How Do You Identify Signs of Alternator Trouble? Use Your Senses!

Posted on: 29 January 2018

The alternator is one of the hardest-working parts of your vehicle -- it's responsible for keeping the battery powered, which in turn starts your vehicle and keeps it running. Your alternator also keeps the headlights running and performs several other crucial functions in your vehicle, so it's vital that it works properly. You can use your senses to identify signs of alternator trouble. If you sense the following signs of trouble, you need to seek help straight away. 

Trouble You Can See

Whilst this is something you won't see unless you check under the bonnet, it's relatively easy to find signs of alternator problems. One major indicator of alternator trouble is a damaged belt. The belt may be loose, cracked, or dramatically worn. When this is the case, the belt can't maintain the tension required to keep the alternator running. It's usually not hard to spot at first glance, but if you're not sure whether the belt looks damaged it's best to have a professional look at it. 

Trouble You Can Hear

One of the main reasons that people take their vehicle in for servicing is whining noises. Whilst there are a number of different reasons that your car could be making whining noises, it's possible that it's the alternator if the whining is quite sudden. The whining is often the indicator that the belt is loose, that the bearings or worn, or that the belt isn't correctly aligned. If you hear the whining suddenly whilst on the roadway, make every effort to get off the road as soon as you can. Take your vehicle in for servicing straight away to avoid alternator failure. 

Trouble You Can Smell

Whilst there are many smells that might emerge from a car that's having problems, alternator issues tend to come with a unique odour. If your alternator is failing, you'll frequently notice an odour of burned rubber, the result of a misaligned pulley that is creating undue friction on the belt. Sometimes, the smell of alternator problems may be more like an electrical odour. This can happen when the alternator overheats, which forces the rotor to process too much power. 

Have you seen, heard, or smelled any of the alternator trouble signs discussed above? Trust your senses -- it's best to see a professional for alternator repair or alternator rebuild straight away. By recognising the problem early on, you'll be better able to prevent more costly problems later.