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How much does an alternator replacement cost?
The alternator provides the power for all the electrical systems in your vehicle while the engine is running.
It is responsible for keeping up with the huge electrical demands of the modern motor vehicle as well as making sure the battery properly charged up.
If the alternator fails, the vehicle will be forced to rely on the battery only and may leave you stranded when it runs out of stored power.
Normally, when the alternator is not performing correctly, it will cause the battery light to appear on the dashboard.
Depending on the location of the alternator, and if other components need to be removed to allow access to the alternator, it can cost between $400 - $900+ to have it replaced.
What is an alternator?
To put it simply, an alternator is an electrical generator which uses a rotating magnetic field to convert mechanical drive – usually provided by a drive belt driven by the engine crankshaft – into electrical energy.
This provides power to the electrical components and also charges up the battery.
Symptoms you may need your alternator replaced
- Battery Light on dashboard
- Headlights and interior lights dim
- Battery is flat or won’t hold a charge
How is an alternator replaced?
- The charging system is inspected and tested, including alternator output
- The drive belts are inspected to ensure the alternator is being driven
- The battery will be disconnected
- The alternator will be removed and replaced if it is not charging correctly
- The battery will be reconnected
- The output of the alternator will be rechecked to make sure it is working correctly
Tips to remember
- One thing to watch out for on newer vehicles is that they may have a battery monitoring system. This is a system that monitors the output of the battery and adjusts the operation of the alternator to suit. These systems increase the fuel economy of your car and also increase the life of your alternator. The easiest way to tell if your vehicle has this system is to check the negative battery cable. If there is a black connector on the negative terminal or a circular connector around the negative battery cable, your vehicle is equipped with this feature.
- The battery will need to be disconnected when replacing the alternator - which may reset your radio, so ensure that you have your radio code handy to re-activate the radio once the repair is completed.
How important is replacing your alternator?
The alternator charges the battery and provides the electrical power for all your vehicles systems, and if it fails, your vehicle will no longer be able to start and may switch off at any time.
Not only is this an inconvenience, but it is a critical safety issue. If you notice any of the above symptoms, it is best to have your alternator and charging system inspected and repaired or replaced as soon as possible.
If you've read this far, you obviously care about your car. A lot. So next time you need a service, repair or inspection, visit AutoGuru. We let you search and book from over 1,600 qualified mechanics, who eat car troubles for breakfast.