When your car’s electrical system seems to be suffering problems, it can be concerning. You could experience dead batteries or faulty electronics taking your attention off the road. While there can be many causes for these problems, one possible point of failure is the alternator. Not a great situation and you’re probably wondering “How much does it cost to replace an alternator?”
How Much Does It Cost to Replace an Alternator?
Alternators can average anywhere from $100 to $350, depending on the model. In most cases, costs will average between $350−400 for the alternator replacement if no other parts need to be changed. Add another $20 to $50 to your bill if the serpentine belt has to be replaced as well.
If you decide to go with dealership parts and labor, expect the bill to climb over $500 in many cases. Because the total cost depends on the vehicle, you can expect to pay anywhere between $350−$900 for an alternator replacement.
Your vehicle’s make, model, and age of your vehicle all affect repair costs. Newer, higher-end vehicles tend to have more expensive components, while less expensive vehicles are likely to be cheaper to repair.
It should be noted that our parts estimates reflect original equipment manufacturer (OEM) component prices, but you can potentially save a lot of money by using aftermarket parts. However, please note that this may affect the remaining warranty on your vehicle.
Labor costs vary less on our example cars, but these still differ from vehicle to vehicle. Some cars and trucks have more compact or complicated under-hood structures that make the alternator more difficult to get to, and the longer it takes to replace your alternator, the more you pay.
If you’re dealing with a faulty alternator, the cost to replace it with a brand-new part from your vehicle’s manufacturer can be $500 or more, depending on your vehicle.
We’ve collected estimates for replacing an alternator on nine example vehicles in Austin, Texas to give you examples of what this service might cost.
|Vehicle||Parts cost||Labor cost||Total cost|
|2016 Honda Civic||$427.01 to $733.92||$164.27 to $223.24||$591.28 to $957.16|
|2016 Ford F-150||$447.09 to $768.44||$82.13 to $111.62||$529.23 to $880.06|
|2018 BMW 740i||$1,227.88 to $2,110.42||$401.54 to $545.69||$1,629.42 to $2,656.10|
|Buick LeSabre||$218 to $489||$70 to $89||$288 To $578|
|Porsche 911||$419 to $1606||$123 to $156||$542 to $1762|
|Dodge Grand Caravan||$244 to $341||$123 to $156||$367 to $497|
|Dodge Caravan||$182 to $341||$96 to $123||$278 to $464|
|Dodge Dakota||$213 to $390||$52 to $67||$265 to $457|
|Jeep Wrangler||$235 to $425||$61 to $78||$296 to $503|
Factors Affecting the Alternator Price
New alternators may all look roughly the same, but differences between them affect their price. They include:
- The year, make model, and engine size. Just an exact match to your car’s requirements is sufficient, so always buy parts like the alternator considering their specifications.
- The amperage. Smaller alternators, which don’t need to produce as much power for the car, tend to have lower quality material content, such as copper, used in the windings. Thus, the manufacturing cost is lower. However, this is not always the case.
- It’s a type of assembly. Since the alternator must fit perfectly, you cannot choose a cheap alternator for another car. It will not work.
- The types of electrical connections. Alternators for older cars that qualify as 1-wire alternators are often cheaper, while 3-wire alternators tend to be more expensive.
- The new part’s warranty. Choosing a new part with a 1-year warranty versus a similar part with a lifetime warranty is expected to cost you more money initially.
Can I Drive with An Alternator Problem?
Most of the time, a short ride is fine if the alternator isn’t charging enough. The reserve power of the battery can replace electricity, e.g. if you drive a few blocks to the garage. However, if your alternator overcharges, even during a short drive, it can damage computer modules, the battery, and other electronics or wiring.
If you find an alternator problem, fixing it should be a top priority. If you’re unsure if it’s safe to drive, play it safe and organize a tow truck to take it to your destination. If you are not sure about your alternator’s health you can read our guide How To Test An Alternator?
How is an alternator replaced?
When replacing the alternator, the technician must remove the battery cables to avoid electric shock. After that, the accessory drive belts or serpentine belts must be removed from the alternator along with electrical connectors and several bolts.
Once the bolts are removed, the alternator is free from the alternator brackets and can be removed. Replacement is in reverse order and correct torque must be applied to avoid damage. The vehicle is then re-tested in the same way to ensure the repair is complete.
Can I replace the alternator myself?
As already mentioned, the alternator can be placed in an inaccessible place without extensive disassembly. In these cases, replacement should be left to a professional technician to avoid damage or improper installation of sensitive components.
If the alternator location is accessible, a good understanding of diagnosing and repairing starting and charging systems can make this job a cost-saving DIY job.
How often do alternators need to be replaced?
The alternator works about as hard as any part of your car, so eventually, it is bound to fizzle out. The average longevity of an alternator is seven years or about 150,000 miles.
Several factors can impact the lifespan of your alternator, including the quality of the part, the overall condition of the vehicle, and how many electronics are being used. Harsh driving conditions and aftermarket electrically powered accessories can decrease the useful life of the alternator.