Alternator Fix $5 vs $200


Thumbs up, let's do this!
Yesterday i was having issues with my alternator sometimes it would charge and sometimes it wouldnt. So i knew it was just a matter of time before it was going to kick the bucket. Little did i know that would be today haha!!

jiggled wires checking for connections and what not... nothin worked. so i thought to myself GREAT, theres $200 to an auto parts store i cant afford right now. Called around to a few alternator and starter places and it would be closer to $100 for a rebuild, but a day or 2 turn around. no thanks.

So i called up the closest place to my airport and asked if he sells parts, which he did, (all of the auto parts stores auto zone, oreily, NAPA dont sell parts) so i thought id press my luck and just try to change out the brushes in the alternator to see if thats all it takes.

ill be dang'd if $5 later and about 30 minutes of work it was back charging at 14v again. Assuming (more like praying) that it was going to work i took a few pics along the way to show some people how it was done waaaay cheaper than buying a whole new alternator.

ok so obviously you have to remove the alternator. so remove the acc belt, the 2 bolts on the front of the alt (15mm), the plug on the top and the wire that goes to the battery distribution block (10mm)... make sure the cable that goes to the distribution block doesnt touch anything and ground out.... a smart person would unhook the battery before begining this project... but yea look who we are talking about here...

next once you get the alternator to where you are going to work on it, there is a black plastic cover on the rear.. this is held in with just small clips. but it takes 2 hands and 2 screwdrivers to pry the clips off...

one goes down just inside to pry outwards while you use the 2nd to pry upwards and realease 1 clip at a time. Work your way around till they are all loose and then itll come right off

then once you get the cover off youll see where the top plug goes into. next to it is a small black cap that is held with 3 small clips. pop it off and underneath that you will see the top on the alternator brushes

after that i removed the 3 VERY small bolts that hold the plug and part of the brushes in place. i had to use a 5/32 because i didnt have a metric socket that small, but i made it work. the 3rd bolt that is not attached to the plug portion is what holds the brushes in place and makes the connection

then you can take the brushes out.. it took a little work on mine... but i have 191k on my stock alternator so i didnt expect it to be easy. Here you can see the old and new parts sitting next to each other and the wear they had after almost 200k miles

i took some emory cloth and cleaned up the stator area by just spinning the front pulley. it was pretty black and dirty from just arc'ing and years of use. got it to where it was kinda shiney and less dirty

i re-installed the new brushes. it was kinda tricky because the new springs were longer and it had more material on the end obviously. NOTE: When you re-install them make sure the 2 ring terminals ARE NOT touching each other.. look in the 2nd picture and you will see how a small piece of plastic is between them. it does no good to hook the positive and negative side together... chances are itll mess up more things than help.

re-install in reverse order the small bolts and rear cover. whenever we do airplane alternators, we spin them as much as we can before hooking power up to them.

they way i did it was i re-installed the alternator on the truck. hooked the belt up, but did not plug in the plug or hook the power wire on the rear. hooked the battery back up (MAKE SURE THE POWER WIRE DOES NOT GROUND OUT ON ANYTHING!!!!) and started the truck for about 30 seconds so the new brushes could scuff in. turned the truck off and hooked everything back up and BAM charging 14v again.

not saying this will work on everyone's alternator especially with the wide variety of cars on here, but this is all that was wrong with mine... but it sure beats going to an autoparts store and paying $200+ for a rebuilt alternator.

all this cost me was $5 in alternator brushes, probably about $4 in diesel roundtrip and 30 minutes wondering if this was actually going to work.

thought might help some people who are in a tight money crunch like some of us are these days


Well-Known Member
pretty sweet. my beater still has the original alt from 94 with 210k miles on it. i've been waiting for it to kick the bucket for a while now. i guess i'll have to check into rebuilding it instead of replacing it.


Well-Known Member
Awesome! :thumbsup:

Rebuilds are always cheaper if you can do them yourself, plus you have the knowledge that you did all the little extras and put the TLC into it because it is yours, as opposed to some guy just rushing through a rebuild.

I always prefer to buy the parts and do the work myself.

Oh and it always cost WAY less, even if you rolled the dice on $5.00 and it didn't fix the problem, it's a risk worth taking!

I'd like to see more of these type of posts.


Town Bicycle of Car Ownership
Awesome write up. Pretty crazy to think you went from $100-$200 to just $5 and a couple hours of work


I have lifetime warranty on a $60 alt, when you go through 6 in one month, it helps. lol.
Ill definitely keep this in mind next time I have one go out!


Well-Known Member
Those fixes can save you a ton of money. That's what we do for people. It's that or 200 for a new one. Most people choose the cheaper route. That's really all it is; just replace the part and you're done.