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Main Indicators of Alternator Problems

As you might imagine, it takes a lot of power to get and keep your car running smoothly. The alternator of your vehicle is a pivotal piece of the machine. Basically while you drive, the alternator recycles the power used by the car battery. Without it the power from the battery would not last very long. Also the climate control, stereo, GPS and a host of other systems heavily rely on the optimally running alternator. So, it is vital to avoid alternator failure. How? By paying attention to early warning signs and getting alternator repair as soon as possible.

What is the Alternator?

The configuration of the alternator is fairly simple, containing just a handful of parts. Basically it turns the mechanical energy of your car’s rotating crank shaft back into electricity. This powers your cars accessories—everything from the air conditioner to the headlights. This is why alternator failure has a domino effect, and can lead to more electrical problems resulting in a breakdown.

Top 5 Signs of Alternator Problems

These are a few things to watch for, that might indicate an issue with your vehicle’s alternator.

1. The Indicator Light

Many modern vehicles come with warning indicators on the dash. Low fuel, or the oil change light are probably familiar to you. Less familiar might be “ALT,” *(alternator) or “GEN,” (generator). Most people connect this light with a battery problem. Granted, this light might come on if you use multiple electrical functions in your car while the engine isn’t running. However, it might also show a problem with the alternator. Basically the computer system in your vehicle monitors voltage output. If it goes above or below a pre-set limit the light turns on. This is why you might notice the light on while driving in the dark, listening to the radio, and running the wipers. But it might go off when you drive during the day without any accessories.

2. Dimmer Lights

Because the alternator is part of the electrical system, when it starts to slow down many of your car accessories follow suit. You might notice driving lights or dash lights start to dim, or speedometers that stop working all together. Your exact experience will depend on how your car is programmed and the list of priorities for diverted electricity. Things like the starter or ignition would be at the top, with heated seats or radio down at the bottom.

3. Weak Battery

Again, many modern cars are equipped with another dash light to indicate when the battery is dying. This part of the car is not going to last forever. Though a good alternator replenishes energy to the battery, eventually it can only recharge so many times. Once the battery is too weak, no effort on the part of the alternator will recharge it. So is the problem the alternator or the battery? It can be difficult to tell. One way to find out is by charging the battery and then trying to start the car. If the alternator is good, the car will continue to run, but lights might dim. If alternator is bad, the car will have trouble starting, even after you charged up the battery.

4. Strange Noises and Smells

A lot of problems can cause unnatural noises with your vehicle. When it comes to the alternator you might notice a strange rattle, caused when bearings in the engine fail. If this noise is accompanied by some of the other symptoms, it could be the alternator. You might also smell burning rubber or hot wires. This often comes from a pulley that is not in proper alignment and friction on an accessory or serpentine belt.

A trusted mechanic in Sacramento is accustomed to these classic sings of alternator failure. They can perform a quick check of your vehicle and get you on the road after some alternator repairs. Contact your local alternator repair Sacramento, CA shop to know more.


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