Alternator Issues: Why Diagnostics Can Point Us in the Right Direction

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You’ve likely heard of an alternator before, but what does it do?

The alternator is responsible for making the electricity used to start and run your engine, as well as all the other electrical systems in your vehicle. This includes the radio, turn signals, power windows, and onboard computers. Once your alternator generates enough electricity to power these things, it recharges the battery with whatever is left over.

If you’ve been having constant trouble with a low or dead battery, the alternator is usually the prime suspect. However, it’s just one component in your vehicle’s starting and charging system – which means there are other components that could be causing the issue. These include the battery, starter, serpentine belt system, and electrical cabling.

Common Signs That Point to the Alternator

Some of the most common signs that the power issues you’re experiencing are caused by the alternator are:

  • Difficulty starting your vehicle
  • Dimming lights
  • Issues with the stereo output
  • The car starts but stalls while you’re driving
  • A squealing sound coming from the engine that becomes louder when the heater or sound system is on
  • Your vehicle stops running immediately after receiving a jumpstart
  • The check engine light is on

There’s also a simple test you can try to determine if the issues are being caused by a faulty or failing alternator. Turn on the AM radio to a station without music and turn the volume down low. Rev the engine; if you hear a whine or the sound starts to go fuzzy when you hit the gas, it’s very likely that the alternator is failing.

Say Goodbye to Your Power Woes at EuroCar Service!

At EuroCar Service, our technicians have a systematic process of testing all the components and connections to get to the root of your problem.

The signs you’re noticing will point us on where to begin the diagnostics – so it can be very helpful to keep track of what your car is doing and when the issues occur. Even though some signs may point to a faulty alternator, diagnostics will be able to tell us if that’s actually the case or if there’s a different issue that could be mimicking the problem.

For example, the diagnostic tests could reveal that the alternator isn’t generating the electricity needed to keep the battery charged. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the alternator is bad – the issue could be caused by a worn serpentine belt tensioner that’s allowing the belt that spins the alternator to slip. This means your alternator could be fine, it’s just not running at the proper speed. The solution, in this case, would be to replace the serpentine belt system, rather than the alternator.

So if you’ve been having power or electrical issues with your car, schedule an appointment with us! We see all European vehicles including Audi, Fiat, BMW, Land Rover, Mercedes, Mini Cooper, Saab, Jaguar, Volkswagen, Volvo, and Smart Car. Our highly trained technicians will properly diagnose any problem you’re having and make the repairs you need to get back on the road. Call us today at 206-527-8828 or request an appointment online.