Yahoo! Mail     Daniel Stern  talks about  remanufactured  alternators.....

Alternator info etc.

Sunday, March 1, 2009
Okay, let's talk about alternators
 More generally, let's talk about "remanufactured" auto parts such as you can buy from parts stores and other lines of part supply. In one word, they're garbage. Don't buy them. I've got a good friend in the rotating-electrics industry; I've seen what goes into the "remanufactured" parts, and it's pure junk, through and through. Low-bid, low-spec Chinese consumables that don't even come close to meeting the OEM spec. And yes, that's even on the "lifetime" units.

I've had enough very bad experiences and helped enough people fix their cars (stranded by prematurely dead "remanufactured" electrics) that I very strongly warn people off of them. And even the ones that don't fail outright cause operational problems. Alternators with extremely poor low-RPM charging characteristics and/or "noisy"/jumpy output due to mismatched rotors and stators and low-quality diodes. Starters that sound like hell because the gears are mismatched and sandblasted. It's just not worth the price savings.

There's nothing inherent in the concept (or theory) of remanufacturing that precludes a consistently high-quality result. As is so often the case, the problems arise from the implementation, not the concept. In America, most of the market for remanufactured parts is more interested in out-the-door price than in the vagaries of quality and durability. People spend twenty minutes calling around asking for a price on a starter, then go fetch the one with the lowest quote. This is especially true where DIYers are concerned; mostly they're working on their own cars because they cannot or will not pay to have someone else do it. In that context, low price is king, and the money goes into glossy boxes and frilly "Lifetime Warranty!" certificates and gimmicky "100% new parts!" babble (not telling you anything about the cruddy unquality of those new parts...), while the parts themselves get treated as quickly as possible. So that's one vector for pressure towards low price and away from pesky quality concerns.

Another is that the items we're specifically discussing here are old! Many or most of them have been through the quick 'n' abusive, low-price-at-all-costs "remanufacturing" process several times. Critical casting dimensions have been blasted into oblivion...multiple times. Low-quality parts have replaced low-quality parts...multiple times. Stators and rotors have been mismatched...multiple times.

Even those parts sources that tended to carry a higher grade of refurbished rotating electricals (NAPA, CarQuest, Big-A, etc. in comparison to the consumer-grade places like Kragen, Schuck's, Autozone, Pep Boys, etc.) have lately been "aggressively moving to capture their share of the DIY market", which is MBA-speak for signing on to stock the dreck coming from A1-Cardone, Arrow, Champion Reman and the rest of the quick-n-cheap remanufacturers.

More recently, there's been a great deal of name-licensing to try to bolster confidence in reman parts by applying reputable OEM names to them. "Bosch Remanufactured". "AC-Delco Remanufactured". "Mopar Remanufactured". Nothing's different; the contract is farmed out to the low-bid factory where unskilled workers tear apart cores, abusively clean them with overharsh abrasives (destroying machined tolerances and protective surface finishes in the process), throw the mismatched parts of numerous different and marginally compatible originals back together using poor-quality Chinese consumables (brushes, bearings, diodes, etc.), spray 'em with clear coat that lasts all of 3 months, and throw 'em in "BOSCH" (or whatever) boxes together with a 3-color Certificate of Lifetime Warranty.

I've seen these operations at work. The "BOSCH" boxes are right next to the "ACDelco" boxes are right next to the "MOTORCRAFT" boxes are right next to the "MOPAR" boxes are right next to the "AUTOLITE" boxes are right next to the "CHAMPION" boxes are right next to the "Original Equipment reManufactured" boxes (not kidding about any of these, even the last ones).

I don't see it getting better any time soon in the automotive aftermarket. The latest gimmick is the "100% new" scam. Yeah, you can walk into a parts store and buy a "100% new!" alternator or starter or whatever for your 20-year-old car.  Sure...but they're brand-new, very low quality Chinese copycats.

Remember several years ago when President Bush visited a company called USA Industries to talk about how the American small business owner is the backbone of America? Maybe you don't remember this, but proudly posted on the White House website was a picture showing President Bush's visit to USA Industries in Bay Shore, NY, in March of 2004. He went there to trumpet his tax cuts' benefit to good old-fashioned American businesses like USA Industries.

