Your vehicle is a miraculous culmination of modern technology all working in harmony. From the moment you put your key in the ignition until you park your car at your destination, dozens of individual systems and hundreds of moving components will work in synchrony to keep your vehicle stable, comfortable, and working efficiently. One of the first components that kicks on is your alternator. Your alternator works in tandem with your battery to ensure that the rest of your vehicle’s electrical systems are charged and receiving the proper voltage of power. Your alternator is extremely important, and if yours begins to fail, you could notice some serious issues start to emerge in your vehicle.
Your local car experts at U Pull & Pay are here to break down the 3 common signs that your car’s alternator may be failing.
What Does an Alternator Do?
An alternator converts mechanical energy to electrical energy with an alternating current. This is one of the crucial components necessary to power your car. Although a car can run without a properly functioning alternator for some time, this can result in severe stress on your car’s battery, eventually straining other systems. When left untreated, this can quickly grow into a costly mechanical problem.
How Long Does an Alternator Last?
No matter how well you take care of your vehicle, parts wear down over time. A typical alternator can last up to 150,000 miles, or 7-10 years. But if you live in an area that experiences extreme heat and cold, or the interworking parts get dirty, your alternator may wear down even faster. Additionally, if you’ve been experiencing problems with your car’s battery, like a low charge, you may also be putting undo strain on your alternator unintentionally. Nevertheless, a broken alternator does not mean the end of your vehicle.
Let’s take a closer look at identifying the problem and how to fix it:
Dim or Flickering Headlights
Your alternator is imperative for your electrical systems and how well they function. Some of the most noticeable and most visual depictions of your overall electrical system are your headlights. A sure sign that your alternator is failing or starting to die is if you notice your headlights fading or flickering in and out. A strong, healthy alternator will have no problem keeping your headlights at the same lumen output no matter how fast or slow you drive. You will also be able to see this dimming or flickering in your lights and gauges on your dashboard as well.
Whining and Grinding Sounds
A healthy alternator will make almost no noise as it is running and will never be audible over the normal noise of your engine. If your alternator is failing, you could hear a few abnormal noises. If you hear a small rattling or grinding sound when your engine is running, this could be caused by a loose bearing in your alternator. However, if you hear a constant high whine while you are driving, this is usually a sign that your alternator is failing to distribute the necessary power throughout your vehicle.
Trouble Starting your Vehicle
No one likes hearing their car struggling to rev up and run. If you’re having trouble starting up your car, or frequently find your vehicle stalling, you could be dealing with a bad alternator that doesn’t send enough power to the battery. If you’ve already ruled out the battery as a potential problem, your next step is to consider your alternator. If you’re facing slow starts or stalling in combination with the above problems, then you’re likely dealing with the need to service your alternator.
How to Replace Your Alternator
If you’re a novice car mechanic or are decently familiar with DIY car repairs, you may find that this is a relatively simple replacement to do yourself. Once you’ve identified that your alternator is the sure cause of your car’s problems, seek out replacement parts. To save some extra cash, consider purchasing used auto parts from a local you-pull-it junkyard. Junkyards, like U Pull & Pay, have online databases where you can check the availability of a vehicle that matches your make and model. And, if you don’t see what you’re looking for, it’s easy to sign up for inventory alerts. Pulling parts yourself can be a great way to locate OEM parts for a discount price, so you don’t have to sacrifice quality with aftermarket parts.
You’ve arrived at the decision to replace your alternator. So, what comes next? Stop by your local U Pull & Pay to find everything you need to complete your alternator repair or replacement. Our team of friendly experts will be happy to work with you. Find discount auto parts and OEM parts to get your vehicle back up and running. Or, if you have a junk car laying around, we will be happy to take it off of your hands. Save money and complete auto projects on your own with the help of your neighborhood scrap yard. Search our inventory of used auto parts or contact us with your questions.