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92CelicaHalfTrac
92CelicaHalfTrac MegaDork
12/18/12 12:20 p.m.

This is what Sunday and Monday looked like.

So on Thursday, i notice that my AFRs are doing weird things at night while cruising on the highway. Randomly spiking up in the 17-18:1 range, car is bogging every time, just generally eating E36 M3. I figure out that it's due to a voltage drop. That night, i check all my grounds, fuel pump connections, etc etc etc... everything checks out. Battery voltage seems normal.

Then i let it warm up, and hit every accessory on, and we check voltage across the terminals. Drops randomly into the 9v range. Oops. Dead alternator.

Decide we'll fix it Sunday.

So Sunday, i figure out how to pull the alternator out of the car easily. (Helps to not have a real exhaust, and plan on doing an oil change at the same time.) My buddy and i then go down to my parts car and yank the alternator off that one as well, just in case for whatever reason. (Yay for sawzall!)

We go to the Autozone hub to pick up one of the only two alternators that they have in stock in probably... the entire state. I buy a new oil filter and some oil at the same time, since i crushed the old filter taking it off to make room to drop the alternator.

Go back to buddy's house. (Half an hour) Put on alternator, put on new filter, fill with oil. Start car. All systems go. Drive 2 miles down the road to have some welding done for Escort parts. Drive back. E36 M3 hits the fan, same problem, but worse.

Multimeter verifies huge voltage drops, alternator outputting less than 12v.

Call hub, have them hold the other alternator for me, tell them i'll be there in the morning to swap. Pull off alternator again. (Crushing 4 mile old oil filter in the process.)

Buddy has "new" alternator tested in the morning at autozone down the road. Failed every test with flying colors. SWMBO drives me up to the hub to meet him to swap alternators. (I had to call in to work. Yay.) We swap, request that they test the new alternator before we go back and put it on. This store doesn't have the N-10 lead necessary to test this alternator. I buy another oil filter.

We drive 30 minutes back to his house, this time being smart and having the new new alternator tested at the Autozone down the street. Another one DOA. Outputting only 11.5v on the test. We tested it three times to make sure.

Drive back to hub. (3rd trip in a day and a half!) Inform hub that the second new one is bad as well. Manager has a horrible attitude about the whole thing, saying something like "Well i feel like you're screwing us, and i can't even prove it because we don't have the lead to test this thing." Luckily, i had had the results printed out from the other store, and showed it. This seemed to make their attitude worse.

"Well, what do you want me to do about it? It's going to be a few days before i can get another one."

Yeah, well.... i just want my money and my core back.

Dude brings out wrong core. Gets E36 M3ty when i point out that it's not the right alternator. Tries to argue with me. I win argument.

Money and core are returned.

I call Advance, am told that their Castleton location has an alt for a 1990 MX6 GT automatic trans. Perfect, it's swappable. We drive there. Store doesn't have it. Store can order both manual and auto and have it by Noon. Perfect, we do this. Manager is nice and when the alternators arrive, he puts it in his inventory so we can order online and use coupons.

We go back and pick up alternator. Store can't test it. We drive back to Autozone that did all the prior testing. Their lead is now dead, can't test. Drive to ANOTHER Autozone, alternator tests out perfectly.

Go back to car, put on 3rd new alternator and 2nd new oil filter in 4 miles, car is fine.

Unfortunately, Autozone REALLY soured this whole experience. It's one thing to get a bad run of parts, it's REALLY another thing to spend a E36 M3load in gas to have to run back and forth between the hub and the other autozone because their damn HUB doesn't have the test lead to test oh i dunno... EVERY Mazda and Ford alternator made within a 2 decade period, and THEN get treated badly by the staff at the hub simply because they're selling me bad parts.

No more Autozone parts for me.

4cylndrfury
4cylndrfury UltimaDork
12/18/12 12:24 p.m.

yep, advance for the win, autozone for the omfgloseorz

N Sperlo
N Sperlo UltimaDork
12/18/12 12:28 p.m.

