My "Big 3" fiasco


Bronze Member
Username: Iwrk4satan

Post Number: 22
Registered: Jul-05
I went to the local car audio shop the other day to get my Big 3 wires upgraded (I got my HO Alternator installed a couple of weeks ago, but the mechanic refused to touch the wires). I went to my local authorized JL dealer, because I've gotten work done there before, and they've always been pretty fair with pricing. Well, the first guy I talk to basically has no idea what I'm talking about. I explain my situation, and that I just need the stock wires that used to run to my stock alternator replaced. He tells me that that's probably not my problem, and suggests that I get a capacitor first to see if that would fix my lights dimming. I outright refuse to discuss purchasing a capacitor, and ask to talk to one of the guys that actually does the work on the cars.

So a guy comes out from the back, and after I re-explain my setup, it seems that he kinda knows what I'm talking about. I ask for a price estimate, and he tells me $85 / hour, and all the power wires would be included in this price. I think that's kinda steep, but I really do not want to do this myself, and would much rather pay the extra and get it installed "professionally".

Ok, so I ask how long, ballpark it should take (figuring it should be a 1-2 hour job). The guy says he has no idea, since he "hasn't done one in a long time", and he'll need to look at it before he can give me a price. So I leave the car with him and ask him to call me with an estimate when he can look at it (before he does any of the work). When he calls, this is pretty much the exact conversation we have:

Car Audio Guy: "Yea, I took a look at your alternator. It looks like I have to run a wire to the battery, and then another wire down into the engine and stuff."

Me: "Yea, one to the battery, and then the ground wires, right?"

Guy: "Yea, the ground wires. But they seem to go down into the car, so I'd have to work around a lot of stuff."

Me: "Ok, well do you have any idea how long that will take?"

Guy: "Well, I don't know, like I said there's a lot of things I'd have to wire around."

Me: "Can you give me any type of estimate?"

Guy: "Well, if it takes me 5 hours, at $85/hour, then it's going to be like $425."

Me: "Yea, I understand that it's $85/hour times however many hours it is, but do you know how long it will take?"

Guy: "Nope, it might take 5 hours."

So either this guy was a complete moron, and had no idea what he was talking about. Or, he wanted to rip me off. Or, he really didn't feel like upgrading the wires for me. Is this really that complicated a procedure?

I know people on here are going to tell me to do it myself, but I really don't want to do that, I'd much rather pay for someone to do it professionally. I don't trust myself doing any electrical stuff with my car. But it seems that every place I go to has no idea what I'm talking about when I even mention a HO alternator. Shouldn't *most* decent car audio shops be able to do this work? Shouldn't it be at most a 1 or 2 hour job? I saw the tutorial on how to do it, and it didn't look to complex.

I'm located in central New Jersey (New Brunswick), and my parents live up in Bergen County. If anyone knows a reputable place that does this kind of work, anywhere close in NJ, can they please let me know?

Sorry for the rant/long post, I'm just really getting frustrated with the idiots I keep talkin to.

Gold Member
Username: Carguy

Post Number: 4837
Registered: Nov-04
If I was in charge of mechanical license, I'd revoke them all from those idiots.
And you wonder why there are so many horror stores about them.
If you don't feel like doing the upgrade yourself, then try this:
1. go to an audio shop and purchase 8'-12' of 4gauge or lower wire with crimp ends installed. This should cost no more than $25 tops.
Now purchase 2 4gauge or lower wires that are 12" - 18" in length with crimp ends ($6-$10 each).
If you still have the owner's manual of your car, then open it and read.
It'll tell you where the cables are located in the diagram.
2. Do it yourself and save, while at the same time, learn how to fix things for yourself.

I'll give you a brief instruction so that you can guess how long it'll take.

Pop open your hood, and locate the battery. Look at the negative post. You will see 8gauge wire on it, going from the battery to the car's chassis (ground). This is the 1st of 3 wires that you will need to replace.

Now look close to where all the belts are. You will see 8 gauge wire that's either shielded or braided going from a screw on the engine to the car's chassis/frame. That is the 2nd cable of the "big 3".

The 3rd wire is connected to the fuse box under the hood. It's usually close to the battery. Your owner's manual will tell you exact location.
If you open the fuse box lid, you will see one wire coming from the positive side of car battery. Another 8gauge beside that, going somewhere into the engine area. That is the alternator cable. This will require 1-1 1/2 hours of labour. Only cause you have to get under the car or if you have enough hood space, loosen the alternator cable from the alternator.
If you are a bit timid to do this part, go to your car dealership and ask the service department to replace it for you. Those morons should have enough courage to do it. Just don't tell them you have HO alternator.
Explain that your current alternator wire is worn out and needs to be replaced. Then supply them the pre-made 12' cable.
See how simple it can be? Since they are your car dealership service dept, those guys should spend around 1 hour or less on it.
In total, all this could be done for $50 or less, if you do it yourself, or around $100 - $130 max.

Gold Member
Username: Carguy

Post Number: 4838
Registered: Nov-04
One more thing, if you feel like calling them back, read them this simple instruction. See what they'll say afterwards.

Silver Member
Username: Xkawn

Post Number: 210
Registered: Jul-05
hey matt, i just did my first install ever. i learned by asking Q's on here and reading the websites these guys gave me. now as far as the alt i had that installed by a shop cuz the after market a/c i had installed was in the way, but i did the wiring myself with the extra 1/0 gauge wire i bought. knowing absolutely nothing about electrical or installing stereos before hand, this procedure still only took me about 30 minutes. i'm sure that might differ from car to car, but probably not by much. sounds to me like either these guys are idiots or these guys are trying to feel you out and milk you for as much as they can. either way, are these the guys you want working on your system???????
« Previous Thread Next Thread »

Main Forums

Today's Posts

Forum Help

Follow Us