I was on a Facebook page just the other day talking to a fellow about a problem he was having that was related to his alternator. He wanted to know what to buy. He was getting lots of “advice”. I told him I bought a NAPA alternator in 2005 and have replaced it 4 times under warranty.
The economics of that beats buying new every few years. Is it inconvenience when the rebuilt alternator craps out every couple of years? Sure it is. But I don’t pay for them and if I bring it in and say its bad, they replace it no questions asked. They don’t even test it.
Would I like the quality of a new one? Who wouldn’t, but alas that is the nature of the car parts industry in America. They are absolutely hoping I lose my receipt and can’t claim the warranty. But, I’m a Land Rover owner and it is a personal challenge to every Land Rover owner to keep EVERY RECEIPT, FOREVER. To be completely honest I haven’t kept every receipt forever. But I have more than 50% of mine and anything with a warranty you can bet your butt I have the receipt.
So the day after I told the guy about lifetime warrantied parts. My battery light came on whilst I was commuting to work. I thought for sure I had lost a belt. I managed to get the Big White Bus to a parking lot in Moore and popped the bonnet and took a look. Belts were fine.
What are the symptoms? Well first you will notice your tachometer bouncing around. The tachometer gets its signal from the alternator. If the alternator is getting flaky you’ll notice the needle bouncing. When mine failed this time I had two tachometer settings, dead zero and around 4000 RPMs. I wasn’t running the engine anywhere near 4000 RPMs.
Knowing I didn’t have long before the battery would quit me I headed to the NAPA auto store in Moore. I got there before they opened. I waited for them to open. Once open I asked the young man inside to test the alternator. He told me I was 100% on battery. We went back inside and ordered the alternator. Of course there wasn’t one in Oklahoma. He ordered one from Dallas and said it would be in at this time tomorrow morning.
At this point I knew I had to get the Big White Bus back home. So I figured I make a run for it. If she quit me I would just have the tow service that I pay for haul me to the house.
I made it with no problems. The next day I drove up to the store and retrieved my replacement. Swapped it in 38 minutes. If the lower bolt had not been so hard to remove I’d been done easily at 25 minutes. I swapped the dead one (pictured above) back to NAPA and was credited for the replacement. The counter man and I exchanged pleasantries about stupid alternator locations and how heat is brutal on their electronics.
Heat is brutal, but using cheap parts is also not conducive to building a quality replacement. Something I intend to bring up with NAPA. I should not be replacing an alternator once a year. The last was December 2014.
So take it for what its worth. Rebuilt is rebuilt, and possibly rebuilt with inferior parts. But again, how can you beat 5 free alternators at 330$(US) each?
I will be getting another bench spare from Rover Cannibal just as soon as I can get back up there to pick it up.
Thanks for reading and Happy Rovering.