I just use Advance. Mine has a transmission rebuilder and a full time mechanic in case I need some real help. Autozone has a cellphone salesman.

dean1484
dean1484 UltraDork
12/18/12 12:33 p.m.

I would do a little investigating and write a carefully worded letter to corporate and / or an email as well and reference this thread.

All I can say is that although i have had bad luck with a couple specific autozone parts I have developed a relationship with the guys at the counter at my local store and they have gone the extra mile for me a couple times. Just being able to roam around there parts racks behind the counter is worth its weight in gold.

However when the counter people reference the "house brand" as "value crap" Corporate really should evaluate things. If they don't eventually they will only be selling fuzzy dice, air fresheners and stick on hood vents. Real car guys will move on.

SilverFleet
SilverFleet Dork
12/18/12 12:33 p.m.

I worked for Autozone for over 4 years as a manager and commercial sales guy. None of that surprises me. The store I worked at (it was a hub store BTW) was the only one in the damn state that had any sort of clue when it came to parts or testing cars/parts. I would never shop at any of the others.

There's a reason why I drive right by the Autozone that's less than a mile from my house on the way to the Advance that's 10-15 miles from my house when I need parts. They are that bad, and completely useless in a pinch.

dean1484
dean1484 UltraDork
12/18/12 12:38 p.m.

I did a little looking around the autozone web site and found this.

With a little bit more internet sloothing I bet there email address are findable.

