In any gasoline-powered vehicle, the alternator is a very important component. Ultimately, it’s a pretty simple device, but it performs a vital function of recycling power to and from the car battery as you are driving. Many hybrids and electric vehicles will not have a traditional alternator since they use different battery systems than regular cars.
Your battery is supplying power to the engine, entertainment system, air conditioner and several other electrical components. The alternator ultimately returns the power back into the battery while the car is running, which allows it to maintain a full charge. If the alternator is failing, the battery may die or you will encounter issues with the various electronic systems in the vehicle.
If your alternator isn’t working correctly, there are several common symptoms you can be on the lookout for. If you experience any of these, it’s a good idea to bring your vehicle into a trusted mechanic. If you are in the Fairbanks, AK area, Simard Automotive is the auto repair shop to count on for diagnostic testing, a thorough inspection and battery/electrical repairs.
1. The Lights Are Getting Dim
Your interior and/or exterior lights may dim for just a few seconds or they may stay dimmer than normal, which is a very common sign of a weakening battery or a failing alternator.
2. The Car Won’t Start
This could be an ignition system issue, engine concern or you may just have a dead battery/alternator. In this case, you will want to have everything looked at by an expert to determine the source of the problem.
3. Dashboard Warning Lights
The check engine light may come on to show a general issue, but a more sophisticated computer system will have specific warning lights. There will be one that looks like a battery. Some might even have ones that specifically say “ALT” or “GEN” to indicate a malfunctioning alternator, weak battery or poor wiring.
4. Electronics Aren’t Working Correctly
You may notice that certain electronic components aren’t working like they usually do. This may include the entertainment/GPS system, headlights, interior lights or power windows/door locks.
5. Something Smells or Sounds Funny
If you smell burning rubber, it could be your tires or one of the belts under the hood. The alternator works using a series of finely tuned belts. If one of the belts is off-kilter or getting weak, you may smell the friction of the rubber or you might hear it with a distinct whining or grinding noise.
At the first sign of an alternator problem, you will want to have your vehicle inspected by a professional auto repair technician like the experts at Simard Automotive. This is a problem you will want to have fixed quickly before it leads to bigger issues. It’s easier (and much less expensive) to replace a dead battery, worn belt or broken alternator than it is to make major engine or electronic system repairs.
If you are having alternator/battery issues or any other automotive concerns, call one of Simard Automotive’s Fairbanks shops today at (855) 690-0889 (Aeronca Avenue) or (855) 639-5001 (Gaffney Road). Or, you can easily book your appointment online.