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

No, I don’t see that it makes sense, particularly for an alternator, but I also don’t see the sense of storing brake pads and air filters.

I’m assuming you live in civilization somewhere and drive a somewhat reasonably common car. If your house is 40 miles down a gravel road from the nearest running water and electricity and you’re driving a 1989 Sterling I can see having a store of spare parts. But alternators and brake pads are available at any auto parts store. They’re not a week away.

By having all those things stored away you lose the buying power of those dollars, and they’re not easily liquidated, if they are at all. Instead put that money in a mutual fund or take a vacation. When you die you may regret that trip to Hawaii you never took. You’ll probably not remember that alternator in the closet.

Stock up on car parts and total the car and it’s a complete waste of money. Sell the car and the parts won’t enhance its value. I like having money in the bank not in the closet.

I have too many parts that go to old cars that I owned once. New parts that I bought , then for some reason the car was junked, or an accident claimed it.
I still have a set of plugs for a 1993 ranger, a fuel fliter that went to something that I owned, 3-4 new thermostats, a set of brakes for a old 1993 Tempo, a new set of tailgate cables for one of my old trucks,and those are just the ones that I can think of off hand.

I even have a drawer in the shop that is labeled “what did I ever save this for and what does it go to”.
The only thing in there that I’m sure of is a plastic key for the Radial arm saw. It disables the power switch while replacing blades. It came with a spare! There must be 30 items in there, but they take little room to store and I know they might be important for something…just what!!!

But no, I would not buy either unless this is some rare auto that it is impossible to get parts for.
Especially with parts that cost more than $20 each.
I rarely have to wait at my local parts store more than 24hours.

Would you buy a new furnace or waterheater, or well pump, or garage door…just in case!!!


I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but I think that the OP is going to feel mighty silly (and possibly angry) when–many years from now–he “discovers” his cache of parts for cars that he no longer owns.

No…bad luck type.

“I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but I think that the OP is going to feel mighty silly (and possibly angry) when–many years from now–he “discovers” his cache of parts for cars that he no longer owns”.
@VDCdriver–I feel mighty silly every time I think about what is stored in my garage as far as old car parts are concerned. There is a compressor and condenser for the air conditioning system for a l976 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. My brother got these parts when he bought the engine for his 1978 GMC pickup truck and thought these spare parts would be useful to me in case I had air conditioning problems with my 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass. I no longer have the Oldsmobile. There are two car radios–one for a 1941 Chevrolet that my late father-in-law purchased from Western Auto for his 1941 Chevrolet that he bought when he came home from WW II. He took the radio out when he sold the car and we found it when we cleaned out his garage nine years ago. There is a radio for a 1951 Studebaker that a colleague gave me some years back when he junked his 1951 Studebaker Champion. I did have a couple of Ford two barrel carburetors that we found in my father-in-law’s garage, but I gave them to an old car club hoping that it would help someone. Also, I have old radio tubes. I will give anything away if someone could use the parts. I no longer have electronic devices with vacuum tubes. I hate to throw something out if it would be useful for someone.

Guys all of these things are valuable. Sell them on the auto parts section of craigslist or eBay. OR keep them. My dad has a bunch of that type of random stuff and it’s like Christmas morning when he randomly needs something and just happens to have it in stock. @tridaq those old tubes can be really valuable. Especially if they can be used in musical instrument amplifiers - like 12ax7, 12au7, EL34, 6CA7, EL84, etc. While those in my experience are unlikely for radio use the other stuff still can be valuable. They don’t make tubes to the same quality that they once did hence the value of them. Look up the codes and do a quick eBay search to see if people are selling them.

Did I tell this before? I cleaned my back garage out last year and had a load of aluminum to take to the junk yard. Among the items I found was an injector pump for my 81 Olds diesel. In the past I had paid $500 for a rebuilt one so kept it separate to give to the guys so they could use it for a core. The junk guy just looked at it and threw it in the barrel with other dirty aluminum. Oh well. I usually keep my old parts and then clean out the shelf once in a while. Sometimes it comes in handy. Most times no, but I keep them anyway.

