Forge-sourcing an auto repair question

Discussion in 'The Green Room' started by Nova, Oct 6, 2019.

  1. Nova

    Nova livin on the edge of the ledge Writer

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    which I could ask of a real mechanic on Monday but it's driving me to distraction now so maybe one of y'all have a more informed opinion. First the backstory:

    Tuesday last, on the way back from Memphis, my AC went hot for more than an hour, but eventually got cold again;

    Wednesday evening the vehicle (an '07 Saturn Vue) started making a rubbing noise which my brother-in-law incorrectly guessed about the source of;

    Thursday i go to my mechanic and he determines that the AC compressor is going out, note that it will either just quit - or it will throw the main belt in which case a lot of stuff, "power steering, alternator, and so forth" would stop working. That would obviously be bad. Upon research i determined I'd have to spend an extra $200+ to buy a new compressor rather than gamble on a used one from a salvage yard, and so informed him I'd try to get my hands on a used one and set up a time next week (also got quoted a stiff price for the labor)

    Friday, oddly, the noise stopped and I thought "well then, it just died, no bigge" BUT my battery light came on - uh oh. Go to O'Reileys, put the tester on and "it says the voltage regulator is bad, your alternator is going out"
    Well shit, that thing is only 2 years old. Can get a used one 30 miles away but have to bring the old one...scheming how to get the old one off and their to get a replacement while stopping for a small errand on the way home...but damn, thing won't start! Too late. Call AAA, tow it home. Resign myself to having to buy a new one, line up an in-law who's done auto work for me before to put it on this morning. Done and done, all good. and oh by the way (so I thought) the belt was broke and he had to replace it while he was working. Fine, so be it.

    of course, with a new belt on when we go out, the noise returns - that shit's annoying, gonna have to break down and replace the compressor anyway - go in the store, come out, noise is gone! Also....
    Battery light is on again.
    O'Reily's - same diagnosis. What are the odds!!! Did I get a bad alternator? Did the compressor somehow kill the alternator? Anyway, go straight home while you can!

    Investigate.... belt is broke again. Clearly the busted compressor is breaking the belts. So I'm going to have to get that used one, and another belt, and pay dude to go right back in where he was this morning and swap them out...
    Shit.

    BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUTTT............

    Here's my question.
    One of three things happened this week:
    1. the compressor and the alternator just coincidentally went out within 2 days of each other
    OR
    2. the jammed compressor somehow fucked up the alternator and ruined it
    OR
    the original alternator was never bad, and the broken belt (which I was unaware of since I still had power steering which I'd been told would be a sign it broke) caused the meter at O'Reiliey's to falsely identify the voltage regulator is bad.

    One seems highly unlikely
    is Two even possible? (part one of my question)
    and if it's not, isn't it very likely I can go back to the old alternator and take the new one back for a refund since the old one is probably fine?

    Whatcha think?
  2. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 light & lethal

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    if the AC compressor went out you would need a new one anyway (unless you like driving around in 100 degree weather) so I would suggest getting a new compressor and inform whomever does it about the other problems you mentioned. They can see if it's related and replace those too if needed. It will end up costing you more in towing, parts, labor and your own time (and safety) if you piecemeal this.
    Just my 2 cents! BTW you owe me for a consultation fee. See, things are starting to escalate already! :lol:
  3. ed629

    ed629 Morally Inept Banned

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    It's unusual but possible to have the AC compressor and alternator go out on you around the same time. The alternator should take about 30 minutes to swap out. For the AC compressor it's a bit more work and you'll need to get one of these to recharge the system. It would be easier to do both at the same time.
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  4. Dinner

    Dinner 2012 & 2014 Master Prognosticator

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    My first guess is your alternator wasn’t bad. The belt keeps breaking because one of the pulleys the belt rotates is seized or partially seized. This causes the belt to rub over the nonrotating pulley this ending up with the belt breaking. With the belt broken your alternator is no longer turning this why your battery goes dead. My suggestion is to try to rotate all the pulleys by hand to find out which is seized. Replace the seized one then put on a new belt and make sure the belt is tight.

