With the exception of some hybrid cars, all vehicles with an internal combustion engine have an alternator. When an engine runs, the alternator, which is bolted to the engine and is driven by a serpentine belt, charges the battery and products additional electrical power for the automobile's electrical systems.
Most alternators are maintenance-free units, and in some vehicles, can last for up to 10-15 years with no repairs. If an alternator stops working, the car might still run for a short time on battery power but will stall as soon as the battery's charge drops. Changing out the unit with a new OEM part is costly; however, there are alternatives. Aftermarket pieces typically work just as well and in many instances, can be rebuilt.
When performing a replacement, it's preferable to change the serpentine belt too. It is not really expensive, and by replacing it together, you can minimize labor, as the serpentine belt has to be removed anyway.
Signs Your Alternator Is Bad
The most typical sign of a problem with your automobile's charging system is a battery-shaped warning light or some other icon that comes on while driving. Usually, this alerting light illuminates when you turn the ignition but then disappears as soon as the engine starts. If it stays on, you will know you have a problem with your charging system. The charging system warning light doesn't point directly to a failed alternator, although those issues are very typical. Your Anaheim Mobile Mechanic technician will need to do more testing to pinpoint the defective part.
A whining/buzzing sound coming from under the hood is a sign of alternator difficulties. In some automobiles, it might be caused by a noisy bearing. When the engine is started, the battery voltage should increase, as that's when the unit produces extra power.
Another symptom of a weak charging system is when the dash lights and headlights dim at idle but become brighter when the engine revs. This issue could be caused by a weak alternator and a failing battery, a poor connection at the battery terminals, or a loose serpentine belt.
Causes of Alternator Failure
Frequently, premature failure of a unit occurs when a protective engine guard is damaged or missing. Since water splashing from the roadway gets inside the alternator and triggers it to wear quicker, this occurs. If your engine undershield is harmed, have it replaced to keep the engine compartment clean and dry. A coolant or oil leakage can likewise cause damage. Similarly, if you have to wash the engine compartment, precautions to protect all electrical components from water and cleaning agents should be taken.
Testing involves checking the battery voltage with the engine off and with the engine running. The battery voltage should increase when the engine is started, as the alternator produces extra power.
Your mechanic can evaluate your charging system's state with the battery and charging system tester. It also can spot if one of the diodes inside has failed.
A typical automobile alternator has two windings: a stator and a rotor. Voltage is supplied through the voltage regulator to the rotor winding, which energizes the rotor and turns it into a magnet. The engine turns the rotor via a drive belt.
If the charging system fails the working test, your mechanic will need to do additional diagnostic tests to see exactly what triggered the issue. Other charging system issues consist of a loose drive belt, malfunctioning electrical wiring or a blown fuse, defective ignition switch, and so on.
Replacing one costs from $340 to $500 with an aftermarket part. The way it works is your mechanic can pull the unit and send it out to the nearest alternator/starter rebuilding shop. As soon as the alternator is rebuilt, your mechanic will install it.
Diodes are utilized to convert AC current into DC current that's used in the automobile's electric system. Typically, a voltage regulator is built-in into the unit.
The most common alternator problems consist of worn carbon brushes, used contact rings, and a failed voltage regulator.
Bad outer and inner bearings can produce a whining sound. When they are rebuilt, the bearings, voltage regulator, brushes, and some other parts are generally changed with brand-new ones.
When you have an electrical system problem that you suspect is caused by a failed alternator, issues due to a coolant leak, or an engine problem, or any other mobile auto repair need, call the pros at Anaheim Mobile Mechanic and we'll get your car problems resolved quickly.