Services
Insurance
Loans
Repairs
Advice
About

Ballast Resistor Replacement Cost Estimate

Worried you might overpay for your ballast resistor replacement? Use Jerry’s GarageGuard to get fair cost estimate for your ballast resistor replacement.
background
Get Fair Repair Cost Estimate
√
No spam
√
Compare shops near you
√
Always know how much you should pay
background
avatar
John Davis
Expert Automotive Writer
icon
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear, Director of Content
icon
Edited by Jessica Barrett, Senior Car & Insurance Editor

How much does a ballast resistor replacement cost?

The average total cost for an ignition ballast resistor replacement is $100-$250. The exact price will depend on your vehicle’s year and model.
The total parts cost includes a new ballast resistor but may extend to a new ignition coil, switch, or cables. As for the labor costs, it takes around .90-1.5 hours for a certified mechanic to inspect your vehicle, diagnose the problem, and complete a ballast resistor replacement.
Highlighticon

How did we estimate these prices?

Jerry's experts researched and collected data from 2500+ real repair shops in all 50 states in the US, including everything from the total cost of repair services to the hourly labor cost for mechanic labor in each shop. We combined that data with our expert database of hundreds of real repair jobs, thousands of real cars, millions of real car part prices in order to best estimate the cost of each repair service. Our labor cost estimate is calculated by taking the average hourly labor rate for a certified mechanic in the US, times the number of hours it takes on average to complete a repair. We recommend you compare your local shops with Jerry and contact those shops directly to get final pricing for your vehicle.

What parts do you need for a ballast resistor replacement?

The ignition system is one of the most important electrical circuits in your car. Here’s an overview of the major components of the older, “contact breaker” (aka “breaker points”) ignition system:
  1. When pushed or turned, the
    ignition switch
    ($5-$2,800) completes the circuit and fires up the engine. In newer models, it’s a “push button”, but in older cars, it’s a good ol’ fashioned key cylinder. Hitting the ignition switch again will interrupt the circuit and shut down the engine.
  2. The
    car battery
    ($90-$700) supplies the raw power in the ignition system. When the circuit is completed by the switch, the car battery sends 12 volts of electricity toward the ballast resistor. 
  3. The ballast resistor ($8-$18) is a gateway in the circuit that controls how much electricity reaches the ignition coils. Regulating voltage is key to coil longevity in older, breaker point ignition systems.
  4. The
    ignition coils
    ($15-$910) transform the 12-14V current of the car battery into 60-120,000 volts of raw power. The “breaker points” name refers to the breakers inside that snap open and shut as the coils’ distributor shafts rotate. The distributors and coils are engineered and assembled like multi-layered, cylindrical puzzles, which as they turn fire shots of electricity towards the spark plugs in your engine’s cylinders at precise times and in a precise order.
  5. Ignition cables ($4-$805) transfer the high-voltage current generated by the ignition coils to the spark plugs.
  6. Spark plugs
    ($2-$65) shoot a high-voltage bolt of power across a small gap in each of the vehicle engine’s cylinders, igniting the mixture of air and fuel inside at just the right time. These electrical explosions bring your car’s engine to life like a mechanical Frankenstein.
You can buy all the parts you need at auto part stores such as AutoZone or NAPA Auto Parts. You could also purchase them online from websites such as Amazon and eBay. 
Some popular brands of ignition switches are Standard Motor Products, ACDelco, and Dorman. For car batteries, Optima, ACDelco and DieHard are reputable brands. When shopping for an ignition control module, you may want to consider ACDelco, Standard Motor Products and Delphi. Bosch, Delphi and ACDelco are recommended ignition coil brands, and NGK Denso and ACDelco are recommended ignition cable/spark plug wire brands. NGK, Denso and Bosch are popular spark plug brands. As for ballast resistors, Standard Motor Products, ACDelco and Wells Vehicle Electronics come recommended. The correct parts for your vehicle depend on the type of vehicle you drive. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual to ensure you’re purchasing the proper parts. 
Keep in mind The ignition system is a complicated beast that may require a replacement resistor, battery, ignition switch, ignition coil, or ignition cable to work properly.
Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts cost much more than aftermarket parts but often include better warranties. For example, if a certified Toyota mechanic installs a genuine ballast resistor in your car, you’ll get a 24-month/25,000-mile warranty. The average cost of parts is even higher for luxury makes like Audi or Mercedes-Benz. That being said, some aftermarket performance parts manufacturers offer as much, if not more, quality as OEM parts.
You can buy replacement parts at auto parts shops, dealerships, or online stores like Autozone or Amazon. If you prefer OEM parts, you can also try your vehicle manufacturer’s official website. Just about every car manufacturer sells OEM parts online. Check your owner’s manual for any crucial specifications so you don’t buy the wrong part.

