Signs of Abnormalities in Your Car's Alternator
Even if you are not a car expert, like most of us, an alternator fault is easier to spot than you might think.
What is the Alternator Used For?
The car's alternator is essential to its operation.
- It is he who recycles the energy of your battery that you consume while driving towards the battery, to prevent it from running out.
- Without a working alternator, your car will not be able to run.
- It is extremely helpful to spot signs of a faulty alternator before your car breaks down on the side of the road.
So what are the warning signs?
Warning Light Turns On:
In most cars made over the past decade, a battery-shaped warning light illuminates to signal an alternator problem.
- This light is connected to the computer system that controls the output of the alternator.
- You may notice that it gets brighter or comes on to signal a problem in the alternator output levels.
- You may notice that it only turns on when you are using some of your car's electrical accessories thus increasing its power consumption.
Low-Light Fires and Slow Electrical Systems:
The vehicle's alternator is responsible for meeting the electrical needs of the car.
- If it starts to fade, you may notice a lower brightness of lighting indoors and possibly outdoors as well.
- You may also notice that the speedometer stops working and that other electrical accessories, such as the windows and heated seats, operate less quickly.
Low or Worn Battery:
Batteries don't last forever, but a faulty alternator can lead you to believe that they need to be replaced before their time.
- If your car's battery is worn out and you want to know if the problem is with the battery or the alternator, charge the battery (which is possible with jumper cables connected to a running car).
- Then try to start the car. If the car has trouble starting even with a fully charged battery, the problem is probably with the alternator.
Strange Smells or Sounds:
When an alternator weakens, the parts it powers are affected.
- If the belts connected to the alternator do not turn freely, the additional friction causes the belts to heat up, giving off a burnt rubber smell.
- You may also notice some strange noises: parts that do not turn well or are worn while producing moans or squeaks.
If you notice any strange smells or sounds, it is best to have your car checked.
- If you are a relatively handyman, you can check the alternator yourself with a voltmeter (also known as DVOM or digital multimeter).
- Turn off the engine and connect its wires to your car battery (the red wire to the positive terminal and the black wire to the negative terminal).
- Set the voltmeter to DC voltage if it is not already. You should get a value greater than 12.65 volts.
- Then unplug the wires, turn on the car, and reconnect the wires making sure they don't interfere with the belt or engine. The value should now be around 14 volts.
If you haven't already, find a good mechanic to have the alternator changed.