What they do and how they work
Your car’s alternator has a very important job under the hood – it keeps the battery charged. Without it, the car won’t run…at least not very long. Your radio, lights and other important components are also dependent on the alternator. It keeps everything up and running, so it’s important to make sure IT is operating correctly.
Most drivers think the battery is responsible for powering everything inside your vehicle, but it’s the alternator that gives the battery power. Whether you’re driving, idling, listening to the radio, or using the windshield wipers, your alternator is keeping them working.
How does an alternator work?
It turns mechanical energy into electrical energy and keeps the battery charged.
It’s a hearty car part that usually lasts the lifetime of the vehicle. Frayed wires, heat or water damage, overuse and general wear and tear can take their toll on an alternator, so when your car is in the shop for service – tell the mechanic to give the alternator a once over and make sure it’s in good, working condition. A common cause of alternator issues is fluid leaking on it from the engine or power steering column.
How to tell if your alternator is bad
Problems with your alternator can easily be confused for problems with the battery. But if you’re experiencing more than one of the following issues, it’s likely the alternator.
- Electrical problems; dim lights, bright lights, or flickering lights
- Dead battery
- Malfunctioning accessories
- Car won’t start
- Car keeps stalling
- Burning rubber smell
- Unusual sounds
If you notice the battery warning light is suddenly illuminated on your dashboard, it could mean a problem with the battery, but often it’s an indication there’s a problem with your alternator. The two important car parts work side-by-side to power your vehicle and a problem with one is commonly mistaken for a problem with the other. A certified mechanic would be able to complete a diagnostic test to determine what is causing your car’s problems.
Most new car warranties cover the alternator, but once the manufacturer’s warranty expires, it can be a pretty pricey repair. The average cost to repair an alternator runs between $500 – $1000 dollars for most cars.
The good news is Protect My car has you covered. If you have concerns about your car’s alternator and the life of other important parts under the hood, we’re here to make sure they’re all running smoothly.