Alternator problems and conflicting advice

I’m having the following problem with my 2007 Xsara Picasso 1.6 petrol – would really appreciate advice from anyone who has been through this. 

I can’t get any of my local garages to look at the car – they are all booked up for the next 2-3 weeks at least. So it looks as if I’m on my own – I’m happy to tackle easy “unbolt and replace” jobs on the car, Haynes manual in hand stuff, but my mechanical knowledge is patchy. I’ve fitted a new auxiliary drive belt before so I’m OK with that bit. 

Either straight away on start up, or after a few minutes of running, the car displays warning “battery charge fault”. If I continue to run the engine, eventually I get a whole raft of power steering and braking fault warning messages and increasingly strident beeping noises. I ended up calling the AA and they diagnosed a faulty alternator. 

With the engine running when the fault is displaying, the battery voltage starts to drop off fairly quickly; even more so if I switch on the blowers, radio, lights etc. If I stop the engine after that, it certainly won’t turn over or start again until I take the battery out and put it on charge. 

So, I’ve been working on the assumption that it is the alternator at fault. Haynes manual suggests that to remove and refit the alternator I would have to take the front bumper off, at which point I started to lose enthusiasm… 

I then talked to a local Citroen specialist who unfortunately no longer does repairs himself. He suggested it’s almost certainly a faulty alternator and said that his advice would be to order and fit a replacement, but that rather than taking off the front bumper he would go in from underneath and drop the alternator out through the bottom of the engine bay, unbolting and moving out of the way (but not disconnecting) the air con compressor to do so. 

However, when I rang my local car parts dealer, they said that on the parts catalogue for the alternator for my model of Picasso there was a warning message :- saying that there is a known fault with the (?)multiplug(?) on this model, and that it would be worth checking that first before paying around £130 for a new alternator. 

I’ve no idea how I would rule out a fault with the multiplug – I’m not even certain exactly what’s being talked about here. All I can see on the alternator on my car (see photo attached) is one single bolted ht lead, and another, black plastic connector with a single thin red wire leading from it. (Is that latter bit the “multiplug”?) If there are other leads or sensors connected to the alternator, I can’t see them. 

What would you do next in my situation? 


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