The alternator is an extremely important part of your vehicle’s machinery. While a properly functioning battery is crucial to get your car’s engine running, it’s the alternator that keeps it going once it starts. The alternator continually charges your battery while you’re driving.
The alternator also supplies power to the electronic components such as your dashboard, headlights, power steering, windshield wipers and more. So, you can understand how important it is to have a properly working alternator for your safety and those that share the road with you.
Signs Your Alternator is Going Bad
1. A Dead Car Battery
Just because your battery dies, doesn’t mean it’s the alternator. Sometimes batteries just need replacing, especially if they’re several years old, or perhaps you accidentally left your dome lights on all night and the battery needs a jumpstart.
However, if you jumpstart your battery and it’s unable to hold a charge for very long and your vehicle won’t stay running, it could be a sign that your alternator is going bad. Most car parts stores and repair shops offer free battery testing, so when in doubt get your battery checked first,
2. Poorly Working Headlights
When a vehicle’s alternator starts to go bad, it will start to be inconsistent with the voltage it provides to your car’s electronic parts. Lights will begin flickering on and off, or be too bright or too dim. This can also include lights on the dashboard, radio, and other parts of your vehicle.
Imagine driving down a country road at night and your headlights go out due to a malfunctioning alternator, causing an accident. You would need to hire a Bay Area auto accident lawyer. While lawyers are there to help in these situations, spending the money to make repairs now is less than the cost of an accident.
3. Trouble Starting or Stalling
If you’re having difficulty starting your car and the battery is fully charged, it could be a sign your alternator is failing to supply the power your battery needs to keep running. You might hear a clicking sound when you turn the key, rather than your engine starting.
If the alternator isn’t supplying enough power to the battery and the spark plugs, your car might stall out while you’re driving it because the engine can’t keep running without that constant supply of energy.
4. The Battery Warning Light Comes On
If the battery warning light located on your dashboard comes on, but you know your battery is good, it may be a signal that the alternator isn’t working properly. The battery warning light may flicker on and off as the power supply from the alternator fluctuates, instead of supplying consistent power.
5. Unusual Smells or Sounds
If you start to hear strange whining or growling noises coming from your vehicle’s engine, or if a burning scent is coming from under the hood, it could be a sign that the alternator belt has become damaged or is misaligned and needs repair.