Toyota's $390.00 Design Flaw - Fuelly Forums

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Old 05-09-2011, 07:45 PM   #1
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Toyota's $390.00 Design Flaw

The more I think about it, the more irritated I become. All because of a design flaw that caused destruction rather than stopping working.

Forty years ago when the generator on the Land Rover stopped working, I simply opened it up........let me explain;

A generator, alternator or any electric motor all have in common that they have 'brushes' which are just copper or a copper alloy and are held against the spinning armature by spring pressure to make contact, complete a circuit and make the electrical process happen. Brushes, in whatever form, eventually wear out because of contact friction and must then be replaced because the unit no longer functions.
Simple, right?

In the old days English vehicles used Lucas electronics, then the stuff of mirth and ridicule for their sub-par performance.
When the Land Rover generator 'brushes' wore to the point of no longer working I simply opened it up carefully stretched the springs so the brushes once again made contact and, usually, it would work long enough to get one home from the bush.
The 'brushes' were designed to be pushed only as far as the end of the 'brush' so when it wore down it stopped making contact, so hard parts did not damage the armature.
Smart, right?

In 2006 Toyota manufactured my V8 powered Tundra, 'Clyde The Ride'.
In May of 2011, after traveling a total of 168,000 miles the alternator failed.
Not a big deal, right?
Not a big deal except that I had a medical delivery and had to go from Redding, California way up northeast almost to the Oregon border and then all the way back to the Bay Area. In a truck with electric everything, from the transmission controls, to the fuel pump, injection....even the gas pedal. I had to buy four batteries to complete the trip. Why? Because there were no alternators nor overhaul kits anywhere in northern California.
We all know we could have an alternator for any year of any model of any pickup of any of the Big-Three in minutes. Think about it, Toyota.

So, I eventually got back to Dex's Automotive in Concord and he had his mechanic bust his knuckles and.....the brush kit would not work because the 'brushes' had been pushed so far that the wear-out part was gone and the non wear-out part ate-up the armature and destroyed the alternator.
So what?

$250.00....Rebuilt Alternator.
$140.00....Labor.
$390.00....Unnecessarily spent.
or
$25.00.....Brushes.

Nobody minds spending money for maintenance and replacement of parts that wear out.
Some of us are irritated by the necessity, every hundred thousand miles, of a thousand dollar timing belt replacement that also requires a new water pump, pulley's and assorted 'wear-out' parts, so why not have the alternator included in the service?

Moral of the story?
Hey, guys! Include new brushes in your alternator when you have the timing belt replaced every hundred thousand miles.
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Old 05-09-2011, 10:29 PM   #2
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Re: Toyota's $390.00 Design Flaw

lol i think the s10's alternator was $80...

My model A generator bought new is less than $250! what makes toyotas crap so expensive???
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Old 05-10-2011, 03:44 AM   #3
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Re: Toyota's $390.00 Design Flaw

I thought modern alternators are not serviceable, you just had to replace the whole alternator when the brushes or voltage regulator or whatever else fails.

I also thought the "parts for Japanese cars are more expensive" thing stopped being true 15 years ago. Lame. My truck's alternator was $120 at the nearest parts store.
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Old 05-10-2011, 04:21 AM   #4
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Re: Toyota's $390.00 Design Flaw

i'm still unsure why an alternator was not available. i did a quick search and found them available in my area, which is much less populated than your area.
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Old 05-10-2011, 06:27 AM   #5
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Re: Toyota's $390.00 Design Flaw

When I replaced the alternator in my truck, I replaced it with a 165 amp high output alternator, and it was still less than $200.
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Old 05-10-2011, 07:04 AM   #6
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Re: Toyota's $390.00 Design Flaw

I had a similar issue when the brushes wore down on my Acura Integra. One of the tiny remaining brushes had worn a groove in the rotating copper contact rings of the armature. The guy at the starter/alternator shop said that the rubber dust boot can do more harm than good sometimes- trapping worn brush material in that area so that it can grind away at the copper ring contacts. He had a used armature that he installed but advised that I leave the dust boot off when I replaced the brushes.
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Old 05-10-2011, 08:49 PM   #7
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Re: Toyota's $390.00 Design Flaw

The Japanese are especially awful when it comes to parts interchangeability. They don't hesitate to make a special new part vs taking the time to make a perfectly good and functional existing part work. A prime example of this can be seen in Japanese motorcycles. Seems there isn't a single piece (besides the valve stem caps) that gets carried over year-to-year. WTF is up with that? I sure wouldn't want to be a motorsports parts man, or try to keep inventory on all that ****.

Interchangeability and also ready availability were things that made American stuff great from the '50s through the '80s. You could mix and match just about anything made in those years, or get what you needed at darn near any store, even KMart on a Sunday night.

Of course, that was when people bothered to fix their own stuff. Looks like those days are gone.
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Old 05-11-2011, 08:54 AM   #8
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Re: Toyota's $390.00 Design Flaw

I've never had a problem obtaining any Honda parts. Their prices seem to be in line with the domestics I work on.

I used to keep a small inventory of Honda parts. When I'd buy a new car, I'd keep the old parts. When someone wanted work done cheap, I'd offer to install the used ones. I was amazed how often the parts would fit. Civic, CR-V, del Sol, Accord, etc. all used similar engines for years... My '88 Accord engine was in a different engine family than my '95 Civics (D-Series) and my '99 Civic (B-Series), but they all used the same radiator, distributor, plugs, cap, rotor button, and so on. All Hondas except the S2000 use the same oil filter. A lot of the interior and exterior clips, bolts, screws, etc. are the same from car to car. I don't know if other Japanese manufacturers are the same way.

When I went to buy an alternator for my mom's 1989 Ford Crown Victoria, I was told to go home and bring the old one in. They used five different ones for the one model year.
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Old 05-11-2011, 09:32 AM   #9
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Re: Toyota's $390.00 Design Flaw

i'm fairly new to "japanese" auto makers, but have the same experience. the last few years, i've had no issues getting parts for 1 toyota and 2 hondas. generally speaking, domestic parts are still cheaper however.
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Old 05-11-2011, 05:13 PM   #10
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Re: Toyota's $390.00 Design Flaw

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fetch View Post
I've never had a problem obtaining any Honda parts. Their prices seem to be in line with the domestics I work on.

I used to keep a small inventory of Honda parts. When I'd buy a new car, I'd keep the old parts. When someone wanted work done cheap, I'd offer to install the used ones. I was amazed how often the parts would fit. Civic, CR-V, del Sol, Accord, etc. all used similar engines for years... My '88 Accord engine was in a different engine family than my '95 Civics (D-Series) and my '99 Civic (B-Series), but they all used the same radiator, distributor, plugs, cap, rotor button, and so on. All Hondas except the S2000 use the same oil filter. A lot of the interior and exterior clips, bolts, screws, etc. are the same from car to car. I don't know if other Japanese manufacturers are the same way.

When I went to buy an alternator for my mom's 1989 Ford Crown Victoria, I was told to go home and bring the old one in. They used five different ones for the one model year.
its possible on the crown vics with all the police packages they offered. i know theyve always had a higher output alt.

i think most automakers are the same when it comes to little crap like speed nuts, interior clips, screws, etc (least it is the same throughout brands)
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