Take one 15 year old Saab (Swedish), add one Bosch (German) alternator and you would think that you have a solid bit of engineering.
Or rather you would have if Bosch had not outsourced the bearings (the round and roundy bit for those not technically minded) to a third party………..NSK. Although I suppose that technically, we could blame the Japanese, since they now own the company.
The big Swede’s engine bay is normally whisper quiet and the new horrendous noise was finally identified as coming from the alternator, (there are 8 pulleys to chose from!) Being environmentally friendly (read skint), I thought that I would take it apart and see if it was economically repairable, rather than simply replacing it.
Imagine my disappointment to find that the failed components were the British bearings…..with NSK clearly stamped on the side, most likely made in my very own home town. Hitting the forums, I find that apparently it is a common failure point for this car.
But it is unfair for me to hit out at the poor blokes who made these bearings. I assume that they were only doing as they were told with the machines and materials supplied to them. I wonder if the real culprit is endless cost cutting to maintain margins but still drive down prices to win ever more contracts, in the relentless drive to expand and crush the competition.
There was a time when British engineering had no equal and in some fields it still doesn’t. But those fields appear to be getting smaller and smaller every year as more and more companies sacrifice quality to try to please the shareholders instead of the customer or ‘end user’ as we are known.
Unfortunately, it would take too long to wait for the new bearings to be posted out to Norway, so a brand new looking, reconditioned one, was mine in exchange for about a hundred Guineas. Being the second item to fail on this side of the engine; I can now put the long serpentine drive belt on and off with my eyes shut!
My recent experience shows that you don’t always get what you pay for with quality products, especially if they have an outsourcing policy and lets be realistic, these days, who doesn’t?
Caveat emptor…….. as they used to say