"Core" charges for an alternator?

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!

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.

Plan B,
Take the old alternator with you to the parts store.
No temporary core charge needed since they already have the old one. :slight_smile:

But core charges are zero worries mate.
just take back the old one…in 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.

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?

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.

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 :wink:

“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.

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.

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…

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.

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.

The yards where you live may be different but around here, they aren’t much different than the parts store. The parts are already stripped off the cars, inventoried on computer and stored on shelving. You call, they tell if they have one and how much it costs. If they don’t have it, they are often connected to a common search engine that will tell them if anyone in the area has one and can get it there for you. Let your fingers do the walking (to coin an old phrase from the yellow pages).

BTW- In your original post you were considering the possibility of ordering one online to save $80. Now $50 cheaper is no big deal? At least we have established a threshold of pain :wink: The online option would have had shipping costs on a fairly heavy piece of equipment and some time delay for shipping. I realize that is no longer a concern since you now understand what a core charge is and that it is refundable.

I would dispute that as the origin. I would think core in this context means exactly what it means everywhere else. It is the central part that the rest is assembled around, such as an apple core, or the core of your body. The reason for the core charge is as a deposit so the remanufacturers can retrieve the (core) part which is then stripped, cleaned up, and rebuilt, as you mentioned.

That’s wrong. If they charge tax on the core,and I am suspect about that to begin with, then they are obligated to refund the tax, as long as a receipt is presented. Without a receipt they are prohibeted from refunding tax, as the deposit may have been made out of state, or in excess of the refund of tax period (6 mo if I recall correctly).

The Mass sales tax law on core charges went into effect about 5+ years ago. There was a huge uproar about it. I have purchased many rebuilt items (with core charges) in recent years. I’ve given up on complaining about the non-refundable tax on the core charge.

Why doesn’t the customer get paid for the core instead. This is a pricing gimmick plain and simple. Not quite the same as batteries which makes environmental sense. The parts/repair industry should start thinking about the consumers experience. This unexpected fee leads to uncomfortable conversations and erodes trust between the mechanic shop and car owner. Everything is expensive these days. If the Core fee was simply baked back into the unit price, nobody would blink. The core fee is like trading in a car and paying more for the new one instead of getting the trade-in’s value as a discount on the new car’s price. It’s almost like we are renting alternators. Crazy.

The customer would get paid for the core as the mechanic would give it to him after the replacement.

I also found this, years ago I purchased 5 macintosh computers that had a rebate of 30% (not sure of this number), but had to pay sales tax on the full amount. Appealed to the state, no go.

rebate, taxed. Discount, not. makes no sense to me as they are both basically the same.

I can understand the cynicism but charging for cores is a necessary part of the automobile parts business. Shops don’t pay for parts or cores when they are delivered but keeping up with cores and core charges can be a pain. Consider it like trading your old car for a new one and expecting the dealer to hand you the keys to the new one and signing all the papers and you expecting to drive your old one back to work while your wife drives the new one home with the understanding that later that week when it was convenient you’d bring in your trade. You want to trade your old alternator for a new one but only want to pay the ‘trade in price’ If you paid the full $210 price including the core you could try to sell your core for more than $80 You might not get $10 if you wasted a month on ebay.

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The 6-year old thread is alive!