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How Can You Tell When Your Car Needs an Alternator Repair?

Kevin V

Cars rely on many different components to keep the engine running and the systems operational, and the alternator is one of the most important parts of all. It works in conjunction with the car battery to provide electrical energy to various features and systems, like the headlights, windshield wipers, and air-conditioning system too, and when your alternator starts to break down, it’s important to seek alternator repair as soon as possible.

Signs You Need Alternator Repair

Driving around with a bad alternator isn’t a smart idea; as damaged or broken alternators can cause a wide range of problems. They can interfere with your car’s electrical features, make it harder to start the engine, and even cause the battery to drain entirely, leaving you with an utterly unresponsive vehicle. Here are some of the key warning signs to watch out for when your car might have alternator problems.

Unreliable Engine

One of the first issues you might notice when your alternator is on its last legs is the engine struggling to start or randomly stalling as you drive. This is because the engine depends on the alternator to provide energy to the spark plugs and trigger the ignition process.

Electronic Issues

Since alternators are responsible for helping to generate electrical energy for your car, it’s only logical that the various electronic systems and features can start to suffer when the alternator is having problems. You might notice a wide range of issues with your electronics, like sluggish power windows, a stuttering sunroof, or slow charging ports.

Weak Headlights

The headlights are another of the key components that depend on the alternator to operate at maximum power. When the alternator isn’t working correctly, the headlights may begin to flicker or fail, or they may not be as bright as they used to be when switched on. Headlight issues can massively increase your risks of having an accident on the road, so it’s vital to get the repairs you need as soon as possible.

Smells and Sounds

You can also rely on your senses of smell and hearing to identify alternator defects. Many drivers report burning rubber or chemical smells when the alternator starts to fail, and these smells may be caused by burning wires or overheating alternator belts. In addition to these unpleasant odors, you may also notice squealing or grinding sounds coming from under the hood as you drive.

Warning Lights

Many cars will also feature warning lights on the dashboard to quickly and conveniently let you know if the vehicle detects an issue. A light featuring the letters “ALT” usually signifies an alternator issue. A battery-shaped light or the “Check Engine” light can also be indicative of alternator problems too, so don’t overlook or ignore any of these little lights if they appear.

A Dead Battery

If your alternator isn’t working as it should, it won’t be able to charge up the battery. This means that the battery power levels will slowly decrease, and the battery will eventually die, leaving your car completely unresponsive. This may just happen naturally, as all batteries eventually die, but if it happens quite unexpectedly on a relatively young or healthy battery, the alternator might be to blame.

Don’t let alternator issues ruin your ride. If you notice any of the above signs or symptoms, get your car checked out by professionals.