Alternator Belt Replacement » Cost & Symptoms | UK

All information about alternator replacement cost in the UK. Plus all symptoms.

Here you can find out everything about alternator belt replacement. How high is the alternator belt replacement cost in the UK? What are the signs of a snapped / broke alternator belt? Can you drive with a broke alternator belt and how long does an alternator belt last? Plus: The best savings tips and a free price comparison.

How much to replace an alternator belt?

» Average alternator belt replacement cost: £80 – £230

The alternator belt replacement cost (also known as serpentine belt, v-belt, drive belt or fan belt) are made up of material costs (approx. £20 – £30) and labour costs (approx. £60 – £200). For most vehicles, costs of around £80 – £230 can be expected.

The exact labor cost depends on the vehicle model and how quickly the alternator belt is accessible to the mechanic as well as the hourly rate of the workshop. The following is an example of the cost of an alternator belt replacement for a VW Golf 4:

Cost example: Alternator belt replacement VW Golf 4
New alternator belt
£20 – £30
Labour cost
£100 – £130
Total costs
£120 – £160
Prices for alternator belt replacement also vary by region. In and around large cities such as London, Birmingham or Manchester, costs are higher than in rural areas. There are also price differences between independent car garages and authorised service centres. As already mentioned, the car model also plays a role.

The alternator belt (or fan belt) replacement cost for e.g. a Peugeot 207, Citroen Berlingo or Ford Focus will therefore be different. All figures shown on this page are for guideline values including VAT and may of course vary.

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Alternator belt replacement cost – sorted by car models

Below is a table with estimated values for popular car models in the UK. Please note that even with the same car model there may be differences.

Often the alternator belt replacement is slightly cheaper for older editions of a model, as the mechanic can access the alternator belt faster. In newer cars, the individual parts are often installed more tightly, which increases the time needed for replacement and thus the labour costs.
Alternator belt replacement cost – sorted by car models
Car model
Price range
Alfa Romeo Giulietta • Alfa Romeo Mito • Chevrolet Spark • Chevrolet Matiz • Fiat 500 • Fiat Panda • Fiat Punto • Ford Fiesta • Ford Ka • Ford Escort • Hyundai i10 • Hyundai i20 • Kia Ceed • Kia Picanto • Kia Rio • Nissan Micra • Vauxhall Corsa • Vauxhall Meriva • Peugeot 206, 207, 208 • Renault Clio • Renault Twingo • Seat Altea • Seat Ibiza • Smart Fortwo • Toyota Corolla • Toyota Auris • Toyota Yaris • VW Fox • VW Lupo • VW Polo
£70 – £120
Audi A1, S1 • Audi A3, S3, RS3 • Citroen Berlingo • Citroen C3 • Citroen C4 • Citroen Jumper • Dacia Duster • Dacia Logan • Dacia Sandero • Ford Kuga • Ford Mondeo • Honda Civic • Honda Jazz • Hyundai Tucson • Kia Sportage • Mazda CX 5 • Mercedes A Klasse • Mazda CX 3 • Mini • Nissan Qashqai • Vauxhall Astra • Vauxhall Mokka • Vauxhall Vectra • Vauxhall Zafira • Peugeot 308, 3008 • Renault Kangoo • Renault Megane • Seat Alhambra • Seat Leon • Skoda Fabia • Skoda Octavia • Skoda Roomster • Skoda Superb • Skoda Yeti • Toyota Avensis • Toyota Prius • Volvo V60 • VW Passat • VW Tiguan • VW Golf 4, 5, 6, 7
£120 – £220
Audi A4, S4, RS4 • Audi A5, S5, RS5 • Audi A6, S6, RS6 • Audi Q2 • Audi Q5 • BMW X1 • BMW 1er • BMW 2er • BMW 3er • BMW 5er • Fiat Ducato • Ford Focus • Ford Galaxy • Mercedes B Klasse • Mercedes C Klasse • Mercedes E Klasse • Mercedes GLK, GLC • Vauxhall Insignia • Porsche 911 • Rover 75 • Seat Alhambra • VW Caddy • VW Sharan • VW Touran • VW T5
£220 – £300+

What additional costs may arise?

In most cases it is sufficient to change only the alternator belt (or serpentine belt) and there are no additional costs. Occasionally, however, an additional change of alternator belt tensioner and pulley makes sense, as the material costs are low compared to the labour costs.

If the mechanic has already finished disassembling everything, the additional costs are low and you can save some money. The most complex part is always the uncovering of the individual parts. The whole thing of course only makes sense if the parts also show wear.
» Replace alternator belt tensioner and pulley

+ £40 – £90

It is different with snapped alternator belt. This can also cause damage to auxiliary units such as water pump, servo pump and alternator. The costs would be significantly higher.

What does an alternator belt do?

The alternator belt (or drive belt) is a rubber belt up to 160 cm long and is responsible for transferring power from the engine to the auxiliary units. In addition to the alternator, the alternator belt also operates the power steering, the water pump, the hydraulic pump and the fan.

