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How an Alternator Works

Here at Convoy, we have covered many different battery-related topics including battery basics and how often a battery should be changed. However, the battery is actually only one aspect within your vehicle’s charging system and it’s not even the most important. The most important part of this system is the alternator. alternator

Image: Product Engineering

The alternator is a mechanical device attached to the engine that runs off your vehicle’s serpentine belt. While the motor is running, the alternator spins, which converts mechanical energy into electrical power that powers all electric features like the lights, radio, and more.

All batteries have a full charge output of around 12 volts which is plenty to start your vehicle, but when your motor is running, your alternator is usually creating more voltage (sometimes up to 15 volts) due to the demand of specific electrical systems. When an alternator does not work efficiently, not only will some of your power options such as windows and locks not work effectively, your headlights or dash might dim during heavy loads.

There are a few reasons alternators might go bad, but bearing failure is the foremost cause when an alternator dies. A bearing failure is an internal issue that stops the rotor from spinning inside the alternator which converts the mechanical energy into electrical power. This can be caused by dirt and foreign objects that accidentally end up inside the alternator or just wear from years of use. When this happens, the alternator will have a loud noise with possible grinding sounds.

If your alternator happens to go bad, depending on the application, you might be surprised that many alternators cost only a few hundred dollars to replace (which usually includes a new serpentine belt and labor).

At Convoy Auto Repair, we have the ability to check, diagnose, or replace your alternator no matter what make and model your vehicle is. Come stop by or schedule your appointment online today.



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