By Anthony Santiago - Editor-in-Chief

October 12, 2022
Does My Car Warranty Cover the Alternator

Does My Car Warranty Cover the Alternator?

Your car must have died while driving and the battery light turned on. Perhaps you replaced your battery but it always ends up dead and you require a jumpstart to get it started.

These are tell-tale signs that your alternator might be the problem.

You might be wondering if your existing car warranty will cover the cost of replacing your alternator.

While your current car might have a 100,000 mile powertrain warranty, surprisingly alternators are not considered part of your powertrain. However, your warranty should cover electrical components of your car and most likely your car warranty would cover the replacement cost of the alternator.

Warranty Coverage

The factory bumper warranty on new cars typically covers electrical components for 3 years or 36,000 miles. So if you fall in this category, then you should be able to have your warranty claim to cover the replacement. 

There might be some rare instances that your extended car warranty does not cover it but that is VERY RARE to have it included under the exclusionary warranty.

Most car warranty companies have a decent warranty that includes the electric component protection in addition to the powertrain warranty. Powertrain and electrical are essential components to the operation of a vehicle. 

Alternator issues are common on older vehicles. Luckily it's not a huge repair bill if you were to pay out of pocket. Most warranties cover the expensive repairs that are typically associated with powertrain and electrical. 

One thing to note is that you want to be aware of any things that might void your vehicle warranty such as aftermarket parts, abuse and lack of maintenance

Does My Car Warranty Cover the Alternator

What Exactly is an Alternator?

A lot of people don’t realize how important it is to have an alternator in a vehicle. Most people understand that you need a battery and a starter to start your engine.

A good alternator will keep the battery fully charged even if your car isn't being driven very far. If your car won't start, it could mean one thing -- your alternator needs replacing. An alternator converts mechanical energy into electrical energy, charging the battery. In addition to powering everything from lights to radios, it helps maintain the proper charge level in the battery. This keeps your car running smoothly and safely.

However to keep your car running, your alternator plays a critical role since there are a lot of powered components like audio, HVAC and power windows.

An alternator is a device used to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy, usually via a dynamo.

Alternators are commonly found in vehicles such as cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats, and airplanes. They are designed to provide power to start engines, charge batteries, and operate lights. Most modern automobiles use belt driven alternators, while older designs used pulley systems.

If your alternator is not working correctly, your battery will begin to drain while you are driving and come to the point where powered systems will begin to shut down as the computer will try to keep the car running.

How I Knew I Had a Bad Alternator

This happened to me.

While I was driving, the HVAC systems started to turn off randomly and the fan stopped working. I assumed it was a blower issue and kept on driving. Unfortunately, the fan turned off and the car began to shake. I believe this was partly due to the fact that the battery was draining down to critical levels. The battery light flickered on the dash.

Then the car stalled while driving and the dash lit up with the service engine soon, the battery light was on. I was able to start the engine and the car went into limp mode. I gave the throttle gas but the car didn't want to move. Again, the car stalled and I found myself stopped in the shoulder.

This process went on for 10 mins and I was able to make it home. To help remedy the issue, I purchased a new battery but the same symptoms happened a few days later.

At that point, I knew it must be an alternator since a new battery did not resolve the issue.

As mentioned already, if you’re driving around with a faulty alternator, you could end up stranded somewhere without power.

Does My Car Warranty Cover the Alternator

Signs of a Bad Alternator

If the battery light on the dash flickers, it indicates that there’s something wrong with a bad battery or charging of the system.  You could technically drive for a little while but remember your electrical system is discharging without any replenishment.

In my case, the alternator warning was the dash light and the persistent problem despite installing a brand new battery. 

Symptoms of A Bad Alternator

Your car’s alternator is responsible for charging your battery while you are driving. If it fails, your headlights, taillights, dash lights, etc., won’t work properly. You might think that your car’s dashboard lights are just normal indicators, but there are actually several different types of lights that come on when the alternator begins to fail.

The most common symptom of an alternator failure is a loud whining or clicking in your engine bay. This typically indicates that the alternator bearings are worn or the belts are loose. 

Does My Car Warranty Cover the Alternator - dim headlights

Your Front Headlights are Flickering

Your car’s headlights might be flickering or dimming because you have a defective alternator. This happens when the voltage produced by the alternator drops too low to power the lights.

If you see one of the following symptoms, it could mean your alternator needs replacement:

• Dashboard lights don’t illuminate

• Tail Lights aren’t illuminated

• Lights inside the car don’t illuminate, including dome light, parking lights, brake lights, etc.

• Car doesn’t start

How Long Does a Car Alternator Last?

Alternators typically last between 80,000 to 150,000 miles depending on how well you maintain your vehicle. 

It is a mechanical part that converts the engine rotation into electricity. Alternator bearings can wear out or your alternator belt might start slipping or cracking with age.

There are many reasons that cause a broken alternator. 

Water Damage

Since your alternator is considered an electrical component. It's important to keep it away from water damage or corrosion. Water can cause a short circuit and cause your alternator to fail prematurely.