I think most car guys have learned to have a little hoarder tendency in them haha.


I still have rotors, pads, plugs, filters, etc. in my garage for cars which I no longer have

Basically the only thing I keep nowadays are pieces of formed scrap metal and not much of that,but it is amazing how often a scrap bracket or brace can be repurposed,
One other thing we have lost sight of is how many things used to be rebuildable,I hate to trash a flawless tire casing for example.And if I get a chance to buy reprocessed motor oil,will usually consider it,(have bought NexGen when it was on sale)-Kevin

I know about excess, I just used some fuel hose that I’ve had for 24 years. I used it as spacers on the axle of one of my wooden frame weed whackers. It positions the axle and keeps the wheels apart. Nope, you ain’t getting photos.

Unless you are buying a low volume, rare vehicle, forget about buying spares. Even in industry there is a trend to carry fewer and fewer spares, and let the jobbers and manufacturers carry that inventory.

I used to carry a spare fan belt in the trunk and spare fuses in the glove box.

On a ship, they carry a spare propellor and a “tail shaft”, the back end of the propellor shaft. The two items can get damaged by ice and other solid objects.

Caterpillar can ship any part worldwide in about 24 hours.

first you stock up and save all those parts…
then you get older …
now I dare you to remember where the heck is that set of points you know darn well are up here somewhere.

The only time I ever stored extra parts was when my then new husband (and now ex husband) and I took a cross country trip to Alaska via the Alcan Highway (mostly gravel) in Canada in 1970 in an Opel. We brought an alternator and a distributer cap on the trip after being told these would be most likely to give out. We made it back to Alaska and back to the states and near some small town in North Dakota, the alternator gave out. There was no import repairman anywhere around, let alone parts. We asked the local garage guy if he could install the alternator we had, after being surprised we had the part, he installed it and we were quickly on our way with no further problems. We returned the unused parts.

Docnic; When I replace my seprentine belt, I put the old one in the sleave the new one came in, then tuck it under the hood where it won’t fall out. If I ever break one, I’ve got a spare until I get to the parts house. I also do that with one wiper blade too. I once lost one during a heavy slush that fell. It was so heavy and accumulated so fast that the heavy snow snapped off the blade. I had to make it back home without one on the drivers side. I would have swapped out the passenger one, but I couldn’t get that darned thing off.


I have my spare parts in old tool and tackle boxes and a couple of those racks with the plastic drawers. I write whats in each with a sharpie and cross them off or add them to the list as needed. when I get rid of the vehicle they go, but I find models I like and stick with them so I use stuff all the time and know where every thing is, pretty much any way. I like my shed and garage organized and don’t stack stuff except in milk crates, i have shelves and hangers and and milk crates and can see what I have

2 thoughts:

No, it doesn’t make sense to collect spare parts just on the off chance that something might fail. There are shops around that will rebuild starters and alternators. You just need to look for them.


  1. When you absolutely, without fail, have to get the vehicle running in short order, a spare would be handy. In other words, you don’t have the time to wait for parts to arrive or have the parts rebuilt.

  2. You have a vehicle with such unusual parts that the parts are non-rebuildable (a starter and an alternator ARE rebuildable) or fail quite regularly.

My father-in-law used to keep a spare alternator AND a spare starter in the trunk of his car - along with an assortment of tools. and what he considered “emergency items” (a blanket, a snow shovel, oil, antifreeze, and the like) There was no room after he put everything in. In all the time I knew him, he NEVER had to rep[lace anything on the road. But when he did replace something, a spare went in the trunk!

i bought a parts truck for 250 bucks and took the parts off and stored them. i have used parts from it that would have cost me much more and saved the time and fuel it would have taken to find them. and they are original or OEM parts.

in my case it made sense financially

Parts Stores are like Liquor stores…You are never beyond walking distance from one…So it makes no sense to “stock up”, unless you are moving to Wyoming, Montana or some other Third World place…