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"Core" charges for an alternator?

edited November -1 in Repair and Maintenance
Hi folks --

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.

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.

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.

Any advice or corrections RE: the above is appreciated! Thanks!


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