Should I let Firestone put my old alternator back in?


#1

My car wouldn’t start so I called AAA. The guy put in a new battery and said the alternator was fine. The alternator was at 12.33 volts, my dad said he thinks the car was off when the AAA guy tested it. The AAA guy said he thinks there was parastic draw on the battery and he said he suspected it had to do with a melted wire.

The next day the battery light would come on but it would go off as soon as I started driving. The same thing happened the next day only when I turned the car off and tried to turn it back on it wouldn’t start. I took the car to Autozone and they said my battery was fine but it just needed charging.

Then I took it to firestone. My dad told them that the AAA guy said there was a parasitic draw and that he suspected it was because of the wire. The guy at firestone said it wasnt the wire and that the alternator needed replaced.

We told him it was okay to replace the alternator. Then he called back after he replaced it and said that the fuse box was melted and needed replaced. He then called back again and said we needed a new battery as well. (Evem though I just got a new battery 2 days ago).

When I finally got the car back the battery light was still on when I turned on the car. I went back in and asked if it was normal the battety light still came on. They said that it was normal and it just takes driving.

I drive to work the next day and my car won’t start once I get there. I called firestone and they paid for a tow truck to come pick it up. The tow truck driver said they hadn’t screwed the battery on tight enough and he had to tighten it. He also said that the melted wire was more then likely causing the problem.

Firestone cut the bad part of the wire off and reconnected it. The car works fine now and the battery light doesn’t come on.

I told firestone I suspected I didn’t need a new alternator. They said that they would put the alternator in if I wanted them to.

Should I let them? How should I handle the situation?

I kind of just want my money back because I don’t trust them. Can you test an alternator when it is out of the car?

How do I know it is even my alternator they are putting back in? How lomg dp stores typically keep the alternators that they replaced?

Thanks!!!


#2

yes you can have the alternator tested, out of the car, at many parts stores for free. and yes the burnt wire may have been the problem all along. no, I would only trust firestone with tires, not repairs.

there may be another problem tho, that caused the wire to burn, and the fusebox, if it was melted.
perhaps your voltage regulator. get it checked by a real mechanic.


#3

Make, model, engine, and mileage please.

The car is fixed now. and you’ve now learned not to trust your local Firestone. Do you really want the Firestone that you don’t trust to work on your car again?

Count your blessings and move on. It could have been a lot worse.

Out of curiosity, was that “wire” a red wire that went from the battery positive terminal to a fuse/relay box? If so, that was a “fusible link”. They’re designed to melt when overloaded, and if the regulator portion of the alternator was malfunctioning, it could have caused the fusible link to melt. Thus, the alternator probably caused the melted “wire”, so it could have been the root cause anyway.


#4

Nope it was a black wire.

But thanks for your advice


#5

I still think you should be happy the car is fixed and find a fun place to drive it to.

Happy motoring.


#6

I agree, don’t let them touch it again and move on. Cheap lesson.


#7

Thanks everyone!

But it wasnt cheap… $1200 total :((


#8

In the future I’d try to find a mechanic in your area to bring the car to regularly, Firestone misdiagnosed what turned out to be a bad alternator on my co-workers Dodge Durango while she was on a road trip to Bryce Canyon and back. Between them and another national chain she spent lots of money on new batteries and other parts. A Dodge dealer ended up replacing the alternator for her so she was able to continue on her trip but she returned home fuming about chain repair places.


#9

Oh and 2004 vw jetta.
About 130,000 miles but the alternator was replaced 2ish years ago.


#10

I wouldn’t trust Firestone or any other chain repair shop for directions to the end of the street. Lesson learned. Seek out a good independent mechanic and stay with them for all future repairs.


#11

I’m concerned about this melted wire and melted fuse box. You may have a potential fire hazard here. Get the car to a real mechanic, explain the situation, and have them double-check everything in that area.

As for the alternator, you didn’t give the year of your car, but you might as well just keep it at this point so that you have one less thing to fail in the next few years.


#12

I think you should ignore anything that Firestone told you and have things checked over somewhere else, probably at a trusted shop closer to home. They sound like incompetent idiots at Firestone.


#13

I would also be concerned about the melted wire and fuse box. Those kind of problems can create all kinds of havoc and could cause a misdiagnosis of the alternator or possibly burning an alternator up all depending on what is affected.

While not meant as a defense of the mechanics at Firestone, my understanding is that their pay system can create a lot of stress.

The Firestone store here went under many decades ago due to a very bad reputation caused by the recommendation that every car rolling through the doors needed brakes and ball joints.
While in town today I noted that a local, long time independent tire store has been taken over in the past week or so and is now a new Firestone franchise.


#14

I’m thinking that the melted wire is probably a fusible link fried during the battery change, but I agree with you guys that it’s prudent to check it out further. I was wrong to dismiss it based on an assumption.


#15

One option is just to keep the old alternator, on a shelf in your garage. Eventually the new one will go bad, then you can use the old one to replace that one. You’ll know then whether it is still good or not. In the meantime, no harm done.

BTW: It isn’t normal for the alternator light to be on when the engine is running. It comes on with the key in “on” but the engine not running, but when the engine is started, it should go out straight away. Within 15 seconds max. If the battery was totally dead, it might take longer, but if the battery was totally dead, you wouldn’t be able to start the car.


#16

I used a Firestone in Florida once. It was ok if you stayed wary. We were at Disney and our son needed to drive down from Minnesota via Ohio. Developed a severe miss so had to get it fixed before heading for home again. Tried an indy shop but couldn’t get it in so ended up at Firestone. It was essentially a coil gone bad but they wanted to do plugs and wires too. I said just do the coil and still cost me $350. For $20-30 I stopped at a parts store and got plugs and wires and a wrench and we just did the rest ourselves. While I was there though a lady was complaining about her brakes still not right. They had replaced virtually everything for $800 and was still having a problem. I just figured they were selling up any chance they got and you had to be a little careful. Then the manager mentioned that it was pretty slow until the income tax refund checks started coming in and people could afford to fix their cars. In Minnesota you fix your cars when they need it regardless of tax refunds or you’ll freeze to death on the side of the road.


#17

It sure sounds like the Firestone in this case was doing some guessing considering the alternator replacement, swapping out a new battery, the burnt wire, and the offer to change the alternator back again. For 1200 bucks I’d probably want my old alternator back in there and yes it’s possible to check one while out of the car.

It also sounds like the tow truck driver is more on top of things than the Firestone store… :slight_smile:

Just a side story, but some years ago while on the road I saw a guy standing on the side of the highway with the hood up on his Nissan. I was turning to go in the opposite direction but there was little traffic and it was a 100 degrees out so I whipped around to see if I could help.
He stated his Nissan had abruptly died as it had been doing a lot over the past year.

He stated the battery had been replaced 3 times, the starter twice, the alternator 3 times, and the ignition switch but the problem remained.
I suggested a fusible link and once the cover was removed from the underhood box the badly corroded end of a fusible link wire could easily be seen. I removed the crumbling link and added a piece of wire with a couple of female spade connectors and voila; fixed it right up although it was a temporary repair due to the use of regular wire. He said when he got home (near Tulsa about 140 miles away) he would replace the make-do fix with a new link.

All of that aggravation over a year’s time and a bunch of money all because someone was not taking a minute or two to reason the problem through before slinging parts at it.