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Old 01-26-2013, 11:10 AM   #3
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^^ You should be able to find a local "Auto parts rebuilder" by making some phone calls with the yellow pages. These people probably won't advertise on the internet. Their business model is mostly business to business- these are the places that rebuild parts (alternators and starters) for local repair shops. You might even be able to call a local shop and ask who they would go to in order to get an alternator rebuilt. If not, check the yellow pages. In Richmond, there might even be more than one, so call around.

To explain why: big chain parts stores have lots of parts rebuilt by the lowest bidder. These use the cheapest parts in order to get the rebuild price low. These are your lifetime warranty parts. The big chain stores purchase these so cheap, and charge so much that you can get several alternators before they start to lose money. Even when they do lose money on one customer, there are thousands who never came back for a second for whatever reason. It has been our experience that more than half of these lifetime warranty parts will last 3-6 months.

The local parts rebuilder has a different business model. When a part comes back under warranty, they lose money when the part comes back in the store on labor and rebuild parts. It is to their advantage to use higher quality parts- like the voltage regulator- when rebuilding.

Bonus? It's also cheaper. The bummer: it usually takes a day. You'll take your part in to them in the morning, and pick it up that afternoon. Some might be better, but that's what you should expect. I had my alternator rebuild for $85, and the price for a lifetime warranty part from a chain store was $160. Still, you should call around IMO. Always do what you think is best for you. Maybe being without the car for a day is not acceptable, or there are no local rebuilders who can complete the job on the same day.
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