Alternator Repair Options And Which You Should Choose

An alternator, sometimes known as a synchronous generator, is a device that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy. This device is critical for the operation of your car and helps to get it started and keep its battery life strong!.

It is not uncommon for a vehicle owner to be unaware that an alternator is responsible for providing the vehicle with energy. Without it, your heating system, power steering, and headlights wouldn’t have enough energy to function.

This article will go over the symptoms of a bad alternator and the steps for an alternator repair. We will also provide the best alternator repair option to choose based on the car’s model and budget and the nature of the issue. 

Let’s get started!

What Are The Signs Of A Bad Alternator?

The following are common symptoms of a bad alternator.

  1. Your Vehicles Lights Becomes Dim or Overly Bright.
  2. Dead Battery.
  3. Slow or Malfunctioning Accessories.
  4. The car won’t start.
  5. Frequent Stalling.
  6. Growling or Whining Noises.
  7. The smell of Burning Rubber or Wires.
  8. Battery Warning Light on the Dashboard.

If you see these signs, it’s likely that your alternator is damaged and needs to be replaced. 

Even if it does not make you stranded on the side of the road today, repairing it now will help prevent a more serious problem from happening in the future. 

We recommend that you repair your car immediately if you recognize any of these signs!

Alternator Repair: Options And What You Should Choose?

The following are some options for Alternator Repair

1. Replace The Old Alternator With An Entirely New One

Typically, this alternator repair option – and especially when the mechanic does the work instead of you doing it yourself – can cost considerably more in terms of time, supplies, parts, and labor.

Alternators aren’t cheap to buy, but one feature worth noting is that alternators, as compared to other parts, usually last longer and therefore are cheaper in the long run. You will often find that this alternator repair option, which costs a bit more, is ideal because it makes both monetary and logistical sense to replace a bad alternator with a new one.

A branded and new alternator will last you anywhere from 200,000 kilometers up to 500,000 kilometers, depending on the make of your car. 

Be sure to consult with a professional mechanic (or your preferred auto technician) before ordering a replacement part to avoid falling victim to parts inferior in quality.

Use this option if your alternator’s repair cost is similar to an alternator replacement.

2. Replacing The Old Alternator With A Used Or Refurbished Model

This choice has a lower cost than the other options, but it’s less durable over time. If you’re looking to purchase a used alternator, ensure that you buy it only from a reputable source.

This will help ensure that you don’t have another alternator problem in the near future.

In the case of a refurbished alternator, we advise you to make sure it was refurbished properly and made to work just like you want. 

Determining if an alternator was repaired with quality parts is important in ensuring its proper functionality. 

This is because, with the way modern vehicles are built nowadays, basic components need to be strong enough to function continually and throughout their useful lifespan.

The best way to test this is if the alternator comes with a warranty!

If you are considering this option, ask yourself if it’s substantially lower than the price of purchasing a new alternator. 

Be aware of the long-term durability of repairs because the one you’re looking at will probably last just until something fails in it and it needs to be replaced again anyway.

3. Refurbishing (Repairing) Your Old Alternator

To clarify things, Alternators are devices that are designed to be taken apart and cleaned. Any damaged parts in an alternator can be repaired, including bearings and voltage regulators, diode rectifiers, brushes, or others, and then they can be reassembled.

A car alternator that has been repaired or refurbished is expected to run smoothly for at least 100,000 miles before having any issues.

One limiting factor when it comes to repairing or refurbishing your alternator is the particular design of the alternator itself. Some aren’t “repair friendly” (it can’t be dismantled without damaging the parts) and demand that you purchase a brand new one. Unfortunately, this is typical of modern alternators.

Also Read: How Much Really Does An Alternator Cost?

DIY Options For An Alternator Repair

alternator repair
Credits: kanemme6 / Shutterstock

If you’re thinking of repairing your alternator but have never worked with one before, it’s important that you get some experience working on cars first.

The process of repairing an alternator doesn’t require the same as repairing a nuclear reactor. However, you should be aware that these are among the most challenging problems to tackle because doing so without proper knowledge or experience can have devastating effects on your vehicle. 

Any type of uncertainty, irreverence, or recklessness can cause severe damage to your alternator and electrical components. Make sure that you know what you’re doing before attempting to perform an alternator repair yourself!

In any case, here are some DIY options for alternator repair.

1. Buy A New, Used, Or Refurbished Alternator And Replace It Yourself

Changing a car alternator is a great option for anyone with some knowledge of vehicles. 

