Car alternator problem

Most Common Car Alternator Problem Symptoms

Imagine, you enter your car ready to ride to work, trying to start the engine as a normal, and suddenly… silence. Your engine is not making any sound at all. It is probably dead. But how? And most important, what you should do now?

First of all, calm down and breathe. Your engine is not dead even if it seems like it is. The most likely scenario in your case is that your battery is dead. And even more likely scenario if your battery is dead, is that your alternator stopped working. Now, your question is what is an alternator. You can find the answer in the next part of the article.

What is an Alternator

An alternator is an electrical generator located in your car. It is a device that converts mechanical power to electrical energy. Alternators power the electrical system and charge the battery while the motor vehicle engine is running. All the modern automobiles use alternators, unlike the traditional vehicles that used dynamo.

Alternators are capable of producing alternating current (AC) electricity. Cars, on the other hand, use direct current (DC) to operate. Therefore car alternators contain an additional gadget that converts the power from AC to DC called rectifier.

Now, let’s get to the main question that keeps you reading this article.How would you know if your alternator broke, and what are the symptoms of alternator failure?

Here you can learn how can you detect the symptoms of car alternator problems.

Check Your Dashboard

Most of the today’s vehicles have a special light on the dashboard that indicates battery problems. Many of the vehicles even have more specific “ALT” light indicator that reveals alternator failures. So what you can do with these indicators?

Get in your car and check if any of these dashboard lights is turned on. The battery and alternator dashboard indicators are the first signs that will show you alternator problems. Do not ignore these alerts and take your vehicle to a service as soon as you can to prevent any further damage.

Pay Attention to Unusual Noises

Always be aware what kind of sound your engine produces. Alternator problems can result with characteristic rattles. I am not saying that the alternator is the only thing that can make your car sounds strange by any means. However, if you hear an unusual noise and it combines with the other symptoms mentioned in this article better call your car service and tell them the problem.

Be Aware for Electrical Problems

If your alternator does not work properly, you most likely will notice various electrical problems. These problems include air condition failures, car radio malfunctioning, remote lock/unlock, power window issues and complications in each other function powered by electricity. If you deal with failures like these, the odds are that you have to replace or repair your alternator to make your car usable again.

Check The Headlights

Check Car Headlights
The alternator problems can manifest with a variety of strange behaviors on your headlights operating. The most common issues are dimmed lights and headlight flickering. It is the case because the alternator provides the electricity to power up the lights. If there is an alternator malfunctioning, it will directly impact the lighting of your car.

If you notice some of this kind of symptoms,the best thing you can do is to drive to the nearest service while your engine is still running.

Make Visual Inspection

Even if there is a whole science behind the processes used for creating your car, and it seems really complicated how it works do not be afraid to open the hood and take a look. Your vehicle is human-built, not and alien-crafted gadget.

Look for some belt pieces scattered in the engine parts. The alternator connects with the driving force through the belt. If it breaks, there will be parts somewhere hanging. Your job there is to find them. While you are there, you can use your hands and check if all the belts are in place and are strained enough. They shouldn’t be loose to function well.

Now you should be proud that you successfully diagnosed broken belt, and you can call your car service and share the news with them.

Odd Smell

I am assuming that some of you guys would be extra lazy and will not take “risk” to open the hood, and I am not judging you. In fact, here is an easy way of detecting the problem just for you.

The alternator supplies the other car parts with electricity through cables and wires and all the problems with the cable connections or wires will result in proper malfunctioning. If the alternator produces more electricity than the resistance of one particular cable, it will cause overheating. That issue will release an unpleasant smell that and you can easily detect outside, and in some cases even inside the car.

The other things that can produce odd smell are the belts that connect the alternator to the engine power. If you have incorrectly positioned or badly strained belts,it may occur overheating and even burning the belts.That will produce an even more disturbing smell.


In today’s environment cars are the most common form of transportation. The odds if you stayed with me to this point of the article are that you own a car by yourself. You know that taking care of your car means that you take care of yourself. You must always be aware of the potential risks your vehicle may have. This article provides you knowledge about all the symptoms of alternator problems and how can you notice them early preventing further issues. Use this knowledge to keep your vehicle in good and secure condition and drive safely.

If your car alternator stops charging your car battery, your car battery will be flat without you knowing. If that happens, you may call Swift Battery Specialist for replacing your car battery and we offer FREE car alternator testing. Call us now at +65 8858 9959 if you require more information!