If your vehicle has problems such as dim lights or difficulty starting, the issue could be due to the electrical system, which includes the alternator. Look for the signs below to determine if your alternator is going bad and needs to be replaced.
1. Warning Light Flickers on the Dashboard
As you try to determine if your alternator is failing, the first thing you should check is the dashboard. Many models have a warning light that lets you know when your alternator is having issues.
This warning light may appear in several ways, depending on which car you are driving. The light may read ALT or GEN. The light may also show a picture of a battery without any lettering.
If everything is working right, the warning light will turn on when you first start up your vehicle. Normally, the light goes out once the engine has started.
However, if your alternator is not working properly, the light may flicker off and on even after the engine is running. The light may go out for a while but will come back on whenever you use a feature which requires electricity, such as your power seats or windows.
2. Dashboard and Headlights Become Dim
Another indication that you have a failing alternator is when the dashboard lights and headlights become dim. However, this dimming could also be a result of a dying battery. Fortunately, there is a way to tell whether the battery or the alternator is affecting the lights.
When you first put your key into the ignition, turn it so that the lights come on but your engine doesn’t start. Then look at the dashboard lights.
If the dashboard lights are dim from the beginning, the battery probably does not have enough juice to make them shine brightly. You can also see this indicator while looking at the headlights, which will also appear dimmer than usual.
However, you may notice that the lights start out bright. If this is the case, start your engine. Then, after a minute or so, look at the lights on the dashboard, and have someone observe the headlights. If the lights start to dim or flicker, the alternator is likely to blame.
When you first start your car, the electrical draw from the battery is strong enough to power the lights. However, as you sit for a few minutes, the power from the faulty alternator is not enough to keep the lights bright. The alternator is not able to keep the battery charged while running, resulting in a loss of available electrical current.
3. Car Stalls While Running
When you first start your car, the battery sends an initial jolt of electricity to the starter so that the engine can fire up. After this initial jolt, your alternator takes over the load to keep your engine and other components going.
However, if your alternator is unable to consistently generate enough electricity to keep your car going, your car may start to stall whenever you need an extra power boost. For example, your car may stall while you are going uphill or speeding up.
If you are able to restart your car immediately or shortly after it stalls, the culprit is likely the alternator. While the battery has enough juice to start your car, the alternator is no longer able to keep it running on a consistent basis.
If your car is exhibiting any of the above behaviors, the culprit is likely a faulty or failing alternator. Bring your car to Morrison Automotive & Truck to have your alternator checked. We can determine what the issue is and make repairs or replacements as needed.