One of the main issues is getting to your vehicle’s alternator. In most vehicles, the alternator can be found at the top area of the engine, and it’s easily accessible and located on a flat surface, so it can be reached instantly when it needs to be replaced.

It isn’t too difficult to change an alternator in a car – just follow the steps below!

  1. Remove from the battery of your car 
  2. Disconnect the alternator connectors, or wires
  3. Remove the serpentine belt
  4. Take off anchor bolts and screws (that keep the alternator in the correct position)
  5. Remove the old alternator, then insert the new one (make sure you make sure to align the new one with anchors)
  6. Install bolts or screws, and then tighten them
  7. Install your serpentine belt (make sure that it is mounted properly on all the pulleys)
  8. Reconnect the connector or wiring
  9. Replace the battery and close the hood.

Start the car, and check that everything is working perfectly (like there’s an indicator light for the battery at the moment you turn the ignition on, or that it goes off once you start the engine, and there are no unusual noises, etc.)

To test that the car is working properly, first make sure that there is no battery indicator light on when you turn the ignition on or that it should go off once you start the engine. Then test whether there are any unusual noises and all the vehicle electronics are working perfectly. 

2. Completely Repair The Alternator Yourself

If you prefer to go with this alternator repair option, you will need advanced knowledge about repairing alternators.

This will involve dismantling the alternator, finding the problem, fixing the problem, then putting everything back together.

Depending on the alternator issue, you may require particular tools, such as a welder or a tool to remove bearings. Without these tools, certain repairs will not be able to be completed.

The most common and straightforward fix to a bad alternator is to replace the voltage regulator. This is where you will want to unscrew a few bolts and/or take off some connectors and replace the electrical part that most commonly malfunctions in the alternator, which in this case happens to be the voltage regulator.

In the same way, as with the first choice, Make a clear evaluation of the task in front of you. If you feel it’s beyond your capabilities, don’t attempt it. It is better to ask a certified mechanic to perform the repairs as they will have more experience in repairing alternators.

Watch this video to properly help you repair your alternator

How Much Does An Alternator Repair Cost?

The cost of replacing your alternator can vary from $300 to $1000 in the parts and labor. The car’s make, model, and date of manufacture all come into play when determining the repair price.

If your car model isn’t too recent, you’ll find that repairs to the alternator are easier and less expensive. When it comes to more modern cars, working with the alternator can be quite a bit more expensive because the most recent models usually call for specific tools or knowledge about how to repair or replace them properly.

If you’d like to cut down on the cost of labor, you can carry out the alternator repair yourself using the DIY method mentioned above.

Also Read: What is a Serpentine Belt & When Should You Replace It

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does An Alternator Repair Cost?

The cost of an alternator repair can vary from $300 to $1000 in the parts as well as labor. The cost of replacing an alternator is also contingent upon the car’s model, model, and date of manufacture.

Can you drive a car with a bad alternator?

When the alternator’s not working or has become damaged generally, the vehicle can go for a small distance and for a brief amount of time and allow you to drive to a repair shop or a car parts store to purchase an alternator replacement.

How long does it take to repair an alternator?

In general, it’ll take around two hours for you to change an alternator by yourself. However, this can vary in accordance with your experience with automobile mechanics. If you decide to take your vehicle to a repair shop to get the alternator replaced, the timing could differ, and you might have to get out of the car to go out for the day.

What happens when an alternator goes out while driving?

If your alternator goes out while driving, Your car could go off Because your alternator powers the battery in your car, and without it, your car would stop being in operation. you’ll also not be able to start your car. This implies you’ll require a tow for the mechanic.

Do you have to replace the battery when replacing the alternator?

It’s not required to replace the battery when replacing the alternator; however, it’s unusual to have an old battery fail when an alternator ceases to function.

How many hours does it take to replace an alternator?

The standard time for alternator repairs is between two and three hours. It’s about $150 to $200 of labor costs to begin.


The alternators in vehicles are responsible for charging the battery and powering the electrical components in it. In the event of an alternator failure, the battery will not be charged and the electrical components in the vehicle will fail. It is important to get the alternator repaired as soon as possible in order to avoid further damage to the vehicle. Utilize one of the alternator repair options which we have provided for you to get your alternator fixed immediately.

Scott Greene is a seasoned automotive technician for over 5 years and has been deep into advanced automotive diagnostics for a couple of years. He Loves writing about Automotive Diagnostics and Repair, Trouble codes, Buyer guides for various car parts and accessories, and lots more. 

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