Should I Buy a New or Reconditioned Alternator?


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Is it cheaper to rebuild an alternator?

Reconditioned alternators

If you are having problems starting your vehicle and have tried changing the battery but that did not resolve the issue, there may be a problem with your Alternator. The part, together with the battery, supply electrical power to the car. You can find out more about alternators and what their purpose is in our What You need to know about Car alternator? blog post.

As you will often see an error in the dashboard if there is an issue with the part, it sometimes happens that it is only noticed when broken. If you find that the battery keeps running out of power, that may be a warning sign to get the alternator inspected as the car is running off of the battery alone. You can find more about the signs of broken alternator here.

Reconditioned or new alternator?

You may be questioning whether to buy a new or remanufactured part. The main reason for not buying a new part may be the factor of cost. A new product is always at a higher price point than the one thas previously been used.

Reconditioned alternators are repaired by having the parts that are not working or working poorly changed, reassembled and the company then ensures that the part meets or exceeds OEM (original equipment manufacturer) specifications. Keep it mind that reconditioned is not remanufactured as these alternators have not been sent to the original manufacturer to inspect and refurbish the part. Although it can look like new and come with a short warranty. However, you should still be cautious with making the purchase as there may still be errors made by the technician or it may not have been tested properly. There have been cases of stores stating that the alternator is remanufactured when it was actually rebuilt. Long-term this can also cause other issues for the battery and then both parts may need changing.

New alternators

If the budget allows, you should consider purchasing a new alternator made by reputable and trusted brands. Be wary of buying a new but cheap one as it can sometimes last just slightly longer than the warranty that comes with the product. When purchasing this power generator for your car from a trustworthy brand, you do not have to worry about replacing it any time soon or at all.

Buying reconditioned alternator

If in the end, you do decide to buy an alternator that has been reconditioned, make sure it is good and working properly. Here are a several tips on how to purchase such component for your vehicle:

  • Check the part number, which can be found on the alternator itself. If you do not know it, call a dealership and provide them with your VIN. They will then be able to give you the needed information.
  • Purchase from a well-respected and trusted source.
  • Ask for a warranty.
  • Shake the alternator and listen if it sounds odd. If you hear any unwanted sound like clicking, ask for a different one.
  • Using a voltmeter test the alternator to see if it is good to use for your vehicle as you do not want it to over or under-charge the battery. When buying in-store, ask them to do it for you.
  • If possible, find out where the part was reconditioned. It is a good practice to find out how much it has been used in the past.
  • When the alternator has been replaced, look at the headlights if there is no flickering and they are not dim.
  • See if there are no electric failures.
  • If you are still having problems starting your car, there may be an issue with the newly replaced alternator.

Repairing alternator yourself

As some attempt to rebuild the alternator themselves, we do not recommend doing so as it requires skill, practise and tools to successfully complete the operation. The part can also slightly differ in various cars and there is a risk of breaking it to the point where it can no longer be fixed. The biggest risk is damaging a car itself when removing a broken or poorly working piece from the vehicle, if this occurs, the cost of repair can increase significantly.

Which one to buy?

It is completely up to you if you are willing to pay slightly more or take a risk on a reconditioned alternator. You may end up buying a perfectly fine part for less a lot less. O the other hand, you are running into a risk of having to buy a new one within a short period of time. This will then increase the price as the job will need to be done twice, the spend on the alternator will be higher. What we do not recommend is removing and repairing it yourself as this may cause more harm than good with overall damage to the vehicle.