Signs Your Alternator is Going Bad

5 things to look out for when you are having electrical problems

Your vehicle has many components that make it operational. One of these components is known as your alternator. The alternator is responsible for the electrical system within your vehicle. It takes an immense amount of power to not only start, but keep your vehicle running. If your alternator is not in optimal running condition, other components can be damaged! This can mean expensive repairs, inconvenience, or even break downs. If you are experiencing any of the following warning signs, call or set an appointment today with one of your local AAMCO Colorado Technicians.


1) Dimming/Flickering Lights

The alternator is responsible for keeping your electrical system alive. Your alternator might be going bad if your headlights and/or dashboard lights start to flicker and become dim. Once the dash lights or headlights dim, it is a clear indication of alternator malfunction. You may also notice that your power seats and windows will start working at slower speeds.

2) Illuminated Dash Warning Light

starting-charging-electricalIf you have a modern car, it’s likely that you will have an indicator light built into the display. The light will typically be shaped like a battery, though, some might say ALT or GEN if this is illuminated, you have a problem and should contact your Local AAMCO Colorado Repair Shop as soon as possible. It’s possible that the light will only trigger if you are using multiple electronic components at once. Think of supply and demand, your alternator slowly loses its ability to supply adequate power to your vehicles electric system while the demand will always stay the same.


3) Weak or Dead Battery

batteriesAlthough a car battery is rechargeable, it still has an expiration date. Alternators, although very good at keeping your battery charged; can only recharge it to an extent. If the battery is weak or dead, the alternator cannot bring it back to life. A good way to rule out a dead battery is to charge the battery to full capacity and start the vehicle. If the battery is weak, the car will continue to run but the lights will again become dim shortly after, indicating a problem with the charging system within the battery. If the vehicle has difficulty starting after the battery is fully charged, the problem likely is with the alternator.


4) Burning Smell

Alternators have a system of belts within the unit. If a belt is damaged and not functioning properly, the excess friction will cause the belt to get hot, which puts off a burning rubber smell. If you catch a whiff of a smell like that of an electrical fire, this could be a sign that the belt is slipping on the pulley, causing poor alternator output. A simple fix like tightening the pulley can remedy this. If tightening your belt does not fix the strange smell and alternator output, we recommend bringing your vehicle into your local AAMCO Colorado for an expert evaluation.


5) Odd Noises

There are many different parts that move within your alternator to create the electrical current. These parts wear out and sometimes break, this could cause a grinding or whining noise. Worn out bearings within the alternator are usually the culprit when these noises are present. Keep in mind, alternators are typically replaced as a unit, rather than having its internal parts serviced.

Your local AAMCO Colorado technicians excel at diagnosing and repairing your vehicle’s electrical system,including problems with you:

AAMCO - Ask A Mechanic

  • Alternator
  • Drive Belt
  • Voltage Regulator
  • Starter
  • Ignition Switch
  • Neutral Safety Switch
  • Battery Cables & Terminals

Give us a call at 1-877-791-1626.

Schedule an Appointment now. If you are experiencing any of these tell-tale signs of a weakening alternator. Don’t get stranded! Contact a Colorado AAMCO location near you!

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