Manufacturers rarely consider alternators to be wear parts, but these critical components tend to fail long before the rest of the car. In some cases, alternators can even fail with well under 100,000 miles on the odometer. While these parts typically aren't too expensive, you probably don't want to get into the habit of replacing them more often than necessary.
If you need a new alternator, there are a few decisions you'll need to make that can impact the longevity of your replacement part. Keep these three considerations in mind so that you can choose a durable alternator for your car and budget.
1. Used, New, or Remanufactured?
Used auto parts are an excellent way to save a few bucks, but selecting one requires care. Obtaining the best value from used parts is all about selecting components that last a long time and aren't prone to premature failure. Although alternators don't quite fit this definition, you can still get a good deal by buying a low-mileage used alternator.
Remanufactured parts are another excellent option. Many auto parts stores sell remanufactured components, and these often include warranties that can offer some peace of mind. In some cases, going the remanufactured route can mean getting a higher quality part for a significantly reduced cost.
2. Genuine, OEM, or Aftermarket?
When you shop at the dealership, you'll usually purchase factory, or genuine, parts. These replacements come stamped with your automaker's logo, and they can be costly. While some parts may only be available direct from the dealership, alternators for most cars are usually more readily available. If you aren't buying factory parts, then you'll need to choose between OEM and aftermarket.
OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts are identical to the components from the dealership, except they usually lack the automaker's logo. You'll get comparable performance from an OEM alternator, but for much less money. On the other hand, aftermarket parts can vary in price and performance, so be sure to read reviews carefully before choosing one.
3. Should You Upgrade?
Believe it or not, many aftermarket manufacturers produce high-output alternators that can give your car an extra jolt. Most drivers won't need to consider this upgrade, but a beefier alternator can come in handy in a few situations. For example, upgrading your charging system can help if you intend to install a powerful stereo or if you use your vehicle for heavy-duty purposes, such as plowing snow.
Ultimately, replacing an alternator is a relatively inexpensive and straightforward repair. Remember these three considerations, and you should be able to easily find an option to keep your vehicle's charging system running smoothly.
To learn more, reach out to a company that provides auto parts in your area.