Whether or not you’ve heard of the phrase “alternator” before, you surely already know that it’s a crucial element of your car. What is an alternator’s primary function? The alternator’s primary function is to keep your vehicle’s battery charged so that you can utilize electrical features like your headlights and radio to go.
Related: TYC Alternator Review
Your vehicle may not start or remain on for more than a few minutes when you have alternator troubles. However, you’re likely to face one or more of these seven symptoms before that occurs.
- 1 What Is An Alternator?
- 2 Some Telltale Symptoms that the Alternator is Failing!
- 3 1. Lighting That is Either Dim or Over bright
- 4 2. Dead Battery
- 5 3. Accessories That are Slow or Do Not Function At All
- 6 4. Trouble Starting or Frequent Stalling are Two of the Most Common Problems
- 7 5. Whining or Growling Noises
- 8 6. The Smell of Charred Rubber or Wires
- 9 7. The Battery Warning Light on the Interior Dash
- 10 Wrapping up
What Is An Alternator?
The charging system of a vehicle consists of three components: the car battery, the voltage regulator, and the alternator (or generator).
Alternators, which are around the size of a coconut, are often situated toward the front of the engine. They get power from the crankshaft, which turns the up-and-down action of the pistons into circular movement by rotating the shaft.
The alternator in your vehicle provides electricity to electrical components in your vehicle, such as headlights and windshield wipers.
The alternator derives its name from the fact that it generates power via alternating current (AC). Alternators generate alternating currents via the use of a stator and a rotor.
The power is then transferred to the automobile battery, which supplies the voltage required to operate the electrical system of your vehicle. While this is going on, the voltage regulator is making sure that the voltage stays consistent.
Some Telltale Symptoms that the Alternator is Failing!
1. Lighting That is Either Dim or Over bright
When an alternator begins to fail, the voltage supplied to your electrical equipment becomes inconsistent, causing them to malfunction. The majority of the time, this manifests itself in the form of underperforming or over-performing equipment, such as headlights that are either too dim or too bright. Flickering lights or lights that erratically change from bright to dim and vice versa are other possible symptoms of this condition.
2. Dead Battery
After several years of usage, a dead battery is simply dead. Alternatively, you may have mistakenly left the headlights on all night, in which case the battery is simply dead. A dead battery, on the other hand, might be a warning that your alternator is not working properly at other times.
An insufficiently charged battery can decrease the battery’s charge more quickly than normal if the alternator is not functioning properly when the engine is operating. Jumpstarting the automobile is one method of determining if the problem is caused by the battery or the alternator. If you jumpstart your car and it continues to run, it is possible that your battery will need to be replaced shortly. If, on the other hand, you jumpstart the car and it dies again shortly after, it’s possible that your alternator isn’t delivering enough power to the battery.
3. Accessories That are Slow or Do Not Function At All
Slow or non-operational accessories are frequently caused by an alternator that is not giving enough power to the electronics in your vehicle. Whether you notice that your windows are taking longer than normal to roll up or down, if your seat warmers are not working properly, or even if your speedometer and other devices start acting erratically, you may be experiencing an alternator malfunction.
When the alternator isn’t producing enough energy, many contemporary cars include a priority list of equipment programmed into the car that informs the onboard computer which pieces of equipment to cut power to first. It will be easier to drive with a failing alternator if your radio (or other non-essential devices) loses power first, rather than losing power to your headlights.
4. Trouble Starting or Frequent Stalling are Two of the Most Common Problems
As previously said, having difficulty starting your engine might indicate that your alternator is failing to adequately charge the battery. This means that when you turn the key in the ignition, all you’ll hear is a clicking sound rather than the purr of your engine when you turn it on.
If, on the other hand, your car stalls out regularly while driving, it might be an indication that the spark plugs aren’t receiving enough power from the alternator to keep the engine going.
5. Whining or Growling Noises
Cars generate a variety of strange noises, some of which are innocuous and others that might signify major mechanical problems. A malfunctioning alternator, which may be heard making growling or whining noises from beneath the hood, should be checked out by a professional as soon as possible.
When the belt that rotates the alternator’s pulley gets misaligned or scrapes against the side of the pulley, a growling or whining sound is produced. In addition, if the bearings that spin the rotor shaft are failing, you may hear this sound.
6. The Smell of Charred Rubber or Wires
A bad stench, such as that of burnt rubber or wires, might indicate that parts of your alternator are beginning to wear out and need replacing. It’s possible that the alternator’s drive belt will wear down over time due to the continual stress and friction it experiences, as well as the fact that it’s so near to the hot engine. This would result in an awful burning rubber smell.
Additionally, if your alternator is overworked or if it has frayed or broken wires, you may notice a burning stench that is similar to an electrical fire when you start your car. When an alternator is overworked, it attempts to pump too much power down its wires, causing them to overheat and become potentially dangerous. The resistance created by damaged wires also contributes to the heating and emission of a foul odor, which is caused by the resistance to the flow of electricity.
7. The Battery Warning Light on the Interior Dash
When the battery warning light illuminates on the dashboard, it’s typical for people to believe that there is a problem with the battery. But if your battery warning light is illuminated, it might signal that there is a problem with the rest of your vehicle’s electrical system, which includes the alternator.
Alternators are engineered to operate at a set voltage, which is normally between 13 and 14.5 volts in most cases. If your alternator is failing, the voltage in your vehicle may fall below its maximum capacity, resulting in the appearance of the battery warning light on your dashboard. Additionally, the battery light will illuminate if the alternator is operating beyond its voltage limit, which will depend on how much stress it is experiencing.
As the alternator varies in and out of its intended voltage capacity, depending on the electrical demand placed on it by your car’s accessories (headlights, wipers, radio, etc.), you may see the battery warning light flashing on and off on a regular basis. While it may seem like a little inconvenience, it is preferable to bring your car in for an alternator inspection than to be stranded on the side of the road.
If you’re experiencing problems with your vehicle’s electrical system, it may be time to inspect the alternator. If the alternator is damaged and cannot be rectified, then it is high time you should replace the alternator. Take a look at our Alternator Review so that you can find a top-notch one.