Board of Directors William C. Crowley William C. Crowley William C. Crowley, 54, has been a director since 2008. Mr. Crowley has been President and Chief Operating Officer of ESL Investments, Inc., a private investment firm, since January 1999. He served as Executive Vice President of Sears Holdings Corporation, a broadline retailer, from March 2005 until January 2011, and was a director from March 2005 until May 2010. Additionally, he served as Chief Administrative Officer of Sears Holdings Corporation from September 2005 until August 2010. Mr. Crowl... Sue E. Gove Nominating & Corporate Governance ChairmanSue E. Gove Nominating & Corporate Governance Chairman Sue E. Gove, 54, has been a director since 2005. She has been the President of Golfsmith International Holdings, Inc. since February 2012 and Chief Operating Officer of Golfsmith International Holdings, Inc. since September 2008. She was Executive Vice President from September 2008 through July 2012 and was Chief Financial Officer from March 2009 through July 2012. Ms. Gove previously had been a self-employed consultant since April 2006, serving clients in specialty retail and private equity.... Earl G. Graves, Jr. Lead Director, Compensation Committee ChairmanEarl G. Graves, Jr. Lead Director, Compensation Committee Chairman Earl G. Graves, Jr., 50, has been a director since 2002 and was elected Lead Director in January 2009. He has been the President and Chief Executive Officer of Earl G. Graves Publishing Company, publisher of Black Enterprise Magazine, since January 2006, and was President and Chief Operating Officer from 1998 to 2006. Mr. Graves has been employed by the same company in various capacities since 1988.... Robert R. Grusky Robert R. Grusky Robert R. Grusky, 54, has been a director since 2008. Mr. Grusky founded Hope Capital Management, LLC, an investment firm for which he serves as Managing Member, in 2000. He co-founded New Mountain Capital, LLC, a private equity firm, in 2000 and was a Principal, Managing Director and Member of New Mountain Capital from 2000 to 2005 and has been a Senior Advisor since then. From 1998 to 2000, Mr. Grusky served as President of RSL Investments Corporation, the primary investment vehicle for the Ho... Enderson Guimaraes Enderson Guimaraes Enderson Guimaraes, 53, was elected as a director on October 17, 2012. He is the Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo Europe, a role he assumed in September 2012. He was President of PepsiCo Global Operations from October 2011 to September 2012. Mr. Guimaraes previously had served as Executive Vice President of Electrolux and Chief Executive Officer of its major appliances business in Europe, Africa and the Middle East from 2008 to October 2011. Prior to this, Mr. Guimaraes spent 10 years at Phi... J.R. Hyde, III J.R. Hyde, III J. R. Hyde, III, 69, has been a director since 1986 and was non-executive Chairman of the Board from 2005 until June 2007. He has been the President of Pittco, Inc., an investment company, since 1989 and has been the Chairman of the Board and a director of GTx, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company since 2000. Mr. Hyde, AutoZone’s founder, was AutoZone’s Chairman from 1986 to 1997 and its Chief Executive Officer from 1986 to 1996. He was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Malone & Hyde, Auto... W. Andrew McKenna Audit Committee ChairmanW. Andrew McKenna Audit Committee Chairman W. Andrew McKenna, 66, has been a director since 2000 and served as Lead Director from June 2007 through January 2009. He is retired. Until his retirement in 1999, he had held various positions with The Home Depot, Inc., including Senior Vice President–Strategic Business Development from 1997 to 1999; President, Midwest Division from 1994 to 1997; and Senior Vice President–Corporate Information Systems from 1990 to 1994. He was also President of SciQuest.com, Inc. in 2000. Mr. McKenna was a ... George R. Mrkonic, Jr. George R. Mrkonic, Jr. George R. Mrkonic, Jr., 60, has been a director since 2006. He has been the Non-Executive Chairman of Paperchase Products Limited, London, UK, a retailer of cards, stationery, wraps and gifts in the UK, Europe and the Middle East, since 2005, and has been a director since 1999. Previously, he was President of Borders Group, Inc. from 1994 to 1997 and Vice Chairman of Borders Group, Inc. from 1994 to 2002. He is also a director of Brinker International, Inc., Syntel, Inc. and Pacific Sunwear o... Luis P. Nieto Luis P. Nieto Luis P. Nieto, 57, has been a director since 2008. He is president of Nieto Advisory LLC which provides advisory services to small consumer food companies. He was president of the Consumer Foods Group of ConAgra Foods Inc., one of the largest packaged foods companies in North America, from 2008 until his retirement in June 2009. Previously, he was president of ConAgra Refrigerated Foods from 2006 to 2008 and ConAgra Meats from 2005 to 2006. Prior to joining ConAgra, Mr. Nieto was President a... William C. Rhodes, III Chairman, President and Chief Executive OfficerWilliam C. Rhodes, III Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer William C. Rhodes, III, 47, was elected Chairman in June 2007. He has been President, Chief Executive Officer, and a director since 2005. Prior to his appointment as President and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Rhodes was Executive Vice President–Store Operations and Commercial. Prior to fiscal 2005, he had been Senior Vice President–Supply Chain and Information Technology since fiscal 2002, and prior thereto had been Senior Vice President–Supply Chain since 2001. Prior to that time, he served... Senior Officers Mark A. Finestone Senior Vice President – Merchandising, Customer Satisfaction William T. Giles Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President – Finance, Information Technology and ALLDATA, Customer Satisfaction Harry L. Goldsmith Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, Customer Satisfaction William W. Graves Senior Vice President – Supply Chain and International, Customer Satisfaction Ronald B. Griffin Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Customer Satisfaction Lisa R. Kranc Senior Vice President – Marketing, Customer Satisfaction Thomas B. Newbern Senior Vice President – Store Operations and Store Development, Customer Satisfaction Robert D. Olsen Corporate Development Officer, Customer Satisfaction Charlie Pleas, III Senior Vice President and Controller, Customer Satisfaction William C. Rhodes Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Customer Satisfaction Larry Roesel Senior Vice President – Commercial, Customer Satisfaction Michael A. Womack Senior Vice President – Human Resources, Customer Satisfaction
fidelity101
fidelity101 Reader
12/18/12 12:40 p.m.

I had a similar experience with Nappa on an FD alternator for my rx7. The sticker said it tested fine but as soon as I installed it, it just smoked the belt and the pulley changed color.

