The basic function of your car's alternator is to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. This electricity fuels the lights, radio, and battery in your car. Without a working alternator, your car is in big trouble. You should keep your eyes out for signs that your alternator needs attention from a professional auto repair service. Your car would not run long without your alternator, as your battery would be unable to recharge. Here are four signs that your alternator needs repairs.
Whining and grinding noises point to mechanical failure.
A system of belts and bearings are responsible for creating the mechanical energy that the alternator converts into electrical current to help power your vehicle. When one of these components of the alternator becomes worn down or frayed, then you can hear whining and grinding noises. Belts that are worn too thin, pulled off track, or that have developed holes are likely to produce a whining or squeaking sound when you are running your vehicle. A worn out bearing is likely to emit a clunky grinding sound that may also be associated with a weighty clunking pattern when you drive your car.
Dim lights are a cardinal sign of alternator failure.
One of the cardinal signs of alternator failure is dim lights. Your headlamps or interior dome lights may be dim. You may also notice that the lights on your dashboard go out completely. This happens when your alternator is not producing enough electrical current to power these accessory lights. You may also notice that your radio sounds fuzzy or powers down.
The smell of burning rubber is a sign of a worn out belt.
If one of the belts of the alternator system is worn thin, you may smell the scent of burning rubber. As a frayed belt turns through the system, the material becomes too thin to handle the friction and it begins burning as the alternator keeps turning. You do not want the belt to snap completely, as this can be damaging to your car.
The warning light on your dashboard is a signal to watch for.
You car's computer evaluates the amount of electricity reaching the systems within your vehicle. If it senses an insufficient circuit, your dashboard lights up and either reads "GEN" or "ALT." You should contact an automobile repair service immediately in order to keep your alternator from being damaged further and avoid costly replacement fees.
As the son and grandson of mechanics, I spent much of my child hood under the hood of many cars. I have listened and learned about so many different problems and how to repair them effectively. I created this blog to cover as many car problems as possible without overwhelming readers. You will find tips for troubleshooting, advice for when to take it to a professional and suggestions for when to stop driving the car or truck immediately to prevent further and more costly damage. We hope that you find all of this information helpful and useful, allowing you to have a great running car.