Are rebuilt alternators just as good as manufacturer supplied alternators?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jul 01, 1999

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a white, '92 Toyota Corolla, which I purchased used in 1995. When I bought it, there were 60,000 miles on the odometer. Less than six months later, it needed a
new alternator. I took it to my favorite mechanics (not the dealer) and had a rebuilt alternator installed. A year and a half later, it needed another rebuilt alternator.
Recently, I broke down again and needed yet another alternator. I was towed to a Toyota dealer. They said that the reason my alternators kept breaking is because they
weren't Toyota alternators, as they should have been. Do you agree with them? My mechanic does not. -- Lois

TOM: Well, Lois, at least now you know why the previous owner sold this car with only 60,000 miles on it. He was going broke on the alternators!

RAY: Actually, this is pretty typical of rebuilt alternators. Unfortunately, there are lots of companies that rebuild alternators and many of them, in my opinion, do a
substandard job. A lot of the rebuilds are poorly made, and they only last a year or a year and a half. And it's entirely possible that your last two alternators have been
lousy rebuilds.

TOM: In my experience, Toyota's rebuilt alternators are somewhat better than other rebuilt alternators. So you may have better luck with one you get from the dealer.

RAY: On the other hand, alternator failure can be brought on, or at least hurried along, by having a belt that's too tight. When you overtighten the belt, you put extra
wear and tear on the alternator bearings, which will cause early failure.

TOM: And it's very easy, with the grooved, serpentine belt that this car uses, to accidentally tighten it too much. In fact, my brother overtightened so many in the 1980s
that he won six consecutive "Man of the Year" awards from the International Association of Alternator Rebuilders.

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