How Can You Tell if Your Alternator Is Going Bad?

Your alternator is the key to having power in your car, so it’s crucial that it’s working properly. Do you know the warning signs if your alternator isn’t working well? If not, don’t worry! We here at Cookeville Tire & Auto are going to list them below so you can tell right away if your vehicle’s alternator is going bad. If it is, let us replace it ASAP so you don’t end up stranded.

Your Lights, Radio, and Other Accessories Aren’t Working

Before your alternator totally dies on you, it will stop working as well as it used to. You might find that your interior lights are dimmer than usual, or that your radio doesn’t work suddenly. Or other electronic components in the car, like your accessory port, won’t work. This is happening because the alternator isn’t generating enough electricity for the accessories.

You’ve Had to Jump Your Battery

The alternator keeps your battery charged, so if you suddenly have a problem with low or no battery power, it might be the alternator’s fault. The battery is responsible for getting the engine going, which then fires up the alternator. The alternator powers the car’s electrical functions and also sends electricity back to the battery. When part of that system fails, the battery suffers.

You’re Hearing Weird Sounds

Alternators are basically electrical generators, and they create electricity by spinning within the housing. As the alternator begins to fail, you might hear some of the bearings and bushings giving out. That typically results in grinding or whining sounds. Sometimes if metal is moving against metal, you might hear sharper sounds, such as scraping.

You’re Smelling Burnt Rubber

A series of rubber belts also help the alternator generate voltage. If something is going wrong with the alternator, part of the problem could be the belts. If they are too loose or generating too much friction because they aren’t circulating correctly, you will smell burnt rubber that can get quite powerful. If the belts get damaged, they can also break.

You’ve Got a Dashboard Light On

Lots of drivers want to ignore those dashboard warning lights, but that is not a good idea. If you see a light on your dashboard that looks like a battery or that says “ALT” or “GEN,” then you need to take a closer look at your alternator. Double-check your owner’s manual if you want to make sure you know what any warning lights mean.

Call Cookeville Tire & Auto in Cookeville, TN if you’re not sure what’s happening with your alternator. We can test it and make sure that your car is getting the power it needs.