Whether you are replacing your alternator by yourself or sending your car to a mechanic, knowing how long this job takes is important to planning ahead of time. So, how long will it take to replace an alternator?
The amount of time it takes to replace an alternator is 2 hours, but it could be longer if the car owner has never done it before. Through a mechanic, this can take a while if they have other cars to finish first. Through a shop, it can be done within the day unless they say otherwise.
If you want to know more about the process and why it takes 2 hours to replace an alternator, read below.
On Your Own
If you are changing your alternator by yourself, you should watch some videos and become familiar with the process before starting. The instructions you should follow might vary depending on your car, so make sure you know what to do for your car and its specific engine. If you know the outline you need to follow, then you are ready to start.
If you have reviewed the steps and know what you need to do, you will likely know what tools you need. If you don’t know, the tools you will need are the new alternator, belt tensioner tool, gloves, hand tools like ratchets and wrenches handy, and other safety equipment and tools that are necessary for your make and year.
In simple steps, you will disconnect the negative battery cable, find the alternator, look at the other parts related to and working with the alternator, remove the old alternator, match up and install the new alternator, and finish putting together anything you disconnected or anything else you replaced at the same time.
Some of these steps take a few minutes, while other steps like inspecting other parts of the engine and replacing the alternator can take a while. But, hopefully, after about 2 hours (3 max if you have never done this before and are well prepared to do the job) your car is done and you can put down the hood. Test your engine and turn on your car to see if you were successful.
If you messed up somewhere along the way, then your car might not start, or it might make an odd noise or have another indication of error. If that is the case, then this job is no longer a 2-3 hour job, but rather it will likely become a week-long headache.
If you are up to spending another hour or two trying to fix what you just did then go ahead. Maybe as you try to reduce the job you realize that you missed a set or that you connected something wrong. But, if you try again and it still doesn’t work, then it is time to call your local mechanic or a friend who is willing to fix your car for you.
If you call your mechanic then see if you can get an appointment for that same week, and hopefully, the shop can work around your schedule. For more information on how to get your alternator changed through a mechanic, read below.
Through a Mechanic
If you are getting your car’s alternator changed through a mechanic then communicate with them about how long the wait will be, and they will let you know if your vehicle is first and will be out in 2 hours, or if it will happen during the day. They likely won’t have an exact pick-up time, but you can expect it to be done at any time, so have your phone available to answer the call that it’s done.
If you have already bought the parts because you tried to do it yourself see if they can use them so that you don’t have to pay for new parts, only the labor put into the car. Make sure they know that before, or they might just replace the new alternator without knowing it was new.
Now that your car is in the mechanic’s hands, you might as well be productive! You might be stuck waiting in the lobby for your car to be done, but if possible, go get your errands done or simply kill time. You will likely get a text when your car has been brought into the shop to be worked on, which then gives you a 2-hour timer to go off of. But, it is hard to know when during the day that will happen.
But don’t worry, if they assure you that your car will be done that day then it should. They will likely give you a time frame of when they will get to it or when your car will be done, but that is as much indication as you will get. But, if you get a text that they started, then you have about 2 hours left.
When you drop off your car ask them how long it takes for them to change the alternator. They are experienced with cars and it might take them faster to do, which would be great for your timeline.
With your remaining 2 hours, you can plan out the rest of your time by finishing getting groceries, getting clothes, eating food, seeing friends, or going to work. Then, plan your travel time back to the mechanic shop and be ready to get your car.
They will give you details on the job, tell you if they needed to replace other parts that made the alternator not work, and more. They should be able to inform you about what they did vs. what you did that didn’t work if you had already tried to change it yourself.
After getting the information, you are ready to pay and go! It is less headache and less manual labor for yourself, and if you don’t have much experience with fixing cars then going to the mechanic is perfect. With them, it might take about a day to do, but the actual time of changing out the old alternator and putting in the new one should be about 2 hours, which lets you know how to plan ahead.