The electrical charging system in your vehicle is generally made up of three major components: the battery, voltage regulator, and alternator. The battery and alternator will work together to generate power for the electrical components of a vehicle. Alternators are generally found near the front of the engine. They are driven by the crankshaft, which converts the up and down motion of the pistons into a circular movement. When this movement turns the components of the alternator it produces power through electromagnetism. History of the Alternator An alternator gets its name from the term alternating current. Thomas Edison is known for inventing the first light bulb and many other electrical mechanisms. It was actually Nikola Tesla who developed the first alternating current induction motor in the late 1800s. While Edison was out to promote direct current or DC power, it was Tesla who proved that this power was superior. It can produce higher voltage much more efficiently and that is very helpful to run the electrical system of the vehicle. Alternator Components to Inspect Alternators are usually small and lightweight. Most alternators found in passenger cars and small trucks are constructed using an aluminum outer housing since lightweight metal does not magnetize. Aluminum also dissipates the tremendous heat generated by producing the electrical power. If you look closely at an alternator, you will also see vents on the front and back also for relieving heat. A pulley is attached to the rotor shaft on the front of the alternator. When the engine is running, the crankshaft turns the drive belt, which spins the pulley to turn the rotor shaft. The alternator transfers this mechanical energy from the engine into electrical power for the vehicle. Knowing when there is an Issue with the Alternator If your alternator is not functioning, the electrical components of your vehicle will quickly drain your battery. Since automobiles cannot properly function without the electrical system, this can be a big issue. Alternators have moving parts, get dirty, and are subject to stress from the drastic temperature changes. All of these causes can make the internal parts gradually wear out. The most common is bearing failure. The needle bearings allow the rotor to spin freely to produce electricity. When these fail, the alternator will not work efficiently and can completely seize up. This failure will normally cause a loud grinding noise. If you suspect this problem, quickly consult one of our mechanics to prevent a breakdown. Older vehicles with generators tend to require much more maintenance than newer models, but there’s no standard rule for how long an alternator will last. Generally, alternators are less expensive to replace than many other parts of the vehicle. If there are any issues you notice, make sure to bring the vehicle at the first sign of them. Any odd noises or odd smells you notice will mean at least one part will need maintenance done to it. By bringing the vehicle in, you can prevent the problem becoming worse and more costly.
The alternator is an important part for your vehicle. If the alternator starts to wear out, it can lead to further issues with the vehicle. One way to know there is a problem with the alternator is if a warning light illuminates on the dashboard. If the battery warning light illuminates, it means that the battery is not charging properly. The battery stores enough energy and power in order to start your vehicle. This helps to allow you to travel and drive your vehicle to the destination you want. In order to power the electrical system of the vehicle, it needs enough electricity to run through the engine. This is where the alternator comes in. The alternator helps to recharge the battery so there is enough power sent throughout your vehicle. If you notice any issues with how the vehicle starts, make sure to bring it in for an inspection as soon as you can. This can help keep the vehicle reliable. The Alternator is important for the vehicle Another way to notice if the alternator is starting to fail is the lack of power. If the alternator is not working the way it should, it will not have enough electricity to power all the items you may need or want. The radio, cooling fan motors, power windows, and others might start to be slow or unresponsive. If the alternator fails, this can become a problem. The vehicle cannot travel very far on just the battery power alone. The alternator could fail because of damage to other parts. The alternator is powered by the serpentine belt of the vehicle. This is usually two or three times faster than the engine. There are bearing, copper wire coils, and magnets that generate the electricity. This is subjected to extreme conditions and temperatures that can cause them to wear out over time. What to do if the Warning Light comes on If you notice the battery warning light coming on, make sure to bring the vehicle in. If the light starts to blink, be sure to pull over and turn the vehicle off as soon as it is safe to do so. The electrical system should be checked. The alternator could be failing and might need to be replaced. Bring the vehicle in and we can inspect it for you. Regular Maintenances are important One of the best things you can do to help prolong the life of your vehicle is to go to regular maintenances. This can help to improve the efficiency of your vehicle as well. If there is an issue with the vehicle, it can be determined before the problem becomes worse. This can help to prevent further issues from happening with other parts of the vehicle. If an issue is ignored, over time it can do more wear and tear to the parts. This can increase the chance for a costly repair bill as well. If between visits you notice an issue with the vehicle, bring it in as soon as you can. This can help to prevent an unexpected breakdown, added stress, or a costly bill. It is recommended to follow the recommended maintenance schedule from the manufacturer.