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’s alternator works sounds like something you don’t know, you’re in the right place. 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 power for things like the ignition, radio, air conditioning, power windows, and other electrical systems 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 cars electrical system.
And how do you know if you need a new alternator?
What Does an Alternator Do When It Goes Bad?
A bad alternator will stop supplying enough energy to your automobile’s electrical systems. The first sign you’d notice would be that the check engine warning 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 bad alternator will be your headlights dimming. If your headlights don’t seem at bright as they should be, you may have a bad alternator. However, this might be an issue with the headlights themselves or your vehicle’s electrical systems.
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.
Conclusion: Now what?
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, they might run you anywhere from $300 to $1000 plus labor.
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!