How do you know if your alternator is bad?

An alternator is a machine that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy. It is found in every car, and most of the alternators use a magnetic field rotating with a stationary armature.

In a car, the alternator works with the battery to charge the car’s electrical systems. A bad alternative will have a lot of effects on the car in multiple ways.

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There are many ways in which you can find out if your alternator is going bad, and the top signs of alternative problems are as follows:

  • Warning Light

The most obvious sign will be the warning light indicator built in the latest cars to signal an alternator issue. Some people might confuse this warning with a battery problem, but this is not really why the light is on. The light in the car system monitors the output of the alternator.

The dash light comes on as and when the alternator’s output goes above or below the preset limit. The light will remain and let till this output returns back to the range. In the early stages of the problem, light may flicker or light up only when the car’s accessories are activated. The alternator needs to work properly to meet the car’s needs. If the alternator is not working properly, it will not meet the other demands.

  • Dim Lights

The alternator helps supply the electrical need of the car, and as and when it begins to lose its power, the accessories of the car also stop working properly. The car may start to experience symptoms like the dimming of the lights or, on the contrary, extremely bright headlights. The speedometer might also stop working for no reason.

However, the working of the accessories depends on the priority list that is pre-programmed by the manufacturers. It might also happen that other accessories stop working before the dimming of the lights or vice versa. Such problems act as a clear indicator that your alternator is running poorly as your accessories are not getting the power they need to function properly.

  • Dead Battery

A car that is not starting is a definite sign that the system has a problem though it might not technically be an alternative problem. On turning the key, you can click on the start button. However, this won’t lead to the starting of the car. Even after the noise stops, the car cannot start, which indicates a dead battery.

When the alternator begins to fail, the car’s battery acts as the capacitor for the system. But, no matter how good the battery is, it will eventually run down. Car batteries cannot last long as they are only designed to provide the car with enough power to start the motor. Hence, a dying alternator might lead to killing the car‘s battery even though there was nothing wrong with the battery in the first place. It is easier to detect a dead battery compared to a dead alternator. The battery can be tested with a voltmeter.

  • Strange Sounds

If you cannot detect a feeling alternator by looking, then the sound might act as a sign. There might often be complaints about hearing a whining noise before the alternator is dying. The alternator is driven by the help of an accessory belt in conjunction with the police.

The alternator pulley spins two or three times to produce the necessary power. If the pulley is not correctly aligned with the belt, then the bearings are worn out, which will lead to the growling noise that will help you detect the problem. If the alternator is so poor that it damages your engine, then that is the worst-case scenario that can be caused, and it is very difficult and inconvenient to keep the car going until the problem is fixed.

  • Strange Smell

Smell is also a very important sign that the alternator is in trouble. It often indicates that the alternator is working very hard that it reaches the point of overheating. An overworked alternator smells like an electrical fire. The scent can be caused by the overheated alternator that is pushing too much power. And also be through the burning rubber ducky the alternator going.

A pulley that is not aligned will cause friction that will create heat and hence the smell. However, not all the bad smells are indicators of alternator trouble. Still, strange smells coming from the car indicate getting the car checked out to take precautions towards any problems that may arise.

  • Regular Stalling or Difficulty in Starting the Car

If you are having difficulty starting the car, there might be other reasons why it’s happening. However, it is important to keep in mind that your alternator might be in trouble. If you experience stalling after the car has started, it means that the plugs might not be getting the power it needs from the alternator to keep the engine going. This can indicate that the battery is not entirely dead but might die soon.

The above indicators are important to find out if your alternator has gone bad. A car might run with a bad alternator but only for a short period, and hence it is safer to fix the problem at the earliest to avoid bigger problems in the future.