How long does an alternator last? This is a common question among drivers, especially those who, upon sliding the key in the ignition, are left hearing a clicking sound instead of the glorious roaring of the engine.
Sure, it could mean a lot of things. Could be a dead battery, a loose battery connection, or a dying engine. Similarly, the alternator, a source of power for many of your car components, can very well be the cause of the problem. Typically, a good-quality alternator can last until 100,000 to 150,000 miles. Or, as Jeff Gunning, service manager of Addison Auto Repair & Body Shop in Denver, claims: about seven years.
How to Check if the Alternator is Bad
It’s best practice to check the alternator from time to time. If your Check Engine light comes on and you get code P0562 when you connect a code reader to the diagnostic port, it’s likely your alternator has gone faulty.
Now, if there’s no warning light but your gut tells you your alternator is failing, go ahead and open the hood. Check the belt. If the belt appears slightly burnt or glazed, it’s an indication it’s loose; it’s slipping instead of moving along with the pulleys. Best fix here is to adjust the tensioner or swap your serpentine belt for a new one.
What if everything checks out under the hood? Well, it’s time to do the ultimate litmus test: check your alternator’s voltage. A healthy alternator should pack 12 to 13.5 volts. Any reading below means your alternator is already bad. On the other hand, if the number shoots up beyond this range, then the safe assumption is that the alternator is overcharging your battery.
What Happens When Your Alternator Goes Out
What happens then if your alternator’s gone kaput? Ultimately, it will result in a discharged battery and cause your car not to start.
You’re also likely to experience these symptoms we can collectively dub as DEAD:
- D-imming headlights
- E-lectrical issues
- A-bnormal noises
- D-ead battery and stalling engine
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