How Does an Alternator Work?

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How Does an Alternator Work?

A Closer Look At How An Alternator Works

An alternator, simply put, converts mechanical energy produced by your engine into electrical energy. Mechanical energy cannot be used to power components such as your air conditioner, power steering, power windows, or radio. They require power instead, which is why the alternator is so important. The alternator keeps the engine running after the battery begins it. Here are the critical components of an alternator:

Rotor and Stator

A belt attached to your crankshaft drives the rotor and stator. When the crankshaft revolves, the rotor within the stator spins, producing a magnetic field, causing an electrical current to flow.

Diode/Rectifier Assembly

The electricity is received by the diode assembly, which changes it from AC (alternating current) to DC (direct current). This is then directed forth to power your vehicle’s numerous components.

Voltage Regulator

The voltage regulator functions as a surge protector for the alternator, limiting the amount of power it generates. The individual components can be damaged if there is too much power being transmitted. However, if there isn’t enough, the components won’t be able to function, and your alternator’s capacity to perform will be jeopardized.

Now that you know what an alternator is and how it works, you can move on to the next step. Let’s take a look at a few signs that it’s having problems.

Five Signs You Need a New Alternator

Here are five of the most prevalent indicators of a vehicle needing alternator repair:

Difficulty Starting

It’s conceivable that your alternator is worn out if your car has difficulties starting. Additionally, it could also be likely that only a few of your brushes aren’t able to reach the coil at all locations where they’re intended to or that the voltage regulator is broken.

Dimmed Accessory Lights

If you try to start your vehicle and find that the dashboard lights, dome lights, headlights, and/or radio lights dim slightly, it could be an indicator that your alternator isn’t up to the task.

Dead Batteries

If your battery continues dying or your car won’t start every time, it’s worth looking into your alternator, especially if your battery has previously been inspected. This occurs when the alternator is unable to recharge the battery, and it is critical to recognize this.

Burnt-Rubber Smell

If your alternator belt cannot rotate on the pulleys for any reason, friction will build up, and the belt will heat up. If it gets hot enough, you’ll smell burnt rubber when this happens. While this is not as prevalent as the others, it is still likely to occur.

Grinding or Whining Noise

Another symptom of needing alternator repair is if you hear grinding or whining sounds emanating from your alternator. A fractured, unclean, or worn-out bearing is the most common cause of grinding and is most likely because the voltage regulator is telling the alternator to charge more than it should be.

Professional Alternator Repair

If your vehicle is having problems with its alternator, you can count on Eric’s Car Care for trusted alternator repair in Houston, Texas. We can inspect, repair, or replace your alternator, regardless of the make or model of your vehicle. Give us a call or come see us today to schedule a service appointment with our certified staff of mechanics at our Rice Village shop and give your car the professional auto repair it deserves.

Written by Eric's Car Care