Replacing Your Alternator
Typically alternators are less expensive than, say, a power steering pump or air conditioner compressor. Nevertheless, you don't always have to fork out a lot of cash for a replacement. Many automotive stores sell remanufactured or rebuilt alternators at a discount. A rebuilt alternator will usually cost between $100 and $200, depending on how much power your car requires.
While alternators are relatively inexpensive in comparison to some of the other components on your car's engine, some can be expensive depending on the car make. But they often run between $250 and $350.
Sometimes alternators are easily accessible and simple to replace for the at-home mechanic. With a modest amount of automotive experience and the proper tools, you can change an alternator in your garage. But more and more cars don't have much space under the hood, and the alternators can be difficult to reach without first removing several other components. In this case, it's best to take your car to an experienced technician who can do the job quickly.
If you happen to own an alternator that has a repair kit available for sale, you can really save some money. Alternator repair kits are usually less than $30, depending on which components you need to fix. Again, you need the proper tools and a little know-how, but if you're able to find the right kit and know what you're doing, you can rebuild an alternator for a fraction of the cost of even a remanufactured unit.
One thing is certain: A bad alternator will ruin a good battery if you don't address it quickly. Batteries can only be recharged so many times before they'll lose their ability to hold a charge. If the battery isn't relatively old, it should survive. But an older battery that is constantly drained and charged will have a shorter life span.
Vehicle Alternator FAQ
What does an alternator do for a car?
Does an alternator need power to work?
How many amps should a car alternator put out?
Do alternators produce AC or DC?
How much does it cost to replace an alternator?
Originally Published: Jun 9, 2008
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