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Ownership Your Corner Wrench: Should you rebuild or replace?

17:08  30 january  2018
17:08  30 january  2018 Source:   driving.ca

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Sometimes, repairing a defective part – such as an alternator – makes more financial sense than an outright replacement.© Supplied, iStock.com via Getty Images Sometimes, repairing a defective part – such as an alternator – makes more financial sense than an outright replacement. Keeping our vehicles an average of 10 years leads many of us to face repair bills that can be challenging. Add to this the increasing complexity of even the most humble of mainstream rides, and you can have a recipe for a budget-breaking event. But for anyone whose daily driver is going under the wrench, the facts and conditions regarding replacing or repairing certain assemblies is worth knowing in order to achieve the best price possible, the longest lasting results, and getting your wheels back on the road as soon as possible.

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You can be excused if you’ve never heard of or had certain repair jobs done to your vehicle. Things such as rewinding alternators, rebuilding brake calipers and wheel cylinders, or overhauling a brake master cylinder seemed to have been relegated to automotive history. This is due in large part to labour costs; when rates are hard to find under $100 per hour, sourcing replacement parts that were re-manufactured in a factory, with labour costs at a fraction of your favourite shop’s going rate, will often get you a lower invoice total. To sweeten the pot, high-quality remanufactured components often come with multi-year warranties, providing some peace of mind.

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Usually, the economic benefits of opting for replace over repair are clear and substantial, but when certain remanufactured or new components are too expensive, it may be time to consider the alternatives. Take alternators, for example; when a remanufactured or new part is priced under $500, having it repaired by a specialty shop – general repair centers and dealerships don’t usually offer this option onsite – generally won’t be worth it when you take the additional downtime into consideration.

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But some alternators can easily top $1,000 or more. At this point, it’s reasonable to ask your shop if they deal with an electrical rebuilder that might be able to handle the job. Most of these specialists can let your shop know if they can take care of your specific part, and whether or not common replacement parts are available. Average prices for rebuilt alternators can be less than $500.

Warranties differ considerably between replacement assemblies and units repaired in-house. Credible and quality on remanufactured or new parts come with guarantees that pretty much cover anything that can go wrong, but repair kits used to rebuild or overhaul something often come with little coverage, leaving a customer to deal directly with their shop in the case of a problem. One of these two parties will usually have to foot the bill for any repeat failure.

One of the largest problems with having your shop repair something rather than replace it is the availability of internal parts. You might expect that few automakers or aftermarket parts manufacturers would list or carry repair parts for a lowly wiper motor, but you can be in for a shock when you find the same can be said for a lot of larger, more expensive systems. Rear drive-axle gears on many small SUVs and crossovers for example, only list external seals as being available. Run into the need to replace a gear and you’ll likely end up having to purchase a complete assembly.

Your Corner Wrench: The tools that will take care of you

  Your Corner Wrench: The tools that will take care of you Think about repairing or even replacing those tools that come with your car for emergenciesIf all drivers used their autos’ wheel wrench/jack set even once, this little feature would likely soar to the top of the most-hated vehicle component list in seconds flat. Regardless of what you drive or how much it cost, these kits often appear cheesy, flimsy, and hard-to-use. Fortunately for most of us they collect dust in hidden compartments in the cargo area. But when you’re away from home or travelling in less serviced regions, this little kit can sometimes mean the difference to being stranded or getting on your way.

Some enterprising aftermarket parts builders can come to the rescue in these situations, and more choices seem to crop up every year as weaknesses in original design and construction bring profit possibilities on the horizon for them. For instance, one U.S. firm is now making and selling billet aluminum HVAC doors for a select number of vehicles that have developed common problems with the original, plastic parts breaking. These small units direct air to different vents on command, blending hot and cool air to regulate temperatures.

The metal kits aren’t cheap, but the manufacturer knows the job to change them is usually very labour-intensive, so many owners will pay any additional expense on parts to avoid having to repeat the process a few years down the road.

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