How lucky I was to get a new alternator for my Etios Liva during a trip

I was going to Noida with my family in our 7-year-old Toyota. Around 30 km before Gwalior, the ‘battery’ symbol came on.

BHPian aniketbapat recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

“Liva the Diva” is now at 186,000 km in 7 years.

Runs butter smooth and gives 20-22 km/l on the highway and 17-18 km/l in the city, if driven sedately.

On the last trip Mum-Noida-Mum, I faced an alternator issue which I have detailed below, I will also list down a few of the repairs done over the last year in my next post to give due credit to Toyota Dealerships as well as garages who helped take care of Liva in a timely manner.

Spiti valley circuit was completed as planned in July 2021 with 155,000 on ODO, we did lose the engine/sump guard thanks to a nail protruding out of a wooden plank on a bridge near Kaza town but other than that no issues at all, Liva took all the beating easily.

Alternator Replacement – Kayyum Motors Gwalior – 9th August 2022

I was on Mum-Noida drive with family and things were looking great. After office, made a stop at Dhule for the night and the next day was planning to be in Agra and visit the Taj Mahal before reaching Noida.

Around 30 km before Gwalior, I saw the “battery” symbol in bright red don’t know how long before it was switched on but am assuming it wasn’t long.

As soon as I saw it the next thought in my mind was “Arey nahi, no Taj tomorrow” and the next thought was “save battery”. Immediately switched off AC, ICE, and charging points, and informed the family that we will now stay in Gwalior and started driving leisurely. Luckily, I had already shortlisted a hotel in Gwalior which is a good practice I follow with family given the ageing car and also since it’s the rainy season, it is best to have plan B in case.

The hotel I had looked up was “Krishnam Guest house” in Gwalior and it was around 25 km from there. I reached the hotel around 8:15 pm and tried searching for a garage but didn’t find any open. The hotel person also confirmed the shops close by 8 so best to try tomorrow morning.

Krishnam guest house is a nice, well-kept, value-for-money place and its owner Shantanu is always there to help as needed. Will definitely visit them again.

So with no option, I switched off the car, not sure if it would start again tomorrow morning!

I had the battery discharged once at a petrol pump (about 1+ years ago, the battery was old and close to replacement which was planned that week itself) so was aware of battery issues although was seeing the red battery symbol for the first time.

I was mostly sure it was a battery charging issue and not a battery issue as the battery is only 1 yr old and hence was prepared for Alternator issues and understood that I had a long day ahead.

So next morning luckily the car started with the battery light on, I went to the local garage first given Anant Toyota was around 12 km away and didn’t want to take a chance with the remaining battery charge, and they suspected that it was an alternator issue but they didn’t give me the confidence if they can procure the alternator or repair it the same day. Foolishly I kept the car running waiting for their electrician to arrive my thinking was I don’t want to be stuck at a place which is not sure and hence didn’t want to kill the engine lest it doesn’t start again.

Soon enough I lost patience and decided to bite the bullet and drive to Anant Toyota. I quickly searched for another garage nearby. “Kayyum Motors” was 1.2km away but they didn’t open till 10:30 am and I thought worst case, let me try Anant Toyota and if I can reach there surely, I can charge the battery and come back to the city, later if needed.

I confirmed Kayyum Motors was locked and headed to Anant Toyota, which was 11km away and now the battery symbol had started blinking as well and my heart was thumping faster as well.

I managed to reach Anant Toyota which already had a deluge of cars to service, it was the long weekend coming up so more cars had turned up than expected.

Did the walk-in formalities and was told first they will diagnose the problem and take it from there. I informed them I had to reach Noida so please let me know what best can be done, they took their time and after almost 1.5 hours of me pushing they confirmed it’s an alternator issue and needs to be replaced but unfortunately, they don’t have it in stock as it’s not a routine replacement part and needs to be ordered. They didn’t have an ETA for the arrival of a new alternator and given it was the long weekend I was not very positive.

I gave them 2 options:

  • If I get them an after-market alternator, will they fit it here given I cannot take a risk of taking the car to the city now – this option was not accepted.
  • Requested them to charge the battery for some time so I can work out something in the city.

On listening to my options and my constant pushing they referred my case to their GM who requested me to wait till 2 pm as he wanted to confirm if one of the ordered diesel alternators for Liva would reach by their truck expected tonight (not sure why it takes 2 hours to confirm that but given the glimmer of hope of getting OEM part I relented), by that time. It was already lunchtime and Anant Toyota Gwalior is situated almost 9 km from the city and had no hotels nearby, luckily they had an onsite canteen and offered me free lunch (which is appreciated) and I waited patiently.

In the meantime, I contacted Kayyum Motors and asked them for options, Kalim bhai, the owner asked me for some time to confirm. I waited hoping Anant Toyota will give me good news at 2 or worst case I can get the alternator repaired or replaced outside. I requested the staff to recharge the car battery while I waited which they promptly did.

At 2, I called the GM, he didn’t respond, gave them more time and at 2:15 started pushing again to meet the GM, he was in another meeting. Around 2:30, finally met him but got the news that he had received a mail from Toyota that alternators for Etios are not being dispatched due to tech reasons and that the truck coming tonight doesn’t have the ones ordered.

Didn’t know what to make of the news but by that time I had already made up my mind to go to Kayyum motors and try my luck there.

So thanked the GM asked them to put in the battery and decided to rush to the city. Kalim bhai was trying to get hold of his electrician and battery guys and on-call he said, “You come over, don’t worry we will get it done, mostly it can be repaired else we will get a replacement” That was the confidence booster I really needed and without wasting much more time I reached Kayyum Motors at 3pm.

Outside Kayyum Motors is an electrical auto and battery shop ”Aslam Electricals” and I was referred to them. They attended to my car promptly and had already enquired about a replacement alternator with a local dealer and quoted 11k for the same apart from labour. Then went about removing the alternator which did take some time and by 4 had removed the alternator, tested it to find it was a voltage regulator issue and the motor winding was also quite old but which they said both can be repaired.

Since my car had already run 1.84k km and I intend to keep it forever and had to cover another 2k km including returning to Mumbai, I suggested we replace the alternator if we are getting the “Valeo” company Alternator (was assuming it would be Denso or Bosch but it was Valeo), spoke to the dealer and he confirmed he had Valeo itself (which was the sweetest thing I had heard that day) and after discount, he offered it for 10200 which was fine by me. So the owner took me to the shop and back we came with a glistening Valeo alternator! By then it was already around 5pm.

I don’t know if it is OEM or whether 10k is a good price, but I did double-check on Google/boodmo for Valeo alternator compatibility with Liva diesel and it was similarly priced so went ahead.

We had already checked the belt and surprisingly it was fine, will replace the belt if needed in the next service.

So in another 1.5 hours, the new alternator was put in and tested and the red battery light was gone which was a great relief.

In hindsight apart from the foolishness of keeping the car running at the first garage, I think it was all fine. Yes Anant Toyota couldn’t help me but they tried, they also agreed to get the alternator replaced the next day even though it was a holiday, if only the alternator arrived by truck that night!

Hats off to Kalim bhai of Kayyum motors and Aslam electricals they did a brilliant job and quickly too and after 2000km back home I can confirm there were no further issues.

Valeo was a surprise as had never heard that name before but thanks to Etios being used as taxis, parts are not an issue. While some think having a taxi image is not great, for me that was the positive point when choosing Liva 7 years ago.

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