Top 6 Signs Of Alternator Problems

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Alternator Warning Signs

In order to get you from A to B your alternator plays a pivotal role. The alternator recycles any power that your battery exerts whilst driving. As vehicles become more electronically complex the power required to run these systems properly increases. Without a fully-functioning alternator your battery will last only a limited amount of time. We’ve put together this guide to help you spot the warning signs of a faulty alternator before it is too late.

Warning Light On

The first sign to watch out for is the battery warning light on your dashboard. It is usual practice for this to be on when you start up the engine but to disappear after a few seconds. If it remains on this is a tell-tale sign of an alternator problem.

Dim Lights

One of the most obvious signs of a faulty alternator can be seen when operating your lights or looking at your dashboard. Are they looking dimmer than usual? If so, this could be down to a faulty alternator.
Slow / Unresponsive Electrical Components
The alternator is responsible for powering all electrical components housed in your vehicle. Therefore, if you find that your electric windows are unresponsive or your mirrors are operating slower than usual this is a sign of an alternator problem.

Battery Lacking Life

How long have you had your battery? Unfortunately a battery has a limited life and will not last forever. A battery can only recharge provided it has enough juice remaining in it to allow it to accept a charge. If there isn’t enough charge remaining the alternator has no hope of bringing it back to life. To eliminate either the battery or alternator from fault simply charge the battery then restart your vehicle. If the fault is with your battery you’ll notice that the aforementioned problems (dim lights and unresponsive electrical components) will occur. If your vehicle is struggling to start even after the battery has been fully charged the problem is likely with the alternator.

Something Smells

Besides visual cues of a faulty alternator you may also be able to detect a problem with your nose. The alternator works alongside a complex belt system and if a belt cannot turn freely it will give off a smell similar to burning rubber as a direct result of excess heat. Another nasal cue of an alternator problem is a smell akin to an electrical fire. This occurs when the belt is slipping on the alternator pulley leading to poor alternator output. Tightening the belt in this case often solves the problem. However, if tightening doesn’t resolve the issue we recommend taking your vehicle to a trained professional for a thorough inspection.

Unusual Sounds

Be on the lookout for whining or grinding noises as these can be attributed to a fault within your alternator. An alternator is a complex component with a number of parts that spin to produce an electrical current. If one of these parts is worn or defective you will be able to hear it. If you are experiencing these sounds you will likely need to replace your alternator.
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