You’ve been having a heck of a time getting your car started lately and you swear the battery isn’t that old. Here’s the thing: It might not be your battery. When you turn your car key in the ignition or go key-free by pressing “Start,” your battery, alternator, and starter work together to start your car, truck, or SUV. If the alternator is going bad, it will mimic a dying battery. East Coast EuroWerks list five signs your battery trouble isn’t your battery at all but the alternator instead.
As you drive, your battery discharges and without the alternator, it would eventually run out of charge and die. The alternator produces and recycles electricity to power the battery and electrical components, including vehicle lights. Dim lights are not getting enough power, which could be the alternator or the battery. If the lights brighten as you speed up, it’s the alternator.
Lights dim when they aren’t getting enough power; electrical components slow down or fail. An alternator that is going out cannot produce enough electricity to lower or raise the power windows or play the radio, for example. These components may not die completely, but you’ll notice changes in their performance, such as the power windows moving slower than normal.
Electrical System Warning
If your electrical system sends a message to your vehicle’s onboard computer chip that the alternator is failing, the computer chip will warn you using your dashboard warning lights. You could be driving along and your Check Engine light will come on suddenly, or a light that reads ALT or GEN. You may also be warned by a light that is shaped like a battery.
As mentioned above, as you drive your car, truck, or SUV, your battery discharges. The alternator is responsible for taking that discharged power, recycling it, and using it to recharge your battery. Your vehicle battery will suffer if the device isn’t doing its job. The battery may die or, as discussed in the introduction, you may have one heck of a time getting your vehicle started.
Sounds and Smells
Finally, your alternator spins to produce power. Spinning causes friction that creates an electrical current. Anything wrong with the serpentine belt or device motor might produce unusual sounds. You may also smell burning rubber, which is a common indicator of problems. Grinds, growls, squeals, and whirs are not good. Neither is burning smells.
East Coast EuroWerks in Wilmington, NC, can test and replace your alternator. Call us today.