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Signs of a Bad Alternator


The alternator, also known as the synchronous generator, serves an essential function of a vehicle’s charging system. The alternator is a component every driver has heard of but may not understand. While a vehicle is running, the alternator works to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. The alternator provides alternating electrical currents that may periodically reverse directions. There are several complicated mechanical components that work together to power the engine, and with time they can fall apart. Depending on driving habits, an alternator can last anywhere from 5 to 8 years. You may be able to drive with an alternator that’s experiencing minor issues, but with time causes more damage. It will struggle to power the battery, requiring frequent jump-starts to drive. This makes it important to be able to identify a few common signs that the alternator needs immediate service. 

The Battery is Dead
The alternator charges the battery while your vehicle is running. If the alternator has a problem, the battery will not be adequately charged. If the battery is dead, the car won’t even start. A dead battery can indicate a problem with the battery or alternator; that’s why inspections by an automotive expert are important.

Failing Electrical Components
The electricity from the alternator powers a vehicle’s electrical accessories such as the power windows, power mirrors, air conditioner, stereo, heated mirrors, heated seats, etc. if the electrical components are failing even when the vehicle is idling, the alternator may be the cause.

Unusual Engine Noises
The alternator has several moving and spinning components. If an alternator part is damaged or dirty, movement can be restricted, resulting in odd noises. It’s important to make a note of any unusual sounds happening in the car to your mechanic. 

Engine Stalls
Issues with the alternator can prevent it from supplying sufficient power to the electronic fuel injectors. If the correct amount of fuel doesn’t flow into the combustion chamber at the right time, the combustion chamber may stop altogether. In newer vehicles, the engine may cut off entirely. In comparison, an older vehicle may experience frequent stalling.

 Burning smell
If the alternator has severe damage, metal parts can rub together. At the same time, some major electrical issues can cause a distinctive burning smell. All burning smells should be inspected right away, as ignoring them could lead to a fire. 

Alternator repair and service in Huntington Beach, CA.

If you notice any of the above signs, bring your vehicle into HB Auto & AC. We’d be happy to give a complete comprehensive inspection and diagnosis.

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