It can be difficult to figure out the hardships with your vehicle if it’s not turning on. However, one major problem could be because of an alternator not being able to generate electricity into your vehicle. If this is the case, you might have to replace it, which can cost you a lot of money.
But you may ask how much does it cost to replace an alternator? The cost of replacing an alternator would be around $150 up to $500. But if you include the labor, that would cost you from $500 up to $1000. Considering that your alternator is powerless to produce electricity at all, you might have to replace it altogether.
With the help of this article, you will learn what alternators are, how they should be utilized, and what you need to do if you end up in a crisis.
What Is An Alternator And How It Works?
An alternator modifies the mechanical energy of your vehicle’s engine into electrical energy. This is used to charge your vehicle’s battery as well, all to provide energy to other electrical components of the vehicle. Your alternator’s energy provided to the vehicle will make your car start running, generating everything such as radio, taillights, etc.
You should know that the vehicle’s engine whirls a belt connected with your vehicle’s alternator by using the pulley system. This pulley then twirls the rotor shaft of the alternator and the pair of magnets surrounding it and goes through the coil to produce the current.
It is also known as the alternating current (AC). This AC is then directed inside the rectifier to transfer alternating current (AC) into direct current (DC). This is how your vehicle’s electrical systems will be able to start efficiently and be able to recharge the vehicle’s battery.
It is worth mentioning that alternating current (AC) can elicit more voltages than DC power. They are also more efficient to be utilized for your vehicle’s engine.
How Much Is A New Alternator For A Car?
You should be prepared to pay at least $500 or above for a replacement when including the cost of labor that will be an additional $120 up to $200. However, it may vary depending on which brand and manufacturer you purchase from.
It is suggested that you should purchase from the auto parts store as they will cost less rather than buying original equipment manufactured (OEM) replacement from a dealership.
Poor-Quality Electrical Parts
However, do keep in mind that various auto parts stores contain poor-quality electrical parts compared to the actual equipment on a brand new car.
Moreover, purchasing an aftermarket alternative might not be a bad idea considering it will save you money. Just make sure the alternator you are planning to replace is of good quality so it can function accurately and last for a long period.
Although buying an aftermarket alternator is a great option, it is also suggested that you should prefer buying a new alternator from the exact company you bought from, which generated the original version (OEM), as it will be eligible to perform much better in your vehicle.
You should note that an alternator can cost you from about $100 up to $350, but it mainly depends on the alternative’s brand and model. If you want to replace just the alternator, including the labor procedure, that would be about $350-$500.
However, if the serpentine belt is also included in the replacement, be prepared to include another $20 up to $50. In several cases, the cost can rise to $500 or $600, but if the issue is bigger in your car, you should know that you might be expected to pay between $500 up to $1000 for replacing an alternator.
4 Signs That Show Your Alternator Should Be Replaced
Your car will most certainly show signs that will indicate that there are some problems in your vehicle while unable to function properly. If you are facing problems in starting your vehicle or the condition of the alternator is not good, you should know that it is time to replace and get a new alternator as soon as possible.
Furthermore, here I will list down some symptoms that you can check yourself to determine whether it is time for a replacement or not.
1. Loud Noises Coming From The Engine
If your alternator’s spinning parts are constrained, then it will start to make strange and loud squealing noises. Make sure to check where this weird noise is coming from.
This way, when you are at the mechanic, you can tell them the exact details so they can start the process of fixing the issue quickly. They might be able to determine the issue right away as they are experts in this field, so your alternator can be repaired right away.
2. Your Vehicle Might Not Start At All
This is one of the common issues faced by car owners. Although alternators are not used to start the vehicle, they still charge the battery of your vehicle as it is operating. This means that if your vehicle’s battery is not working at all, then this directs there is an issue with the alternator.
Make sure to check your vehicle’s battery and the alternator so you can determine which component is facing problems. Do not try to fix the problem on your own. Contact the experts right away and get it to check.
3. Battery Light On The Dashboard
Another sign of a bad or a problematic alternator is indicated when you see the wording “CHARGE” or the battery symbol has lit up on the dashboard after you have turned on the battery.
This implies certain issues with the charging system, specifically if your alternator is not charging the battery properly. There might be issues with the battery too, but you will find out once you get it checked by the mechanics.
Moreover, to determine the problems with the battery, you can notice your vehicle’s taillights are not lighting up and are quite dimmer. This will also indicate the battery hasn’t been charged at all.
If you are a Ford F-150 driver, then check this article!
4. Malfunctioning Electrical System
The alternator is accountable for delivering the electrical power to the vehicle’s electrical system to function properly. You will know when the alternator is not functioning properly when the headlights, radio, air conditioning are not getting powered by the alternator. You will notice these issues right away, so make sure to get your alternator checked right away.
How Long Do These Alternators Last?
The lifespan of an alternator mainly depends on how you drive your vehicle. Various factors can affect the life of your alternator, but it also includes how a vehicle is driven and in which environment the vehicle is driven. Another thing to keep in mind is the electrical equipment your alternator annually operates.
