Batteries start vehicles. Alternators charge those batteries in the first place. As part of a charging system, an alternator runs several other electrical systems, too -- everything from power windows and windshield wiper blades to the dash display, steering, and entertainment system. They even help warm heated seats. How a car alternator works is straightforward. It converts mechanical energy into electrical energy. The process is simple. In your case, your engine drives a belt, which moves a pulley, which spins a rotor shaft, which turns some magnetic coils. That movement produces alternating current (AC power) -- electricity that a rectifier then captures and turns into direct current (DC power). Everything under your hood can then start and stay running. Unfortunately, alternators don't last forever. They can sometimes go bad, and usually without warning. The causes can range from jump-starts and accessory installs to bad alternator parts and old age.
What Are the Signs of Alternator Problems?
Look for car radio and headlighting malfunctions, smell for a burning odor under the hood, and listen for a whining engine. Perhaps the most obvious symptom is total charging system failure. Sometimes, a dead battery can even be telling. If you think your vehicle has alternator issues, do a comprehensive inspection. Test your charging system specifically. Otherwise, you should replace an alternator every 7 years or so. That's about every 80,000 to 150,000 miles. However, be sure to check your owner's manual; it'll tell you when it's time. When you buy a new one, get a genuine GM alternator. It will fit your make and model best. Luckily, our auto parts store sells only what your OEM makes, guaranteeing compatibility with what you drive. Plus, we can ship to you in short order. Order online today.
No results found for "alternators". Here are some helpful search tips:
- Search by a part name. Example: water pump.
- Be less specific. Example: brake instead of ceramic brake.
- Remove information such as make, year or model.
- Can't find the part you are looking for? Contact us and we'll find it for you!