Often, drivers think they have a faulty battery when they really need a new alternator. If you’re looking for an alternator check near me, we can help. Here at Kernersville Auto Center, we’ll look at your entire system to pinpoint the problem and come up with a solution that makes sense for your vehicle. Our goal is to get you back on the road as quickly as possible.
What is an Alternator?
When you bring your vehicle to Kernersville Auto Center, you don’t have to know anything about cars to make the best decision. We’ll walk you through the options and answer any questions you have. However, it does help to know the basics. So, let’s talk about what an alternator is and how it works.
While most people think that your vehicle relies on your battery to drive, this is not the case. Your battery stores energy so you can start your car. However, once your car is running, the alternator is what turns the energy from the engine into usable electricity to power all electrical components. The alternator’s rotor shaft spins magnets around a coil, which produces a current. This current powers your vehicle’s headlights, power steering, radio, windshield wipers, windows, dashboard instruments, and heated seats if you have them.
Additionally, the alternator will send power to your vehicle’s battery to store for later use. Batteries hold this charge and use it to start your vehicle. We will first check your battery and then test your alternator if you’re have having power issues.
Signs that You Need an Alternator Check Near Me
If your car won’t start, you likely have an issue with your battery. However, if you have electrical issues while driving, you should have your alternator checked instead. These issues can include:
- Your headlights blinking or dimming and brightening as you drive.
- Dashboard instruments giving out incorrect readings or error messages.
- Powered components, such as seat heaters or windows, not working at all or working very slowly.
- Weird noises like a whining coming from your car, which could indicate a problem with the belt leading to the alternator.
Keep in mind that some signs of a bad battery could also indicate that your alternator is no longer working. While a car not starting likely indicates a battery issue, this could also be an alternator issue if the battery is fully functional but didn’t charge while you were last driving. Typically, we check the battery first, since batteries do need replacement from time to time and alternators typically last for the life of the vehicle. However, if the battery is working properly when charged, we’ll next test the alternator.
Whether your vehicle’s issues lie with the alternator or battery, we have a team of experienced mechanics ready to get you back on the road as quickly as possible. We have been serving the local community for over 25 years and have experience with a wide range of vehicles. Click here to learn more about our team.
Why Alternators Fail
The reason we usually check your battery first is simple: batteries wear out over the life of your vehicle and need replacement. Alternators, on the other hand, last much longer and sometimes do not need replacement during the entire life of the vehicle. That said, there are a few reasons an alternator might fail.
- Wiring issues – if your engine is overheating due to another problem, if can cause wiring issues for your alternator. The wire insulation can melt, exposing the wire and causing a short. This, in turn, can cause a blown fuse.
- Serpentine belt fraying – the serpentine belt leads from your engine to the alternator. While these belts can easily last over 60,000 miles, they can sometimes fray if they are slightly misaligned. If your serpentine belt breaks, you’ll lower power steering, air conditioning, and more.
- Vehicle computer issues – sometimes, your alternator will be working just fine, but it will look like it isn’t working. This can happen if your car’s central computer fails.
We recommend a visual inspection of the serpentine belt and all other care components at least once per year, to ensure that your vehicle is in great working condition. You can schedule an engine tune-up at the same time, as well as use our shop for an official North Carolina vehicle inspection.
While you can check your alternator at home with the right equipment, it typically makes more sense to bring your car to the shop. After all, once you determine whether there is a problem, you’ll need to diagnose exactly what is wrong before you can repair your alternator.
FAQs About Alternator Repair
If you bring your car to our shop for an alternator check near me, we would be happy to answer any specific questions you may have. Here are a few frequently asked questions we hear about alternator repair:
How long does it take to repair an alternator problem?
Our goal is to get you back on the road as quickly as possible. Ultimately, it depends on what is wrong with your alternator. Some repairs are extremely fast while others may take some time. Once we look at your vehicle, we can talk to you about your repair options.
What does alternator repair cost?
Again, it depends on the specific problem. After we test your alternator, we’ll give you a price quote so you can make sure you are comfortable with our assessment and the cost.
Can you take care of other car maintenance and repair?
We are a one-stop shop for all your car maintenance and repair needs. From oil changes to wheel alignment, we would be happy to help you with any car problems you’re having. Click here to schedule an appointment today.