Does it make sense to keep a spare alternator and/or starter in garage/closet?


#1

The advantage is that you have it immediately available if the part in your car begins to fail. Otherwise, you have to order the part and wait a week for it to arrive.

I guess this question is about… storage. Does it make sense to store alternators and/or starters?

I already store plenty of oil filters, air filters, cabin air filter, brake pads, etc. some have been sitting there for over 3 years now.


#2

I don’t see why not? Maybe keep it in a ziplock bag to keep the elements out? I like keeping a stock of parts too where and when I can.

Now, if this is a common enough and young enough car then I wouldn’t buy one just to have as back up. Some of them you have to pay a hefty core charge for so it makes sense to wait until the part fails. Otherwise, if the car is pretty old and the part is less common then I’d keep it if you have the money


#3

I wouldn’t, assuming you have ready access to a parts store when you need it if you can’t afford to wait the week for Rockauto. You may never have to replace it, unlike storing consumables.


#4

It makes no sense unless you plan to build a duplicate car.
Where would it end? Struts? Springs? Instrument cluster? Windshield?
It makes sense to inventory consumables, and I do that myself, however inventorying the things that may or may not fail during the car’s lifetime makes no sense to me at all.

In the interest of full disclosure, I do have a spare alternator, but there’s a story behind that one. My alternator started to sound like a spaceship, so I ordered one with post-haste delivery. On my way to work the next day, mine died. Knowing I lacked the battery juice to make the 30 mile trip home, and knowing I’d be working until 8PM that evening, I stopped at the nearest shop and got a new alternator installed. When I got home that night, the one I’d ordered was on my doorstep. So rather than return, it, I just threw it into inventory.


#5

I haven’t replaced a starter or alternator in any of our vehicles since my 84 GMC S-15. They just don’t seem to be troublesome like they were 30 years ago. My wifes Accords and my Pathfinders with well over 300k miles on each…all had the original starter and Alternator.

If you have one lying around…then by all means keep it…But I wouldn’t go out and buy one just to have a spare.


#6

In 26 years, I’ve replaced one starter and no alternators. The starter was in stock when needed. It wouldn’t have been worth the time and money for me to keep them on hand as you suggest.


#7

I bought a parts truck for 250 bucks some years ago and it has really paidoff. I had to scrap it because I had no place to keep it but I got a lot of stuff off first.

I had a vacuum leak off a specially bent hose last year, I believe it was off my power steering booster and my son said “we re done for today, you ll have to order that one” and I amazed him by going to the shed and pulling out an identical hose. when I re- built my carb with him I did it again with a part off my my parts carb. I ve even used the almost new brake pads. accelerator parts I ve used. and I took the seat and used it. some of the trim, a coupletires. a headlight and more, I m sure. I still have many parts left including the alternator.

and I got 175 bucks when I scrapped it. I wish I hadn t had to get rid of it. so if you see a car of the same model for cheap…


#8

Well, the car did have 200,000 miles on it, so I would have been crazy to get upset about the alternator failing. That’s fair usage.


#9

Whether it is worth it or not depends on what kind of car it is. If it is a popular car, most auto parts places stock these parts. However, if it isn’t a common car, then keeping a spare alternator makes sense. My brother owned a 1963 Studebaker back in the mid 1960s. He always carried a spare fuel pump. He did have an alternator problem and the alternator on the Studebaker was made by Prestolite. The brushes went bad and he had a rather difficult time locating the brushes so that the alternator could be rebuilt.


#10

No…here’s the reason why in my case. I could have exactly 1/2 of all components needed to repair a vehicle stored in my closet and any one of the other 50% would fail. Even if I got lucky and needed a starter that I already had on hand…with my luck…it would be faulty as well when I installed it.


#11

so… you re the classic glass half empty type?


#12

@mareakin‌

What kind of vehicle do you have? That may make a difference as well as where you live. I assume the said car is you one and only and you need it to get to work?

If you have a 75 Mercedes and live in an area with no nearby import auto parts stores than I might have a spare.

If you have a Chevy pickup and live in Indiana I would not, since even though I live in a rural area, there is a small city 6 miles away that has 5 auto parts stores that most likely carry an alternator for that truck in stock.


#13

I have a 75 ford pickup and all the shops still have parts in stock


#14

It could make sense if you plan to keep your car for a really long time. Even if the part you need becomes difficult to purchase b/c few are being sold, at least you know you have one. I’ve been doing that w/certain bicycle parts for a 30 year old bicycle I have, and it has paid off. Of course bicycle parts don’t take as much stoage space.

If your car is one of the popular econoboxs which you plan to keep less than 25 years, you’ll be able to get a replacement like that within a day or two. The other thing to consider is that alternators and starter motors can usually be rebuilt good as new by your local auto-electric shop. For starter motors that is sometimes the better way to go, as the gears on the starter motor have worn to exactly match the gears on the flywheel. Quieter operation by having the starter motor rebuilt.

Here’s a funny story. Years ago when driving home after work I noticed a coworker of mine off to the side of the freeway, with his car’s hood up. I stopped and asked if he needed any help. He said “no”, he was just changing his alternator is all. He explained he knew his alternator was about to go out for the past 6 months because the dash light would come on for a few minutes, then go off. So he bought a new one, put it in the trunk, and included a pair of workman’s overalls and a canvas tarp. He explained the reason he waited to change the alternator on the side of the freeway, he wanted to get all the value out of that old alternator as possible. … lol …


#15

If you have the spare money to spend on on items that will potentially convenience you, and that’s your priority, then it’s worth it for you.


#16

And what if the starter or alternator never need replacing? Returns are not accepted after a certain period of time.

Let the part store warehouse them for you.


#17

I replace partss as needed, I have spark plugs leftover from old cars, and that is about it. My thought is replace or repair as needed, the plethora of parts you might keep in stock for a car that might die, and readily available parts from junk yards or parts stores makes my decision do not waste the time and expense.


#18

the number of 70 s ford pickups that were crushed when the scrap price went up was a shame, IMO


#19

Years and years ago you would keep spare parts…

. Flat-head engines…some of the older Fords were prone to head gasket failures about every 5-10k miles.
. 60’s thru 70’s Chrysler’s that had Ballast-Resistors.


#20

I’ve replaced maybe two starters in 50 years. They just don’t fail that often. Alternators used to last me maybe 70 or 80K. So at 70K I would usually just overhaul them pre-emptively to avoid problems. On one car I had the alternator replaced at about 150K pre-emptively and because it had to come out the bottom with the car on a lift. Even for a Delco alternator, they have always been in stock. I am a little concerned about them when they start to get up over 120K or so and I would just replace them rather than waiting for a failure. If you want to keep the old one for an emergency spare, that would make more sense but they still charge the core fee that makes it a little less practical.

I guess just depends on how easy it is to replace. On my Buicks, it was about a 15 minute job or less, but not so on others.