Common Alternator Problems

The alternator is vital to your car’s electrical system. It is responsible for generating power and charging the battery while the engine is running. Understanding the common issues that can arise with the alternator is crucial for maintaining a reliable vehicle. In this article, we will explore the various alternator problems that many owners encounter, such as:

  • Overcharging
  • Undercharging
  • No charge at all
  • General mechanical issues

Additionally, we will provide a few tips on how to prevent premature alternator failure and keep your alternator running well for a long time.

Is The Alternator Overcharging?

Overcharging is not a problem with the alternator itself but rather with the voltage regulator. The voltage regulator is usually integrated into the alternator.

An overcharging alternator can cause significant damage to the battery, leading to the depletion of fluid and reduced battery life. If you observe an acidic smell or fluid leakage from the battery, it may indicate an overcharging alternator.

Is Your Alternator Undercharging?

Another common issue with alternators is undercharging. When an alternator is undercharging, you will notice certain symptoms.

When the engine is at idle, you may notice that the headlights dim but then become brighter when you rev the engine. This is a tell-tale sign that the alternator is not producing enough power to meet the electrical demands of the vehicle. If left unaddressed, undercharging can quickly lead to a discharged (or dead) battery.

No Charge At All

When an alternator fails to produce any charge at all, it usually results in a complete loss of electrical power in the vehicle. This condition may resemble undercharging at first, but you’ll notice that revving the engine will have no effect. If you encounter this issue, be sure to address it immediately. Most modern car batteries can only sustain the electrical load for a very short time without charging. Most will completely die in 10-15 minutes after the alternator fails.

Other Mechanical Issues

Mechanical failures can occur in the alternator just like any other part of your vehicle. Mechanical failures can be caused by exposure, damage, age, overheating, and several other factors.

A common cause of mechanical failure in the alternator is the wearing out or seizing up of bearings within the alternator. Excessive squealing noises are a good indicator of this problem.

A worn-out serpentine drive belt is another common issue that can result in alternator failure and subsequent overheating. It’s a good idea to get under your hood occasionally and inspect your belts and tensioners.

High-Quality Alternators From Tom’s Foreign Auto Parts

Alternators are made to last a long time, especially OEM alternators. At Tom’s we specialize in the highest quality new and recycled auto parts, including alternators for ToyotaBMW, and many more popular makes and models.

We’ve been in business for over 30 years and are a reliable and trusted auto recycler. You can save up to 75% off OEM prices on thousands of auto parts when you shop online with us.

Have questions about finding parts for your vehicle? Contact us online or browse parts by make here. If you’re encountering the alternator issues above, start your search for a high-quality replacement OEM alternator at Tom’s Foreign Auto Parts today.