bad alternator

Signs of a Bad Alternator

An alternator is an integral component in the electrical systems of your car – it transforms energy from the crankshaft into useful electricity to power the vehicle’s electrical systems and to help the battery recharge. When it starts to fail or malfunction, you need to get it repaired or replaced immediately or else it creates several electrical problems that eventually lead to a breakdown.

Here are the signs of a “bad” alternator:

Indicator light

It is quite likely that your vehicle is equipped with a warning indicator light in the dashboard titled “ALT” or “GEN.” This could be the very first sign of an alternator not working. Even if there are no additional symptoms, you shouldn’t ignore this indicator under any circumstances.

Electrical failures

Since the alternator is the primary source of electrical power in your car, electrical failures are definite signs of the component not working. It could include power windows, power locks, dashboard lights, air conditioning, even your car radio, malfunctioning. Yes, there are other reasons for electrical failures too, but it is best not to ignore these signs.

Flickering headlights

When headlights start to get dim or flicker, it is a strong signal that your alternator may not be working correctly. Since the alternator supplies power to the headlights, flickering generally means that it is struggling to perform.

Battery weak/dead

Batteries often become weak or go dead on their own, but if there is a bad alternator, it can cause the battery to drain as it is unable to recharge it. If your battery goes dead, have the alternator checked when replacing the battery so it doesn’t happen again.

Weird noises

This is a slightly vague indicator because lots of things going wrong can lead to odd noises in the car. However, sometimes alternator failure can cause some of the bearings to fail in the engine, creating unusual rattles. The alternator could be the reason, especially if it is accompanied by some of the other symptoms mentioned above.

Difficulty in starting car

Apart from fuel, your car also runs on electricity. The alternator provides power to the spark plugs that ignite the fuel in the engine. If the alternator fails, there might not be enough power in the spark plugs to keep the engine running so it can stall for no reason or have trouble starting at all. Get your vehicle checked out by a professional immediately if you notice there are one or more of these signs to prevent more serious problems later on.