Taking a Car Repair Course? 4 Signs The Alternator Needs Attention
Whenever there’s a problem with a vehicle’s alternator, there are many signs that may reveal themselves. You may already be aware of the alternator as the location that the electricity of the car battery is largely stored, as well as for its function for charging the battery up again. Although a bad alternator can often reveal itself when you hear abnormal clicking noises upon starting the car, the signs certainly aren’t limited to only this. There could be issues with the battery, problems under the hood, or a variety of other factors. Whatever the case, a malfunctioning alternator will be a one-way ticket to a quickly-drained battery.
Simply replacing the old battery with a new one won’t necessarily fix any issues with the alternator, so it’s important to understand what can cause it to malfunction, and how to fix it.
Here are four telltale signs of a faulty alternator.
1. The Battery Is Perhaps the Biggest Warning Sign
A car battery malfunctioning is possibly the most common indicator of an underlying issue with the alternator. A battery problem often shows itself with a message flashing on the dashboard, which can be indicative of symptoms such as the drive belt for the alternator being loose, the regulator not working properly, or loose wires for the charging system. Warning lights are meant to illuminate when the ignition is on prior to the engine starting, and any failure to illuminate may be a sign of alternator issues. Additionally, the battery losing its charge, or being charged too little or too much, can also alert drivers to a problem with their alternator.
2. If You Start Hearing Noises Coming From Under the Hood, Watch Out
If the alternator bearings aren’t rotating as they normally would, this can suggest that they are worn out. As a result, loud noises can emerge from under the vehicle’s hood. If these noises occur, those wanting to become an auto mechanic should make sure to open the hood and use a rubber hose to see if that’s indeed where the noise is originating from. Should the noise be amplified while you examine the alternator (particularly behind it), there’s a chance certain parts are worn, such as bearings. When parts such as those are broken or not working properly, a loud grinding noise is likely to be heard.
3. Trouble Starting the Vehicle & Stalling May Also Be Red Flags
When the engine is having difficulty getting started or regularly stalls, an alternator issue is a highly likely cause. This is especially true if clicking noises are heard during startup instead of the engine revving. Often, issues with starting the vehicle can be linked to the battery not properly charging, as the alternator is a necessary component for it to recharge. Should the car stall while in motion, it’s possible that the alternator isn’t providing enough electricity to the spark plugs, therefore preventing the vehicle from driving normally.
4. Those in Mechanic Training Should Watch For the Condition of the Lights
Whether the car’s headlights are too bright or too dim, this may be a sign of trouble with the alternator. A faulty alternator isn’t able to provide consistent levels of electricity, which can lead to headlights either flickering on and off, brightening too much, or not illuminating brightly enough.
Students interested in taking a car repair course should understand that these types of headlight issues may be a byproduct of the alternator not producing the right amount of power.
A customer coming into the shop with any of the above four automotive complaints will do well to have their car checked by a pro to make sure their alternator is working properly.
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