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What Is A Car Alternator?

An alternator is a generator of electrical power which works alongside the battery. The alternator alerts when the car is in motion and uses the car’s mechanical energy to create electrical power for the car systems.

The alternator is around the size of a pint glass and has vents around the main body of the machine to keep it cool whilst in use. A maintenance-free unit, the alternator is installed on all cars that are run on an internal combustion engine.


How Does A Car Alternator Work?

An alternator charges the car battery whilst the vehicle is running by using a rubber spinning pulley to generate energy. Found towards the front of an engine, it’s a mechanism that has a belt connecting the crankshaft pulley, which uses electromagnet technology to generate electricity.

Essentially, the alternator turns mechanical energy into electrical energy, to be used in many of the car’s functions. Many people think that it is the battery that provides all the power but in reality, the alternator supplies all the energy for the operations of the car.


How Do I Know If My Alternator Isn’t Working Properly?

A red battery symbol will appear on the dashboard and remain on, even after first starting up. If the alternator is starting to fail, it may flicker over time. As the alternator starts to deteriorate at the end of its life, basic systems, such as the lights and window wipers, will start to break down.

Since a lot of features in a car are powered by electricity, a lot of features will cease to work when the alternator breaks – including vital instruments. This renders the car unusable, so it’s necessary that you have this checked as soon as possible.

If you suspect a failing alternator but there is no warning light, then you can look under the bonnet of your car and check the condition of the belt yourself. If the belt looks slightly burnt or glazed, then this is a signal that the belt is being overworked and is slipping because of this. Another signal the alternator isn’t working to optimum performance is if the belt is too loose. It’s simple to replace the alternator belt and the belt comes at an affordable price, just disconnect the car battery and replace the belt with a new one by placing the belt in the same positions as the old one. Additionally, if you’re smelling burnt rubber, this may be a symptom of a dysfunctional alternator.


The Most Common Cause of Alternator Failure

Over 85% of newly fitted alternators fail within the first 30 minutes, as many mechanics fit the machinery without the battery being fully charged before installation. By installing an alternator alongside a flat battery, the alternator will be overworked and will blow, rendering the unit useless. We highly recommend getting an experienced professional to examine and restore the alternator.

If you’re looking for your alternator to be professionally checked and replaced, then the team at Oaks Services can help! Our fully trained and qualified mechanics will provide a high-quality replacement and service, with a combined 50 years in the industry, you can count on us to stay true to our word. For more information on our services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today!