How Much Does an Alternator Cost

How much does an alternator cost? It depends on the year, make of vehicle, engine size, how the vehicle is equipped, the amperage output and the brand.

The alternators on older vehicles, especially the domestic models, are the least expensive. As of 2009, the price for an 80-amp alternator for a domestic vehicle is around $80 with a $10 core. For an alternator with a higher output rating than 80 amps the price would be marginally higher.

Alternators for older foreign vehicles  have a separate voltage regulator that must be purchased, bringing the price in line with the domestic vehicles.

For alternators from the mid -90s and later, the price has essentially doubled. A current domestic alternator averages $180 to $240. This is where the domestic and foreign vehicles part ways in most cases. An average alternator for a foreign vehicle is in the neighborhood of $270-$320. Alternators for high-end foreign cars such as Mercedes and BMW are in the neighborhood of $340 and up, even though Jaguar's alternators cost about the same as a domestic vehicle.

When a new alternator is to be installed, it is usually due to a failure, which would have drained the battery. Caution is in order here because a new alternator will be damaged if it must recharge a depleted battery. Alternators are designed to maintain a charge, not to charge a dead or low battery. Charge and check the battery before the engine is started.

Most alternator failures are due to overtaxing the alternator due to a bad battery or a large stereo amplifier. If the bearings are good and the alternator makes no noise, rebuilding it is a simple matter taking only a few minutes and saving considerable dollars. The only thing it needs is the rectifier bank and diode trio located in the rear inside of the alternator. These can be purchased at any auto parts stores. Take the pulley off, the four bolts securing the two halves of the case, pull the rotor out and the rectifier and diodes are simple to remove.

Another option that can save money is to take the alternator to an automotive alternator and starter rebuilding business in the local area. This is a popular option because not only is it inexpensive, but they install better parts. The average is $40-$60 and a one-day turnaround. 

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