    A decent mechanic should be able to identify the problem but clearly your first mechanic misdiagnosed the problem so don’t take it back to him. Get a second opinion from a different mechanic.
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  5. Dinner

    Dinner 2012 & 2014 Master Prognosticator

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    Cheap temp fix: If you don’t care about not having AC then buy the nonAC belt and simply bypass the AC compressor.
  6. Nova

    Nova livin on the edge of the ledge Writer

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    close to a winner here.
    Unkown to be, you can test a alternator at the big parts stores when it's off the vehicle. Given that this had happened twice, it occurred to me that maybe the alternator was never bad to begin with but the belt being broken (which I didn't know during the initial tests because I never lost power steering) caused a false negative. When tested the alternator was, in fact, perfectly fine.

    I can get a used compressor at a salvage yard (for over $200 less than a new one) and my mechanic can put it on Tuesday which would solve the belt-breaking problem...thing is...the parts place where i bought the replacement alternator won't accept returns on electrical parts unless they were defective, and the odds are that the new one is fine too...which means all in all I'm out $150 for that part, almost 20 for the second broken belt, plus what i paid my mechanic, for nothing. It was always only the compressor.
  7. Nova

    Nova livin on the edge of the ledge Writer

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    didn't know this was a thing
  8. shootER

    shootER Insubordinate...and churlish Administrator

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    Try selling it on Craigslist to try to recoup some of your money?
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  9. Tererun

    Tererun Magical Girl

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    I am not sure about the laws in your state, but you might want to push things on returning the alternator. In NY a mechanic is not supposed to charge you for a fix that does not actually fix the problem. The mechanic should be able to troubleshoot back to the point of the problem, and if they are wrong it is normally on them. The mechanic really should have properly tested the alternator and made sure none of the other parts were seized or causing improper strain. That is something required by them to do because if you put a good part onto a car and it is torn up by another problem they did not diagnose it is technically their fault unless you specifically told them not to fix something. For instance if they put on new tires you need to have them balanced and most places require an alignment and if you refuse the alignment then the tires will not last as long.

    If your alternator was never bad, which after 2 years it should not have been, then they should not have replaced it. It is their fault for not seeing the belt was restricted in moving which would fuck with the power flow of the alternator. The only potential problem you have was that you did not replace the compressor which seems to be what caused the problem. However, the mechanic should have advised you that the compressor could have been seizing and causing the damage to the belt. I would get a little pushy with them and tell them that they should have known the compressor was the problem, and they should take back the alternator. They can do better on selling the parts than you can, and shops find ways to swap shit all the time.

    Check with the laws in your state. It is not hard, just go to another mechanic and tell them the story and ask if that mechanic should be refunding you the cost. This will help you get a better mechanic because a good one is going to give you some sound advice about the laws in your state which probably protect you.

    One of the things I hate about being a trans woman is that mechanics treat you like shit. I have done a lot of car work, worked for garages, and even an ameteur racing team. I can fix most problems in a car including the AC. Mechanics and auto parts places just want to talk around me. I remember walking into a car parts store with my friend while I was dressed. My friend is fucking clueless about cars and parts, but the person behind the desk keeps looking to him while I am spitting out the info. My friend is all like "What she said." I used to love going in with him to the mechanic and having them try to rip him off and then I come in and just hammer shit down.

    Seriously, if I had a lift and the tools of an auto shop I would do the shit myself. Only problem is I would have to do my nails afterwards, but now I am licensed to do that shit too.


