Should I Rebuild or Replace my Alternator?

Car alternators can cost between USD 100 to 200 or more depending on the size, and manufacturer.

If you are on a tight budget and both longevity and reliability of the alternator are important to you, you may want some guidance on whether to rebuild or replace your car’s alternator when it fails.

So, in this post, I take a closer look at whether you should rebuild or replace the alternator with a new one, whether rebuilt alternators are any good, and how long rebuilt alternator last.

Is it Worthwhile rebuilding an Alternator?

Rebuilding an alternator can be worthwhile if you consider the significant cost savings possible when you rebuild vs. buying a new one especially if the rebuild only requires replacing low-cost components such as alternator brushes, voltage regulators, or rectifier diodes.

About rebuilt alternators

In a rebuilt alternator, parts of the original alternator that may be damaged or failing are replaced and new ones fitted to restore its performance.

Brushes, rectifiers, and bearings are some examples of parts that are usually replaced.

While some generic replacement parts may work in an alternator, for good and reliable performance of the alternator, always aim to use quality parts recommended by the manufacturer.

Are Rebuilt Alternators any Good?

Rebuilt alternators can work and consistently charge your car’s battery for several years as well as the original alternators.

However, if the replacement parts used are of poor quality and break down easily or the quality of workmanship of the rebuild is low, then the rebuilt alternator will not charge as well.

It may even stop working after a short time leading to frustration for example if the replacement brushes are not fitted properly or are of low quality.

When you Should Consider Rebuilding an Alternator

You can consider an alternator rebuild instead of buying a new alternator if :

  • you have the necessary tools – screwdrivers, wrenches, and others to disassemble the alternator
  • the repair is straightforward and involves a swap out of the damaged part with a new one
  • you are on a budget.

If on the other hand:

  • you do not have the necessary tools,
  • lack the skills,
  • have time and budget constraints
  • plan to stay with the car for a long time then it’s probably better to buy a new alternator.

What Parts Can you Replace in an Alternator?

Some of the common repair works that are done to restore and rebuild a faulty alternator include replacing noisy bearings, soldering broken contacts in the stator windings, or replacing worn alternator brushes.

You may also be interested in this post: What signs show that the alternator brushes are worn

Pros and Cons of a Rebuilt Alternator

Depending on the nature of the damage, you can save money by rebuilding an alternator compared to buying a new one.

For example, depending on the part affected, you can save ~ USD 100 if it is a voltage regulator or diodes instead of building a new one.

Keep in mind though that you’ll likely require additional tools on hand like a bearing puller to remove the bearings, probably an impact gun to remove the pulley depending on what repairs you need to do on the alternator.

Rebuilt Alternator New alternator
AdvantagesRepair costs are usually lower than purchasing a new oneHave a longer service life
DisadvantagesGenerally shorter service life compared to a new alternatorCosts more than a rebuilt alternator

You may also be interested in this Post: What causes an alternator housing to crack

How Long a Rebuilt Alternator Lasts?

It is hard to say how long your newly rebuilt alternator will last.

It is not uncommon for a newly rebuilt alternator to last several years.

Determining accurately how long a rebuilt alternator lasts is complicated by the different levels of usage of the alternator parts.

Other factors unique to each car such as whether or not dead or bad batteries are used, battery polarity connections are accidentally reversed or not and others also affect alternator life.

Final Word

If you are considering whether to rebuild or replace the alternator with a new one, you may want to consider rebuilding it if you have the skills, tools and are on a tight budget.

Rebuilding an alternator can save you money especially if it requires only fitting low-cost parts such as a new rectifier, or brushes for example.

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