It’s frustrating when your vehicle is not operating properly − or not working at all. It can be challenging to figure out the issue and what it might cost to fix it. A faulty alternator makes the safe operation of a car impossible, as it can significantly damage the entire vehicle.
Suppose there are faults in the electrical part of the alternator. In that case, there will be severe deviations in the onboard voltage with a high probability of microprocessor failure.
Let’s get into the topic and discuss replacing your faulty alternator.
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What Is An Alternator?
The alternator is one of the main components of the car’s electrical system, which transforms the mechanical energy from the engine shaft into electrical power and supplies it to the onboard power system.
The following vehicle components and assemblies depend on the proper and uninterrupted operation of the alternator:
- Engine ignition system
- Head and interior lighting
- Controllers, sensors, as well as all kinds of indicators
- Operation and serviceability of the on-board computer
- Operation of all electrical devices (media, air conditioner, electric drives, electric power steering, etc.)
Types Of Alternators
Alternators come in several types and differ in terms of fuel, size, power, and types of electric current generated:
- Diesel generators
- Petrol generators
- Gas generators
- Digital generators
What Are An Alternator’s Key Elements?
The stator and the rotor are considered to be the main elements of a car alternator. The stator is a package of steel plates assembled in several blades along the circumference and wrapped with copper wire; each blade has a strictly defined number of coils.
The rotor consists of a steel lug (shaft) with wedge-shaped projections and notches. This shaped shaft is wound with copper wires and has a certain number of turns on each shaft. It is called excitation winding. Its leads are connected to the contact rings. When the rotor rotates, an electric voltage is generated in the stator.
The standard voltage in the alternator of a modern car is 13.8 to 14.6 volts. It is sufficient for the regular operation of electrical devices, including battery charging. If the voltage is lower, the battery will not be charged. The onboard network will consume your battery and eventually discharge it. The orange or sometimes even red indication on the instrument panel indicates a lack of power. Stop the vehicle, switch off the engine, and call a service technician.
You can continue driving at your own risk, but in this case, all electrical devices and equipment will be powered by the battery, and in the event of battery failure, you will have to buy a new one.
Signs of a Faulty Alternator
A sure sign of a broken alternator is when the car’s engine does not start smoothly. The second symptom becomes noticeable when it is dark. Car headlights go dim, or the degree of brightness changes depending on engine speed and load on the electrical system.
A lit or blinking battery icon on the dashboard indicates that your car has a severe problem − the battery is not charging correctly.
Other signs include a whistling drive belt, belt overheating or collapse, ringing or rustling sound from under the hood, or electric hum.
How Much Does It Cost To Replace An Alternator?
Alternators can average anywhere from $100 to $350, depending on the model. In most cases, costs will average between $350−400 for the alternator replacement if no other parts need to be changed. Add another $20 to $50 to your bill if the serpentine belt has to be replaced as well. If you decide to go with dealership parts and labor, expect the bill to climb over $500 in many cases. Because the total cost depends on the vehicle, you can expect to pay anywhere between $350−$900 for an alternator replacement.
Regardless of the overall technical condition of the power units and assemblies, the reliability of a vehicle on the road depends on a few components, which at first glance seem to have a secondary function. One such component is the alternator. Practice shows that the car engine can operate without an alternator, but this is not recommended and not allowed. Therefore, it is essential to know when you must replace it.