What Does a Car Alternator Do?

The alternator in your car, truck, or SUV generates electricity. It generates AC currents and converts them into DC currents that it routes through the electrical system to charge the battery and power your electrical accessories. The maximum output of the alternator is 14.5 volts. Anything lower than 13 volts or higher than 14.5 volts can cause problems with your automobile’s electrical system.

Dead Battery

For example, if the alternator is producing fewer than 13 volts of electricity, it may be unable to keep the battery charged as it discharges. Consequently, you will end up with a dead battery frequently. The need to jump-start the battery on a regular basis is an indication that the alternator is going bad. It can also be an indication that it is time for a new battery.

Dim Lights

An alternator that is producing fewer than 13 volts of electricity can also make it hard for you to see at night. The reason why is that the headlights will be dimmer than they normally are. In addition, the interior lights will also be dim as will your taillights. If the alternator is producing excess voltage, the opposite will occur and your lights will be extremely bright.

Faulty Accessories

When the alternator starts to malfunction, your vehicle’s accessories will start to malfunction. Unfortunately, the power accessories rely on the electricity that the alternator generates in order to operate. This includes things such as your USB charging ports, the entertainment system, and your power windows and seats. All of these things will struggle to work.

Hot Electricity

In most cases, the malfunctioning alternator will struggle to produce electricity. In rare cases, however, the alternator may overwork and produce more than 14.5 volts. When this happens, the electrical system in your automobile overheats. Consequently, you may smell burning wires in the engine or the vehicle. You may also smell burning rubber, which is the wire insulation.

Whining Noises

Finally, the alternator may start to make noises in the engine if it is going bad. It can make a whining sound, or it can make a growling sound. You will hear the alternator make this noise as it tries to generate electricity for your vehicle’s electrical system.

Give us a call today so we can schedule a service appointment for you if your automobile’s alternator is acting up. We will test the alternator and replace it if necessary. If the problem is the battery, do not worry. We can replace that, too.

Photo by loraks from Getty Images via Canva Pro

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