Warning Signs that your Vehicle has a Damaged Alternator

The alternator might be the most important component in your vehicle. Sure, the battery powers the electrical components of your vehicle, but with a non-functioning or damaged alternator the battery will become drained much more quickly. While the vehicle’s engine is running, the alternator charges the battery supply and adds additional power to the vehicle’s electrical systems.

Why a Functioning Alternator is Important

Alternators can last 10 to 15 years without much maintenance. However, when an alternator fails, the engine will stall as soon as the battery charge has been deleted, and it’s likely the vehicle won’t be able to start. It’s obvious how this could become an inconvenience during your daily commute to work. Luckily, there are several signs that will become apparent when an alternator is experiencing problems or is nearing the end of its functional life.

Signs of a Damaged Alternator

There are several signs that indicate you may have a damaged alternator in your vehicle. Luckily, they are simple and easy to recognize, even if you aren’t a trained mechanic.

            Warning Lights: One of the easiest ways to tell if your vehicle has a damaged alternator is to be on the lookout for the appearance of your warning lights. Many modern vehicles have dashboard warning lights that will alert you when there is an issue with your vehicle’s electrical system.

            Dim Lights: Given that the alternator is one of the major parts of your vehicle’s electrical system, it helps provide power to the electronic accessories in your vehicle. If you have a damaged alternator you may notice your headlights, or the other lights in your vehicle, begin to dim. This will also affect other electronic accessories such as power windows, seats or the radio.

            Weak/Dead Battery: An alternator charges your vehicle’s battery, but when the alternator is damaged that charge will quickly dissipate. To check if the issue comes from the alternator or the battery, charge the battery and put it back in the vehicle. If, the lights begin to dim again over time, that indicates there is an issue with the vehicle’s alternator.

            Strange Smells: The alternator works with a system of belts in the engine. If one of these belts has slipped from a pulley, this could cause poor alternator output. Loose belts will create excess friction, which will cause heat to build up and produce the smell of burning rubber. This smell can be a sign that there is something wrong with your alternator or engine.

What You Can do About a Damaged Alternator

If you believe that you have a damaged alternator in your vehicle, find a nearby mechanic who can test the state of your charging system. These tests will be able to diagnose exactly what is wrong with your vehicle and if a replacement or rebuild is necessary for the part.

For more information on all things automotive, and to answer any questions about your vehicle’s windshield, contact or visit the knowledgeable professionals at a Sanel NAPA location near you.

About Sanel NAPA

Since 1920, Sanel NAPA has been a leading auto parts, heavy-duty truck parts, and body shop supplies distributor with over 48 store locations throughout New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and Massachusetts. We deliver quality car parts, heavy-duty truck parts, automotive paint and body supplies, and tools and equipment that are durable, dependable, and long-lasting to provide our clientele with the best products and services possible. For more information, call (603) 225-4000 or click to find a store near you.

Find Your Closest Sanel NAPA Store

With over 48 locations across New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and Massachusetts

Find a Location Near You