How Much Is an Alternator Replacement?

A car alternator replacement can cost anywhere from $300 and $2,000, depending on your vehicle and the cost of labor at your auto shop of choice.
Written by Melanie Krieps Mergen
Edited by Georgina Grant
A car alternator replacement can cost anywhere from $300 and $2,000, depending on your vehicle and the cost of labor at your auto shop of choice.
  • A car alternator replacement can cost several hundred dollars to several thousand, depending on the vehicle
  • An alternator replacement usually takes about several hours at the auto shop
  • Without a functioning alternator, you won’t be able to drive your vehicle long—it will need a fix ASAP

How much does it cost to replace a car alternator?

You can generally expect to pay between $300 and $2,000 for an alternator replacement, with about $400 being considered average. 
Let’s break down that average $400 cost so you’re prepared to discuss this service with a mechanic.
It usually takes
two to three hours
to replace an alternator. Depending on the mechanic’s hourly fee, that’s about $200 in labor costs.
If you use OEM parts, you can expect to pay between $200 and $350 for a new alternator. If you don’t mind using aftermarket parts, you could pay between $100 to $200 for a new part.
Finally, it’s important to be aware that alternator problems usually come with other problems. Your mechanic may discover other parts that need to be replaced during the service, such as the serpentine belt or the battery. This could add another $50 to $150 to your fee.
You can save money by choosing aftermarket parts, but be wary of poor-quality brands.
Keep in mind: An alternator replacement at a dealership will typically be more expensive because they typically use OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts, not aftermarket parts. Plus, they generally charge more for services than your local auto shop.
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How much does a car alternator cost?

It probably goes without saying that the cost of the car alternator itself will have a major impact on your replacement cost. 
While prices can vary significantly among different vehicles, you can often expect to pay between $200 and $600 for a new alternator.
Here’s an example of what an alternator replacement might cost for two different vehicles:
  • 2016 Honda Civic: $500 (parts) + $175 (labor) = $675 total
  • 2018 BMW 740i: $1,300 (parts) + $480 (labor) = $1,780 total
As you’d probably expect, OEM parts will typically cost more than aftermarket options.

How long can you drive with a bad alternator?

Since the alternator is a vital part of the battery’s power system, you’re going to need a repair as soon as possible. You can usually drive 25 to 30 minutes as long as your vehicle’s battery is fully charged. But if your battery’s low on power, it’s possible you may only be able to drive for a few minutes.
If you start to notice things like flickering lights, your radio turning off, or other signs of low power, pull over where it’s safe to do so and call a tow truck.
If your car has been having battery issues as well, however, you might want to ask someone to come look at your car where it is. If your battery dies while you’re driving, your car will come to a stop and you’ll be stuck until someone picks you up!
To stay ahead of the complications that can come with a bad alternator, look out for early signs that it might be failing:
  • Difficulty or slow starting
  • Dim or excessively bright headlights due to inconsistent voltage
  • Problems with radios, infotainment screens, or other electronic accessories
  • Battery dies often since it is unable to recharge, leading to frequent jump-starts
  • Battery indicator light shows up on your dashboard
  • Electric burning smell—which could signal a safety hazard

Do you have to replace the battery when replacing the alternator?

While you have to disconnect the battery from the engine when replacing the alternator, you do not have to replace the battery.
Alternators typically have a lifespan between seven and ten years, while batteries last between three and five. 
So, if the dates line up, you can replace your battery along with your alternator, but there’s no need to do so if your battery is still in good working condition.
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