Robert Bosch LLC.

Trucker's 'Long Haul' alternator operates flawlessly for 500,000 miles and still going strong

Back in 2005, independent trucker Jim Miller, was at his carrier's depot in Detroit preparing to head to the West Coast when he was approached by a Bosch representative. The representative, Joe Frikken, was looking for fleets to test products, and offered to install an about-to-be-introduced Long Haul alternator in Miller's Freightliner. Miller could keep the alternator to see if it performed and held up as Bosch expected it would.

Miller was happy to get a new alternator. At the time, his 2001 Freightliner had 508,895 miles on it, and he had been having the existing alternator rebuilt every couple of years as a prevention against trouble on the road.

Now, with his truck at more than 1,000,000 miles, the Long Haul alternator has 500,000 trouble-free miles on it, and "for the past seven years I've been home free," Miller said.

"The alternator has performed flawlessly for about 500,000 miles, and it's still going strong," he said. "Bosch recently offered to take it out and replace it with another new one, but I told them I wanted to keep it in there and see how long it will go. Maybe we'll get another half a million miles."

Based in Las Vegas, Miller has been hauling specialty automobiles and other valuable cargo for 25 years cross country in enclosed trailers for Reliable Carriers, Canton, MI, the country's largest enclosed auto transport company. His hauling was mostly between Detroit and Las Vegas at one time, but more of his hauling today is between Las Vegas and California. His travels have taken him all over the country, including to Texas where he brought several Bugattis to the west coast, and Pebble Beach, moving exotic automobiles to and from the Pebble Beach automotive concours.

"That alternator has taken me through many a long haul over roads through the heat of the desert, in the mountains, in ice and snow, and never let me down," Miller said. "The heat and cold weather accessories running take their toll, but no matter how much electrical load the truck placed on it, the Long Haul alternator handled it."

"I try to avoid those long trips in bad conditions any more, though," he added. "That's a young man's game." 

Miller reports that his Freightliner sleeper has been a fine truck, with the only significant repair being bearing replacement 50,000 miles ago. One of the very important keys to relatively safe, trouble-free driving has been inspections, he notes.

"Federal regulation requires an annual Department of Transportation inspection, which I am happy to do, and my carrier, Reliable, also requires a thorough second annual inspection," Miller said. "These inspections are really worthwhile in keeping the vehicle safe to operate and running in top condition." 


Highly Efficient, Heat Tolerant Alternator

"The Long Haul alternator operates at more than 70 percent efficiency while conventional OE replacement alternators operate at 55 percent efficiency," said Fred Padgett, Group Product Manager, Starters and Alternators for Bosch. "This high efficiency design transforms energy into power rather than performance-robbing heat, saving fuel every mile. Providing greater electrical power and efficiency on the road or at idle, the alternator is designed to keep generating electrical power even when the underhood temperature climbs to as much as 125 degrees C (257 degrees F)." 

Producing 160 amps operating output, and 80 amps at idle, the Long Haul's higher charge rate at idle prolongs battery life by reducing deep cycling. And the Long Haul is built to "really take the heat." Dual internal cooling fans are optimized for air flow and help maintain the unit's even temperature under all operating conditions. Most other alternators fail at slightly over 110 degrees C (230 degrees F). 

"The Long Haul's exclusive Self Protection Regulator technology automatically reduces the output to prevent failure when underhood temperatures reach 125 degrees C (257 degrees F)," Padgett said. "Output returns to normal when the temperature drops below 125 degrees C (257 degrees F)."