The alternator turns the mechanical energy of the engine’s rotating crankshaft into electricity through induction. It also has wires that cut through a magnetic field that helps to induce the electrical current. The current is used to power the accessories in your vehicle like the headlights or radio. This allows the alternator to keep the battery fully charged to the power it needs to start the vehicle. There may be a few warning signs of a poor alternator.
The first sign of an issue is if the light on the dashboard illuminates. This light usually looks like a battery when it lights up. The light is linked to the computer system within the vehicle to help monitor the voltage output of the alternator. Many alternators have an output between thirteen and fourteen volts that is maintained at a constant level. If you have numerous accessories turned on, like the radio, headlights, and others, the alternator will need to work harder to maintain the necessary voltage needed. Since it supplies the power for the electrical needs, it will begin to lose electricity over time. There may be erratic symptoms in your vehicle that could range from dim or extremely bright headlights, to the radio stopping abruptly. Other accessories like the power windows may start to slowdown if the alternator is starting to lose its current.
You might also hear a growling or whining noise from the vehicle. Along with the crankshaft pulley, a belt helps to produce the power for the alternator. If the pulley or belt is out of alignment it can cause other parts to start to wear out. As this happens, noises may start to be produced as problems arise. The smell of burning rubber is also an indication that the alternator is faulty since it creates more friction and heat to power the alternator.
A weak battery might indicate a poor alternator. If the alternator begins to fail, the battery starts to work harder to make up for the difference. This can cause the battery to wear out quicker than it should. The vehicle’s battery is not designed for any long-term power use, and it may result in it becoming unreliable. While the alternator or battery could cause the issue, it is recommended to bring the vehicle in. We can inspect them for you, and have the issue resolved so you can get back to driving your vehicle.