What causes alternator belt to break / snap?

Modern alternator belts are extremely durable and a broken / snapped alternator belt is quite rare. However, the alternator belt is a part subject to wear and tear which wears out over time due to friction.

This reduces the thickness of the rubber more and more, which makes a torn alternator belt possible. It is therefore recommended to keep to the prescribed replacement intervals at all times to avoid a snapped alternator belt.

Symptoms of a bad alternator belt

In order to avoid expensive and annoying subsequent damage, it is important to recognize signs / symptoms of a snapped alternator belt at an early stage It is possible that a snapped belt (especially if this happens while driving) remains unnoticed at first. The following symptoms indicate a broken alternator belt:
1. Engine temperature light is switched on

An important indication is the temperature rise in the motor. In modern vehicles, there is a measuring display in the cockpit which changes to the red area if the engine temperature rises.

2. Squeaking noises coming from the engine bay

A noticeable symptom of snapped alternator belt is a squeaky sound from the engine bay. Such a squeaking sound can in many cases be attributed to a broken alternator belt.

Common symptom: A squeaking sound from the engine bay

3. Steering becomes more difficult

As the alternator is no longer capable of functioning, the power steering system no longer receives any power and the steering becomes very cumbersome (slow and heavy).

4. Battery warning light is switched on

Even if the battery warning light comes on, this may be due to a defect. You are advised to visit a car garage.

5. Optical inspection: Small cracks visible

If a visual inspection reveals small cracks in the alternator belt, it should also be replaced promptly. With such heavy traces of use, it will probably snap soon.

Can I drive with a broken alternator belt?

» Not recommended!

Unlike other defective car parts, a broken alternator belt allows you to continue driving, but it is recommended that you only let the car roll out to the next safe place.

What happens if you drive with a bad or broken alternator?
» The electronics may fail

The alternator belt also drives the alternator and this starts the car battery. Without the alternator, electric accessories such as A/C, radio or plugs will only run on the remaining energy of the car battery. When this energy is used up, most (newer) cars switch off all electronics to protect the car from serious damage.

» Enigne can overheat

The alternator belt also drives the water pump. Without a functioning water pump, the motor cannot be sufficiently cooled. This leads to a prompt overheating of the engine.

» Car is more difficult to steer

As the alternator belt also drives the servo pump, the pump can no longer generate hydraulic pressure and the servo power steering fails. Steering becomes more difficult and unsafe.

It is therefore not only a bad (and dangerous) idea to continue driving with a snapped alternator belt, but the subsequent damage can also be very expensive.

How long does an alternator belt last?

» About 70-100.000 km or 7 years

An alternator belt should be changed approx. every 70,000 – 100,000 km or every 7 years, whatever comes first. However, there is no definitive answer to this question. An alternator belt can also last much longer. It is worthwhile, however, to regularly check it visually, for example as part of an inspection. Wear and tear can be detected at an early stage by means of cracks or porous areas.

In the car garage: How long to replace an alternator belt?

» About 30 – 60 minutes

The average alternator belt replacement time will take roughly between 30 – 60 minutes, provided that no further work is necessary. The alternator belt replacement is therefore surprisingly fast when compared to other car repairs. A big advantage when changing is the easy access to the alternator belt.

Nothing else needs to be adjusted, which makes belt replacement quick and easy. However,it is different if the alternator belt snapped and damage to auxiliary units has occurred. The repair time can then take several hours if the auxiliary units also need to be replaced.

How to save money when replacing an alternator belt

1. Choose a suitable car garage

Basically, you always have to decide whether to have your alternator belt replacement carried out in an independent car garage or authorised service centre. Why is this important? The right choice can reduce costs.

Authorised service centres are usually more expensive, but due to their more specific knowledge, they can carry out the change more quickly for some car models, which reduces the biggest cost factor: labour costs. This is especially true for newer or less common vehicles.

For older and very common vehicles, the independent workshop often scores points in the price-performance ratio. It is always worth asking in advance about the probable repair time and whether other parts such as alternator belt tensioner and pulley should be replaced.

2. Choose an high-quality alternator belt

This may sound paradoxical, but if you rely on more expensive alternator belt in original part quality, you will save money in the end. Quality brand alternator belts have a longer service life than no-name parts.

3. Early replacement saves a lot of money

If you change early, i.e. within the recommended intervals, you can save yourself a lot of money and trouble. Nobody wants to experience expensive consequential damage with a snapped alternator belt.

4. Arrange a fixed-price with your car carage

From time to time, unforeseen complications can occur which cause the exchange to take longer than expected. To avoid this being directly related to increased labour costs, a fixed price should always be agreed upon if possible.

5. Get free quotes to compare prices in your region

Even in the same city the alternator belt replacement cost can vary significantly from car garage to car garage. To save time and effort and to find the best price-performance ratio, it is worthwhile to make a cost comparison before each visit to the garage and compare the prices in your area.

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