What You Need to Know About the Alternator

Let’s talk about the alternator in this blog post. Unless you drive a certain hybrid model, your car, truck, or utility vehicle has been alternator. The alternator is located at the front of the engine where it is attached to the serpentine belt. The alternator generates electricity and then routes it throughout the electrical system and to the battery. On average, the alternator lasts about 10 years. Let’s talk more about what you need to know about your car’s alternator.

How It Works

As we mentioned above, the alternator generates electricity and is attached to the serpentine belt. There is a pulley system that links the alternator to the belt. The pulley system uses the belt to spin. When the serpentine belt spins, it spins the pulley that is attached to the alternator.

This helps the pulley spin a rotor shaft that is surrounded by a set of magnets. Both of these things spin around a coil. This motion generates an electrical current. This is the start of the electricity production by the alternator. All of this motion stops once you cut the engine.

While in motion, the current that is generated is an alternating current. This is abbreviated with the initials AC. The alternator channels the current through a rectifier to change it from AC to a direct current or DC. This is the current that your electrical system can use to power electrical components.

The alternator then sends the DC throughout the electrical system and to the battery. The battery takes in electricity that is not used in order to remain charged when your engine isn’t running. On average, the alternator generates anywhere from 13 volts to 14.5 volts of electricity.

Signs It’s Going Bad

As we mentioned above, the alternator lasts approximately 10 years. After this time, you may need us to replace your alternator because it has gone bad. Signs it has gone bad include

  • Problems with the vehicle’s lights such as dimness or brightness
  • A battery that is consistently dead and needs to be jump-started
  • Slow or malfunctioning accessories such as the power seats and windows
  • An engine with a rough idle that misfires and stalls
  • Strange growling noises coming from the front of the engine
  • The odor of burning electricity or rubber in the engine
  • An illuminated battery warning light on the dashboard

If your vehicle is experiencing any of these problems, call us to set up a service appointment. We will do our best to work with your schedule and replace the alternator as quickly as possible.

Photo by loraks from Getty Images via Canva Pro

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