From Convenience to a Headache
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So this review starts 6 weeks and 2 days ago with my girlfriend driving home from RN schooling at 9:30PM. I get phone call from her stating that the battery light is on and I immediately jump to action and search all the parts houses that are still open at this time of night. Advance nothing, O'reilly not until the next day, Autozone 2 in stock. This is great I'll get this changed out and the vehicle will be ready for her to go to work the next day. Install goes smoothly, hook up the Midtronics handheld tester everything is working great. I'm the hero of the day, that is until 2 weeks later.
While meeting previously mentioned girlfriend for lunch she complains that the charge light is on again. I find it hard to believe, but I exchange it and take her vehicle back to the shop to test the charging system. On the way back I observe that the light will shut off when the engine is above 2500 rpm. I'm speculating that maybe the belt is slipping a little, but feel that it is unlikely since I installed a brand new belt with the alternator. I test the charging system once again with the Midtronics handheld and again it passes, so I give the alternator a couple of turns on the adjuster.
We'll fast forward another 3 weeks and the girlfriend is starting to complain that the charge light is starting to come on with some regularity. Still finding it hard to believe that an alternator would be failing this rapidly, I give her the justification that the car is old and maybe the dash electronics have some resistance in them and it is falsely setting them off. It is at this point that I told her I would look at the vehicle this coming weekend and diagnose what the problem is.
Well, this is where the story gets fun. Friday was judgement day for the alternator. You can imagine my delight as I received a phone call from my girlfriend while I was at work informing that the car would no longer start in the parking lot of Target where she was shopping with her two kids. I told her that I was in the middle of finishing up a car at work and would run down as soon as I could to get it started and get it home which is about a mile away. I grab a jump pack and some test equipment and run quick while I'm still waiting for parts to finish up the car that is on my hoist at work. I get to Target hook the jump pack up get the vehicle started and drive it to the back of the lot to test what's going on. I hook up the Midtronics tester and find that the alternator is charging at 7 volts at idle. I'm in a hurry to get back to work and I tell my girlfriend to follow me with my vehicle while I limped hers home on the battery pack. I had to leave the hood unlatched to keep the battery pack hooked up. I noticed it was a bit windy; but pressed for time and needing to get back to work I was willing to take the risk, since it was a short drive on low speed side streets. This would be a decision that I would later regret as about 5 min later a strong gust came up and began lifting the hood. Torn between fully slamming the brakes on to try to counteract the wind and potentially launching the jump pack and just letting the hood hit the windshield full force I opted for a braking point somewhere in between. The plus in all this is at least the windshield didn't break, but by this point my level of agitation was reaching record levels. I get back to work where thankfully the other tech helped me out and finished up my job in my absence, this allowed me the time to make a phone call to the local rotating electrical rebuilder that I've used trouble free for years and find out that they're $30 cheaper at walk-in pricing.
But, the story isn't quite done yet. Being as I now have a sour taste in my mouth I just want to return the alternator for a full refund and pull it off quickly and head over to Autozone. I walk up to the counter and express my disdain to the counterman about the alternator and that I just want a refund so that I can use a supplier that I trust. I'm informed at this point that this isn't how the warranty works and that a history of failures is required for a refund. Given my background of working in a repair shop there is no way that I would subject a customer to a history of failures, ever! I responded that it was unacceptable for me to be given a replacement alternator as I did not want to risk this same problem. The counterman did take care of me and provide a refund, so I am thankful that he understood the situation and worked with me and therefor have no complaint with him.
I'll end with this, that in a pinch I have used you because the parts have been in stock; but with much apprehension. I say apprehension, because I just don't feel confident in the reliability of the products that you sell. I ultimately understand parts fail, but to fail in under 2 months is just not acceptable.
Pros: The job is easier the second time around, You'll always have a new alternator, Gives you something to do on a Friday night
Cons: It won't be your last trip to Autozone because you have to go back and get it warrantied, It stops working at an inconvenient time, Very unhappy girlfriend/wife and probably kids