Q: How do I know when my alternator is bad?
A: A noisy alternator is a warning sign that it is going bad. This is because the bearings inside go out and you can usually hear this when your hood is open. The sound will be coming from the area where your serpentine belt and alternator are and will sound like a sort of rattling spinning noise. It will be loud enough to make you wonder if something is wrong.
An alternator is part of the charging system of your car that produces electricity for many devices. A type of generator, the alternator transforms mechanical energy into electrical energy. Although your car's battery supplies some electricity, most of the electrical mechanisms within the vehicle, require the alternator's steady stream of power. Alternating current (rather than direct current) gives the alternator its name, because this is the type of electricity it creates. It's mainly a mechanical device, concealing a pulley, wheels, brushes and wires, which hooks to the crankshaft and runs to the battery. This way, the gasoline powers the engine to turn the crankshaft, which in turn connects to the alternator. The alternator converts that motion into current whenever the car is running. The resulting electricity operates the cooling fan, headlights, windshield wipers, radio, defogger, and air conditioning.
What's included in our alternator service
- Check battery and charging system
- Replace parts as needed per meeting manufacturer's specifications
- Retest system
Customer Detective WorkPosted March 7, 2012 1:29 PM
One might say the most challenging part of being an automotive service technician at BRAKEmax Car Car Centers is diagnosing a problem before it can be fixed.
Cars are made up of a bunch of complex systems. There could be a number of reasons for any given symptom. So it can sometimes be challenging to track down the actual cause of the problem. And it can be frustrating for the vehicle owner because it can take time and money to get to the bottom of a problem. If it's not something obvious, it's easy for the customer to focus on the fixing and not the diagnosing.
Let us introduce you to something we'll call Customer Detective Work – that is helping your technician find clues to what's wrong.
We start with the detective basics: What, Where and When. Play along with me. You come in to BRAKEmax Car Car Centers and your car is making a funny sound.
Q: Where's the sound?
A: Around the right front wheel.
Q: What kind of sound?
A: Kind of a clunk, clunk sound.
Q: When do you hear the sound?
A: When I turn and accelerate.
Q: Right and left? Forwards and back?…
Do you see where we're going? You're gathering additional information to help your our technician know where to start. Based on your car and the tech's experience, he'll know where to look and can start with the obvious suspects.
You can see how that would be more helpful than dropping the car off with a note that says "making a funny noise".
When you think you need to bring a vehicle in, make some notes about the problem. Rather than just saying "it's leaking", tell the tech the color of the fluid, and approximately where under the car you see the puddle.
Things like 'the car is stalling or sputtering' are often very hard to diagnose when they're intermittent. They may not happen every time you drive and sometimes aren't happening when you actually bring the car in. So, it is a big help for you to describe what's happening in as much detail as possible.
Your technician at BRAKEmax Car Car Centers will need to be able to duplicate the problem if possible so he needs to know details, like 'it stalls after it's been driven for about 20 minutes and I go over 50 miles an hour'.
If the tech can experience the problem personally, he's better able to make a diagnosis and repair and then test to see if the repair solved the problem.