There are several considerations when having to replace your alternator. New alternators are expensive and in some cases may cost more than your vehicle is worth. Used, rebuilt, and new alternators vary in price significantly. Making the decision can be difficult because there doesn’t seem to be a typical life span for an alternator. Alternators can last for 20 years or they may only last for 2. Knowing everything about alternators will help make the right decision, however, the amount of money in your wallet is a very important factor as well. The ultimate goal is to not get stranded on the side of the road because your alternator fails.Rebuilt alternators are typically OK as long as there is a warranty. You might be surprised to find that the only thing you are buying with a rebuilt alternator is the warranty. The extent of some rebuilt alternators is only a good cleaning of the part, maybe some fresh paint, and this makes it “look” new. If it is found that some of the replaceable components should last the length of the warranty than they may not necessarily be replaced. Some auto parts suppliers have even taken to testing their “rebuilt” alternators before selling them because of the large number of failed units right off the shelf. Typically a rebuilt alternator should have a new bearing, voltage regulator, and brushes. These are the easiest and cheapest components to replace. The result is a much more affordable alternator.A used alternator might be an option for you. They are typically the cheapest but also the most unreliable. This is due to the fact that it may have been sitting for an undisclosed period of time. During this time of inactivity, the potential for corrosion is high. The contacts and bearings are first things to suffer because of a static alternator. A component like this may have an unknown amount of mileage. The general consensus is to stay away from a used alternator if it has not been thoroughly inspected and tested.If you drive an old car that you are barely keeping alive, you will be blown away by the typical price of a new alternator from a dealership. Dealerships sell new alternators that can cost upwards of $600, so finding a new aftermarket alternator with all new components might be the best mix of cost and quality. The beauty of a new aftermarket alternator is that you know you are getting all the components new, they come with competitive warranties, and being direct replacement parts that have to produce the outputs that your vehicle requires. You may even find the option of getting a more powerful alternator which is always good to have especially if you are running high amperage accessories.After everything is considered, you might come to the conclusion that the dealer recommended alternator might get you the most reliable part. Is the extra cost worth it? That is your decision- if you are looking for my opinion, the answer is probably not. I would choose an aftermarket alternator as the best combination of price and reliability.
Having problems starting the car? Than maybe you have an alternator problem. The alternator is one of the main parts of your car’s electrical system. It recharges the battery while the car is running and powers the lights and other electrical peripherals. If the car seems to cause you troubles, than you have two options: the alternator, or the battery. After long use, alternators need replacing. It is important to be aware of alternator’s condition and also of the car battery.To begin with, make a list of possible faults that may help you to diagnose a bad alternator. The typical symptoms are difficult or slow cranking when you attempt to start the engine, weak headlights, high battery consumption (which you’ll get notified about on the dashboard).Open the hood and locate the alternator and also the belts connected to the alternator. The entire contraption will be in front of the engine, right next to the car radiator.Verify the alternator corresponding light on your dashboard and see if it is working. The light should be on when the engine starts. On some models even failure will switch on another light associated with the alternator.The easiest solution is to check for bad or worn belts that could cause low rotation to your alternator. This prevents the battery from charging properly, especially if you have your headlights, air conditioner or car stereo on. Another simple solution would be to check the alternator and battery connections, battery terminals or possible worn out ground connections. All these could cause electrical discharges that weaken battery and make them unable to spark the engine properly.Watch out for possible cracks or glazing when the engine is cold. These may cause the belt to slip from the turning wheel, and once again not charging your battery, regardless of the healthy body of the alternator. Adjust any looseness in the belt but, carefully and always consulting your service manual instructions.The next step would be the inspection of the battery’s voltage and connections while the engine is on idling. Using an electronic voltmeter, locate a tension reading between 13.8 and 15 volts (analogical ones cost more, but are better at visualizing tension spikes or variations). If the reading goes under 13 volts, than your alternator is malfunctioning.You can verify your electric connections by connecting a circuit with a lamp inside from power to ground and the other way around to see if the bulb lights. For those who have light, the connections between your battery along with other components are working properly. Next step is to look into the connections from the battery through your alternator. For those who have light, the battery is working and charging accordingly, therefore your alternator may probably be the cause of all the problems.Listen for any loud and grinding noise caused by the rotor failing within the alternator. Take one end from the heater hose and set it alongside to your ear while moving the other end near to the alternator. The amount will increase drastically when the alternator is faulty. In this instance the only thing you should do is try to get an alternative. The alternator is easy to spot and inspect, but taking it apart, that’s one other issue. Try to take the car as soon as possible to some certified mechanic.