    Also, it my be too late, but go with a new compressor unless the used one is rebuilt. The seals are something that take a lot of wear and a used one that was pulled as functional won't have them replaced. I would really spend the extra 200 on a new one if you could, and if you are going to keep the car for a while. Just from working with pressurized valve systems they take abuse. I am not an air conditioning person, but the compressors we used for HPA and to ram CO2 into bottles were always bought new and fully serviced by me and the other owners at our paintball field, I went through a real learning process dealing with used compressors from people who did not maintain them well. I guess an AC unit is probably a bit less open in use, but there is all sorts of things that can start fucking with them.
  10. Tererun

    Tererun Magical Girl

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    I would say push them to take things back. You did a good description of what happened. Let them know you can describe that in reviews for them. and at the same time let them know if they take care of you with the part you are going to tell people about their honesty and do it. A good mechanic should comp you the alternator which is not that expensive for them, and get things working better for you. They can sell your old alternator to someone else to cover that cost, and they should make sure the new compressor and belt are working this time. Don't let them charge you for the destroyed belt.

    Why isn't your mechanic chasing down these parts? The only time I ever chase down parts is when I was doing my own work. The decent mechanics I know come with options of brand name, new, used with some warranty, and pulled from junk used. They are in the business, and they know the suppliers. Why are you chasing things down?
  11. Dinner

    Dinner 2012 & 2014 Master Prognosticator

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    Sucks to be out the money but live and learn. Check Rock Auto’s website as they sell parts online out of their website at much cheaper than retail stores sell them for. Or if you want post the year, make, model, and engine type/size and I will check it for you.
  12. Dinner

    Dinner 2012 & 2014 Master Prognosticator

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    Most domestic cars have two v-belts. One with AC and one without. As you live in the south where it is hot you probably want to just fix the AC but if that isn’t a financial option right now then simply bypassing the AC compressor will at least get the car on the road again.
  13. Dinner

    Dinner 2012 & 2014 Master Prognosticator

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    https://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog/saturn,2007,vue,2.2l l4,1433577,heat & air conditioning,a/c compressor,6628
    That is a new Chinese made AC compressor for 2007 Saturn Vue with the 2.4L I4 engine. There are three engine options: I4, I4 hybrid, and V6. Each will use a different compressor so you’ll need to know which engine you have so you get the correct part. On the I4 Chinese new parts cost $180 while AC/Delco OEM parts are $380.

    Shipping is usually free on parts orders over $50. There may be a core charge which you pay but get refunded when you give them your old part. They have pre-paid shipping so you just put the old part in the new parr’s box and mail it back to them free of charge.
  14. Dinner

    Dinner 2012 & 2014 Master Prognosticator

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    If you have the V6 then a new Chinese compressor for that engine would be $226.
  15. Nova

    Nova livin on the edge of the ledge Writer

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    turns out the did take it back!

    All in all my only financial loss was paying the mechanic twice and buying another belt.

    Turns out the compressor was the only problem, neither alternator was bad - I just didn't know because I didn't know the first time that the belt had broken. Weirdly, ever since I'd had this vehicle I'd thought to myself "this thing seems louder than it should" but my previous vehicle was a hybrid and i thought maybe I had just become accustomed to too much quiet.

    As it turned out, THAT was the compressor too. Quiet as a brand new one now. Fucking ac compressor made a lot of noise for a year before going out
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  16. shootER

    shootER Insubordinate...and churlish Administrator

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    My work vehicle recently spent two weeks at the mechanics getting the a/c compressor replaced. For some reason they kept getting bad ones from their supplier and it took at least three or four tries before they got one that actually worked like it should. :marathon:

    Not a big deal to me because I was on vacation most of the time the vehicle was in the shop, but still puzzling. :chris:
  17. The Night Funky

    The Night Funky BMF Staff Member Moderator

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    It happens. I had a car that it took the mechanic about six tries before he got the right CV joint from his supplier. All of them were labeled as being correct, but weren’t.
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  18. Elwood

    Elwood I know what I'm about, son.

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    That's a pretty standard policy. I worked in parts back in high school and college. Every parts house I've ever dealt with won't take electronic components back after they've been plugged in.

    Most "heavy" parts like that aren't actually "new." They're remanufactured. In the parts world, there are various grades of reman equipment. Some are better than others.
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