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Old 01-26-2013, 10:16 AM   #1
zeicher
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Alternator - to buy from Ford or Advance Auto?

Good Morning,

my boyfriend is having to replace his moms alternator on her focus, i know when we worked on mine it was recommended that we not buy non ford manufactured part when dealing with the O2 sensor, is it the same for the alternator? or in that fact any engine parts?

thanks

Zan



Last edited by zeicher; 01-26-2013 at 10:23 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 01-26-2013, 10:30 AM   #2
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if you have the time, get the alternator rebuilt by a local shop.
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Old 01-26-2013, 12:10 PM   #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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Old 01-26-2013, 12:15 PM   #4
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OH, if you do want a Motorcraft replacement, please check out Village Ford, our vendor, they sell us parts at Ford Employee prices (real cheap), and that might be a decent option if you're able to wait a few days for shipping.
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Old 01-26-2013, 05:46 PM   #5
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I fully recommend getting the alternator rebuilt by a local shop too. Mine went out on me and I had an extensive chat with the mechanic who said I needed a 400 dollar alternator. Apparently a lot of the alternators being built for our cars use garbage components, but a rebuild shop will actually use good quality stuff to rebuild it. If that alternator comes back through their door, they lose money, whereas a shop in China can take a 40 dollar loss on parts.
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Old 01-26-2013, 06:17 PM   #6
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I would also recommend a local rebuild.
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Old 01-27-2013, 12:26 PM   #7
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$400!!!! fffffffffffffdat! If that's what they charge up there, I'm not sure I want to consider moving to WA. I'll rebuild that slut puppy myself if it costs more than $100. It had better be a 200 amp aftermarket alt with an external VR before I'll consider $400.

The guy who rebuilt mine only replaces what is bad- which is all I want. In my case it was bearings, field brushes, and the VR. What wasn't bad, and he said would've cost another $85, was the pulley. Apparently, at least 05+, our alternators have a special pulley that prevents the alternator from spinning backwards, and dampens sudden jumps forward. This is what all manufacturers are going to now because it extends the life of the alternator dramatically. He said that some of those will last forever, and some will go out with the alternator. I haven't inspected an alternator pulley closely, but he didn't have any reason to lie since he didn't charge me for it. My OEM lasted 140k miles. I don't expect alternators to last more than 100k.
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Old 01-27-2013, 12:39 PM   #8
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It's not also so much the rebuild itself, it is the install. I don't know if all the Focus's are the same. But a lift comes in handy when having to access the alternator, plus putting the belt back on.
On 10/2010 at roughly 50K. I had to replace mine plus parts. The alternator, idler pulley, and pulley was $345. My Mechanic does not go to Autozone, I am pretty sure he buys from NAPA with the exception of Ford only if necessary.
What I do know, is the parts are of good quality, I never have to go back and have it done again unless it is a defect within the car. And doing my research, the 07 Focus has a less than reliable electrical system.
At any rate, it cost me a painful $500 to replace it. Unfortunately with today's cars. They may be built better, but some us do not have the capacity or resources to fix them ourselves.
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Old 01-27-2013, 01:40 PM   #9
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Be careful with NAPA. In an effort to compete they are being dragged the way of Carquest, OReilly, Autozone and the rest of them.

NAPA does try to get better rebuilders to do their stuff, but they are constantly being compared to the cheaper chain stores and they cannot do the same as direct to a local rebuilder can.

When you go to a local auto electrical rebuilder with your part (or your mechanic does) there is only 1 person taking a cut of the transaction. When you go to NAPA there's another pair of hands involved. Plus, a local rebuilder isn't going to spend the labor glass-beading the casing to clean it up and make it look all pretty for retail-sale. Instead the money you pay to a local rebuilder is all going into required labor and parts.

And NAPA also sells the same garbage grade parts like the infamous Anchor Zetec passenger engine mount with a reputation of failing in 6 months that Autozone does. The only difference is they only warranty those for a year, Autozone lifetime warrantys them.
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Old 01-27-2013, 01:51 PM   #10
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Be careful with NAPA. In an effort to compete they are being dragged the way of Carquest, OReilly, Autozone and the rest of them.

NAPA does try to get better rebuilders to do their stuff, but they are constantly being compared to the cheaper chain stores and they cannot do the same as direct to a local rebuilder can.

When you go to a local auto electrical rebuilder with your part (or your mechanic does) there is only 1 person taking a cut of the transaction. When you go to NAPA there's another pair of hands involved. Plus, a local rebuilder isn't going to spend the labor glass-beading the casing to clean it up and make it look all pretty for retail-sale. Instead the money you pay to a local rebuilder is all going into required labor and parts.

And NAPA also sells the same garbage grade parts like the infamous Anchor Zetec passenger engine mount with a reputation of failing in 6 months that Autozone does. The only difference is they only warranty those for a year, Autozone lifetime warrantys them.
I am not 100 percent sure my Mechanic uses NAPA. I was speculating, and he has been fixing my car for many years.
He is also very reputable, so I am sure he is careful not to put cheap low end parts since his name is on the repair bill.
So wherever the parts come from, I have yet to go back because it failed. ;-) I agree though, that the OP go to an electrical shop and have the alternator rebuilt, if it is their intention is to fix it themselves.
I sometimes laugh when people say, stay away from the dealership. If you don't have a Mechanic you can trust. Then one advantage to the dealership, is their expertise is Ford's.
Your trade off is higher premiums. But find a dealership with a reputable service department, and that is peace of mind in itself.
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