Your car's alternator is one of its most vital parts, keeping the battery charged while driving by converting mechanical energy from the pulley into electricity. There are hundreds of electrical wires buried inside your car that rely on the alternator for power. With such a responsibility, alternators are made to be durable and usually last for up to 10 years without much maintenance. That being said, there are a lot of components inside the alternator which can break down or wear out.
The Components of an Alternator
Stator and Rotor: With one static and one rotating (we'll let you guess which is which), these components work together to convert energy into electricity.
Diodes: The diodes take the alternating current generated by the stator and rotor and turn it into a direct current. This ensures it travels in one direction, to charge the battery.
Voltage Regulator: This maintains the voltage so it doesn't go above or below the safe, optimum range.
Cooling Fan: Prevents the system from overheating.
How Do I Recognize a Fault?
There are a few signs that can indicate a faulty alternator. While some symptoms may signal much smaller issues, you should take your vehicle to a mechanic for an inspection if you notice them.
Electrical Failure: Perhaps the most obvious sign of a faulty alternator, you might first notice dimming headlights or dashboard lights as well as slow or delayed electrical accessories like windshield wipers and power windows and seats.
Battery Light: On your dashboard, a symbol either shaped like a battery or with the letters ALT or GEN will light up.
Burnt Rubber Smell: A burnt rubber smell could simply indicate that a belt is slipping on the alternator's pulley. If tightening the belt doesn't get rid of the smell, it's likely due to an alternator fault.
Noise: A whining or grinding sound could be a sign of worn bearings or the failure of the small components inside the alternator.
Glassy Appearance: If you open the hood to inspect the alternator and it looks glassy or burnt, you should take your car to a mechanic for a professional inspection.
While alternator repairs can be expensive, they are vital if you want your car to run. If you need an alternator repair, we invite you to bring your vehicle into our auto repair shop today!