alternator parts

What To Do If Your Alternator Breaks

If your alternator goes out, you’ll know it. That’s because your car won’t turn on without a working alternator.

While this piece of machinery isn’t directly responsible for starting your car, it does kickstart your battery and get your vehicle up and running. And jumping your battery won’t help much either because the alternator is what keeps it charged during your drive.

So, if you want to keep driving your car, you’ll have no choice but to repair or replace that broken alternator.

Broken Alternator Symptoms

Waking up to a car that won’t start is one way to find out that your alternator is broken. Fortunately, there are signs that you can look out for that signal that your alternator is on the fritz:

damaged alternator
  • Dim lights: You might notice a dimmer light on headlights, your dashboard, speedometer, tachometer, or interior lights.
  • Clicking sound when starting the car: Your car is struggling to start because there is not enough current coming from the alternator to kickstart the battery.
  • Warning light or battery light is on: An “ALT” or “GEN” symbol might illuminate, indicating that there is something wrong with the alternator.
  • Grinding noises: If alternator parts are worn out, you’ll likely hear grinding sounds.
  • Electrical systems are out-of-whack: If your power windows are slow to open, thepower sunroof gets stuck, or your lights are flickering, you might have an alternator issue on your hands.
  • The engine stalls: Without the alternator keeping your battery charged, your engine will quickly use up all the energy in the battery and turn off.
  • Strange smells: If you notice a burning smell, particularly one of burning rubber, you might have a broken alternator on your hands.

What Can Go Wrong With An Alternator?

What happens to the alternator that results in it breaking down? There are several causes of alternator failure and the symptoms you experience can point you in the direction of what went wrong.

Below are some of the things that can go wrong with an alternator:

Issue Symptoms

Blown fuse

Electrical short-circuiting, dead battery

Damaged wires or cables

Decreased or inconsistent electrical power, trouble starting the vehicle, electrical devices turning off while driving

Worn out carbon brushes

Inconsistent power, burning smell

Broken serpentine belt or pulley

Car not starting, clicking noise when trying to start the car

Loose or worn bearing

Grinding or rattling noises


Electrically-powered systems slowing down or malfunctioning

The alternator is made up of dozens of small parts working together. One part malfunctioning can affect many others and cause multiple issues. Because it’s such a crucial part of a car, the alternator needs to be repaired as soon as issues arise to avoid a full-on replacement.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix An Alternator?

Depending on the exact issue that is going on with your alternator, you’ll either need to repair it or replace it entirely.

Issue Repair Cost

Broken/ worn down serpentine belt

Replace belt


Worn out bearings

Replace bearings


Damaged wires

Replace wires


Seized alternator

Replace entire alternator


The total cost of alternator repair must also include labor. Depending on the car you have and the extent of repairs, you can expect to spend anywhere from $160 to $550 on labor alone.

While this isn’t as pricey as fixing some other vehicle parts, it’s also not cheap either. If your alternator needs replacing and you want to keep driving your vehicle, there’s no way around buying one.

Your car needs it to run and even turn on.

blown engine

Sell A Car With A Broken Alternator

There’s an alternative to dealing with your broken alternator: sell to Damaged Cars! We offer fair market rates for all kinds of damaged vehicles. No matter if it’s a broken alternator or something worse, we’ll give you a great offer.

This is how our process works:

  1. You input your vehicle’s details into our calculator.
  2. We provide you with an instant offer.
  3. You accept our estimate and move on to the next step.
  4. One of our nationwide towing partners comes to pick up your car in 24 to 48 hours.
  5. You hand over your keys and title and get paid!

There’s no haggling, hassle, or obligation involved. Plus, the whole process is completely free. Get your offer and find out what you can get for your damaged car today!


Get an Online Offer from a Junk Yard Near you

What are the symptoms of a broken alternator?

Because the alternator helps the battery keep a consistent charge and in turn, keeps all of the vehicular electrical accessories running, you’ll notice your electronic parts not working correctly. This can include the radio, power windows, and headlights.

The ultimate symptom of a broken alternator, though, is your car not turning on.

How much does it cost to fix a broken alternator?

The cost of alternator repair varies. If the damage is minor and you only need to replace one or two components, you can expect to spend around $100 - $300. However, if the damage requires total alternator replacement, you’ll be looking at spending anywhere from $500 to over $2,000.