How Do I Tell If My Alternator’s Broken?
An alternator is your car’s generator: once the car is started, the alternator generates energy to power your vehicle and its accessories, like the interior and exterior lights. It also simultaneously recharges your battery for the next time you need to start the car. Sometimes, alternators wear out or just break.
How do you know if your alternator needs maintenance? Here are signs that your automobile’s alternator needs service.
- My battery light is on
Most people assume the battery light means there’s something wrong with your car battery. In fact, it most likely means there’s a charging issue. If your battery light is on, this could mean your car’s alternator is failing. Either way, a lit battery light is something that should be investigated. Bring your car to HEART Certified Auto Care for our exclusive 33 point inspection and we’ll have your problem solved ASAP. In fact, 98% of our service is completed the same day.
- Why are my car lights flickering?
One of the easier ways to tell if your alternator’s failing is if your lights are flickering. These lights include your headlights, dashboard lights, or center dome light. If any of these are flickering, it could be your alternator. If your car lights are flickering, bring your car to one of the HEART Certified Auto Care locations, and we’ll have everything fixed in no time. But, note, flickering lights are not definitely an alternator issue, so read on for more symptoms.
- Why is my engine making strange noises?
Is your car engine making a squealing sound? Is your automobile growling or grinding? If so, it may be a bad pulley bearing, but it could also mean your alternator belt may have stretched out, diminishing the charge, or the internal bearings have worn out. In either case, stop by HEART’s Evanston, Wilmette, or Northbrook location to have it fixed.
- My car won’t start
If your car won’t start, it could be either the battery or the alternator. The best way to test is to jump start your battery. If the car starts fine but stops when the jumper cables are removed, that’s a good sign your alternator needs repair.
- My engine stalled
A stalled car engine likely means your alternator’s not working right. If your engine dies while driving, it’s a good chance your alternator has failed. If your engine stalls, contact HEART Certified Auto Care as soon as possible.
- Why does my car smell weird?
Alternators rely on a rubber belt to keep moving. If your alternator’s failing, the belts can run too fast or slip off center, creating friction. This friction creates heat, which, in turn, emits a burning smell. If you smell this type of odor, there’s definitely something wrong, and you should bring your car to HEART ASAP.
- Why does my car radio turn off by itself?
A common sign that your alternator’s failing is if windows roll up and down slowly, or if your radio turns off by itself, or really any other electrical component that’s responding slowly or abnormally.
- My car’s warning light is on
This is the easiest way to tell if your alternator needs repair. Most newer model cars have a specific alternator icon — usually “ALT” or “GEN”. If either of these lights up, it’s time to visit HEART, where we’ll put your car through a 33 point inspection to guarantee there is no other damage. Best of all, we take pictures at every step, to keep you informed of all the details.
For alternator or any other car repair questions, contact HEART Certified Auto Care Evanston, HEART Certified Auto Care Wilmette, or HEART Certified Auto Care Northbrook. We’re always happy to help!