Where can I get my car's ballast resistor replaced?

Trying to find local mechanic listings can sometimes feel like a maze. Between stars, dollar signs, and other symbols, there seems to be no easy and straightforward way to compare automotive repair shops—if you haven’t tried Jerry's
GarageGuard™
yet, that is.
Jerry's GarageGuard™ gives you all the information you need at a glance. Search “ballast resistor replacement” and you’ll get fair price estimates from the best garages in your area, including diagnostic fees and real hourly rates. And since Jerry's GarageGuard™ only lists vetted car repair shops (and real user reviews), you can be confident that the work will be done with pride!
Download the app today to start browsing listings from businesses like the ones below.
154 Reviews
61 Auto Center
address
1226 Centre Ave, Reading, PA
Ballast Resistor Replacement Cost
Fair Cost Estimate for This Shop
$307
(Parts - $257, Labor - $50)
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$70
181 Reviews
Byrider Bedford
address
90 Broadway Ave, Bedford, OH
Ballast Resistor Replacement Cost
Fair Cost Estimate for This Shop
$337
(Parts - $257, Labor - $80)
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$65
105 Reviews
Pep Boys Auto Parts & Service - Huntington Park #603
address
2671 Randolph St, Los Angeles, CA
Ballast Resistor Replacement Cost
Fair Cost Estimate for This Shop
$394
(Parts - $257, Labor - $137)
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$100
173 Reviews
Fresno Tire Company
address
6632 N Blackstone Ave B, Fresno, CA
Ballast Resistor Replacement Cost
Fair Cost Estimate for This Shop
$388
(Parts - $257, Labor - $131)
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$160
Highlighticon

How did we vet these shops?

Jerry experts researched 2500+ real repair shops across the US. We talked to real shop customers, and analyzed both real shop pricing data and thousands of real customer reviews from each shop to verify them individually. We do not partner with the shops listed above, and our analysis is always unbiased.

How do you replace a ballast resistor?

While the location of the ballast resistor varies from vehicle to vehicle, the basic steps for replacing it are the same. Your mechanic will gather a box wrench, ratchet, sockets, screwdriver, and some sandpaper before beginning. Then they will:
  1. Check whether your car has a ballast resistor (and if it’s faulty) by connecting a voltmeter or multimeter to the ignition coil leads.
  2. Prepare the car by disconnecting the battery and the ignition coil.
  3. Remove the old ballast resistor by disconnecting the wires to the ignition switch and coil.
  4. Install the new ballast resistor and reattach the wires. 
  5. Check the car by verifying the voltage and taking the car for a test drive.

Can you run a car without a ballast resistor?

If your car needs a ballast resistor replacement, the engine probably won’t turn over properly. Your ballast resistor could possibly be failing while still operational, though—which would lead to bigger problems, like:
  • Faulty ignition: If the ballast resistor’s operation is spotty, your car’s startup will be too.
  • Ignition coil damage: Without a resistor to limit the voltage entering the coil, it could burn out, requiring even more pricey repairs. 
  • Engine misfiring: Without a consistent supply of power, your engine could misfire and knock, causing poor performance and even engine damage.

What is a ballast resistor replacement?

A ballast resistor replacement involves installing a fresh fuse to limit the amount of electricity the car battery feeds to the ignition coils. Ballast resistors prevent the ignition coils in older cars from wearing out prematurely.
Unfortunately, ballast resistors will go bad over time. They take a lot of abuse, constantly heating up and cooling down until they’re worn out entirely. You’ll need to get this part replaced eventually.

