By understanding what alternators do, you can better appreciate their value; but you can also identify problems with your car’s alternator as they soon as they begin to appear. Continue below to learn the top signs that suggest your car is experiencing a mechanical issue with the alternator, plus what you can do if the cost to replace your broken auto part is more than the current value of your car as a whole.
It is Not the Car Battery
Your alternator is responsible for powering all the electrical components in your vehicle. Many drivers assume that the car battery is does this, but they are misinformed. The car battery gets your car going, but the alternator keeps the engine running while you drive. It even charges the battery when you drive.
Many drivers also assume that they have a dead car battery when they are really dealing with a failing alternator. When you turn the keys in the ignition, but get nothing but a quick series of clicks, it is hard to assume otherwise. But if you know what to look for, you can potentially catch an alternator problem early, long before it causes your car to not start. You can also save yourself the time and money on an unneeded new car battery.
Although a dead car battery and engine stalling are common results of a failing alternator, there are other signs to look for. The top signs of alternator malfunctioning include electrical issues, dimming lights, strange noises, and dashboard warning lamps.
Electrical Issues and Dim Lighting
The alternator powers all the onboard computer systems, interior cabin lights, stereo, heating, cooling, power windows, power steering, heated seats, windshield wipers, and much more. If you are starting to experience problems with anything that is electrical, it could be a sign that your alternator is in decline. Dim lighting is a common sign of alternator malfunction. But overly-bright lights can also be indicative of the same issue.
You know what your car is supposed to sound like when you drive it, so when strange noises arise out of nowhere, it is normal to feel concerned. Cars can make all sorts of noises, all of which can overlap as signs of certain automotive problems. As for alternators, high-pitched squealing is usually the result of a loosened or over-stretched serpentine belt. If you hear grinding or growling noises, it could mean your car has damaged or aged internal bearings.
Warning Lamps on the Dash
When an alternator begins to suffer from malfunction, the car’s onboard computer system will likely detect it and trigger a dashboard warning lamp to illuminate. In modern vehicles, this technology is even more accurate. Such lights that might come on include the Check Engine Light, the ALT light, or the red battery icon light.
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