The alternator is one of the most important parts of a vehicle. The alternator's job is to take energy from the crankshaft and transform it into electricity. The electricity remains in the battery for storage. When the vehicle runs, the alternator powers the various electrical systems and charges the battery.
Eventually, the alternator can fail. When this happens, your car's electrical systems will not work, and your car will eventually not run. An alternator can suddenly go bad or degrade over a period of time. The following are some signs your alternator is going bad.
Engaged Indicator Lights
One of the first signs you have an alternator problem is the display of indicator lights on your dashboard. The battery light and other warning lights will flash on and off, or stay on. The warning lights mean your alternator's output is below a safe level for full functionality.
Problems with Headlights
The alternator powers the vehicle's headlights. When you notice the lights start to flicker, pulsate, or become dimmer than normal, your alternator is likely to fail soon. Without enough electricity, the alternator cannot properly power the headlights.
Issues with Electrical Systems
As mentioned, the alternator powers all the electrical components of a vehicle. When an alternator starts to fail, you will notice different electrical systems do not work or will slow dramatically. Examples include your power seats, radio, power windows, and the internal lights.
You may also begin to notice a burning smell when your alternator starts to go bad. The alternator works in tandem with rubber belts under the hood. When the belts do not move properly, they can endure friction and heat up. The friction can cause a burning rubber smell.
You could also notice an electrical burning smell. This happens when a belt is slipping and needs tightening. If the belt tightening does not remedy the smell or cause the alternator to begin working again, the alternator is probably going bad and needs replaced.
Little is more frustrating than a dead battery. A battery can die at any time and does not necessarily indicate your alternator is going bad. However, if you charge your battery or replace the battery and it dies a short time later, you definitely have a bad alternator.
The alternator is what charges the battery. Not only will a bad alternator not charge the battery, but it will also drain the battery of any energy it has to keep the other electrical components working for as long as possible.
Difficulty Starting Vehicle
The alternator provides power to the spark plugs to ignite the gas in the vehicle's engine. If the alternator goes bad, you may not have enough power in the spark plugs to start the car and keep it going. Your car could suddenly stall for no apparent reason. If this happens, you need to get your alternator checked.
Your car could begin to make strange noises when the alternator begins to fail. Although odd noises coming from a vehicle can mean anything, noises in conjunction with other symptoms could indicate an alternator problem. Noise to listen out for include squeaking or grinding.
An alternator is the heartbeat of a vehicle. When it begins to go out, you need to recognize the warning signs right away so you can get the vehicle into the mechanics as soon as possible. The last thing you want is to be stranded in a vehicle without a way to jump start it.
If you need assistance with your vehicle maintenance or repairs, please contact us at DeMers Automotive. We will be happy to help you with any automotive issues you are dealing with.