Bearings were dry out of the box! And I was also out 2 more belts :(

dean1484
dean1484 UltraDork
12/18/12 12:45 p.m.

And a little more digging found this. (use at your own risk)

http://free.salesfuel.com/CoIntell/CoDetailsPersonnel.aspx?CompanyID=76314

And the even more funny part is that there is an advanced autoparts add in the middle of the listing for the autozone corporate listings. LOL

Sky_Render
Sky_Render HalfDork
12/18/12 12:46 p.m.

What's a "hub" store?

xflowgolf
xflowgolf Reader
12/18/12 12:48 p.m.

I don't have any empirical proof that it's better, but I've had good luck with using Advance Auto Parts vs. Autozone for cheap parts or emergency repair stuff where I don't want to pony up for good name stuff or wait for something to ship from an online provider. Lucky for me there's an Advance across the street from my local Autozone so I just turn left instead of right.

dculberson
dculberson SuperDork
12/18/12 12:48 p.m.

You're lucky you got your core back! I had a reman brake caliper come with the wrong mounting bracket (it was a driver's side caliper on the passenger side bracket), and unfortunately I had already returned my core so I couldn't just swap brackets. I went back to the NAPA and we compared every caliper they had in stock for the car and they were all on passenger side brackets. They had already sent my core in, so I ended up having to order a caliper with bracket from Rock Auto and just eat their core charge. I might have been able to get something from NAPA if I kicked up a fuss but at that point I was just happy to have the car back on the road.

92CelicaHalfTrac
92CelicaHalfTrac MegaDork
12/18/12 12:49 p.m.
Sky_Render wrote: What's a "hub" store?

Warehouse... they have two main "hubs" in this city that feed all the other smaller stores.

92CelicaHalfTrac
92CelicaHalfTrac MegaDork
12/18/12 12:50 p.m.
dculberson wrote: You're lucky you got your core back! I had a reman brake caliper come with the wrong mounting bracket (it was a driver's side caliper on the passenger side bracket), and unfortunately I had already returned my core so I couldn't just swap brackets. I went back to the NAPA and we compared every caliper they had in stock for the car and they were all on passenger side brackets. They had already sent my core in, so I ended up having to order a caliper with bracket from Rock Auto and just eat their core charge. I might have been able to get something from NAPA if I kicked up a fuss but at that point I was just happy to have the car back on the road.

Legally if they ship off your core, they're required to give you cash for the core charge.

benzbaronDaryn
benzbaronDaryn Dork
12/18/12 12:51 p.m.

I'd trust a local rebuilder over a store rebuilt part. I would almost rather have a factory core and rebuild it than have a store bought replacement.

92CelicaHalfTrac
92CelicaHalfTrac MegaDork
12/18/12 12:52 p.m.
benzbaronDaryn wrote: I'd trust a local rebuilder over a store rebuilt part. I would almost rather have a factory core and rebuild it than have a store bought replacement.

The rebuilt unit is a factory core, but has a lifetime replacement.

I'd agree with you otherwise, but i didn't really have that kindof time. Though... if i had known i'd be spending two days on this crap, i had the time.

dculberson
dculberson SuperDork
12/18/12 12:54 p.m.
92CelicaHalfTrac wrote:
dculberson wrote: You're lucky you got your core back! I had a reman brake caliper come with the wrong mounting bracket (it was a driver's side caliper on the passenger side bracket), and unfortunately I had already returned my core so I couldn't just swap brackets. I went back to the NAPA and we compared every caliper they had in stock for the car and they were all on passenger side brackets. They had already sent my core in, so I ended up having to order a caliper with bracket from Rock Auto and just eat their core charge. I might have been able to get something from NAPA if I kicked up a fuss but at that point I was just happy to have the car back on the road.

Legally if they ship off your core, they're required to give you cash for the core charge.

Seriously? Dude, there are some parts on my car that would royally hose them if that's the case. Like, $90 cores on the '95's front brakes.

