Common Problems of Car Alternators and How to Fix Them

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( — March 27, 2019) — The alternator is an essential part of a car’s automotive charging system together with the voltage regulator and the battery. It is the part that generates electric power and most vehicles with internal combustion engines use it.

The alternator is responsible for charging the battery on a continuous flux while you are driving, and for powering all other electric car parts located either on the interior or the exterior of the car. Today, we are looking at the most common problems that your car alternator can develop and how to fix them.

Alternator location on your car

First things first, you need to have a good understanding of where the alternator is on your car. This part is generally small and lightweight. It is placed on the front side of the engine and connects to the rest of the system through the crankshaft and a serpentine belt.

Most cars use sturdy brackets to keep the alternator in a fixed position on the engine. Old models used fan blades to keep the part cool when in use. Modern-day alternators have a high-performance cooling system that is usually encased in an aluminum housing.

Signs of alternator problems

Contrary to general misconception, if an alternator stops functioning, the car will not come to a sudden halt. In this undesirable scenario, the battery should still hold enough power to enable you to control the vehicle to safe stopping.

Alternator life may extend up to 15 years, depending on the car model. This essential part of the engine is a maintenance-free unit, which means that it does not require replacement if you change other damaged parts of the engine. Also, you can repair it separately without taking apart the entire engine.

One of the most common problems with car alternators that drivers experience regards the charging system. Modern vehicles should signal such an issue by lighting the “Charge” icon on the operation panel in the dashboard.

Old and deprecated alternators may provide weak charging, which may result in a poor connection between the electric terminals in your car. Symptoms of weak alternator charging include dim light coming from the vehicle’s headlights, problems when starting the car and a rapidly depleting battery.

Another less common issue with car alternators may appear when the serpentine belt becomes dislodged or loose. In this case, you will hear a buzzing noise, especially when revving the engine.

Testing the alternator

If you suspect that the alternator on your car is failing or damaged, you can have it tested at your mechanic. Professionals in car repairing can check the state of your battery and the charging rate at which the alternator powers it. This can be done with a charging system test and it should reveal if the part is permanently broken or if only one of its diodes has failed. Additional testing may include checking the battery voltage, and if the alternator has faulty wiring.

Replacing the alternator

Alternators are usually OEM (original equipment manufacturer) car parts. Replacing them might be costly, but fortunately, there are several aftermarket options that you can choose to diminish the final price.

If you are experiencing trouble with your alternator, you should act fast before the issue worsens and your vehicle suffers additional damage. Your best choice is to purchase a replacement alternator online, have it delivered to your home and then contact your mechanic for the necessary operation.

Make sure that you always purchase spare parts for your car from expert dealers like Boodmo. This way, you have the guarantee that you are working with top professionals that will always provide you with the best possible solution to your problem.