Your vehicle needs a lot of electrical power to start and keep it running. The battery may start the car initially, but it is the alternator that continues to supply power to the battery and vehicle. Unfortunately, you will end up on the side of the road when the alternator stops supplying power to the battery.
What Causes an Alternator to Go Bad?
An alternator usually lasts 7-10 years. Most fail due to time, miles, and use. Dust, dirt, fluid leaks and exposure to moisture can also shorten its life. Keeping it clean and dry is the best thing you can do to keep it working well and prevent a bad alternator.
Warning Signs of a Bad Alternator
Luckily, you may notice warning signs before you are stranded on the side of the road! Let’s take a look at the 7 warning signs of a failing alternator.
- Dim Lights- Dim or flickering headlights are one of the first signs that your alternator is starting to malfunction. One that is in good working order will maintain bright headlights.
- Battery Warning Light- When your battery light pops up on the dashboard, it is common to think you have a problem with your battery. However, the battery light actually indicates there is a problem within the electrical system of your car, so it is not always the battery.
- Dead Battery- When your car dies or won’t start, your first thought again will be that you need a new battery. This could be the case, or it may just be that the battery has not been charged and your alternator is to blame. It’s important to distinguish between a weak battery and a bad alternator. We can help with that!
- Strange Sounds- There are a lot of moving parts that spin inside of an alternator. If you hear a grinding sound, it could indicate that one of these parts is working ineffectively or has broken off. A whining sound could also signal that it’s trying to charge too much and is not working effectively.
- Electric Failures- When the alternator is not supplying enough power, you may notice failures in your accessories. These might include your power windows operating more slowly, or the radio, windshield wipers and heated seats not working properly.
- Difficulty Starting Your Car- If you have problems starting your car, the alternator is one of the first things to check. It may not be charging your battery properly. The battery and spark plugs should also be checked.
- Smell- The odor of burning rubber or wires could indicate that parts of your alternator are starting to wear out. If you notice this smell along with any of the other warnings, you need to have it tested as soon as possible.
Bring Your Vehicle to the Auto Care Experts!
While these are all great signs to look for, you will need to have your alternator tested to be sure. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, let our expert technicians provide a diagnosis.