A problem with your car’s alternator? – How to tell?
A car breakdown is not always due to a faulty car battery! An alternator is one among the three most important components comprising the charging unit of a car. It is the alternator that drives power from the battery in order to generate adequate electricity for the entire car. It is mainly located in front of the engine of the car. Now that we got an idea about the importance of an alternator let us see the symptoms that will indicate us of a faulty alternator. It is not that easy to get to know about it. You need to have a good idea about your car.
Firstly, a voltmeter or multimeter would be the handiest option. It is good to keep one in your stock; you will get it from any automotive repair shops. Both of them helps you to check the voltage of the alternator. Now, check whether all connections of the alternator are set properly and keep the settings in the voltmeter to 20 V. Turn on the engine of your car and connect the red positive ends of the multimeter and alternator. Put the black negative end of the multimeter to a metallic surface on the car. A good alternator should now show a reading of around 14 Volts on the multimeter. Anything above that reading indicates a fault with the alternator. If the reading is lower than that, then you should once again check the connections. Then turn off the engine and turn it on once more. Check the readings and if it is still low, then again it is to do with your alternator. It needs replacement.
You can also check for the output reading of the alternator. For this, you would require an amp gauge connected to the alternator. You need to turn on all the electrical units including air conditioner and lights inside the car. Turn on the engine so as to put pressure on the alternator. In such a scenario, ideally, the voltmeter reading should increase significantly than when everything was turned off. Well, if the reading is higher, your alternator is safe. If you see that there is nothing unusual about the readings, then it’s a test for your ears now. Try to hear for some unusual sound coming out of the front side of the vehicle; especially when all electrical units are kept on. If you get to hear it, then there are chances of something being wrong with the alternator.
Another interesting way to check the alternator is by using the radio of the car. You need to turn on the radio slowly and put on a channel bearing a low pitch. In parallel to that, keep the engine of the car on and keep accelerating sharply. You will get to hear unusual sounds coming from the radio in case there is a problem with the alternator.
As part of regular servicing of your car, don’t miss a chance to test your alternator as well. However, if some electrical unit of your car, presumably the headlights, stop to work suddenly or there are other indications to prove there is something wrong with the alternator; it is best to get to a service centre because the problem might be something to do with fuse or wiring as well.