Most people have heard the word “alternator” before. You probably are wondering what you need to know about your car alternator. This is the time to understand its purpose in your car, and how to recognize and address its problem in case it malfunctions.
You are probably asking what an alternator is. An alternator in a car is a generator that is made up of magnetic coil and rod. The rod starts to spin with the belt once you start your car. When this occurs, the engine generates mechanical energy. For this reason, the role of the alternator is to change this mechanical energy into electrical power that allows the car’s battery to charge. It is actually the alternator that provides all the power that runs your car’s electrical components. The alternator ensures that the battery is always charged and this is why you can start your car despite how long it was switched off.
You should take note that electric cars do not have alternators because they use power generated from the combination of electric motor and battery. Electric cars and hybrids are fashioned with regenerative braking system that ensures that the battery is charged. However, for all gasoline-powered vehicles, an alternator is a critical component. Since the alternator connection is through other systems of your car, any problems can impact how it functions and how your car functions. Use these tips to help you identify signs that your alternator has malfunctioned and you may need to search for auto spare parts.
Warning Signs of Alternator Problems
- Dim Lights
If you start seeing your lights dimming or flickering, then your alternator is failing. You will easily notice this at night. When you switch on your headlights you may notice that they may start to dim or become extremely bright. You may also notice that dash lights may stop functioning without any reason.
- Service Engine Lights
Your car may also tell you when there is a problem with the alternator. Depending on your car model, you may notice the signs like “ALT,” “GEN,” “Check Engine,” or sometimes an icon for battery indicator on your dash light. Most people assume that this is a problem with the battery but in most cases it is not.
- Some Odd Noises
If you are driving and start to hear some odd noises, there may be a problem. It is possible the circuitous belt may be experiencing wear and tear such that it becomes stretched. When this occurs, the belt is unable to effectively spin the alternator pulley causing low or no charge. When this happens, you may begin to hear squealing, growl, or grinding noise.
- Problems With Electrical Equipment
If your car has electrical gadgets such as seats or buttons, they may jam or become slow when operated. The car may not be getting enough power and so you may need to look for genuine spare parts dealer to replace your alternator.
- Malfunctioning Engine
When you start driving your car and it cuts suddenly, have your alternator checked by a professional mechanic.
- Dead Battery
If the alternator is faulty, the engine does not charge properly and the battery capacity is affected. Your car is likely to use up its charge quickly even if the battery is new or in good condition.