I had a similar experience. I bought a new 1969 Chevrolet Impala. After about 12,000 miles, the water pump front bearing sprung a leak that emptied the radiator in about 15 minutes. With a couple of refils, I managed to limt to the dealer. I hung around the shop to witness the repairs. When the mechanic had extracted the defective pump, he threw it into a corner. I look to see what else was there - it was a huge pile of several hundred identical water pumps!. I drove the car to 125,000 miles with no further problems with the water pump.
I had a 1985 Dodge van with that great 318 engine, and after about a year and a half I started to have starter motor problems, that gave similar symptoms to a dead battery. Friends all claimed a starter replacement was in order, while the dealer said that they could do it in only one day for "only"$175, and no, the starter is an engine accessory and not covered by the warranty. Instaed I went to the parts department and paid around $5 for a replacement sleeve bearing. I got back home, and found that pulling the starter, replacing the sleeve bearing, reassembling and re-installing the starter took me less than an hour in the driveway. Fortunately on the almost new van, none of the important bolts had rusted tight yet. The original bearing had failed before 5000 miles, the replacement was still working in 2006 when I got rid of the van because the front frame had rusted away, making it unsafe.
It would seem that there has been a serious quality problem with those starter motor bearings, as I had an identical failure in another Dodge.
Now that SSSSS and other "modern" people management processes have been implemented more widely, I would be amazed if those jigs and fixtures are still in existence since we're only supposed to keep that which is current product and everything we keep must have a place and be kept there. In other words, things without a current role have no place, ergo must be disposed of. More likely they have been re-purposed into raw steel for the growing Chinese middle class (now that we've decided we don't need ours anymore). Black & Decker was an early fan of this methodology; try and get a replacement part for any of their gear that isn't within 6 months of being current production.
Why is it a surprise that a reputable organization would sell repair parts for the products that they sell? All decent and reputable companies do that, and in addition, some reputable software companies do it. Others declare a product obsolete and refuse to support previous versions of product, so that repairs are not easy to do, or may be impossible to do because replacement parts are not available.
If this sounds like a criticism of some large companies, it is intended to be a criticism of those companies.
Many other companies make products worth repairing.
Replacement parts for old cars can be tough. I was in a Ford plant in southern Indiana once looking at some new production equipment for a current model. I noticed there was a huge warehouse area we weren't visiting. At my request we took a detour and it was a massive warehouse where Ford kept jigs and fixtures to make thousands of parts for cars no longer in production.
And to my amusement, the new part differed from the old part in one important respect: the oil reservoir was much, much larger.
It isn't always funny when the salesmen, or manufacturer, drops the latest surprise on you that the replacement parts are not 100% compatible.
The question there is, was this a marketing ploy, or a manufacturing oops.
It was a good thing that you had a downhill only trip however. I remember having to take the long-stride approach when one of my vehicles broke down to get a new distributor cap. Needless to say I had a good 20 mile trek that day.
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