Is My Alternator Going Bad?

Your automobile’s alternator takes the engine’s mechanical energy and turns it into electricity so it can charge your car battery while the engine is on and power your vehicle’s accessories. The engine drive or serpentine belt spins on a pulley that is attached to the alternator. This spins the alternator’s internal magnets around a coil to generate electrical current. SimplyEuro lists common signs below that your alternator is going bad, which can happen after seven years or 100,000 miles.

Light Issues

One of the most common signs of alternator trouble is problems with your vehicle’s lights. The problem won’t be just in the headlights, although this is where most drivers notice the issue. Your interior lights will be affected, as well. Usually, what happens is the lights began to flicker and dim because they aren’t getting enough power from the failing alternator.

Battery Trouble

Because the alternator charges your battery while your vehicle is in motion, you may notice battery trouble if the alternator is going bad. One diagnostic method is to jumpstart your battery if it is dead and drive your car. Turn on the center console light to see if it is dim or flickering. If it is, your battery is not being charged by the alternator.

Accessory Problems

While in motion, and while sitting at an idle, the alternator also powers all of your vehicle’s accessories. Signs that the alternator is dying include issues with anything that uses power, such as your power windows, power seat adjustments, and components such as your radio and GPS system. For example, your power seats may slow down or refuse to adjust at all.

Hard or No Starts

If the alternator is unable to power the battery, your battery will eventually drain. This will make starting your automobile difficult, if not impossible. As we said above, after jumping your battery, you may notice signs of alternator trouble as you drive around to charge your battery. Have difficulty starting your vehicle checked because the problem could be the alternator, battery, or starter.

Strange Sounds

Growling or whining sounds coming from underneath the hood could be a problem with the alternator’s internal mechanisms or the serpentine belt. If the belt is too loose on the pulley, you may also hear clunking or smacking sounds as it bounces around. With your vehicle parked and the parking brake set, turn on your engine and pop the hood to see if the drive belt is too loose.

Warning Light

Finally, your vehicle may warn you of trouble before you notice any of the above signs. Depending on the make and model of the European automobile that you drive, you may have a battery-shaped dashboard warning light and/or a GEN or ALT warning light. If any of these come on, your alternator could be failing.

SimplyEuro Automotive Repair’s auto service shop in Castle Pines, CO, can help. Give us a call and schedule an appointment today.

Written by SimplyEuro