The alternator is one of the hardest working components in your car. Its primary function is to supply power to the vehicle’s electrical system and to keep its battery fully charged. This means every time you turn on your radio, heater, satellite navigator, air conditioner, or anything else that uses power, your alternator is usually at work. On the other hand, the alternator may sometimes malfunction and cause both the car and its battery to stop working altogether. Being prepared and knowing how much to replace alternator is something every motorist should give some careful consideration. Otherwise, you’d find yourself in a very tricky situation when your alternator stops working.
How Much Does an Alternator Cost?
The amount you’ll be asked to pay for a new alternator replacement will much depend on the make and model of your vehicle. Alternators can average anywhere from $130 to $350, while the actual repair job as well as labor may cost you around $350 and $500. Most alternators are readily available in auto parts stores, where they’re sold at a more cost-effective price than going to an actual dealership.
However, it’s a good idea to always exercise some caution when about to purchase items from an auto parts store or any aftermarket because some have a reputation for selling motor vehicle parts that are of poor quality. Nevertheless if you’re lucky to find a reputable auto parts store, you could land yourself a great deal and also save a ton of money as a consequence. Otherwise, opt for a new alternator every time instead of fixing your old alternator and always use an experienced mechanic in order to see real results.
Alternator Repair Benefits
If your alternator has malfunctioned, it means that your vehicle won’t start on the first try. A fully functioning alternator ensures your battery charge stays full and all your car’s electrical system is operating at maximal capacity. Otherwise, a faulty alternator would make it difficult for you to see what’s in front of you when driving at night and you could risk getting into an accident. Also you’d have issues with your vehicle’s radio, GPS, indicators, air conditioner, and everything else related to this power plant.
Signs of a Bad Alternator
It’s normal for your vehicle’s alternator to wear out over time. If you think your alternator is starting to fail, check for these common signs highlighted below:
- Dim or flickering lights
- Battery light on
- Check engine light
- Engine stalling or car has difficulty starting
- Grinding or squealing noise
- Electrical issues
- Dead battery
- Illuminated ALT or GEN light
You can check for the above signs and diagnose a failing alternator in person with a few basic tools. Alternators can last more than 12 years without requiring any regular maintenance or even replacement, though they often find it difficult to last beyond this particular period. This is because their internal parts usually wear out over time from long use. On this occasion, the only option you’d have is to either repair the old alternator or purchase a new one.
Avoid buying the cheapest or any second-hand alternator you come across. Many of these items have a similar mileage to your failed unit, which means it would only make your situation worse. Some have only the faulty part changed, while everything else is quite old which means it’s just there to fool you.
Buying a new or remanufactured alternator could address all your problems in a snap. At least these items usually last longer than other cheap alternators because most of their internal parts are brand new. Many also have warranties, giving you peace of mind and absolute confidence when on the road.
How to Change an Alternator
First, the mechanic loosens the battery in order to avoid shock from a live wire and short-circuiting the vehicle’s parts which would do more damage. Next, the mechanic then pops out all the wires at the back of the alternator, including the drive belt. In order to speed things up and make the job a little easier, most mechanics use a special tool called a screw-type tensioner for this particular task. Finally, the mechanic fastens all the bolts around the alternator’s housing and then takes out the defective alternator altogether.
Fixing a new alternator is easy and very straightforward. All you’ve to do is repeat each of the steps above but in reverse order this time. It’s also important to note that how long it takes to change any alternator will much depend on your specific vehicle’s model and the level of damage done to the old unit.
How Long Do Alternators Last?
It’s quite a tricky affair to really determine how long a vehicle’s alternator could last because of many factors, including the overall engine’s health and how a person takes care of their vehicle. Also how the electrical system frequently operates usually contributes to the life of an alternator a great deal. If you would like to keep your vehicle for a few more years, be ready to replace your alternator after it completes around 40,000 and 100,000 miles.
Changing a vehicle’s alternator is easy and straightforward, as the job demands very little mechanical experience and a few common tools. However, the decision on whether or not your alternator should be replaced should be left to a skilled mechanic every time. These people are professionals and would easily determine the type of alternator replacement your car would benefit from the most.
Otherwise, how much to replace alternator is something every motorist should give some deep thought so a person can prepare and adjust their budget accordingly. Alternator prices vary depending on a vehicle’s specific brand, size, and amps. Hopefully, this guide will help motorists easily determine alternator replacement costs and also get more insights on the importance of repairing these essential power plants.