Alternator Problems - When Should They Be Replaced?

Alternator problems are not pleasant. Sometimes you will attempt to start your car and only hear a clicking noise when you turn the ignition. Usually it's on a day when you simply cannot afford to be late! If this happens to you, it might be an alternator issue. On average, alternators need to be replaced once or twice during  the lifetime of the vehicle, as they usually last between 70,000 and 150,00 kms.  In this post we will examine the role an alternator plays and look at some clues that it might be nearing the end of its life. Call us if you think your alternator needs work.


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What Is An Alternator?

An alternator is a key component in your vehicle. It recharges your battery using power generated by the engine. If it fails, your battery will no longer be recharging, and over time, will die. This critical part is connected to the serpentine belt on your motor. As the rotor in the alternator is turned by the serpentine belt, it uses the electrical coils to create a charge. A professional auto technician will quickly determine where the problem lies. Your alternator is attached to the engine, under the hood.

Does The Alternator Do More Than Charge The Battery?

All the electrical components on your vehicle are ultimately affected by the health of your alternator. If the alternator dies, so does your battery, and none of your electrical components will work any longer. This list of parts is extensive in a modern car and includes things like headlights, turn signals, wipers, sound system, dashboard lights and gauges, heater, air-conditioning, heated seats, power windows, navigation systems, etc.

"Been a customer at Hansma's for many years. Had a 1990 pickup that ran like a new vehicle due to the work and upkeep they gave it. Awesome service, friendly staff." -  Marian Z.

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When Does It Need Replacing?

There are some clues that you can observe to let you know that your alternator may be failing. If you find that any of your electrical components seem to be struggling to work effectively, for example, if the lights on your gauges begin to dim, you may have a failing alternator. This is because the battery has to pick up the slack when the alternator malfunctions. If this happens, there will be a constant drain on the battery until, like a flashlight with dying batteries, the vehicle lights will begin to fade. 

If you think your vehicle is losing power, pull over somewhere safe and, if possible, do a quick visual check under the hood. If you see a belt loose, flapping, or missing entirely, you know that the problem is probably a simple fix - a new or tightened belt.  


If you hear a loud growling or whining noise, it is possible that the alternator pulley and crankshaft pulley are out of alignment and require adjustment. It may also be that the bearings and the bushings in the component are worn out. A strong burning smell may indicate a problem with the wiring inside the alternator. 

A battery that does not hold a charge for long, requiring frequent boosts, can be indicative of either a failing battery or a failing alternator. Don't wait too long to deal with any of the above problems or you may find yourself stranded. Contact a professional auto repair shop  as soon as possible. A professional auto technician will quickly determine where the problem lies. Alternators can usually be repaired or replaced in a few hours or less. You can compare alternator prices online, at a car dealership, auto parts store, or perhaps find a reconditioned one at a junkyard.

Hansma Automotive Service

Knowing the important role that the alternator plays, it is important that you find an auto repair shop that you can trust like Hansma Automotive. Hansma has a 4.8 rating on Google reviews and carries out a full range of auto repairs on all makes of vehicles. Check out our reviews for yourself and discover whey we are one of the highest-ranked and best loved automotive services in the city of Kitchener.


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Posted on February 29, 2016 .