belief you want a power steering rack, they're geared higher so you have less turns lock to lock. If you don't like the lighter feeling assisted steering then disable the pump and you have a better rack for autocross.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Well happy to report both issues resolved. I installed the Moog rear Swaybar bushings and the clunk is gone! Also the new alternator still seems to be working but I need to drive it more. Reserve capacity on my battery is 120 minutes.

Also picked up a gen 4 swapped 91 turbo with sunroof. I swapped the turbo wheels to the turbo car(black) and the bronze Tracklites to the n/a (white). They are the wrong offset and will likely see spacers and longer studs, or different wheels.

So much more enjoyable to drive the n/a without issue, for now...


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