When the electrical components of your vehicle stop working, your immediate reaction is to blame the battery. As the battery holds the electricity to power the system, it does make sense to investigate the battery. But a not very well-known fact is that the charging system of a vehicle is composed of three major components: the battery, the voltage regulator, and an alternator. Alternators are a fundamental part of your vehicle, charging the car battery and powering the electrical system while the engine is running. When your vehicle shows signs of electrical problems, it is essential to check the alternator for signs of maintenance requirement.
How Does an Alternator Work?
As mentioned above, an alternator is responsible for providing your car’s electrical system with power, but how does it work exactly? Although the process is quite complex, here are the key points:
- The alternator possesses a rotor within the system, which undergoes electromagnetic induction.
- Using electromagnetism, an electromagnetic induction generates electricity.
- The electricity generate by the alternator provides power to the battery, charging it.
Due to its responsibility of providing electrical power, a well-functioning alternator is essential to the overall health of your vehicle. Therefore, noticing signs of a faulty or failing alternator is very important to any vehicle owner.
Alternator Problems: The Symptoms of a Bad Alternator
Your alternator dying on the middle of the road is something no driver wants to experience. Take a look at some of the signs of a bad or failing alternator in order to prevent your alternator from dying completely:
- Warning Lights: If the alternator warning light is on, it means that the car system has detected something wrong with the alternator and is a good indication that the alternator requires attention. Keep an eye out for other warning lights coming on, as a failing alternator can result in that as well.
- Dimming Headlights: If your headlights are dimming and unable to maintain its regular level of brightness, it may be a sign that your alternator is failing.
- Inconsistent Radio Power: If your radio is cutting in and out, it is a sign that electricity is not being properly supplied. This indicates that your alternator may not be working properly.
- Battery Problems: If your battery is weak, dying or dead, then it is an indication that not enough electricity is being provided to the battery by the alternator. Although batteries are not meant to last forever, a quickly failing battery may be a sign that your alternator requires attention.
As mentioned above, most signs of a failing alternator are electricity related. If you notice any of the symptoms, it may be time for an alternator repair.
Alternator Cost: Alternator Replacement Costs
You notice signs of a dying alternator and decide to get your alternator replaced, but how much does it cost? Before we can answer that question, there are a few factors to consider when finding the price of an alternator replacement. If you are looking to replace the alternator yourself, you are looking at anywhere between $30 to upwards of $1000 for the alternator alone. The price, of course, depends on your car model and the required alternator type or model. If you decide to take your vehicle to a mechanic to replace your alternator, it will cost around $300 to $1000, for the labor and cost of the part. This depends on a re-manufactured vs new alternator, car model and required alternator type or model. A re-manufactured alternator will typically cost you between $300 to $500, while a new alternator can cost you anywhere between $500 to $1000 or more.
Although alternators, when taken good care of, can last a very long time, that’s not always the case. If you are experiencing any signs of a faulty or dying alternator, call us immediately. Having locations in both Auburn and Maple Valley, we provide our alternator repairs and other auto repair services to most parts of Washington. With over 25 years of experience we have the expertise to work on most models and vehicle types, including trucks and RVs.