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Dave's Garage

Dave Sander [ December 2012 ]

"Alternative" Preventative Maintenance

I recently embarked on the task of winterizing my vehicles. I realized that my Subaru still has the original alternator, and it has 195,000 miles on it. I have never had an alternator last this long. When I brought the car in for an inspection, I asked the guy how often they replaced alternators on Subarus. He said they replace a few. I asked him how many miles do they last. He told me they can go at anywhere between 80,000 and 150-160,000. Hum. I called Auto Electric in Williston and asked them how long this particular alternator lasts. They said they seem to last between 100,000 and 150,000 miles. I asked what wears out, and they said the basic wear items- brushes and bearings, but the rest of the alternator holds up well. I asked what it would cost to recondition a working alternator and was quoted between $50 and $80.
I priced re- manufactured alternators and saw prices starting in the range of $150.00 and quickly going up well past $200.00 (not including the core charge).
I removed the alternator and decided to bring it in. The first thing I noticed is that when I spun the pulley, the bearings sounded rough. Auto Electric replaced the bearings, brushes and the regulator. The brushes were almost completely gone, and the bearings made noise. Final cost was $80, or less than half what it would have cost to buy a re-manufactured alternator. This remedy also avoided a potential road side break down and unplanned down time.
Penetrating fluid update:
Recently I recommended a mixture of acetone and ATF as an alternate penetrating oil, and I stated that I would try it and report back with my findings. I have done a lot of work recently, work involving removing very rusted nuts and bolts, pressing out frozen bearings, freeing heavily rusted frozen parking brakes, and removing brake bleeder nipples and hydraulic fittings.
I am happy to report that this home brewed concoction has worked very well, exceeding my expectations. The only down side is that the ATF and acetone do not like to remain in suspension, so I have to shake my oil can before each use. The fluid needs to be kept in a sealed container, as acetone evaporates quickly.
I hope you try it, and have as much success as I have had.


Please email all inquiries to: Dave
or snail mail
32 Turkey Hill Road
Richmond VT 05477

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