The alternator is an important part of your vehicle’s electrical system. It works like an old-fashioned dynamo, converting motion into charge that is used to keep the battery charged and electrical systems running properly. It’s good that you know all about common alternator failures.
With the high power demands of the modern car, any problem with the alternator can cause systems like engine management, entertainment, climate control, and even the instrument panel to work intermittently or perform poorly.
Signs and common faults of an alternator
If your alternator has problems, it is advisable that you check it as soon as possible. Problems can accumulate over time, and in the worst case, you can suddenly lose power when you’re on the highway or highway. The following common alternator failures will warn you that it needs further attention:
1- Warning lights
The first sign is the most obvious. Many modern cars are equipped with a light on the instrument panel that illuminates when there is a problem with the alternator . Most commonly, it is battery-shaped or labeled ALT or GEN on older models.
As with all lights, never ignore this warning, even if the light goes out after a while, as this could be an early indication that there is a problem with your alternator when you are putting a high electrical demand on the circuits. Get it checked out ASAP.
2- Dim or blinking lights
A telltale sign of some common alternator problems is that your headlights and instrument panel lights start to work intermittently or start to flicker. It’s a sure sign that your alternator can’t provide the necessary power to the vehicle’s systems. If the problems with the lights occur when the accelerator is pressed, the windows are operated, the stereo is turned on, etc.
3- Problems with additional functions
When the alternator malfunctions, all the systems in the car that require electrical power can start to fail . Problems with the power windows, the central locking, the lights on the instrument panel, and even the air conditioning and stereo can start to occur.
For example, the windows may be slow and take forever to go up or down, or the power seats may have trouble moving when the controls are pressed.
While the alternator could be one cause of these problems, faults with the car’s ECU or computer could be another culprit. Whatever the reason, make sure you get your car checked out, as these problems can be serious.
4- Battery problems
The alternator helps keep the car battery charged. Low battery levels can be resolved by taking the car for a good ride when the alternator is working properly. However, if the alternator is having problems, you will notice that the battery is draining much faster than normal.
One way to diagnose alternator problems is to charge your vehicle’s battery and then restart the car. If the problem is the battery, the car will start, the lights will work, but they will dim over time, indicating a charging problem. But if the car gives you trouble starting, then the fault would probably be in the alternator.
5- Strange sound
Many of the parts that help the alternator spin to produce electrical current can be a bit noisy when they wear out. For example, the serpentine belt often becomes loose with age and makes squeaky noises trying to find the alternator wheel, or the internal bearings could wear out leading to a grinding and snarling sound .
Combining these symptoms with others on our list, such as poor performance and no starts, can point to the alternator as the culprit.
6- Smell of burning
The belts are the key to the operation of the alternator. This system of pulleys helps the alternator to convert the rotational force of the movement of the car into electrical energy. If a belt is not working properly it will usually heat up causing a burning smell inside the cabin of your vehicle.
If you notice the rather characteristic smell of burning rubber in your car, then you may have a loose belt slipping on the alternator , preventing it from working effectively. Take a look under the hood and see if tightening the strap fixes the problem and the odors go away. If nothing changes, you should take your vehicle to a professional mechanic.
7- The car dies regularly or has problems starting
One of the first signs that you are having trouble with your alternator is difficulty starting your vehicle and keeping it running on the highway. The problem is that there are many other issues that can cause these issues and you need to be able to effectively diagnose the problem.
The alternator feeds the spark plug system, which in turn ignites the gasoline or diesel in its pistons. When the alternator stops supplying all of the charge, the power sent to the spark plugs may be insufficient to keep the engine running, causing it to stall and shut down for no reason. If you do not take this problem into account, the car may stall completely.
8- Visual signals
If you see that your electrical system gives you all kinds of problems, it may not be the alternator. It could be one of the belts connected to this part that has gone bad.
Open the hood of your car and take a quick look. You should be able to see if the strap is slack , which means it’s too loose, or extremely taught, which in turn would indicate it’s too tight. Cracks and wear on the belt should also be another warning sign you’ll be able to spot during your inspection.
Do you need to replace your alternator? Be sure to check with your friends and family to find a good shop where you can get the job done for a reasonable price.