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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, before I install my 4th alternator on this car (not that much fun on the DOHC engine), I would like to know if anyone knows of anything that my Taurus might be doing to kill alternators. Here are the details:

2000 SE DOHC, 165,000 miles

June, 2006: Replaced OE alternator w/ Autolite (whatever Checker's top-of-the-line brand-new alternator with a lifetime warranty was at the time) at about 100,000 miles.

May, 2009 installed AutoZone's Duralast Gold (their top-of-the-line) at about 150,000 miles (Checker no longer sold a lifetime alternator, so got a refund instead and purchased the A.Z. alt)

Last month installed digital voltmeter and noticed voltage at idle was high 11's / low 12's, but no charging light on dash. Voltage would be in the 13's when driving. Took the car to AutoZone and they tested it in the car and said it was bad.

3 days after replacing it, I noticed voltage was periodically low at idle again but thought, "no way, this is a brand-new alternator". Just for kicks, I took it back to AutoZone again and, you guessed it, it tested bad. This one isn't as bad as the previous one (yet) as the cruising voltage is in the 14's and periodically the voltage at idle seems normal (mid 13's).

Some pertinent info: car has a 400 watt stereo system that during normal listening levels draws about 2.25 amps. No driving lights or any other aftermarket accessories. I never jump-start anyone, but a couple times in the last year I jump-started myself with a portable jump-starter (previous alternator). All battery connections are clean. Never have removed the battery while the engine is running. Installed one of those HHO (hydrogen from water in an attempt for better gas mileage.) systems about 3 years ago on the Checker alternator (probably caused its death - draws 30+ amps!), but removed it before the it died.

Anybody else have bad experiences with AutoZone's Duralast Gold alternators?

Thanks in advance for your help!
 

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No experience with the Duralast, but for a time my 98 Taurus was going through alternators like crazy. One lasted less than a year. Then I had a string of bad ones, all replaced under warranty.

Finally after like 5 of them in a couple of months, I asked the mechanic to check the wiring this time. He found some bad wires going to the alternator and replaced them. After that, the alternator lasted for years.

Then that one died, but I had it replaced. The next day, the battery died on me while driving. Turned out to be the voltage regulator on the new alternator.

This one has been fine ever since (that was probably 4 or 5 years ago).
 

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I have been through about 3 or 4 of the Duralast alternators in 7 years and 100k miles on my Vulcan, I have the lifetime warranty so i can't just switch brands without dropping a ton of money but i guess we just drive our cars hard.

Would installing a 1 Farad Capacitor into your system help with the power draw at all?
 

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Check all your grounds (see big 3 upgrade in topic finder) and wiring. Test the battery. I suspect it's more the quality of the parts your using, but rule out wiring/battery problems first. This time around, try spending more and get a genuine Motorcraft alternator. I now have 108k and never had an issue with the alternator.
 

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A capacitor will do nothing.
 

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I've heard many complaints about part store "rebuilt" alternators. People having to go threw a slew of them before getting a halfway OK one. If you can, you may want to see if you can have one rebuilt locally by someone or order an OEM/Motorcraft one from RockAuto :) TCCA gets 5% off too...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
What a great forum...I post my question, come back a few hours later and I've already got some helpful info.

Steelstr45
: even though your experience wasn't with Duralast, that tells me that they can be bad out of the box (or shortly thereafter). I will check the wiring to the alternator.

901-Memphis:
that really helps since that IS my alternator. Was yours brand-new or remanufactured? If remanufactured, I can kind of understand the failures because they may've cut corners on what they replaced, but brand-new it can only be inferior components or poor assembly quality.

Austex04
: thanks, I'll check out that topic. Just like 901-Memphis, I'm stuck in the Lifetime Warranty loop, but if it fails again, I might have to splurge on the OE part (does the Lemon-Law apply to automotive components?). My time is worth something.

Thanks everybody for your help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks, that is why I only buy new whenever possible. At least I hope I'm getting new. Didn't know we got a discount - good to know.
 

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All rebilts are gamble. I've rebilt 'em myself, bought 'em, sold 'em, watched 'em being done, U name it. If U saw the places doing the job, U'd need a strong stomach just to get to 'em. Dirty, nasty and done by low-paid staff w/ the cheapest facilities and whatever parts can be got usually at piecework rates, meaning the more done, the more money the rebilder gets w/QC hit or miss. But, that being said, I've been both lucky and unlucky...***(Harry Callahan voice)*** ...I've had some last decades(!) and some fail at install.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
That's consistent with what I've seen. I disassembled an out-of-the-box rebuilt alternator to powdercoat the casing, and I couldn't believe what I saw. Ever since then, I don't trust "rebuilt" parts and I buy new when available.
 

