Owning a car allows you to travel freely, without waiting for a bus or someone else to drive you. However, this freedom requires you to pay for gasoline, insurance, and occasional auto repairs. One of the most common repairs you might face in an older vehicle is the alternator. Below is more information about this essential component, as well as when it is failing.
What Is an Alternator?
An alternator is a small generator that you can find under the hood of a car. It receives power from the running engine and creates an electric charge that replenishes the battery. It also powers the electrical accessories like the lights, radio, and windows while the car is running.
How Does It Work?
The key components of an alternator are the rotor and the stator. The rotor is a collection of magnets that spin around inside the stator, which contains a bundle of copper windings. This motion creates an electrical current that flows through the wire and into a diode. The diode converts the alternating current into a direct current so that the battery can store it.
This process ensures that electricity can only flow from the generator to the battery without reversing course, as a reversal would short-circuit the electrical components. Meanwhile, a regulator keeps that voltage at an acceptable level, while a fan within the component dissipates heat from the current and friction of spinning parts.
What Are Common Signs That It Is Failing?
When the alternator fails, your battery won’t recharge while you are driving, preventing you from starting the car after you turn it off. If it starts to die during operation, your lights and other accessories will fade and flicker, and the car will eventually stop running. However, before this happens, the battery light on your dashboard will illuminate to indicate that it isn't charging properly. If this occurs, contact an auto repair shop immediately.
If your car won’t start and you believe it’s the alternator causing issues, contact Top Quality Auto Parts & Accessories Inc. in Chillicothe, OH. They have been serving Ross County for more than 20 years and sell everything you need for auto repairs, tuneups, and maintenance. Learn more about their services online. Call (740) 775-8111 to ask about product pricing and availability.