What are the symptoms of a failed ballast resistor?

If your ballast resistor has failed, it’s unlikely your car will even start. When you turn the key over to the START position, the engine will fire up, but as soon as you let go and the key settles into the ON position, the engine will die abruptly.
If this describes your situation, you most likely need a ballast resistor replacement, or maybe replacement ignition coils! Use a voltmeter, multimeter, or a visit to the garage to determine which part is at fault. 
Key Takeaway If your car won’t start, something’s probably wrong with the ignition system, including a faulty ballast resistor.

What’s the life expectancy of a ballast resistor?

As ballast resistors protect the ignition coils from extremely high-voltage currents and heat, they’re prone to burning out. However, when they do so is anyone’s guess. If you’ve got an older vehicle or a classic, get them checked regularly and replace them as soon as they fail. 

Can you replace a ballast resistor yourself?

Replacing a ballast resistor is a tricky DIY job that requires little equipment, but plenty of caution. Because you’re dealing with a high-voltage electrical system, you risk shocking and injuring yourself if you don’t follow safety procedures and wear the right protective gear. Proceed only if you have some electrical experience and a detailed repair manual for your car model in hand.

FAQs

Resistors are similar to fuses in that they limit the amount of electricity flowing through them. Wires don’t. If you replace a ballast resistor with a wire, you risk overheating and frying your ignition coils.
Automotive ballast resistors can fail due to a combination of age, wear, stress, and heat. While you can’t help the first two (unless you prefer to keep that sweet classic in the garage most of the time), you can mitigate the latter items by babying your car. Inspect the ignition system regularly, clean it, and replace any parts that start showing their age.
The location of the ballast resistor varies depending on the vehicle model. If your ignition coil is placed at the front or to the side of the engine block, the resistor will be nearby. However, if it’s at the rear of the engine, the resistor may be bolted to the firewall.

Meet Our Experts

avatar
John Davis
badge icon
Car Expert
badge icon
Certified mechanic with 10+ years of experience
John Davis is an expert automotive writer and former automotive mechanic. John's work spans multiple categories, and he relishes the opportunity to research a new subject and expand his area of expertise and industry knowledge. To date, John has written more than 200 articles covering car maintenance and care, car advice, how-to guides, and more.
Prior to joining Jerry’s editorial team, John worked as a mechanic and freelance writer, creating content for clients including HotCars and SetPower.
avatar
Jessica Barrett
badge icon
Car Expert
Jessica Barrett is a senior insurance writer and editor with 10 years of experience in the automotive and travel industries. A specialist in car insurance, car loans, and car ownership, Jessica’s mission is to create comprehensive content that car owners can use to manage their costs and improve their lives. As a managing editor for a team of writers and insurance specialists, Jessica has edited over 2,000 articles for Jerry on topics ranging from local insurance shopping tips to refinancing car loans with bad credit.
Before joining Jerry as a senior content editor in 2021, Jessica created visual content for clients such as Expedia, Vivid Seats, Budget Direct Car Insurance, Angie’s List, and HomeAdvisor. Her content was published in Business Insider, Forbes, Apartment Therapy, and the BBC.
avatar
Kathleen Flear
badge icon
Car Expert
Kathleen Flear is an expert insurance writer and editor who heads up Jerry’s editorial team as director of content. Kathleen empowers drivers to make smart car ownership decisions through  best-in-class articles on insurance, loans, and maintenance. Prior to joining Jerry in 2021, Kathleen served as managing editor for a team of SEO content marketing professionals at Article-Writing.co and worked as a freelance writer and editor for a range of digital publications, including Chicago Literati magazine and Golden Words. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English language and literature from Queen’s University, and a master’s degree in creative writing and fiction from Sierra Nevada University.
*The price information provided on our car repair webpages is intended for general informational purposes only. Actual prices for car repair services may vary based on various factors, including but not limited to the make and model of your vehicle, the extent of repair required, and the prevailing market conditions. All prices for real repair shops are estimations based on our research only. Therefore, the prices listed on our webpages should not be considered as final quotes or binding offers.