Each component of your car’s engine is important for peak performance. Yet, some car owners neglect certain parts because they don’t know how to maintain or test them. Typically, your alternator is one of these components. If you’re confused about how to check alternator properly, bring your vehicle to Havoline® Xpress Lube of Kernersville.
What Is An Alternator?
Primarily, your car’s alternator is a generator converting mechanical energy into electrical energy. Once your car is running, the alternator powers the electronic components and recharges your battery. Unless you drive a hybrid or electric car, your engine will have an alternator.
Generally, alternators are specific to the make, model, year, and engine of your car. Often, you can find your specific part number somewhere on the alternator.
Common Causes Of A Non-Working Alternator
The most common cause of alternator failure is old age. Usually, alternators have a life span of 7-10 years. Yet, like any mechanical part, eventually, they just wear out.
However, your car engine has many mechanical parts all depending on each other for performance. When one part isn’t functioning properly, it can shorten the life of your alternator:
- Broken belt/pulley
- Blown Fuse
- Wiring issues
- Computer problems
Most cars use a pulley and belt system to transfer power to various parts of the engine. Over time, both can break preventing your alternator from functioning properly. Belts are especially prone to cracking and fraying.
Another potential problem is a blown fuse. Fuses are safety devices that break an electrical circuit when the system experiences an abnormally high current load. Typically, you can blow a fuse when you have a short in your electrical system.
Usually, shorts in your electrical system are due to wiring issues. An overheated engine can melt the wire insulation creating a short. Additionally, if any one of your electrical accessories is malfunctioning, you can also blow a fuse.
Finally, your car’s computer system can be the source of your trouble. In order to reach today’s new performance thresholds, manufacturers use central computers to regulate virtually every component. Just like any other engine part, your computer system can fail.
How To Check Alternator To See If You Need A New One
Driving a car with faulty parts will put stress on your alternator causing premature failure. However, an alternator doesn’t completely stop working all at once. It usually dies in stages.
Thus, you can look for signs that this part is starting to fail:
- Flickering/dim lights
- Battery issues
- Slow or non-working accessories
- Abnormal noises
- Burning rubber smell
- Check engine dashboard light illuminated
- Starting issues
One of the first signs of a failing alternator is dim or flickering headlights or dashboard lights. As an alternator fails, it provides inconsistent electrical voltage. Thus, you may also find that some of your accessories like the radio won’t work.
Since your alternator recharges your battery, you may have difficulties in starting your car. It’s your battery that gives your starter the zap it needs. While you may be able to jump-start your car, without the alternator to recharge it, you won’t go far.
Other indicators of a failing alternator are a grinding noise or a bad smell coming from your engine. Additionally, most modern cars have dashboard lights that will illuminate when you have a bad alternator.
So, are you wondering how to check alternator and rule out all the other components? Bring your vehicle down to Xpress Lube of Kernersville for a diagnostic test. Our technicians will find out exactly what’s wrong and can fix your car quickly.
FAQs About Your Car’s Maintenance
Sometimes, a car repair can run thousands of dollars. Often, you can avoid costly repairs by performing routine maintenance. Below, we’ve answered a few of our most commonly asked maintenance questions.
What Type Of Maintenance Does My Alternator Require?
Overworked alternators are prone to break down prematurely. However, performing routine maintenance can extend the life of your engine part. One of the best ways to protect your alternator is to complete a visual inspection.
For example, loose, worn, or damaged belts can overtax your alternator. Any loose or corroded connections will have the same result. Our technicians can easily spot and fix these problems.
What Other Types Of Maintenance Should I Be Doing?
As a mechanical device, all parts of your car need maintenance. However, certain components need more than others due to their consumable nature.
For example, fluids such as oil and antifreeze need regular changes. Your owner’s manual will give you a timetable of all your car’s maintenance tasks.
Additionally, you can bring your vehicle to Xpress Lube of Kernersville. Our ASE-certified technicians know every aspect of maintenance on all types of cars, domestic or foreign. We’ll inspect your engine and make recommendations for replacement.
How Can I Prepare My Vehicle For Winter?
The freezing temperatures of winter affect metal components, fluids, rubber parts, and even your tires. With the greater likelihood of bad weather, you want your vehicle running safely and efficiently.
Check, and if necessary, change the following to make sure your car is prepared for winter:
Unfortunately, one task car owners often overlook is their exterior. Yet, applying a coat of wax can help protect your finish from harsh de-icing chemicals.
When you bring your vehicle to Havoline® Xpress Lube of Kernersville, we can perform all winterizing tasks for your engine. Moreover, after we’ve finished with your engine maintenance, you can take care of your exterior with our Turbo Car Wash.
Reserve your spot now to check your alternator or get your vehicle ready for winter! Use our convenient form to pick a day and time that works with your schedule.