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I put on a new Remy alternator on my 97 that had a flaky diode pack out of the box. The lights flickered when the car dropped down to idle, but only for a second. I was so tired I decided to live with it. Damn thing was almost $200. :( And I bought a brand new Remy starter for my Ranger that locked up its solenoid right out of the box, truck kept starting even when I pulled the key out.

The "factory certified" parts that the local Ford dealer sells are just ridiculously overpriced rebuilt parts, probably done by the same guys that rebuilt the Autozone/Advance crap. What can you do...
 

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All of my Duralast Golds are rebuilds

All of them have lasted at least a year. Once i figured out they were junk i knew i was stuck with it due to a lifetime warranty, but changing alternators on the vulcan is about a 30 minute job after having already bought the belt kit and doing it a few times.
 

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All of my Duralast Golds are rebuilds

All of them have lasted at least a year. Once i figured out they were junk i knew i was stuck with it due to a lifetime warranty, but changing alternators on the vulcan is about a 30 minute job after having already bought the belt kit and doing it a few times.
Sure the Duralast junk has a lifetime warranty, and the alt is easy to change on a Vulcan, but what is it worth to you to not have a failure once a year..... possible tow, time lost from not being able to get to work, stranded somewhere half way across the country, etc? I know what the hassle is worth to me......I take 2 to 4 2000 to 4000+ mile round trip road trips a year, and will not tollerate random failures of junk parts, especially on the road. I have put probably close to 400,000 miles in on cross country trips, often in 10+ year old, 100K ++ mile cars, in the last 39 years, and never had any failures / problems. Why? I keep my cars in tip top condition and I ALWAYS buy the highest quality parts, new if available.

The moral: spend the $$ to get the highest quality, new parts for your car.
 

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No matter if the alternator is rebuilt, reman, or new, have it bench tested before leaving the store.

BTW this goes for ANY electrical item!!!!

Then run the vehicle by your favorite autoparts store & ask for their test guru to do a no cost, in vehicle electrical system checkup, via their portable electrical system tester.

Expertly & Correctly used, it can properly load test the vehicles electrical system & will likely find any weak points, like shorted, leaky, or weak battery cells, or alternator diodes, bad high resistance battery cables, or loose corroded electrical connections, improperly tensioned drive belt, excessive parasitic drain, ect, ect.

I've not had to replace any of my alternators, so I don't have any personal expierence to add to the pool, but I've heard plenty of grumblings about rebuilt & reman electrical parts.

All the more reason to have ANY electrical part bench tested if possible, Before leaving the store with it.

Will it guarantee long life, no, but it'll likely catch bad parts right out of the box & most infant mortality problems that show up with the first work load!!!!

So taking the time & trouble to do a bench test, sure is a lot less aggrivating than having to do the job over again. Don't ask how I came to realize this!!!! lol
 

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Andy, You can get bunk parts even from Motorcraft. I've had experience with Duralast, and only had 1 issue that was replaced for free. (faulty solenoid). I would highly recommend you have it rewound or repaired at a local facility that can do so. Many of them will give you a good price and a warranty.
 

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I simply don't have the cash to replace my Duralast Gold and there is no reason to since its been running strong for a year with the new battery.

If it dies i replace it again under warranty. I just don't have an extra $200 to pay to replace something thats working, as i am sure most do it yourselfers are not the wealthiest of people.
 

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I never have alternator problems when I run the Motorcraft ones. Just for kicks though, I do have a volt meter installed to make sure things are on the up and up.

Some thread awhile back talked about how the voltage regulators on the aftermarket and rebuilt units don't do as well as the original ones. It was a consensus that you should swap over the regulator from the original alternator since it is of superior quality. (They were talking about duratec engines specifically if I remember right.)
 

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Clean all connections including your grounds. Replace your battery terminals (cu t off the oem ones, and expose new wire) Make sure you don't cute too much off. By good quality terminals, the $3 ones will only last you 6 months or so. Buy some spray on battery terminal protector and use it. Have you had your battery tested?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Again, thanks everyone for your 2 cents - there are some good ideas and helpful experience in there. I have the new new alternator in my hands ready to install this Saturday - hopefully the 5th time's the charm. Having it tested is a good idea, I'm going to bring it back and have them do that. I don't believe that wouldn't have helped with the current one, however, because it was good out of the box and worked well for 3 days.

I am definitely with Jeff K - even though the part is backed and I am able to do the work, I don't like the uncertainty of a random failure when I'm on the road. A few years ago, an alternator I almost bought from Napa came with free towing if it failed, but it was a reman so I passed on it.

Again, I am just so disappointed that a brand new part has this many problems. If you read their website, it's the best thing since air conditioning. One thing I need to ask is, can I get a refund if this one fails.

I'll post an update late next week to let everyone know how it's doing.
 
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