Skip to main content

7 Signs of a Bad Alternator

The alternator is responsible for powering all of your vehicle's electrical components, including the instrument panel and headlights. A dying alternator makes it difficult for your vehicle's motor to turn over upon startup. But how do you know when this essential component is going bad? Keep reading to find out.

car mechanic replacing alternator in vehicle

What is an Alternator?

Your car’s alternator, along with the battery and voltage regulator, make up the automotive charging system. The alternator works with the battery to generate the electrical power consumed by such vehicle components as the interior and exterior lights and instrument panel. Driven by the crankshaft and usually found near the front of the engine, the alternator produces AC power through electromagnetism. This electricity is then directed into the battery, providing power to run the electrical systems.

How Often Should I Have My Alternator Checked?

The average alternator lasts 80,000 miles. However, with regular maintenance, you can extend the useful life of your alternator significantly. Every manufacturer has a different maintenance recommendation for alternators. However, you should have a visual inspection performed every time you bring your vehicle in for service. Regardless of other factors, you should have your brushes checked every 12 to 24 months and belt tension checked every 30,000 to 40,000 miles.

7 Signs of a Failing Alternator

There are numerous symptoms of a damaged or failing alternator. If you notice any of the below signs, it’s best to take your car in to be inspected.

  • Difficulty starting
  • Rough running
  • Degrading performance of electrical components
  • A growling or whining noise
  • Smell of burning rubber
  • ALT or GEN warning light turning on
  • Flickering headlights
  • A weak or dead battery

The Bottom Line

If you suspect your alternator is going bad, having it inspected may save you up to $1,000 or more over the next several years. At Custom Complete Automotive, our expert technicians will diagnose your car problems and give you a quick, affordable solution. To learn more about our services, contact us today!

Share This Article

Find an Auto Repair Shop Near You

We have multiple auto repair shops throughout Missouri located in Columbia, Jefferson City, and St. Louis.

About the Author
Eric Riddles

Eric Riddles is an ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician who has been working as an auto mechanic since 1998 and originally joined the team at Custom Complete Automotive in 2005. Eric has numerous certifications in various aspects of car repair and spent 10 years training the next generation of auto technicians at a local high school Auto Shop classroom.

Read Eric Riddle's Full Bio

Related Posts

For UNBEATABLE prices, visit any Custom Complete Automotive today!
Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Youtube Follow on Instagram Follow on LinkedIn
Request Appointment