Your car’s alternator carries a lot of responsibilities. It provides power to your battery and charges it. It’s also responsible for keeping your vehicle’s electrical systems and computers up and running when the engine is on. Practically, if the alternator dies, so does your car.
An alternator’s life is affected by several factors including its quality, how you use your car, and the number of electronics inside the vehicle. Typically, if your alternator meets the standard requirements, it will last for about 7 years or 100,000 to 150,000 miles. Some mechanics, though, estimate the part’s lifespan to only about 80,000 miles.
Regardless of how long the part will last or how old your car is, you would need to fix or replace your alternator at some point in the future. With that in mind, you should consider knowing how much the cost to fix an alternator would be so that you can prepare your wallet.
Average Cost to Fix an Alternator
According to Angie’s List, you would likely spend about US$300 to US$500 to replace a broken alternator with a remanufactured one. That price already includes the parts and labor. On the other hand, replacing the said car part with a new one is costlier, running from US$500 to US$1,000.
The exact price will depend on the service fee of your mechanic and the parts you need for the replacement.
To give you an idea, finishing the replacement will typically take the mechanic two to three hours. That is equivalent to a labor fee averaging US$120 to US$200. The alternator itself, on the other hand, costs about US$100 to US$350. If the belt needs replacement, add another US$20 to US$50.
A more expensive option is for you to opt for dealership parts and labor, at which case the alternator fix price will run up to US$500 and above.
A Closer Look at the Alternator Fix Price
Looking into how much some repair companies charge for fixing or replacing the alternator may give you a better grasp of the pricing system.
Take for example the company Your Mechanic. If you’re hiring a mechanic from them, you will likely spend about US$70 to US$280 for labor and US$53 to US$683 for the parts. The total cost, then, will be as low as US$123 to as high as US$963.
Repair Pal prices also fall within or not far from Your Mechanic’s range. For example, the company prices alternator replacement for an Isuzu Trooper at US$265 to US$809. If your car is a BMW 535i, they will charge you about US$717 to US$912. Their website also has a list of estimates for other models.
Prices of Alternators
Buying a brand new alternator will cost you about US$200 to US$600. You may have heard that there are aftermarket or used alternators available and may consider buying them to save money. However, if you want to be on the safe side, a new one is the best option.
Auto parts shops usually sell different kinds of alternators including original equipment manufacturer parts, aftermarket (new and remanufactured), and remanufactured original equipment. Aside from the type, the model of your car affects the exact price of the parts needed to replace its alternator.
For instance, a Ford F-series will cost you US$133 to US$305 for the parts, while a Chevrolet Silverado will cost you US$256 to US$401. Here are other models and the corresponding prices for their parts:
- Ford Focus: US$254 to US$407
- Toyota Camry: US$271 to US$649
- Nissan Maxima: US$272 to US$382
- Nissan Altima: US$252 to US$362
- Honda CR-V: US$289 to US$915
- Honda Civic: US$255 to US$458
- Honda Accord: US$245 to US$453
- Ford Fusion: US$232 to US$337
To know the exact cost, you can check online stores like Auto Zone and Buy Auto Parts. Their websites let you find specific alternator types by asking for details like the manufacturing year of your car as well as its make and model.
When to Replace Your Alternator
As you’re now aware of the average cost to change alternators, the next thing you need to know is when to replace the said car part. If your vehicle is showing signs of a failing alternator, it’s best to look for a replacement.
The usual signs that your alternator is faltering include pulsating or dimming headlights or a burning smell emanating from the car part. Another sign is when your alternator warning light or other dashboard warning lights turn on. Furthermore, if the electrical components in your car work intermittently, or there’s a squeal-like noise coming from the engine, something might be wrong.
Watch out for the early signs and once you spotted them, don’t hesitate to inspect your car or call a mechanic to check it. You wouldn’t want to get stuck in the carpark because of a dead alternator, right?
DIY Alternator Replacement
If you’re not happy with the average cost to change alternators and want to save more, you can do the replacing yourself. Do-It-Yourself guides posted on the internet are readily available when you need them. Combine these guides with your auto knowledge and you may just get your alternator replaced in no less than an hour.
Before doing any replacement, you should first diagnose what went wrong with your alternator. One reason for the alternator’s lock up maybe because of the electrical section not working properly due to heat and overuse of bearings. Another cause is undercharging.
After identifying the problem, park your car on level ground, turn off the engine, and set the emergency brake. Afterward, you can begin removing your vehicle’s battery cable, serpentine belt, and alternator. Next, you should compare the new part with the old to make sure that it will fit your car. If the part matches, you can then start the installation.
Remembering Car Care
Taking care of your car involves paying attention to all its parts. After all, your auto would not run if one of the parts is dead or broken. And even if it did run, your safety will likely be at risk. Just imagine driving your car at 80 mph only to realize in horror that your brake is not functioning. Smells like danger, isn’t it?
It is important to check your car on a daily basis and take note of how long its parts have been running. That way, it would be easier for you to determine when to call a mechanic or do repairs and replacements yourself.
Most of all, don’t forget to check your vehicle before hitting the road.