How To Spot a Failing Alternator

How To Spot a Failing Alternator

When you try the ignition key, instead of the engine firing up, what you will hear is a series of rapid clicks. “My battery is gone!” Or is your case worse than that? You can even have a similar experience with a newly bought battery if you miss the warning signals of a failing alternator. Here are some tips to look out for and see if you have a failing alternator.

The way an alternator works

The alternator is what supplies electricity to a vehicle, it starts an engine and transfers various electrical current to all parts of a vehicle that need it. While different batteries usually have huge capacities, at the end, the heater, nav, headlights, infotainment and stereo can really drain the power in your cars battery.

The alternator charges the battery as the vehicle is running by taking mechanical energy from a spinning pulley and transferring it into current. The brushes, rotor and other core parts of an alternator can wear out as time goes by, so you will eventually get to replace it at some point. The symptoms below ought to give you a clue as to what’s wrong with your alternator, however, if you are not sure of what happened, you are always welcome to bring your vehicle to PDL MOT & Repair for a system test.

Bad alternator symptoms:

Dim lights

One of the signs that most drivers pick up is shaky or dim lights. You can notice this at night when your headlamps are on and also it easily noticeable in the centre console and dash lights. If your lights tend to brighten as the engine revs pick up, then it’s a good sign that you may have a failing alternator.

Dashboard icons for Failing Alternators

The next sign that you may notice that your vehicle is trying to tell you, though it varies by model is the dashboard icon. However, when your alternator begins to break down, you will see a battery icon, “ALT” or “Check Engine” indicator.

Hearing odd noises

It is possible that the belt has stretched with age and may no longer be able to spin the alternator pulley efficiently thus resulting in a lack of charge. This often results in a squealing sound. However, the core bearings can become faulty causing a grinding sound or growl. So keep your ears open for any unusual noises and give us a call as soon as you do to prevent any damage to other engine parts.

Electrical Problems

Electrical components such as windows or power seats might be slow to function when not enough power is available. Most times, the device may not function or it will abruptly stop working, in some instances, the radio may even turn itself off.

Engine Stalling

If the engine abruptly cuts while you’re driving, it could be an alternator problem. Fuel injection requires enough electrical juice because, without it, the engine can stall quickly.

Dead battery

Once your alternator is not functioning properly, the vehicle will quickly use up all the juice in the battery.