The alternator is a relatively simple, yet critical component within any gasoline-powered vehicle. Electric vehicles and most hybrids will not have an alternator because they have different battery systems. Ultimately, the alternator recycles power to and from your car battery while you are driving.
When your vehicle is running, the battery is supplying power to the engine, the air conditioner, the entertainment system and other electronic components. The alternator is a genius little piece of machinery that sends power back into the battery to maintain a full charge. If the alternator isn’t working properly, you will encounter major electrical system failures and/or a dead battery.
It’s important to know the warning signs that your alternator is failing. At the first sign of any of these symptoms below, you will want to bring your vehicle into an auto repair expert like San Francisco Automotive Solutions for a diagnostics review, inspection and repairs.
1. Dimming Lights
Whether the lights dim sporadically for a few seconds or they are permanently dimmer than usual, this is often the sign of a weak battery and/or a failing alternator.
2. Malfunctioning Electronics
If your car stereo, power windows/doors or other electrical components start to act up, it could be a problem with your alternator.
3. Dashboard Warning Light
All cars have multiple dashboard warning lights such as the check engine light. Most cars have a dashboard warning light that looks like a battery and some will even have more specific warning lights that could say “ALT” or “GEN.” Any battery warning light is an indicator of a weak alternator, wiring issues, a dying battery or all of the above.
4. Dead Battery
If your car battery dies, then there are two things a mechanic will usually look at. First is the battery itself. It may just need to be recharged or replaced. If the battery is not at fault, then the alternator is most likely the culprit.
5. Unusual Sounds
You may hear a grinding or whining noise coming from under your hood and this is often a sign of a failing alternator. Of course, odd noises can come from any component in your vehicle, so it’s usually a good idea to get it looked at by a professional.
6. Strange Smells
Your alternator works in conjunction with a system of belts. If any belt is not turning freely, excess friction will be created that will give off a distinctive burning rubber smell. The belt may need to be tightened or replaced, or the alternator may need to be replaced if you continue to drive with a bad belt.
Trust the auto repair experts at San Francisco Automotive Solutions when it comes to all your alternator and battery repair and maintenance needs. Our ASE Certified team of automotive technicians can run diagnostics and perform thorough inspections to get to the root of any problem you are experiencing and then we can make any repairs needed to get you back on the road as quickly and safely as possible.
Call San Francisco Automotive Solutions today at (415) 957-1170 or schedule your service appointment online.