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I was driving earlier today, and the instrument display screen became red and stated, "Alternator/Battery: Visit Workshop". My radar detector can display the input voltage, so I changed the display to do so, and it's been displaying 12.1V-12.3V. It's usually 13.5-14.5V. This leads me to believe that it's the alternator. The battery is only 1.5 years old, and since the voltage is sticking around 12V, I suspect that it's okay. I received the error, when I was out running errands. I didn't have any trouble completing my errands and getting home (starting the car 3 times, and driving 25 miles).

1. Does that sound normal? Would the battery last that long, without the alternator working?

2. Is there anything else that it could be, other than the alternator? If not, I'll just order one, without having anyone else look at it. I called M-B, and they want $521, for the part, and they would have to order it. Pep Boys and AutoZone have it (Bosch brand) for $189, with a lifetime warranty, and they also would have to order it. I should be able to have one in 2-3 days.

3. The car is over 6 years old. That seems pretty good for the original alternator to have lasted, right? I believe that I can recall alternators going bad more often than that, in other car that I've owned. I don't recall the alternator ever being replaced in this car, when it was in for service, so I believe that it's the original one.

4. Is replacing the alternator difficult, in this car? I replaced the alternator myself, in my last car, but that was a GM.

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks, in advance.
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