What’s the best alternator brand?
Many companies sell alternators, but what’s the best alternator brand? Here’s the scoop on the current state of alternators.
New alternators versus rebuilt alternators
Twenty years ago your only choice was a new alternator from the dealer or a rebuilt alternator from the auto parts store. So really, your choice was; spend $450 at the dealer or $125 at the auto parts store for a rebuilt. Back then, local rebuilders picked up used parts from the junk yards and rebuilt them. They installed new bearings, brushes/springs, cleaned up the slip rings, installed a new diode trio, rectifier and a new voltage regulator (if equipped). They sand blasted the case, reassembled and tested the unit.
Local rebuilders were divided into two categories; those that used high quality replacement parts and offered a high quality rebuilt for a higher price, and those that slapped in the cheapest parts possible to sell at a low price. Here’s what’s changed in the rebuilt market
1) Local rebuilders are out of business. They simply couldn’t compete with the large regional rebuilding companies that rebuild in large quantities.
2) Regional rebuilders now dominate the business. Some sell under their own brand name, while others private label for major national brands. If they’re rebuilding for a national brand, they must meet the brand’s pre-set quality and testing standards.
Are rebuilt alternators any good?
That depends. If you buy a brand name rebuilt alternator, you’ll probably have much better luck than buying the same alternator under a no-name brand, store brand or private label brand. Those non-name brand alternators use the cheapest parts so they can compete against the higher quality brands. Even though they provide a lifetime warranty, that’s really not an indication of quality. Trust me, you’ll be using that warranty several times over the life of the unit.
What’s the problem with low quality rebuilt alternators?
As I said above, during a rebuild they replace these parts:
• Front and rear bearings
• Diode trio and rectifier
• Brushes and springs
• Voltage regulator (if equipped)
It’s the voltage regulator that’s the main trouble spot. Modern voltage regulators are solid state and operated by software. If the regulator is located inside the alternator, the rebuilder can buy a genuine brand with the car maker’s software or they can buy a knock-off brand with outsourced software. That’s where the problems occur—the software doesn’t match the car makers’ software.
If the voltage regulation is built into the PCM, as in most late model cars and trucks, the electronics in the alternator must communicate properly with the PCM. Again, if the software doesn’t match, you’re going to have problems.
On the mechanical side, if the rebuild was done properly, even low quality bearings, brushes and springs should work properly for a while. If the rebuilder properly tested and reconditioned the rotor and stator, those should also work fine out of the box. If a cheap unit works right out of the box, you’re doing better than most. Just don’t count on it lasting as long as a new or brand name rebuilt unit.
What’s going on in the new alternator business?
Let’s look at who’s who in the new alternator business
Bosch—European supplier of OEM parts
Remy—Formerly known as Delco Remy and then Remy International. Delco Remy was owned by GM and then spun off. The Remy brand is now owned by Borg Warner. Remy sells new and rebuilt alternators
Denso—Manufacturer of aftermarket parts. Spun off from Toyota
AC Delco—The AC Delco brand is the aftermarket parts division of GM. They manufacture parts for sale through auto parts wholesalers and retailers.
Motorcraft—The Motorcraft brand is Ford’s aftermarket parts division. They sell new and rebuilt alternators.
TYC Genera—TYC is a Taiwan based company that manufacturers new automotive parts or OEM and aftermarket sellers. TYC is an OEM supplied for Ford, GM, HSV, Isuzu, Blue Bird, Navistar, Daimler Truck, Prevost, BMW Motorrad, Ducati, MV Agusta, Triumph, Kymco, Kawasaki, Sanyang, Suzuki & others as well as OE after sales service parts & accessories such as BMW Group , Chrysler Mopar, Ford Motorcraft & GM Service. They manufacture new alternators, fans, blower motors, headlights, body parts.
Magneti Marelli—Fiat Chrysler Auto’s aftermarket parts division.
Should you buy a new or rebuilt alternator?
I would always choose a new alternator made by a reputable
manufacturer like Remy or TYC over a rebuilt unit. However, if your budget can’t handle the price, choose a rebuilt unit from a reputable rebuilder like Remy, Denso, Bosch, Motocraft, Magneti Marelli
©, 2018 Rick MuscoplatPosted on by Rick Muscoplat