Alternator replacement can be an essential part of ongoing vehicle maintenance. The job itself is relatively easy on older vehicles and it's always cheaper if you do the work yourself. However, it’s useful to know how much you should expect to pay for an alternator replacement. That way, you can budget for the job effectively even though replacement tends to be a matter of urgency on most vehicles.
The cheapest way to undertake an alternator replacement is to buy a used alternator. These will generally run to about half the cost of a new alternator. However, you need to keep a few things in mind. Used alternators don’t come with any kind of warranty so if they break, you can’t take it back and receive a free replacement. Essentially, you’re gambling that the part will be in good working order and will last over a period of time. You should only consider used alternators if you’re purchasing from a reputable source that you know and trust.
You won’t be able to trade in your old alternator as a core part. This is especially true if you buy an alternator from a junkyard, which is one of the main sources for used parts. Expect to pay upwards of $50 for a used alternator.
Auto Parts Stores
Alternator replacements will vary in price between different auto parts stores. It’s worth checking the websites of the big chains in order to see what they charge (prices will also vary according to the make and model of your vehicle). There should always be a warranty attached to the part.
The prices will also include a core charge. This is the discount you’ll receive when you take in your old alternator so it can be reconditioned. In general, this means you’ll go back to the store after you’ve fitted the new alternator to receive a refund on the recommended surcharge figure. Unless you’ve already removed your old alternator, be prepared to pay more money upfront. The costs can be up to $200, depending on the model of your vehicle, although the core will take off up to $75 from that figure.
There are plenty of auto parts dealers online and these can offer better prices than those in land-based stores as they have less overhead expenses. There will be a core charge involved so you’ll be paying more upfront. However, you’ll get some money refunded once the old part is exchanged and your alternator replacement will have a warranty in case of failure.
Before you deal with one of these companies, do some research to make sure they’re legitimate and recommended by their customers. If you’re not sure what alternator you need, these sites can sometimes be problematic although many will have help lines that can offer advice on parts. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of these as they’ll often be toll free.
You should expect to pay around $15 to $25 less than you would in a regular auto parts store for your replacement alternator.
You’ll pay the highest price for an alternator replacement at a new car dealer. While they sell parts, they’ll probably want to install the alternator, too. Buy the part only if you can’t find it elsewhere and expect to pay at least $25 more than you would at an auto parts store. There will, however, be a warranty and a core rebate.