Symptoms of Bad Alternator

7 Common Symptoms Of a Bad Alternator


If you’ve heard the word “alternator” before, you certainly already know that it’s an important component of your car. But what does an alternator do? Simply know that the alternator keeps your car’s battery charged, allowing you to start your vehicle and operate electronic features like the radio and headlights.

You might notice that your car won’t start or run for more than a few minutes if you have alternator issues. But before that happens, you’ll probably notice one or more of these seven alternator failure symptoms.

The symptoms you’ll experience if your alternator goes bad include a dead battery, the car component won’t work well, your car lights will be dim, and you’ll have issues starting or regular stalling.

You’ll also experience whining or growling noise, the dashboard light will come on, finally, you will notice a burning smell.

Now, let’s go deep to explain the seven common symptoms of a bad alternator!


Dead Battery

After a few years of use, a battery may simply be dead, or it may have reached the end of its useful life. On the other hand, you may have accidentally kept the headlights on all night. Although, a dead battery can sometimes suggest a problem with your alternator.

When the engine operates, a faulty alternator won’t properly charge the battery, resulting in a faster than usual discharge of the charge. Jumpstarting the vehicle is one way to determine if the problem is with the battery or alternator.

If your car runs after being jumpstarted, your battery may need to be replaced shortly. If the car dies again soon after being jumpstarted, it may indicate that your alternator isn’t providing enough power to the battery.

Car Components Won’t Work Well

Equipment that operates slowly or not at all are frequently a sign that your alternator isn’t providing enough power to your car’s electronics.

You might have an alternator issue if you notice that your windows are rolling up or down more slowly than usual, if your seat warmers seem “off,” or even if your speedometer and other indicators start acting strangely.

If the alternator isn’t producing enough electricity, many modern cars feature a priority list of equipment that tells the onboard computer where to cut power first.

In this manner, if your alternator fails while you’re on the road, your radio or other unneeded equipment will continue to function before your headlights.

Very Dim Light

Your electronic devices get uneven voltage when an alternator starts to fail. Usually, that appears as equipment that performs too little or too much, like headlights that are either overly bright or too dim.

In addition, you can notice lights that irregularly flicker or go from bright to dim, and vice versa.

Issue with Starting or Regular Stalling

As was previously noted, difficulty starting your engine could indicate that the battery is not being charged by your alternator. This means that you won’t hear your engine purr when you turn the key in the ignition; instead, you’ll only hear a clicking sound.

However, it might show that the spark plugs aren’t receiving enough power from the alternator to keep the engine going if your car keeps stalling out while you’re driving.

Whining or Growling Noises

There are many strange noises that cars produce; some are harmless, while others may be signs of major technical issues. An expert should be consulted as soon as possible if you notice any growling or whining noises coming from below the hood. These could be alternative# challenges.

When the belt that turns the alternator’s pulley becomes misaligned or rubs against the pulley’s side, it produces a growling or whining sound. This sound could also be audible if the rotor shaft’s bearings are failing.

Warning Light for Battery on Dash-board

Many times, when the battery warning light appears on the dashboard, people assume that the problem is specific to the battery. On the other hand, the battery warning light indicates that there might be an issue with your car’s whole electrical system, including the alternator.

The voltage range at which alternators are meant to operate is normally between 13.5 and 13 volts. Your alternator may fail and its voltage falls below its operating voltage, which causes the battery warning light on your dash. In a similar vein, depending on how much stress the alternator is under, the battery light will also turn on if it exceeds its voltage limit.

The alternator may fluctuate in and out of its stated voltage capacity, causing the battery warning light to flicker on and off depending on the electrical load from your car’s accessories (radio, wipers, lights, etc.).

Even though this might only seem like a small difficulty, having your automobile inspected for the alternator is preferable to getting lost on the side of the road.

Burning Rubber or Wires Smell

Your alternator may be beginning to wear out parts if it smells bad, like burned rubber or wires. The driving belt of the alternator can eventually break down and release an unpleasant burning rubber smell because it is always under tension and friction and is near the hot engine.

Similar to an electrical fire, your alternator may smell burning if it is overworked or if its cables are frayed or broken. The wires of an overworked alternator heat up rapidly as a result of attempting to run too much current through them. In addition to impeding the flow of energy, damaged wires often heat up and release an unpleasant smell.

Related Article

Symptoms of Bad Alternator

Bottom Line

For a car to run consistently, it is important to understand the symptoms of a bad or failing alternator. A number of symptoms, such low headlights, a drained battery, or dashboard warning lights, can appear as the alternator starts to fail. It is important to pay attention to these symptoms because they might point to alternator problems.

Given that a healthy alternator is crucial for maintaining a constant and reliable electrical system, ensuring that your car operates smoothly and consistently, prompt response to these symptoms is essential to preventing unexpected vehicle breakdowns.

That is all for this article, where the symptoms of a bad alternator are discussed. I hope it was helpful, if so, kindly share with others. Thanks for reading, see you around!


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