What Are the 5 Signs of a Bad Alternator?

When many people think about their vehicle's electrical system, they probably don't immediately think about their alternator. Their minds probably go to their battery. While your vehicle battery does give electrical flows to start your vehicle, the alternator is the primary part that keeps your battery charged and runs your electrical functions when your car is on. Without an alternator, your vehicle will abruptly break down all the time. 


What Is It?

The alternator is a fundamental piece of your car because it converts engine power into electrical energy. The electrical energy works to keep your vehicle's electrical systems operating while continually charging the battery. It is named alternator because it generates an alternating current that changes direction periodically.



The alternator comprises many pieces such as bearings, rotors, and other internal parts. All the alternator parts can wear out over time, which means you're bound to pay a visit to the auto repair shop. Here are some of the signs of a failing alternator that you should be on the lookout for:

  • Dimming or Flickering of Interior/Exteriors Lights. The electricity generated by the alternator powers all the lights inside (and outside) your car or truck. If you notice unusual dimming or flashing of the lights, then the alternator is most likely the culprit.
  • Malfunctioning of Other Electrical Components. Your electrical accessories also include your power windows, power seats, radio, and seat warmers. Without enough electricity, these accessories may not work at all. 
  • Engine Stalling. If the alternator is not functioning, your vehicle may end up draining its battery. You'll definitely need a new battery, but you may also need to repair your alternator too.
  • Unusual Noises. If any of the parts in the alternator are not working, you may hear grinding or growling noises. 
  • Burning Rubber Smell. In wild cases, a bad alternator can give off a pungent burning smell. If you detect a burning rubber scent, we advise you to stop driving your car immediately and get help.


If you experience any of these symptoms, our expert team at Taylormade Automotive will be happy to assist by inspecting and diagnosing your electrical problems. We welcome you to give us a call or stop by our shop in San Francisco, CA, today!

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