Things to Know About Alternator Replacement from the service professionals at Subaru of San Bernardino

The battery under the hood of your car and the alternator are two closely-related components. In fact, they're so closely related that when your alternator is acting up, it can give you the exact same symptoms as a dead or dying battery. That can make it tricky to diagnose your problem and learn what to do next. After all, replacing a car battery is simple! Replacing an alternator is a whole other beast. We've compiled these four things you need to know about your Subaru vehicle's alternator.

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4. How the Alternator Works on Your Car

The battery stores a charge that gives the starter power to turn on the engine. Once the engine has started, it'll generate its own power. The alternator takes power from the engine and uses it to recharge your battery. That's how modern car batteries are able to last for years and years!

If the alternator goes bad, the battery won't be recharged. You'll soon find that your car won't start, or will struggle to start. You also might notice your lights seem dimmer, or other oddball electrical issues. When you notice these symptoms, it's a good idea to have your battery and alternator checked.

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3. Testing the Alternator

With the help of an electrical current measuring tool called a multimeter, a trained technician can test your alternator and your battery. If you have a multimeter of your own, and you know your way around under the hood of a car, you can perform this test yourself.

When hooked up to the positive and negative battery terminals, with the engine off, the multimeter should read between 12.5 and 12.8 volts. If it doesn't, your battery may need to be charged or it may simply have died altogether. If you do get that reading, proceed to test the alternator by turning the engine on. The voltage should jump up to between 13.8 to 15.3 volts. If it doesn't, your alternator may be weak and going bad. There are more detailed tests that can be performed to zero in on the exact problem that we won't cover here - feel free to reach out to a factory-trained technician in our service department with additional alternator testing questions.

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2. Charge your Battery After Alternator Replacement

Since the alternator's role is to recharge the battery, you'll want to make sure the battery is fully charged once you've changed out the old alternator. If the old alternator was bad, the battery is probably almost out of charge. The new alternator might work too hard to charge the mostly empty battery, and could burn out prematurely. It's always a good idea to test your battery and get it fully charged, or replace it if necessary, at the same time you have the alternator replaced.

1. The Three Rs of Alternator Replacement

Very few brand-new alternators are installed as replacements in modern cars today. A new alternator is almost always prohibitively expensive and difficult to source - since most new alternators are going into new cars at the factory. You generally have three R's as your options for fixing a bad alternator.

You could have the alternator repaired by a dealership technician. If your car is relatively new, and the alternator is in good shape save for a few failed components, this is often the cheapest option. It also may only be a temporary fix.

Or, you could have your alternator refurbished. In this case, the alternator is taken out, thoroughly cleaned, and all wearable parts are replaced. After thorough testing, you'll have a like-new alternator.

Finally, you could opt to have a remanufactured alternator installed in your car. In this case, an old alternator was sent all the way back to the factory to be taken apart and put back together again with new wearable components and even new technologies that were developed since your original alternator was designed. A remanufactured alternator is typically your best option when it comes to quality (and therefore can be the most expensive).

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Subaru of San Bernardino

645 Auto Center Dr
Directions San Bernardino, CA 92408

  • Sales: 909-888-8686
  • Service: 909-571-5305
  • Parts: 909-571-5397
  1. Subaru of San Bernardino

    645 Auto Center Dr
    San Bernardino, CA 92408

    • Sales: (877) 501-8065

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