The alternator is responsible for keeping your battery charged while the car is operational. When it fails, the battery will be quickly drained and all your car's electrical functions will be without the power necessary to operate. Detecting an alternator problem before it fails is important. If you suspect your alternator is on the verge of failure, here is what you need to know:
What Are the Signs to Look For?
Before your alternator calls it quits, there are several signs that could indicate your car is headed for problems. One of the most noticeable is that your car's lights will start to flicker. The interior and headlights will flicker and sometimes appear to be dimmer.
Your alternator not only supplies power to your battery, but it also powers the electronic accessories in your car. If it is on the verge of failure, some of your electronic components might operate slower. For instance, the power seats might take longer to adjust.
Depending on the model of your car, there might be a warning light that indicates a problem. The "Check Engine" light is sometimes activated when the alternator is not operating properly. You might even notice an indicator featuring a battery or even an "Alt" light.
An unfortunate sign that your alternator is failing is the battery dies. You can likely recharge the battery, but it will drain again quickly. Without the support of the alternator, the battery does not get the power needed to remain charged.
What Can You Do?
There are several ways you can troubleshoot your alternator if you are still unsure it is the source of your car's problems. For instance, you can start by eliminating problems with the battery. Check the battery for signs of a physical damage. You should also check the cables. If you still notice problems, have the battery tested. If the problems persist, the battery is likely not the source of the problem.
If you have an automated tester, you can use it to test the alternator output. The tester will indicate whether the alternator's output is sufficient to power the battery and other electrical components. If not, the part will need to be replaced by your mechanic. Depending on the cause of the failure, other components might require replacement, too.
Alternator problems cannot be ignored. If you put off a visit to the mechanic, you run the risk of not only needing a replacement for the alternator, but also the car's battery. Contact local auto repair services for more information and assistance.