Do your car lights flicker when driving? It can be as simple as some bad headlights or a weak battery, but can also indicate an alternator problem.
What Is a Car Alternator?
It’s a common misconception that your car battery powers the electrical components of your car. Let’s set the record straight: your car battery supplies the necessary amount of electricity to the electric starter motor to start your car’s engine. However, it’s the alternator that generates power for your car’s electrical system and charges the battery at the same time.
Symptoms of a Bad Alternator
Most cars have a dedicated warning light for alternator problems. Usually, the light is shaped like a battery while in some vehicles, it shows “ALT” or “GEN” (short for generator). Although alternators do not generally require a lot of maintenance, it is still important for car drivers to know when their alternators are beginning to fail.
Aside from starting issues, strange smells, and noise coming from the battery or alternator belt area, signs of a faulty alternator also include failing battery charge, electrical problems, and headlights and dash lights flickering when the car is running.
Diagnosing Your Car’s Faulty Electrical System
Since your car sources its electrical charge from both the battery and alternator, it is best to identify which among these two components is the main cause of electrical issues you’re observing.
Your car slowly loses its power while driving or at idle. The car lights dim, eventually lose power, and die. It’s possible that nothing’s recharging your car battery because the alternator is faulty.
PROBLEM: CAR BATTERY
It’s difficult to start your engine and your car lights are dim. Check the battery because it’s probably failing and needs immediate replacement.
Alternator Maintenance Tips
As mentioned, alternators do not require heavy maintenance but it is always better to check your car’s alternator if your vehicle is quite old. A voltmeter, which is a device for measuring electrical output, can be used to check if the alternator is in good condition. Simply idle your engine with all accessories turned off, select the DC scale on the voltmeter, attach it to your car battery’s terminals, then check the reading. It should read 14 volts.
Next, start switching on your car’s electrical devices. You’ll know your alternator is not in good condition if the voltage drops below 12 volts. Remember that you will need to replace the whole alternator itself if it’s not working properly. You may check Auto Parts Warehouse for high-quality replacement alternators from the most trusted brands in the industry: http://bit.ly/2UlwqWw
While it is usually easy to access and replace an alternator, there are some vehicles that do not have enough space under the hood, making the alternator difficult to reach. In this case, your best option is to seek the help of a professional mechanic.