Tips for Alternator Maintenance

Should You Get a New Alternator?

You are probably not that familiar with the workings and function of your alternator, but it is important to know and remember that this is one of the most vital components of your vehicle. 

In fact, bad alternators are the number one reason car batteries die and make millions of motorists stuck by the side of the road. This is why you must get some basic information on how alternators work and what can be done to save yourself from expensive repairs.

How Do Alternators Work?

Alternators are found inside the vehicle engine itself and have a significant role in giving power to your car’s battery. Thanks to this, the battery is charged continuously, and the computer and electrical systems remain up and running.

Alternators are found inside the vehicle engine itself
Car alternator

Alternators also work almost as hard as other parts of your vehicle. This is why it will eventually start to wear out. Alternators have an average longevity of about 150,000 miles or seven years. There are several factors that can affect its lifespan such as the number of electronics that are in use, the quality of the part itself, as well as the vehicle’s overall condition. 

Telltale Signs of Failing Alternators 

Just like other parts of a car, there is no such thing as forever when it comes to using an alternator. Most of the time, this can go out with no warning at all. However, there are several subtle signs that you can keep your eye out for to know if it is time for it to be checked out.

Video: How to Test an Alternator

These indicators are the following:

  • A burning smell comes from the part
  • Headlights that pulsate at night, turning from dim to bright
  • Squealing sound from the engine 
  • Warning lights on the dashboard that turns on suddenly
  • Intermittent malfunctioning with vehicle electronics like the radio 

Once you notice any or all of the symptoms, it is always better to contact a technician who can check your vehicle. 

Tips for Alternator Maintenance 

Aside from watching out for the above red flags, you can also do a few things to ensure that the part’s integrity is preserved and keep it entirely functional for the longest time possible. 

Here are some general tips for maintaining alternators:

  1. Ensure that you know how to jump-start your car properly. A wrong jump might end up frying the alternator. 
  2. Improper installation of aftermarket electronics might overload alternators, so be extra careful when you install additional high-tech features to your vehicle. 
  3. If a replacement is needed, go for a brand-new one instead of a remanufactured one. 
  4. Watch out for any fluid leaks in this part of your vehicle. You can do this by getting a routine vehicle inspection. 
  5. If there are warning signs that you have a bad battery, address the problem right away. The alternator might be the problem and not your battery. 

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Also dont miss this interesting article entitled “Is Driving with a Bad ABS Sensor Safe?“.

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