The alternator is what keeps everything alive while the engine is operating. You might be giving credit to the battery for powering all the electrical things in your car like headlights, dashboard indicators, light or warning lamps, engine plugs, radio, control screen, etc. The distribution of electricity to the car and battery recharge are the major functions of the alternator. It is located front-facing to the engine and is powered by the serpentine belt. Knowing how the alternator works is useful in case you have to deal with your car not starting because it is a crucial part of the charging system.

In today’s article, we will be covering all about alternators.

Working of Alternator:

It works by turning mechanical energy into electrical energy. The serpentine belt in the engine’s crankshaft drives the alternator. With the help of a belt and pulley, the shaft of the alternator is connected to the engine. This shaft is then forced to rotate while the engine is operating, and this rotation generates electricity by turning mechanical energy into electrical energy.

It supplies direct current (DC) voltage to all the electrical components like windshield wipers, radio, heated seats, and electric steering. But initially, with the help of a rectifier, it converts alternating current(AC) to direct current(DC). And also the output voltage varies with the speed of the car, so to maintain a constant output alternator uses a regulator.

When is the time to replace the Alternator?

The typical signs of a bad alternator are often mistaken for problems with the battery or any other part of the car. It is important to change the part because your car won’t start soon or run for more than a few minutes without a properly functioning alternator. Any of the following warning signs could mean that you got trouble with your car’s electrical system.

Dead battery

There can be many reasons why the battery is dead. It can be because the battery is dead, just like any other battery after years of use a car’s battery can reach the end of its life or you might have left the headlights on all night or it can be because of a bad alternator. A defective alternator won’t adequately charge the battery, leading the battery to discharge its charge more quickly than usual.

One way to check the reason behind the dead battery is by jump-starting the car. If your car runs after being jump-started, your battery may need to be replaced shortly. If the car dies again soon after being jump-started, it may indicate that your alternator isn’t providing enough power to the battery.

Gurgling sound

When the belt that rotates the pulley on the alternator falls out of alignment, it emits a growling or whining sound or  If the bearings that spin the rotor shaft are failing, you can also hear this noise. This is also a sign of a bad alternator.

Overbright or dim lights

Your electronic gadgets receive erratic voltage when an alternator starts to fail. Equipment that performs poorly or excessively, such as headlights that are either too dim or too brilliant, typically manifests itself in this way. Additionally, you can see lights that switch from bright to low and vice versa.

Trouble starting

As mentioned early, a bad alternator would be failing to charge the battery. So on turning the key in the ignition, all you get to hear are sounds which is a concern and a hint for you to change your alternator.

Bad belts

Remember that the belt must have proper tension for the alternator to function properly; excessive tension is just as dangerous as inadequate tension.

Burning wire smells

If any parts of your alternator start to wear out, if it is being overworked or if it has damaged wires you may smell a burning odour. Creating resistance to the passage of power, damaged wires often heat up and smell bad.

How to take care of the alternator?

Regular maintenance

Go to your local mechanic to inspect the components of your vehicle. Identify any repairs or replacements that are needed.

Keep it clean

How not to clean the alternator?

a)Avoid cleaning the alternator using engine degreasers that include petroleum.

b)The alternator should not be cleaned using pressure washers or compressed air.

c)Never immediately spray a cleaning solution or degreaser into any of the alternator’s air inlet holes.

Any off-the-shelf degreaser should be diluted with water to a 1:1 ratio before being applied with a cloth or sprayed lightly.

Do not ignore the signs

If you have experienced any of the signs mentioned above in the article, it is good to book a service right away. It will save you from dealing with greater damage. Make sure you address all the signs if you don’t want to pay a hefty amount for servicing.