When driving your vehicle, it is important to make sure all the parts and components are working efficiently with one another. One part to inspect is the alternator of your vehicle. The alternator is an important part because it helps to power your vehicle when you travel. The alternator takes the mechanical energy, generates electricity, and sends it to the motor that is recharging the battery. The current in-turn powers the electrical components of your vehicle like the exterior lights, interior lights, and instrument panel.
The vehicle alternator is most often found near the front of the engine and is bolted with brackets at a specific point. One of the brackets is usually fixed and the other bracket is adjustable which allows for drive belt tightening. The crankshaft drives the alternator and most new vehicles have one belt for both alternator and the crankshaft pulley. If you notice any odd noises coming from under the hood, make sure to bring the vehicle in as soon as you can. We can inspect it for the source of the problem. This will help you get back to a pleasant driving experience.
Most alternators are relatively lightweight and small. The alternators are lighter in weight because alternator housings are constructed of aluminum, which does not magnetize. Not only does aluminum help keep the weight of the alternator down, it also helps to dispel the heat caused from generating the electrical current. Keeping the heat low is essential to the alternator’s operating efficiency. Older alternators will actually have external fan blades on the rotor shaft behind the pulley. Newer alternator models have cooling fans inside the alternator housing. The rotor shaft is located at one end of the alternator and at the other end are the slip rings. The alternator also has vents on both the front side and the backside, which helps to dissipate heat. Also on the back of the alternator are several terminals, which are connecting points in the electrical current. These terminals do various things including sensing battery voltage, closing the circuit to the warning lamp, bypassing the regulator, turning the voltage regulator on, and connecting to the battery. The rotor and the stator are two components of the alternator that actually produce the power.
Like many components of your vehicle, the alternator has moving parts, which tend to get dirty. The alternator can also start to fail as a result of stress from extreme heat or cold. Thus, the alternator can wear out. Sometimes you know when the alternator is failing because the radio begins to cut out, the dash lights start to dim, the headlights stop shining brightly, and the engine may die. One of the most common sources of an alternator going bad is bearing failure. Alternator bearing failure is often characterized by a loud grinding noise. Once you start hearing this noise, it is only a matter of time before your alternator fails. Most car dashboards will show an indicator light when your car alternator is having problems. If you start to notice an issue, make sure to bring the vehicle in so we can inspect it for you.