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AutoZone and crap from China


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A precautionary rant:

I've been a proponent of lifetime-warranted AutoZone parts, provided they are easy enough to change out. The alternator in my '78 280 is a good example. The swap is fast. I'm on my 3rd AZ alternator now, but it was cheap and easy.

I'm really starting to question the wisdom of this plan, though. My Saturn's radiator tank cracked, so I got an AZ lifetime warranted radiator. After changing out the radiator (very cheaply constructed in China), I was STILL losing fluid at about the same rate, but I never could find a leak in the driveway. It turns out the radiator had a drain plug whose threading was slightly too small for the threading in the drain hole, so it popped loose, and it would pee fluid sometimes on the road (but not in my driveway). Gah! This was a tooling problem on their part -- dyes were not machined to the correct thread sizes.

Not wanting to replace the radiator, I shamed the AZ people into lending me a tap, so that I could enlarge the threading to 10mm x 1.25 and put in a bolt. (My tap sets were in another city.) After re-threading the hole, I discovered that the Chinese tap had been horribly machined and had some horrible burs in it that buggered up the threading as I tapped it. The result? The bolt wouldn't hold either. So I ended up replacing the radiator under warranty -- another 2 hr of my time down the drain. I checked the plug very carefully before taking the new radiator. It did snug up firmly, so I guess they corrected the dye problem.


1. Never trust a Chinese cutting tool!

2. Never trust a Chinese cutting tool!

3. Chinese workers don't give a @$%. That was 2 out of 2! The re-tap would have worked, but I was doubly condemned to failure.

4. Never use a Chinese part if it takes longer than a half hour to replace.

5. Probably stop using Chinese parts altogether. (Is this some sort of a Chinese plot to waste American time and resources?)

6. And once again, never trust a Chinese cutting tool! (Imagine if I had been using the thing to chase some threads in my cylinder head!)

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When I worked at Nissan customers would balk at the price of a replacement alternator / starter ($300 or more) and ask if they could go buy a $99 one from Autozone and have us install it. We refused. We would only install:

A) OEM Nissan

B) NAPA, 2-3 year warranty

C) original alternator or starter, rebuilt.

It was a labor thing. The AZ alternator/starters typically lasted less than 90 days. They had less than half the copper (wiring, coils) in them of an OEM device. Of COURSE they were going to wear out faster, and it was OUR techs who would get to replace them over and over.

As for Chinese tools, I have a hierarchy.

My ratchets are Snap-On, my air tools are mostly Ingersoll/Rand. Lifetime Warranty.

My Gear wrenches are either Snap-On, Mac, Gear-Wrench, or other WITH A WARRANTY.

My sockets / wrenches are generally Craftsman. Again, WARRANTY.

Pry bars, jack stands, creepers, stuff that doesn't matter is Chinese, comes from Harbor Freight. (Although now I'm wondering about the wisdom of trusting those jack stands...)

The Chinese stuff simply uses inferior metal, that's been poorly machined. Look at the "Stainless Steel" BBQ grilles at Home Depot! They're all RUSTED!!!! They can't even put a reasonable amount of chrome and vanadium in their Stainless steel! Chinese light fixtures don't even use enough copper to make good electrical contact with fluorescent bulbs!

Autozone, O'Reilly, Pep Boys, these folks sell cheap Chinese c.r.ap to consumers who don't know any better and whose time isn't worth anything.

What's your time worth?

Edited by Wade Nelson
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I just try to buy chemicals there - oil , degreasers , etc and get my 20% discount. Gaskets are cheap and they usually can get Felpro.

Don't buy Dorman hardware, all their steel rusts quickly.

If I can wait, I order from Rock Auto which gives you a choice of manufacturers .

Nissan stuff is the best for parts that take lots of abuse.

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I bought a china made hand fuel pump for transferring fuel when I took the gas tank out and it was made of plastic far too soft, almost like it was made with that cheap throw away plastic they make mardi gras trinkets out of for anyone who has been there. It fell apart during the first use, poorest quality thing I ever bought. I also made the mistake of getting a harbor freight dent puller and the hook on the end broke off almost immediately. Other things from harbor freight have worked for me though.

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I have had good luck for most harbor freight things. However, I usually only by crap that I intend to abuse from them.

Also, my Napa doesn't get much business from me as their hours are way too short.

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