However, if you are someone who wants to run your vehicle for additional years, then it is best to replace your alternator. This is because an alternator can last approximately 40,000 miles up to 100,000 miles.
After the warranty, you will start to see it malfunctioning, which can deteriorate the performance of your vehicle performance and other electrical components.
Testing The Alternator Performance
The main purpose of this test is to check whether the alternator is working accurately or not. This way, you can decide whether you need to replace it or just need maintenance. Before starting your tests, the first thing you must have with you is a multimeter.
This equipment is used to measure the voltage, current, and resistance. You can easily find this product in the mechanical stores for $15 with basic principles, but if you want a multimeter that includes additional functions, you can get that for about $100.
Here is what you need to test and how to test it below!
1. Test Your Battery
There will be two probes, a red one and a black one on a multimeter. You can start the process by attaching the red ones to the positive battery terminal and the negative terminal to the black one.
This will be easier for you to determine as a plus and minus sign is marked on the multimeter. Make sure the range is about 12.6V, and it should not be below that.
If you get a range below 12.2V will indicate that the battery is half-charged. If it is above that range, it will mean that there is a chance of a burnt alternator or battery. Besides that, if the range is very low, make sure to uninstall the battery from your vehicle and connect it with a charger.
After it is fully charged, let it rest the whole night. You can test the battery again in the morning, and if you see the battery is still low, then it means there is an issue with the battery.
2. Test Your Alternator
To check the alternator, you will have to start your vehicle’s engine as that is how the alternator starts to function. You can then attach the probes of your multimeter to the battery of your vehicle.
Once you have done that, the range must be around 13.8 V up to 14.4 V. If you are going to charge, then make sure to charge up to 12 V, and it should not be over this range as that can create various problems in the vehicle. If the range above these measures, the alternator is not conducting electricity accurately.
This means you will either have to repair your alternator or replace it before it starts creating problems for you. Just make sure to consult technicians right away as they will have a better idea regarding these issues, and do not try fixing anything on your own.
How An Alternator Is Replaced?
- The mechanic will test and inspect the charging system of your alternator by using a voltmeter. This will help examine the volts generated by your vehicle’s alternator.
- After that is done, they will proceed by detaching the battery from your alternator and the vehicle.
- They will also take the drive belt and the alternator out from the vehicle.
- After removing, they will install a brand new drive belt and an alternator properly inside your vehicle.
- If there is no issue with the battery, they will reattach the battery inside. However, if the battery is in bad condition, then a new battery will be replaced.
- After everything is installed and secured in place, the volts of your alternator will be examined again to ensure that everything is working as it should be.
- If everything looks good in the volts, then it is good news, but a road test will also be required to check the performance of your alternator, other electronic equipment, and your vehicle.
Should You Replace The Battery With The Alternator?
To start your vehicle, you will have to take out a lot of power from your battery. This is done when the alternator and the battery are working efficiently. Do keep in mind that if your alternator is not recharging the battery continuously, it will not be able to operate for a long period.
Furthermore, if the alternator ceases to function, the power your vehicle needs to generate can be found in the battery. However, if your alternator did not work to provide any recharging to the battery, then there can be problems in the battery’s cells that will not allow it to function in the vehicle at all.
But if you are lucky enough, the battery might be able to survive, and if not, then you will have to replace it with the alternator. Usually, the mechanics will check the battery before informing you right away.
Can You Drive With A Failing Alternator?
By now, you pretty much know how an alternator works. When an alternator starts failing, the battery will not be able to recharge, which means that it will be less likely to provide power to your vehicle’s components, such as the taillights, GPS, radio, etc.
Besides that, components that are powered by electricity also involve the vehicle’s computer, fuel pump, and ignition to stop working, and eventually, your vehicle will not start at all.
It is best to replace an alternator as soon as you start noticing minor symptoms in your vehicle, as they lead to a failure level. If you do not change your alternator, you might end up stranded on the roadside because it can happen anytime with a failing alternator.
I hope with the help of this article you were able to broaden your knowledge and get the answer on how much does it cost to replace an alternator.
Although replacing an alternator is not inexpensive, it is still something that must be conducted sooner because it can deteriorate your vehicle’s performance and harm other expensive parts of your vehicle.
Ensure to inspect your alternator and see if there are any symptoms, as I have mentioned above, to determine if you need a repair or a replacement for your alternator.
Hi there! I am Tahir Azam, and this is my blog. WVDOT Automotive is a website dedicated to creating high-quality content for car enthusiasts. I am also an avid car driver. I own and drive a Porsche for my daily tasks. It is the perfect vehicle for my family. I am a proud father of two boys. I spend my mornings and evenings catering to clients at my very own software hub. After getting home, I dedicate a few hours of my time to creating an article every day. Well, this is a short introduction about me and I am also a publisher on Amazon. I hope you enjoy reading through my articles, and I also hope that I may have helped you choose an upgrade for your vehicle.