There are certain car repairs that are practically inevitable. Everyone will experience a flat tire at some point, and you’re bound to have to replace your car’s battery after a certain number of miles. Once enough mechanical problems pile up, you’ll be dealing with a junk car — at which point you may find that selling your junk car for cash is the most sensible thing to do.
When it comes to your vehicle’s electrical system, a faulty alternator is one of the most common issues you’ll likely encounter. When your alternator dies, you won’t be able to start your vehicle or drive it anywhere. As a result, you’ll likely end up calling a tow truck, having your vehicle towed to the nearest shop, and paying someone to replace your alternator so that you can continue on your way.
But how much does it actually cost to fix an alternator? And for that matter, what is an alternator and what does it do? Keep reading to find out.
When you go to start your car, your battery provides some of the initial power necessary to get your engine running. While driving, your battery runs a number of important electrical systems in your vehicle, too. But as you’re driving your vehicle, your battery drains. This is normal, of course — but we all know that a dead battery means a vehicle that won’t start.
Have you ever wondered how your battery is recharged? The answer is simple: with an alternator. Your car’s alternator is a mechanical part that converts mechanical energy from the engine into electricity, which is then used to recharge your car’s battery.
How Do I Know if My Alternator is Broken?
Some car parts wear out gradually over time, and you can tell that they’ll need to be replaced soon. Brakes are a good example of this: performance steadily decreases until the point where you realize you need new brakes.
Alternators are different, though. Your alternator may suddenly die without any warning. If your car refuses to start, it may be that your alternator is dead. But your alternator may also cause issues if it dies while you’re driving. You could experience dimming headlights and dash lights, as a failing alternator won’t be able to successfully regulate voltage throughout your vehicle. You may even notice that you smell burning plastic, which can indicate that your alternator internal wiring has been burned. In any case, the end result is the same: your car won’t start, and you’ll need a new alternator.
What’s the Cost of Replacing an Alternator?
As with many car repairs, the cost of fixing your alternator is dependent on a number of factors.
Certain makes and models of vehicles tend to have more expensive parts, which can drive up the price of your alternator. Additionally, you’ll find that a brand new alternator is more expensive than a refurbished one. If your vehicle is older and you’re not planning to keep it indefinitely, a refurbished alternator with a warranty of one to two years can be an affordable alternative to a brand new alternator. Depending on these factors and the cost of labor, you could be looking at a total cost for repairs of $250 – $700 or more.