Costopedia / Automotive / How Much Does an Alternator Cost?

How Much Does an Alternator Cost?

$ Labor Costs: $50 to $120 per hour. $ $ New Alternator: $100 - $1,000 $ $ $ Parts + Labor: $200 - $1,800+

Many people think their cars’ battery is what makes everything electric function, but that’s not entirely true because the alternator is the true star behind the battery.

An alternator is a part of the car that generates power to make the electrical system of a vehicle work, like the headlights and the radio; the alternator even charges the battery, so it’s an essential part of the car.

This is usually located in the front of the engine and has a belt running around it called the serpentine belt.

How The Alternator Gives Energy To The Battery?

The alternator is an energy generator and transforms mechanical energy into electrical energy to keep all the electric system of vehicles functioning.

The energy the alternator uses is called “alternant current” (AC); this energy needs to be changed by a diode rectifier to the type the car’s batteries use, which is “direct current” (DC).

Check this video made by Donut Media that shows you how alternators and batteries work.

What Facts Affect The Costs Of Replacing The Alternator?

Some facts that can affect the final price of replacing an alternator are the year, make, and model of the vehicle, where the alternator is located, where you buy it, labor costs and where you install it,

Just buying an aftermarket alternator replacement, without installing it, can cost from $100 to $500 or more.

But, if you want to buy the alternator at a manufacturer, prices can go from $250 to $1,000 or more.

As it’s well known, replacing parts on foreign vehicles and luxury vehicles is typically more expensive, and it can cost more than $1,000.

These prices are just for the replacement part, but then there comes the installation, which will add to the final price; it can be more or less depending on the location of the alternator in the vehicle and labor costs.

Typically, labor costs for replacing the vehicle’s alternator can cost from $50 to $120 per hour.

Alternators of easy access, which are typically found near the top of the engine, take about 1 to 3 hours of labor at an average of $100 per hour, making the final price of replacing the alternator with aftermarket parts included $200 to $800; but using manufacturer’s parts can raise the price up to $1,300.

Alternators of difficult access, which are typically located more deeply, and need the disconnection of many parts to reach it, take more time, about 5 to 8 hours of labor at an average of $100 per hour, making the final price of replacing the alternator with aftermarket parts included $600 to $1,200; but using manufacturer’s parts can raise the price up to $1,800.

What Are The Signs Of A Bad Alternator?

Before failing completely, cars will start showing signs that the alternator needs to be changed; some of these are:

  1. Warning Light
  2. Dim Lights
  3. Flickering Lights
  4. A Dead Battery
  5. Broken or Loose Connections
  6. Bad Belts
  7. Strange Sounds
  8. Strange Smells
  9. Slow Accessories
  10. Regular Stalling or Difficulty Starting

You can read more about all these signs of a bad alternator in this article by How Stuff Works.

Top Companies

You can get the new alternator at online retailers (usually the cheapest option) like Auto Zone and Buy Auto Parts, auto repair shops like Pep Boys and Sears, and car dealerships (typically the most expensive).

And the complete alternator replacement can be done at car-repair chains like Pep Boys, Firestone, Meineke, and Sears, and car dealerships.

Many people often prefer to make DIY to save money and install the alternator themselves; ChrisFix made a video showing how to replace it.

The following table compares average prices from dealerships and online retailers like Buy Auto Parts (BAP); dealerships offer the complete alternator replacement while online retailers just offer the replacement part.

Year, Make, and Model Alternator Average Price Total Cost + Labor


Alternator Average Price
2007 BMW X5 $800 $1,000 $495
2009 Dodge Sprinter $595 $795 $425
2008 Mercedes Benz E350 $1,600 $1,800 $415

There’s already a big difference in the part’s prices, but if you decide to buy from an online retailer and install it yourselves, the difference in prices is enormous.

Things to Consider

Before Buying:

  1. The first thing you should do when your car shows signs of a bad alternator is to check if it is really the alternator. Here’s a video made by ChrisFix that shows you how to do it.
  2. After checking your alternator is really having problems, then looking for a new alternator is the next step.
  3. Check your car to know which alternator is the best match for it before buying any alternator.
  4. Then, research the different auto part shops, dealerships, and online retailers to check the prices.
  5. Buying the alternator from online retailers is always cheaper. Then you just need to look for a place to install it. Or, if you are tight on the budget, try to install it yourself.
  6. Be aware that insurances usually don’t cover alternators unless the alternator was damaged in an accident. Alternators usually die from normal wear and tear.

When Buying: 

  1. After getting the new part comes the alternator replacement, which you can do yourself or get done professionally.
  2. As said before, depending on how easy it is to access the alternator inside the vehicle, prices can vary. Sometimes they are right at the top of the engine, but other times it’s located deeper in the car, which means having to remove many other parts, and prices going higher.
  3. The battery and all the belts and wires must be disconnected from the alternator to replace it.
  4. Depending on how easy it is to access the alternator, the replacement could take 2-3 hours if it’s easy or 5-8 hours if it’s more complicated. Changing it yourself will usually take more than 3 hours.
  5. It’s important that the mechanic checks and inspects the parts surrounding the alternator. Because if the alternator failed, these parts could also be affected and need to be replaced.

After Buying:

  1. After the alternator replacement is done, it’s good to check the serpentine belt. The serpentine belt is in charge of bringing power to the alternator and other accessories. If it’s damaged, then it needs to be replaced, which can cost $25 to $75 or more.
Giovanna Soto