Recognizing When Your Car’s Alternator Needs Repaired/Replaced – Carson Cars Auto Repair & Service

September 29, 2011  

The alternator in your car produces electricity to recharge the battery and to operate the electrical components of your car. The components that rely on a functioning alternator include:

  • Ignition
  • Radio
  • Air Conditioning/Heating
  • Lights – inside and out
  • Fans
  • Pumps
As the alternator fails, there may be signs that you will recognize if you know what is happening. Understanding the basics of how the alternator works is the first step in recognizing its failure.

How an Alternator Works

Essentially, the alternator is an alternating current generator. The current is generated when the car’s engine is running. As the mechanical energy of the crankshaft is converted to electricity via a belt connecting the two, the electricity is then stored in the car’s battery. The battery is recharged every time you start your car. Should the alternator fail, the battery will drain and not recharge. For this reason, the alternator can completely fail, and unless you are placing excessive load on the battery, your car will continue to start. But, get caught on a cold winter night, when you need the heater, the rear defroster, the headlights and so on, your battery will drain completely! If you suspect a battery drain and can’t find the cause, have the Alternator Repair & Replacement experts at Carson Cars complete a thorough inspect to determine if the problem is your car’s alternator.

Bad Alternator Symptoms

One sure sign of a bad alternator is if your car won’t start. But, if you notice any of the following symptoms, it is strongly advised that you have your electrical system inspected by a Carson Cars Technician.

> Symptom #1 – Indicator Light 

If your vehicle has an alternator service light, and it illuminates, it could be a short in the light. But, chances are that your alternator is beginning to fail. Either way, the matter must be addressed by a certified mechanic as soon as possible.

> Symptom #2 – Battery Voltage Drop

If you suspect a voltage drop on the output of your battery, the best way to check is with a multimeter. If the output voltage is consistently less than 13Volts, or diminishing, chances are the battery either:

  • Not holding a charge
  • Not being recharged
  • Experiencing other drain from the electrical system
Regardless the cause, it is essential that you have the problem diagnosed and solved as soon as possible.

> Symptom #3 – Decreased Accessory Performance

If you notice that your headlights dim when you accelerate, or if the windshield wipers are sluggish when the radio is playing, chances are there is a problem with the battery charge. Specifically, the alternator is not recharging the battery to carry the full electrical load of your car’s accessories. If you are experiencing diminished accessory performance, have the technicians at Everett Alternator Repair & Replacement as soon as possible.

> Symptom #4 – Noise from the Alternator

Whether from the internals of the alternator, or the associated belts, an unfamiliar noise could indicate problems. By having a regular inspection of the alternator and its belts, you can avoid being stranded after a double shift on a cold winter’s night! Carson Cars is the Alternator Repair & Replacement expert.