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How Much Does It Cost to Replace an Alternator?

Last updated 07/25/2022 by

Benjamin Locke

Edited by

Fact checked by

Summary:
An alternator repair costs vary between $350 to $1,000 depending on a few factors. These include the make and model of your car, the amperage of the alternator, and where you get your alternator replaced.
Many people think that the battery of their car is the most important when it comes to electrical power in a vehicle. However, the alternator in your car is even more important to control the flow of electricity in your car’s electrical system. If you have a problem with dim lights, your car battery, or have malfunctioning electronics, the alternator could be the main culprit. In most cases, you’ll probably need to replace your alternator completely.
But how much can an alternator replacement cost? And how long can you expect your car to be in the shop? In this article, we’ll discuss the costs associated with an alternator replacement, how they operate in your vehicle, and why alternators are important.

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How do I know it might be my alternator?

If you are not sure you have problems that might be connected to your alternator, you might want to make sure. Here are some common problems associated with the ever-hovering existential threat of a faulty alternator.
  • Dead battery. Batteries can die for a multitude of reasons, but the problem might lie in a bad alternator. If you recently replaced your battery but still have trouble with it, get your alternator checked.
  • Dimming lights. Though headlights may dim from a dying lightbulb or a foggy headlight lens, it could also be a sign that your alternator is dying.
  • Growling or whiney noises. If you start to hear any squealing coming from your engine, this could be a sign that the alternator can’t spin properly.
  • Bad gadgets. If you are having a problem with your gadgets like the stereo or the AC, then this could spell trouble for your alternator.

Alternators 101

To understand what goes into replacing an alternator, it’s important to understand what an alternator is and how it operates.
The engine of a vehicle has an alternator pulley on the front end. When the engine turns on, it spins the pullies, which are hooked up to the serpentine belt. The belt then spins the alternator, which in turn generates electrical energy from mechanical energy. This is then dispersed through the car’s electrical components. When the engine isn’t running, the battery works as a replacement for the alternator, which allows the car to turn on.

How much does an alternator equipment replacement cost?

There are multiple factors that determine the cost of an alternator, including who the manufacturer is. You have two choices regarding your alternator’s manufacturer: a brand new OEM alternator (original equipment manufacturer) or a remanufactured alternator.

Remanufactured alternator

A remanufactured or rebuilt alternator is an existing alternator that has parts replaced or remanufactured to make it function properly again. This is the low end of alternator types and will start at around $130 for a standard car.

OEM alternator

A new alternator, particularly a state-of-the-art one, will run you around $250 to $350. It might be worth it if it gives you a better amperage. However, many OEM alternators will come with specific warranties that can save you cost if you have problems.
Here are some popular makes of alternators that might work inside your vehicle’s charging system.
Alternator TypePrice
Duralast A12176N – 1G Heavy Duty Alternator$135.99
Platform 141-657$125.99
Built Tough B3115 Alternator$139.99
Proform 141-660 Alternator$157.99
Duralast A7152N Heavy Duty Alternator$165.99
ProForm 664 14N Chrome Universal$149.99
Bosch 180 AMP AL0850X$589.99

Other factors on price

In addition to who manufactures your alternator, there are a few other variables that can affect the price of a replacement.

Vehicle make and model

The make and model of your car can have a significant impact on the price of replacing an alternator. This is especially the case if you have something on the luxury end. For example, a Bosch alternator for a BMW can run up to $589 just for the alternator, according to BimmerWorld.

Amperage

Amperage is the amount of electricity that your alternator provides. Those with larger amperages, and thus more power, will typically cost more. An average alternator will be 60 to 70 amps. However, for high performance and usage, this can go up to 150 and even 200 amps for “high-output” alternators. To give you some comparison, charging your cellphone on the dashboard costs you two amps.
Looking for car insurance that can you help you with the alternator repair cost or replacement cost if the alternator fails? Here are some options to look at.

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Labor costs

The other factor in replacing an alternator is the labor cost. Labor costs will not only vary by what shop you visit but also by where you live.
The typical auto repair labor in the United States will cost you between $75 to $130 per hour. If you live in a rural area of Tennessee, the labor costs will likely stick to the lower side, maybe $75 an hour. On the other hand, if you live in an urban center like New York City, expect to pay more towards the top end of $130 per hour.
Installing an alternator takes between two and three hours. So, if you get it fixed for two hours in rural Tennessee, you are likely to pay about $150 for labor. If you get it fixed in New York City, and the mechanics take their time, your wallet can suffer a loss closer to $390.

Pro Tip

If the car is still drivable and you live in a city, it might be a smart move to drive to an area outside of the city limits. You’d be surprised at how much you can save with labor costs in just an hour’s drive away.

Alternator financing

If you need a new alternator, yet don’t have the cash to buy one, then financing options are available. Some companies will offer a lease-to-own option.
Instead of having to pay for the alternator in one go, you can pay in installments, via lease. In order to lease to own an auto part, you generally need to have an income of at least $1,000 a month, plus a photo idea.
Alternatively, you can take out a small personal loan to help with the costs. Take a look at the vendors below to get a better idea of your loan terms.

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Bad battery vs. bad alternator

Remember, the battery in your car acts first and foremost as a backup to your alternator to generate electricity. Sometimes, if you are having problems with your electric current, it could be a problem with a battery instead of the alternator. Here are some ways to check.

Check the battery light when the car is off

Turn your car off for a while, and return. If the battery light is still on or still flickering and the car is off, there is a problem with your battery. It means you are using power from your battery even when your car is off, which is a problem.

Try another battery

If you aren’t sure whether your battery or alternator is the problem, try replacing the battery with a spare one (if you have a spare battery). If your car starts but then shuts down after a little amount of time, there’s most likely a problem with the alternator.

Make sure battery volts are in line with norms

There should be a battery gauge somewhere on your dashboard. When the car is off, the range should be 12 volts. When the car is on, the voltage should be 14 to 15 volts. If the battery gauge just reads zero, then it’s a dad battery.
If the battery gauge registers but is either higher or lower than the 12- to 15-volt range, then it’s most likely a problem with the alternator. The electric current is not being monitored properly.

FAQs

Is replacing an alternator worth it?

Replacing a broken alternator is definitely worth it. Having a failing alternator and driving around can be dangerous. It can cause the engine not to start and leave you in a tight spot. Also, at any point in the drive, certain important elements of your vehicle might become unresponsive. This is a dangerous scenario that’s best to avoid.

What causes an alternator to fail?

Your alternator could fail for a few different reasons. For instance, there could be something preventing the alternator from spinning properly, or it could be that the alternator’s belt is misaligned. Whatever the reason, it’s best to call a mechanic as soon as you can.

Key Takeaways

  • You’ll have to pay for both the equipment and the labor when you get your alternator replaced.
  • The equipment cost can vary depending on the make and model of your car, as well the amperage you wish the alternator to have.
  • Labor can take between two and three hours, but the cost for this labor varies depending on where you live.
  • It’s important to make sure that your problems like in the alternator and not the car battery.
  • Avoid driving if you feel your alternator might have some serious problems.

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