92CelicaHalfTrac
92CelicaHalfTrac MegaDork
12/18/12 12:56 p.m.
dculberson wrote:
92CelicaHalfTrac wrote:
dculberson wrote: You're lucky you got your core back! I had a reman brake caliper come with the wrong mounting bracket (it was a driver's side caliper on the passenger side bracket), and unfortunately I had already returned my core so I couldn't just swap brackets. I went back to the NAPA and we compared every caliper they had in stock for the car and they were all on passenger side brackets. They had already sent my core in, so I ended up having to order a caliper with bracket from Rock Auto and just eat their core charge. I might have been able to get something from NAPA if I kicked up a fuss but at that point I was just happy to have the car back on the road.

Legally if they ship off your core, they're required to give you cash for the core charge.

Seriously? Dude, there are some parts on my car that would royally hose them if that's the case. Like, $90 cores on the '95's front brakes.

Well, that's only if you have to return the purchased part after they ship off your core.

For instance, if i had waited until this afternoon, the core would have been shipped off, and they would have owed me $52 in addition to the purchase price of the new alternator.

Bobzilla
Bobzilla UltraDork
12/18/12 12:58 p.m.

Import alternators.... I only know of one place in the city I would halfway trust to have one. NONE of the chain stores can do reman import alt. It's been that way for years. Hell, half the time it's cheaper for me to get a reman OEM than it is to spend the money on a parts store pile of E36 M3.

92CelicaHalfTrac
92CelicaHalfTrac MegaDork
12/18/12 1:00 p.m.
Bobzilla wrote: Import alternators.... I only know of one place in the city I would halfway trust to have one. NONE of the chain stores can do reman import alt. It's been that way for years. Hell, half the time it's cheaper for me to get a reman OEM than it is to spend the money on a parts store pile of E36 M3.

I ended up paying $90 out the door from Advance for a stronger Automatic 90A unit.

Well... and about $50 in gas running around.

Bobzilla
Bobzilla UltraDork
12/18/12 1:07 p.m.

I do like having the Oreally's warehouse in brownsurg. I can call to the store, have them order it from the warehouse and I can pick it up right there at the warehouse.

belteshazzar
belteshazzar UberDork
12/18/12 1:31 p.m.
dean1484 wrote: However when the counter people reference the "house brand" as "value crap" Corporate really should evaluate things. If they don't eventually they will only be selling fuzzy dice, air fresheners and stick on hood vents. Real car guys will move on.

i think wherever you buy ANY "value line" product it's going to be like that, generally speaking.

i hate that we even sell 19.99 brake pads, but people buy them. at least they do while they're complaining that autozone is out of stock on their 14.99 ones.

HappyAndy
HappyAndy Dork
12/18/12 1:48 p.m.

Is there a Napa location near by? Most are independently Operated, and the owner or general manager are usually not hard to find. I have a good relationship with my local Napa store, and they sell to me at wholesale price. The price is almost always competitive with buying mail order. The one and only time that I had a defective part from them, it was exchanged no questions asked.

92CelicaHalfTrac
92CelicaHalfTrac MegaDork
12/18/12 1:50 p.m.
HappyAndy wrote: Is there a Napa location near by? Most are independently Operated, and the owner or general manager are usually not hard to find. I have a good relationship with my local Napa store, and they sell to me at wholesale price. The price is almost always competitive with buying mail order. The one and only time that I had a defective part from them, it was exchanged no questions asked.

There is, but most of them around here don't stock much in the way of import parts. They didn't have it in stock.

4cylndrfury
4cylndrfury UltimaDork
12/18/12 1:53 p.m.

I agree with Andy - Napa has always done right by me, but theyre just not practical for me...closest store is 20 min away.

Ranger50
Ranger50 UberDork
12/18/12 2:05 p.m.

I haven't bought anything from AZ since I moved and they quit carrying Performance Friction pads....

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