Only one problem with all those starter/alternator boxes stacked up behind the smiling politicos, flanking the great big American flag:
The only thing American about USA Industries is the labor involved in unloading shipping pallets. USA Industries does not manufacture or remanufacture anything. They collect starter and alternator cores, sell 'em for scrap metal, and import Chinese copycat parts for insertion into flag-festooned "USA INDUSTRIES" boxes and distribution to your friendly local auto parts chain to be sold as "100% New from USA Industries!".

Alternator problems like low output at idle, flickery or spiky output, etc. are often greaty aggravated by the installation of a "remanufactured" alternator. These contain mismatched components from multiple different original alternators, which are physically interchangeable but electrically don't work properly together. There are many problems that can affect any alternator and reduce its output, make it flickery, etc. An open or shorted diode or another fault in one of the alternator's winding phases can cause the alternator to carry on working, but with reduced efficiency and output. Often, such alternators will pass the "tests" you can get done at the parts store.

Let's talk also about warranties.
"Lifetime warranty" means you get to spend your lifetime replacing failed parts under warranty. Sure, they'll usually give you another alternator (starter, carburetor, brake cylinder, distributor, whatever) but the overall effect is to make the car unreliable, which means the lifetime warranty is nothing but a sales tool.

All of the above applies equally to alternators, starters, brake master cylinders, carburetors, etc.

So what's the alternative? A careful bench rebuild by a qualified rotating-electrics house that uses quality parts. Ask what brand of components they use. WAI/Transpo is a good answer. I don't worry much about warranties. 30 days is plenty. If they accidentally screwed up or got a bad component, it'll show in that timeframe. I have never had trouble finding such a place anywhere I've lived. "Starters and alternators" or "alternators and starters" is a typical subject heading.


1. Aiming instructions for the new Night Hawk headlamps:

  Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2022
Daniel Stern talks about Adaptive LED Headlights

The popular media are largely getting this wrong in predictable ways.

ADB means adaptive driving beam. It is a camera-driven system that keeps
track of the position of other road users relative to the equipped car,
and selectively, dynamically shadows them out of what is otherwise a
high-beam light distribution. In theory, and as implemented everywhere
outside the USA, it resolves the century-old conflict between seeing and
glare; it removes the constraints exerted by static low and high beams.
(low beams of any and every kind give inadequate seeing light due to the
need for glare control).

Rest-of-world ADB systems can reduce glare and increase seeing to a much
greater degree than what NHTSA has just specified. What NHTSA has said
(finally, after over a decade's worth of foot-dragging) amounts to
"Sure, you can have ADB, as long as it is within the constraints that
also apply to fixed beams". They've said the shadow zone cannot be less
intense than a fixed, static low beam would be at that point in space,
and the un-shadowed zone cannot be more intense than a fixed, static
high beam would be at that point in space—thus kneecapping both of ADB's

The infrastructure law instructed NHTSA, in black-letter text, to allow
ADB in accord with SAE J3069 (which in turn more or less amounted to a
conversion of the rest-of-world UN standard into terms compatible with
the US legal system). NHTSA has asserted, at great length, that "NHTSA
shall permit ADB in accordance with SAE J3069" doesn't actually mean
they have to allow ADB in accordance with SAE J3069.

Specific headlamps and taillights are specified for the testing (2018
Ford F-150 and 2018 Toyota Camry headlamp and taillight, 2018
Harley-Davidson motorcycle headlamp and taillight, , but these, like all
other components, will eventually go out of production. The Harley
headlamp originally specified already went out of production while NHTSA
were taking their time writing this rule! NHTSA makes a vague claim that
they imagine later-year headlamps will be substituted by some future
amendment to the regulation, but NHTSA's track record on that kind of
thing is extremely poor; most likely this will become yet another
problematically outdated aspect of FMVSS 108.

Most US headlamps since 1999 have not been horizontally aim-adjustable,
for reasons that were spurious when codified by NHTSA 25 years ago.
Horizontal aimability is utterly necessary for ADB, and is made
unnecessarily expensive and problematic because NHTSA requires either
that headlamps be non-adjustable or that an aim indicator device be
present that proved expensive and unreliable.

In other words: yet again, now ADB (per the international standard) has
been working great with zero problems for 16 years and millions of
miles/kilometres, here comes NHTSA to say "We're right and the stupid
rest of the world is wrong" and issue a regulation that will make
US-spec ADB systems significantly inferior to those in the rest of the
world, and more expensive to make, and not compatible with rest-of-world
systems (thus even more expensive because duplicative engineering,
production, etc).