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I have a 2002 Kia Optima with 39,500 miles on it. My lights, power windows, radio and windshield wipers are not working and I am told I need a new alternator that will cost $490. (I put in a new battery at 36,900 miles) I also had problems with a "grounding" wire a few months ago when my radio was going on and off. They said they fixed it, but it is also bad again, with the other problems, but now they say it is the alternator. Does this make sense?

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Lori Johnson, Owner and Instructor at Ladies Start Your Engines Dear Nancy, First, you need to understand that the alternator only runs those components when the vehicle is running. I would turn the key to the power on position (without starting the vehicle) and try the radio, wipers, windows etc. This will make sure that you don't have an electrical problem with these components. If everything works fine and then stops working once you start the vehicle, then I would check the alternator. They should have tested the alternator when you replaced the battery. Sometimes batteries go bad because of the alternator. It sounds like you may need to find another shop to make a diagnosis. Usually when the alternator goes bad you get a battery light on the dash. If you are unsure about the repair, take it to another shop and see what their diagnosis is. Alternators are not cheap, but they should last a while. I've only had 2 in 20 years and 277,000 miles. Good luck. Lori Johnson

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