Signs Of A Bad Alternator

It’s summer, and you’ve done all you can to keep your vehicle cool and effectively functioning. So, it comes as a surprise when you turn on your car and notice some of the electrical components aren’t working. When this happens, most people may think of their car battery. The alternator is one major part that can lead to several failing parts. The alternator, along with the battery, ensures that your vehicle starts and continues working successfully. Signs of a bad alternator will usually announce themselves pretty quickly. 

The alternator is an essential aspect of your vehicle because it converts energy from the running engine into electrical energy. This electrical energy works to keep your vehicle’s electrical systems functioning and keeps the battery charged. It’s called an alternator because it creates an alternating current that reverses direction periodically. Alternating current was introduced to vehicles around the 1960s and has stuck around to modern cars due to its efficiency. The alternator is built up of various components such as bearings, rotors, and other internal parts. Over time these significant components can wear out and result in the alternator needing to be replaced. Below are a few important signs that indicate that it may be time for a replacement. 

  • For new vehicles, if your fuel injectors aren’t receiving enough electrical power from the engine, it will result in engine stalls. You may notice that your car won’t start, or the battery is completely dead. If the alternator is not fully functioning, your vehicle may have used the battery to its’ full capacity, leaving it drained. A new battery may not be the only answer if you also have a malfunctioning alternator. It’s best to have an automotive expert further diagnose. 
  • If any of the alternators moving parts aren’t functioning, you may hear grinding, squealing, or growling noises. Always make a note of the sounds you hear, and if you can record them on your phone, this would be helpful to show to your mechanic.  
  • Electrical components such as the power windows, power seats, radio, and seat warmers may malfunction. Without enough electricity, these accessories may stop working altogether. If you notice electrical issues, especially when the vehicle is idling, the alternator may be the root of the cause.
  •  Your check engine light comes on. Your engine may display “Check engine light” or “ALT,” however, it may not always reflect the right warning light. With problems with the alternator, your dashboard and show various phantom lights. This is why it’s imperative to have your check engine lights inspected by an expert. 
  •  In severe cases, a bad alternator can also result in a noticeable burning smell. If you smell burning, stop driving your vehicle immediately, and seek help. 

If you notice any of these symptoms, ____ would be happy to assist with inspecting and diagnosing your vehicle. While some alternators can be repaired, it may be smarter to have it replaced altogether. Our ASE trained experts can help guide you on what would be the best plan for your vehicle.