Your car needs a battery to start the engine and run the stereo when the engine's off -- but once the engine is running, it's down to your car's alternator to provide all the electricity your car needs. That means that, when you experience strange electrical issues on your car, a faulty alternator is often to blame.
The auto care experts at the Carr Subaru service center have compiled this list of five symptoms that are commonly associated with a bad alternator. If you experience any of these on your ride, stop by our service center. We'll want to test your battery and alternator to find the source of your electrical problem, so you can get back to your life!
Technically, the role of the alternator is to turn alternating AC current from the engine into direct DC current for all your vehicle's electronic devices. Over time, the diodes inside can short out and this can allow alternating current into your car's electrical system, wreaking havoc on your car's electronics! You might experience all sorts of bugs like randomly flashing lights, honking horns, cars that do one thing when you press a button for something else entirely -- electrical gremlins in your car can be pretty strange stuff! Luckily, they can almost always be traced back to the alternator. If your vehicle has mystifying electrical glitches, stop by the Carr Subaru service center to have your alternator checked by the pros.
If your car's charging system is experiencing a severe issue, the engine computer may detect the problem and alert you with a dashboard warning light. This light may look like a battery, or the light may simply say "BATT" or "ALT," to indicate a problem with the charging system. Whether this alert was triggered by the alternator or the battery may be impossible for you to determine yourself, but our team at Carr Subaru can use our sophisticated code readers to download all the information we need from your car's computer to find the source of the problem and get it fixed.
The alternator on a modern car contains rapidly-spinning parts. Special bearings inside the alternator are designed to allow it to spin smoothly and quietly -- but, over time, these bearings can begin to wear out. This can eventually cause your alternator to develop a new whirring, buzzing hum noise. If you've noticed a new noise coming from under the hood of your car, bring it by our service center where we can find its source before it wears out completely. If it's the alternator, we may even be able to disassemble it and replace the bearings inside, so you don't have to buy a whole new alternator.
Remember: Your car's alternator doesn't only send electricity to your car's accessories. It's also supposed to be recharging your car's battery. If the battery has died, or if there's a problem with the alternator preventing it from recharging the battery, you might have trouble starting the car up. Since a dead battery and a bad alternator can share a lot of the same symptoms, you'll want to have an expert take a look at your car's charging system to pinpoint the problem. That way, you won't risk wasting your money replacing anything that doesn't need to be replaced.
An early warning sign that your alternator is going bad could be dim, flickering lights. This symptom could show up on any or all of your dashboard lights, reading lights, headlights or other lights. The alternator is supposed to provide the electricity for your car's lights. If there's not enough power to run your lights because your alternator isn't working properly, they may run too dim, flicker, or not run at all.