Everybody knows your vehicle needs a battery to start, but that's just the beginning of a complex electrical system. Three main things go into making your vehicle perform the way it should. Here's a quick rundown of a famous trio: the battery, starter and alternator.
The starter is powered by the battery, which gathers its energy from the alternator. With all three working together, your vehicle will both start and continue running to get you from point A to point B. These guys are like the Three Musketeers – all for one and one for all!
As we said, the battery starts the car, but that's just the beginning. Your alternator keeps your vehicle going. In fact, the majority of the energy in your vehicle comes from the alternator.
The battery and alternator are the dynamic duo that makes everything else while driving possible. In order to send power to your headlights, engine fan, radio, and other parts of your vehicle, the alternator must effectively transform mechanical energy into electrical energy. During the warmer months, you’ll also be interested to know the alternator is what ultimately powers your air conditioning system – we all want that system functioning!
When searching for how to fix an alternator, remember the car battery plays a significant role in the operation, and it's essential to have your alternator and battery checked regularly. The alternator can fail in stages – and if it goes completely, the battery can only take over for a short period of time.
Difficulty starting the engine – If your car's having trouble getting started, your alternator may be wearing out.
Headlights or dashboard lights flicker – You may notice your headlights or internal dashboard lights dimming or flickering, which can be an indicator of a dying alternator.
Battery keeps dying – As a reminder, the alternator's role is to recharge your vehicle’s battery. When that's not happening, your alternator may have an issue. That said, batteries won't last forever and it goes without saying, alternators only provide energy to a battery with capacity to accept a charge (ok, we said it anyway).
You smell burning rubber – If you’re not intentionally burning (tire) rubber, but smell it anyway, that could be evidence of alternator problems, which work among a system of belts. When belts fail to turn freely, they begin to slip and rub where they shouldn’t, creating heat and that not-so-appealing smell of burnt rubber.
You hear grinding or whining noises – In order to produce energy, alternators spin (really fast), but if one of the parts in rotation (typically a bearing) breaks or wears out, you can hear a persistent grinding or whining noise.
A bad starter produces one single click sound when you turn the key, preventing the engine from cranking.
If you hear the infamous rapid clicking sound, that's going to be indicative of a low or dead battery.
If your engine won't start, but the lights turn on, that's typical of a problem with your starter.
If you are experiencing any of the issues above, or feel you might need to have your alternator, starter or battery checked out, stop by or schedule your appointment with us today!