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Faulty alternator..take 'em to court?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by David Haggerty, Apr 29, 2006.

  1. This past week I bought a new alternator for my Mitsubishi diesel powered Toro 580-D. I got it locally from R&L Truck parts because they stock them for their fork lifts.
    I put it on and after about an hour's running the whole machine just goes dead. I piddle with it for a couple of hours thinking it's a short. I can't get it running, so I hot wire the starter, load it up and haul it to Toro in Cincinnati.
    They diagnose it as a bad "brain box" and install a new one. Bill me $1200.
    It runs 10 minutes and it goes dead again. I take it back to Toro. This time they find the alternator had a screw come loose inside and shorted out the whole system burning out the brain boxes. They put on a new alternator I'd brought from R&L plus another brain box and bill me $800.
    It runs fine now.
    I take the bills to R&L and tell them I want $2000! They contacted their supplier who said they'd be good for the price of a new alternator. The supplier then contacted Mitsubishi to see if they'd pay the damages.
    I'm still waiting to hear from them.

    What do you all think?

    Should they pay for the damage? Do they have too? Has anything like this happened to any of you? If I sue can I sue for lawyer fees too?
    I'm pretty inexperienced here so any ideas would be helpful.

  2. grass-scapes

    grass-scapes LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,552

    Im guessing that what will happen is because you did the work yourself and not a "qualified" service center, you will be liable for the costs above and beyond the bad alternator. I may be wrong, or the people at R&L will be fair about it.
  3. lawnmaniac883

    lawnmaniac883 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,613

    If a screw INSIDE the alternator came loose and caused failure, they should be liable.
  4. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,699

    It's all going to depend on what it says in the Mitsubishi service manual about alternator replacement. Does it say anything about testing the alternator after installation? Was the test done if it's mentioned? What about finding the cause of the bad ECU the first time around instead of looking for it after the second one burned up? Like I said, it's all going to depend on whether or not the proper troubleshooting and replacement procedures were followed as outlined in the service manual. Mitsubishi will probably deny any warranty claims unless they provided the alternator. What I mean by that is: Was the alternator a brand new unit or was it rebuilt? I think there's a whole lotta blame to spread around here and unfortunately I think you're going to get to pay for it all.
  5. Richard;
    It's a new alternator. Said so right on the box "new alternator"

    R&L's parts manager compared it to one they get rebuilt. He said the rebuilt ones have the painted stamped steel pulley, while the new ones have the machined pulley.

    About that pulley...It's machined with kind of a gold finish. The kind like you see on every Chinese machine you've ever looked at. And the housing's kind of crude too. Lots of flash and just kind of a grainy coarse look to it. The alternator's Chinese. I only paid $150 for it.

    But get this. The supplier to R&L who is some guy in New York says he gets them from Mitsubishi. But there's no Mitsubishi emblem cast into the housing like there was on the original alternator.
    I think the guy's stalling.

    All of the parts guys at R&L agreed it was an internal problem to the alternator. One of the screws holding one of the components inside the case just jiggled loose and shorted out against the case. It nearly arced a hole thru the case. But this was on the bottom when the alternator was installed. Plus it was an intermittent problem. So every time it was tested in the shop it tested OK. You had to be actually using the machine running over a bump to get it to short out.

    That's how I'll argue the case in court.

    My concern is how these parts suppliers simply dodge their liability by stating they're only liable for the replacement cost of the part! Their alternator burned up my mower. It's pretty cut and dried.

    But has anyone EVER collected on one of these types of claims?
    I sure wish I could dodge all responsibility by just saying so in my company policy. My liability insurance premiums are eating me up!

  6. grass-scapes

    grass-scapes LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,552

    Yeah, just think.

    We could tell the customer that we are not responsible for ruts in the yard because it was done by the tires. We could tell them we aren't responsible for scalping because our blades did it.
    We could not pay our employees because we aren't responsible for the computer not working. We aren't responsible for our employees broken leg because He is the idiot, not us. LOL

    This could set a precendent.

    Seriously.....if you can prove that the alternator was faulty BEFORE you put it on, I dont see a problem with the case. BUT, how do you or they know that you didn't damage it installing it, or not install it properly.

    Reasonable doubt.

    I totally believe it was an alternator problem before, but Im not the judge.
  7. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Man this is a serious problem, in the sense of complications here, there's just no way to tell for sure what went wrong.

    It could've been the alternator, it could've been the brainbox, maybe it was both or one first then the other. See, it is possible for one to make the other go bad and vice versa, it is quite possible they were both bad to begin with, you replaced one but the other made it crap back out so then you replaced the other but it did it again, then finally once you replaced both items it worked once and for all.

    Far as liability, and maybe Toro replaced the brainbox twice without much thinking as well, who knows... Someone should've caught it, we agree. But as to whom?

    Truthfully speaking, I am not so sure who is at fault other than one hopes to only run into this kind of a pita problem once or twice in a lifetime, I'm sorry to hear it happen, dunno what to tell you but if you can afford the loss then I'd let it go and lick my wounds and just be glad it's over, but that's just me.

    You might just write a letter to both of the companies and do your best to give the chronology of events and be factual and let it be, see what happens (likely nothing, but at least it's a report and if this happens again it might prompt changes).

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