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"Core" charges for an alternator?

Hi folks --
<br/> I need to purchase a cheap alternator for our 1999 Subaru Legacy Outback. Basically, we want to and had planned on selling the car (to CarMax, to make it as painless as possible. I had a fine experience selling my Toy. Corolla there a couple years back) -- but the alternator died a week before we planned on doing the deed. I've spoken with my mechanic, who said if we supply the part, he'll pop it in for 30 minutes of labor.
<br/> So the goal is to get the cheapest alternator at the cheapest price. Local auto supply stores sell them for around $130, but all of them charge a "core" charge of around $80.
<br/> I have no idea what a core charge is, but it seems suspiciously like something unnecessary. I'd like advice about whether I should suck it up and pay it, or order a part online for around the same price --- where I don't think a core charge would be involved.
<br/> Any advice or corrections RE: the above is appreciated! Thanks!


  • edited March 2011
    No big deal, a core charge is a temporary charge that is refunded to you when you give them the old alternator. Very common. Just confirm with the parts shop that you'll get the full amount refunded when you bring in the old part.
  • edited March 2011
    Plan B,
    Take the old alternator with you to the parts store.
    No temporary core charge needed since they already have the old one. :)

    But core charges are zero worries mate.
    just take back the old the box it came in...and get your refund.
    --super simple, a daily business method 'round here.

    If you use your debit/charge card you'll never see the extra, it will be a wash-out on you statement.
  • edited March 2011
    You'll get the core charge back when you return your old alternator (the "core"), which will then be sent out to be rebuilt.

    If you don't return the old alternator you lose the core charge.

    What's so difficult about that?
  • edited March 2011
    I see -- thanks for the info! I read about the refund on the parts store websites, but didn't understand it (it sound like I would have to bring the part I was buying for them back --- like a return or something).

    I'll go forward with the purchase. Thanks again for clarifying.
  • edited March 2011
    >So the goal is to get the cheapest alternator at the cheapest price

    If I was going to immediately turn around and sell the car to some entity like CarMax, I'd look around for a recycling yard part first. Typically half of the cost of a rebuilt unit and perhaps less if your negotiating skills are honed well enough ;)
  • edited March 2011
    "Cash On Return", COR or core.

    You buy a rebuilt unit, they need to make sure they get the used one back so they can rebuild that one in turn.

    If you buy a new alternator you won't have a core charge.
  • edited March 2011
    If you purchase your alternator from a Massachusetts parts store, then you'll need to pay sales tax on the core charge amount. And you won't get that sales tax back when you get your core charge back.

  • edited March 2011
    Salvage yards sell alternators for around half new price. No core charge usually..Look in your Yellow Pages under "Used Auto Parts". Japanese cars...Also, from a parts store, sometimes the rebuilt alternator DOES NOT INCLUDE THE PULLY. So bring your old one with you and they will usually swap the pully for you..
  • edited March 2011

    I bought a caliper for my 98 Pathfinder...Caliper cost $90.

    The core charge was $300. They really really really wanted the old one back.
  • edited March 2011
    Agreed -- but time is a big motivating factor for us at this point, and the option of just walking down the block to the local parts store might be worth the $50 in savings we'd bring in from the recycling yard.
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