If you’ve ever had a car battery die out or a dead starter motor, you know how important it is to check your vehicle’s electrical system regularly. The good news is that it’s relatively inexpensive to fix if the issue is with your car’s alternator.
You’ll want to replace the alternator before it fails because it’s responsible for charging the battery. When the alternator stops working properly, the voltage drops, and the battery won’t charge correctly. It causes problems such as poor performance, low fuel economy, and even stalling.
Estimated Cost of An Alternator
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Depending on the model and the alternator quality, the prices of the alternator vary. While you can buy the alternator as low as $50, the high-quality and branded alternator can cost you several hundred dollar
Besides the cost of the alternator, the labor charges form a significant part of the total alternator replacement cost. Hence, consider a high-quality alternator so that you can save money fixing the problem.
The following are some tips to help you choose an appropriate alternator:
- Check the warranty period
- Consider the brand name
- Look at the size of the alternator
- Determine whether the manufacturer has tested the alternator
- Ensure that the alternator is the right fit for your car’s model.
What are the factors that affect the price of an Alternator?
Many factors determine the cost of an alternator. These include the type of engine, the number of accessories installed, the size of the alternators, and the brand name of the alternator.
Alternators with a warranty are often more expensive than cheap-quality ones with no warranty. However, the warranty also vouches for the high quality of the product.
Number of Accessories
Some vehicles come with many accessories like air conditioners, radios, etc. In this case, you will need an alternator with a higher amperage to supply enough current to all those devices.
Size of Alternator
The size of the alternator determines its capacity as well as its price. A small alternator will cost you less, while an alternator with heavy usage will cost you high.
A well-known brand name usually means better quality. Therefore, you should go for a higher-priced alternator from a trusted brand.
What are the prominent signs of a bad alternator?
Here are the 7 prominent signs of a bad alternator that require either repairing or replacing it:
1. Low Voltage – If the voltage on the battery is below 12 volts, this could be an indication that the alternator needs to be replaced.
2. No Start – If the engine doesn’t start when you turn the key in the ignition, this could mean that the alternator isn’t generating enough power to keep the battery charged.
3. Poor Performance – If your car has trouble accelerating, braking, or turning corners, there might be something wrong with the alternator.
4. Bad Fuel Economy – If your gas mileage is lower than normal, this could indicate that the alternator is not producing enough electricity to maintain proper battery charging.
5. Stalled Engine – If your engine stalls while driving, this could also be caused by a faulty alternator.
6. Battery Drain – If your battery drains quickly, this could be due to a weak alternator.
7. Warning Light Flashing – If your dashboard warning light flashes, this could be a sign that the alternator is malfunctioning.
Can I repair my alternator?
Yes, Alternators are simple and easy to repair. If you know exactly which part of the alternator is failed, you can easily repair it. An alternator can perform mechanically well, but the brushes have been worn out. In this case, simply replacing its brushes can help. At times, even cleaning the alternator can also help.
But, if you are not a DIY enthusiast, you may spend hundreds of dollars on diagnostics and repair fees. Hence, it is highly recommended to consider replacement instead of repairing an alternator.
There are alternator repair kits available in the market.
How Do I Know if the alternator is faulty or the car battery is dead?
A simple test of jump-starting your car helps you to know if the alternator is faulty or the battery is dead. Turn on the engine, and if it’s diet shortly, it indicates that the alternator is faulty. Hence, it fails to charge the battery. On the other hand, if it fails to start on its own, the battery is likely to die after jump-starting the car.
A car battery is most likely to die if:
The weird smell coming out of the battery: A rotting battery or rust indicates a faulty battery. There may be gasses coming out of the battery that can lead to serious issues.
If you see the signs of corrosion around the battery, it indicates a damaged battery. You may notice a white powder on the car terminal or rust due to the chemical reaction.
Very Old battery
A typical battery lasts up to 3 to 5 years. If you are using a battery for a period longer than this, then it is time to retire the battery.
If the headlights are not running at their full potential, it is another indicator that the battery is dying.
Car taking time to start
If your vehicle is taking more time than usual to start, it is an indication that there could be a problem with the battery.
What are the consequences of Driving with a Faulty Alternator?
Driving with a faulty alternator will result in poor performance of the vehicle. It will reduce fuel efficiency as well. The alternator is responsible for supplying power to all electrical components of the vehicle. When the alternator malfunctions, it reduces the voltage output from the battery. It results in reduced power supply to the various parts of the vehicle. As a result, the engine speed slows down, making the vehicle sluggish.
The alternator is also responsible for charging the battery. If the alternator does not work properly, it cannot charge the battery. It means that the battery will drain very fast. As a result, you will need to recharge the battery frequently. It will increase the cost of driving.
Explain Some Common Causes Of Alternator Failure.
Alternator failure occurs when the alternator has lost its ability to produce electricity. It happens because of many reasons, such as:
- Improper installation of the alternator
- Using jumper cables wrong
- Overloading of the alternator due to any accessory
- Leaking fluid in the alternator
- Poor maintenance of the alternator
- Tight belt in alternator damaging the bearings
- Faulty wiring
- Worn-out Alternator
It is important to check the alternator regularly. If you find any fault in the alternator, get it repaired immediately. Also, make sure that you have checked the battery before jumping into the car. In case the battery is dead, replace it.
My Name is Christopher Angels, and I am a postgraduate in mechanical engineering. Cars have always excited me as a child, and soon I decided to dive into the world of cars by pursuing mechanical engineering. I also worked as a Mechanic for over 3 years to understand Cars’ anatomy and how each part contributes to its working.
My Name is Christopher Angels, and I am a postgraduate in mechanical engineering. Cars have always excited me as a child, and soon I decided to dive into the world of cars by pursuing mechanical engineering. I also worked as a Mechanic for over 3 years to understand Cars' anatomy and how each part contributes to its working.