Every alternator has brushes and a voltage regulator. Sometimes when these wear down, your alternator will undercharge or stop charging effectively. The alternator brushes sustain some damage over time.You might be able to do an alternator repair by replacing the voltage regulator separately if you are no longer under warranty.

But most auto service centers would simply replace the alternator with a new one. 

Oil or Corrosion

Along with water, leaking oil or coolant may cause your alternator to fail as well. This might void your warranty coverage if wearable items like oil and coolant leaks were not addressed and became the root cause for a busted alternator. 

Other Symptoms of a Failing Alternator

An intermittent dimming problem usually happens if the battery is weak. When the battery loses charge, it produces less current, causing the lights to dim. As long as the battery is strong, the lights don’t flicker or dim. But if the battery runs down completely, the lights will start flickering and dimming. It is a matter of time before your car will no longer start. 

If you suspect that the alternator is failing and the battery is weak, bring your vehicle to a repair shop immediately. They can test the battery and alternator to determine what’s causing the issue.

A battery failure can occur if your battery is too old. Batteries typically last between 3 to 8 years depending on how well you keep your battery maintained. A faulty battery will also trigger a battery symbol on the dash. 

In either case, if your battery is more than 3 years old, you might consider replacing it as part of your regular car maintenance. 

How Much Do Car Alternators Cost 

The cost of replacing an alternator varies depending on several factors including vehicle make/model, age, mileage, state of repair, and whether it needs to be replaced due to damage or malfunctioning. In most cases, you'll find that the average price of an alternator replacement ranges from $300 - $600.

In my case, the OEM Alternator is priced at $300. Once you add in the labor fees, you are looking at a bill that is approaching $600+. While this is a high cost, if your car is under an extended auto warranty, then your extended warranty provider should cover the repair. 

Again, check the terms of your extended car warranty coverage to confirm that you have electrical system and alternator coverage. 

Electrical Issues that Can Mimic a Bad Alternator

Stalled Engine

An alternator will charge your car battery if it's working correctly. If you're driving down the road and your engine starts stalling out, there are several things that might cause this problem.

The first thing to check is whether or not your alternator is working properly. You can do this by looking at the voltage on your battery. The higher the voltage, the more power your alternator is producing. If the voltage is low, then your alternator isn't charging your battery. Check the connections between your alternator and your battery. Make sure they're tight and clean.

Your vehicle’s electrical system plays a vital role in keeping everything running smoothly. If there are any problems with the electrical system, it can cause serious damage to your car. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help prevent potential electrical issues from occurring.

Parasitic Drain

The parasitic drain is the drain of an electrical component that is not directly connected to the battery. It's usually used for things like relays, fuses and other devices that are only powered when they're needed. A parasitic drain could cause your battery to discharge, thus causing you to not have enough power to start the engine. 

Check if you have any aftermarket electronics like LEDs, dash cams, head units and amps that may be causing the drain. 

Starter Issue

The starter is the flow of electricity to your fuel injectors. If the starter fails, the engine will not start. Having a failed starter is very unlikely but can occur prematurely with any water or oil damage. 

Bad Battery

As mentioned previously, a bad battery might be the root of alternator problems. This is especially true if the battery is old or has been sitting too long and is totally discharged. It is recommended that you check your battery every 6 months and recharge them every 3 months if the car is not being used daily. 

Does My Car Warranty Cover the Alternator

Tips to Avoid a Dead Battery

Here are some things you can do to help extend the life of your vehicle’s battery.

1. Keep it clean. Dirt collects moisture inside the battery, causing corrosion that eats away at the plates. Cleaning the battery once a month helps prevent buildup of dirt and grime.

2. Don’t overcharge. Overcharging drains the battery faster than normal operation. When the voltage reaches 14.4 volts, the battery starts to lose capacity. This is why most vehicles warn drivers when charging to stop when the charge level hits 12.6 volts.

3. Make sure the terminals are tight. Loose connections allow water into the battery, leading to corrosion. Tighten the bolts every six months.

4. Check the fluid levels. Batteries use a chemical reaction for their charging capabilities so sometimes you are able to refill them with distilled water only

Final Thoughts on Alternator Coverage and Warranties

If your car has an alternator problem, you probably want to know whether or not your warranty covers it. 

The good news is that most manufacturers cover the entire engine block and transmission, along with the battery, starter motor, and wiring harness. This means that if anything goes wrong with these components, you won't have to pay extra to replace them.

However, it doesn't cover the entire engine, which means that if anything goes wrong other than your alternator, then you might not be covered under the terms.

That said, if you already have comprehensive coverage through bumper-to-bumper warranty, you shouldn't worry too much about whether or not your vehicle's alternator is covered. But if you want to know for certain, contact your dealership or check your warranty contract for inclusion and exclusions.  



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Anthony Santiago - Editor-in-Chief

About the author

I am a passionate car enthusiast who likes to help people save money and avoid headaches when it comes to cars. I believe that everyone can find the right car at the right price. I share my tips and experience so you can learn quickly and maximize your next SUV, truck or car purchase.

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