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car alternator Big Stock Photo: BLKstudio

Everyone has gaps in their car knowledge, and some of us have more gaps than knowledge! But, that’s fine, because we all have different strengths and weaknesses. We’re sure you?re good at knitting, or something.

Anyway, if how a car alternator works sounds like something you don’t know, Alt_driver has got you covered. Here’s what an alternator does and how it supplies battery power. We’ll be quick about it so you can get back to your scarf.

What Does an Alternator Do?

An alternator is the car battery’s charging system. It supplies electrical energy for things like the ignition, radio, air conditioning, power windows, and other electrical components in your automobile. A voltage regulator monitors the car battery’s charge and tells the alternator when to supply battery power.

But, how does the alternator work?

What Does an Alternator Belt Do?

An alternator belt connected to the engine powers the alternator, which then turns that mechanical energy into electricity. This electricity is stored in the car battery until it is needed to use in the car’s electrical system.

And how do you know if you need a new alternator?

What Are Signs of a Bad Alternator?

A faulty alternator will stop supplying enough energy to your vehicle’s electrical systems. The first sign you’d notice would be that the check engine light has come on. Of course, that could be a symptom of many different issues, so let’s look at several signs you’re having alternator problems.

The second common sign of a failing alternator will be dimming or flickering headlights. If your headlights don’t seem at bright as they should be, you may have a bad alternator. Specifically, this might also be a problem with the alternator diodes, which are responsible for converting alternating current into direct current. However, this might also be an issue with the headlights themselves or another electrical issue.

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If your dash lights and power windows are also not functioning properly, the chances are pretty high that you’re having alternator problems. This may also be the result of a dead battery, but if your warning light is also on, it’s probably time for some auto repairs to your alternator.

Where Do You Go From Here?

If you experience alternator failure, it may just be an issue with your voltage regulator, which is a quick and inexpensive fix, so don’t panic. If you need a new alternator, the auto part might run you anywhere from $300 to $1,000 plus labor.

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You may be able to find a used charging system for considerably less, so don’t forget to keep your ear to the ground at local scrap yards and repair shops in case anyone has a working alternator.

We hope this information was useful! And, hey, good luck mastering that stockinette stitch!

Products featured on Alt_driver are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

This post was originally published on July 18, 2019.

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