Normally replacing an alternator is a breeze. Unless you don't have all of the information. One day I was backing out of my garage to head to work when I noticed my battery light came on. Since I have a decent commute, I decided to pull my baby back into the garage. I did some research and found out it was most likely the alternator. So here is where I made my first mistake. I went to Autozone and they sold me a replacement alternator. It does not come with a pulley. No big deal, right? I can remove the pulley form my old one and put it on the new one with my new impact. Solved...
So I did it, it took no time at all, and while I was at it, I replaced the belt. I took it to go see my son's baseball game and when I was almost there....Pop, crack, thump bang....battery light. I limp there and take a look. The belt is shredded so bad around the crank, I need to call a tow truck. Here is where the fun starts. I am researching like a mad man! I finally stumble on an obscure post that says the alternator pulley is only compatible with the same manufacturer that made the alternator. Guess what? During my car's year (1998) depending on the date it left the line, it could have a Valeo alternator, or a Bosch alternator. Autozone sold me a reman Bosch. I looked at my old one and it was a Valeo. The Valeo pulley is not compatible with a Bosch alternator. Stinko!!!!
Now what do I do? I need my baby back on the road. I do what any reasonable geek will do and go to the internet. I had several recommendations for this site that remanufactures and sells alternators. Alternator Pros is a first class business. I wanted to make sure they could sell me what I needed so I gave them a call. They were very helpful and did agree that the pulleys are not compatible and that they do indeed sell alternators with pulleys attached. I purchased one and put it on the car and my problems are gone. Lesson learned. If you need a good replacement alternator, go to Alternator Pros. Hopefully this will help other E36 owners. Remember....save money and stay geeky.
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