5 Signs Your Alternator Is Going Out

Signs of a bad alternator are not always easy to diagnose and can fly under the radar and go unnoticed until it's too late. The most common problem is telling the difference between the battery and the alternator. 

So how can you tell if it's your battery vs your alternator that's going bad? I will be happy to explain that in just a second. First though...

Alternator Is Going Out

What Does An Alternator Do?

Does the alternator charge the battery? Your alternator is a crucial part of your vehicle and it's main job is to keep your battery charged. It's not always noticeable that the alternator is going bad. when the battery is involved so how can you tell if it's your battery or your alternator that you are having trouble with?

How Can You Tell If It's The Battery Or The Alternator

The easiest way to tell is to charge or "jump" your battery and see if your vehicle starts up. If it does the battery was the problem if not then it's time to replace your alternator.

That's only if your battery is already dead. However, there are ways to tell if your alternator is going to go out before you ever lose your batteries life. So how do you tell if your alternator is going out?

5 Signs Your Alternator is Going Out

  1. Trouble starting your vehicle or stalling out frequently.
  2. Loud Whining or possibly growling sounds
  3. The smell of burnt wires or tires
  4. slow or glitching electrical components
  5. The battery dies

How Do You Know When Your Alternator Is Going Bad?

1.Trouble starting your vehicle or stalling out

When you go to start your car some time and have trouble starting up the engine, then your vehicle is already trying to tell you something. 

I remember when I ignored the signs that my 2000 GMC Safari Van's alternator was going out. Then it stalled out on me going around a turn on top of a mountain and I had to be rescued. It just glitched out on me and died!

The steering wheel was nearly impossible to turn to try and pull over to safety and I was nearly hit by several vehicles coming around a turn that couldn't see me stalled out.

I had to use my safety cones and flares (Thank goodness I had them!) I make sure I have those at all times now in every vehicle I drive. It was very scary and I had the kids with me.

2.Loud whining or possibly growling sounds

The sounds of a bad alternator can be heard when your engine starts making whining sounds or even growling sounds at you. Pay attention. One of the most frequent things that happens before an alternator is about to quit working is a loud whining noise. It's a sure sign that your alternator is struggling.

3.The smell of burnt wires and/or tires

This is to be expected when something is either getting overcharged and heating up wires and/or being undercharged and working slowly or starting to glitch.

This smell is highly noticeable after starting your vehicle and driving for a length of time. The smell is like burnt rubber or burnt plastic.

4.Slow or glitching electrical components

This one is the most annoying and one very big sign your alternator is struggling to do it's job. When things like your dashboard odometer or your lights or anything in between start glitching and flickering on and off like it's possessed you don't need an exorcist.

You need to have your alternator checked. Other things to look for include windows rolling up and down slower than normal or stuttering on the way up or down. Same for the sunroof or convertible top also.

5.The Battery Dies

Yep, you saw that one coming didn't you? It's true though. Many people miss the other signs because they don't happen constantly.

It's a quick glitch or a stutter here and there and then it goes back to normal for awhile putting people at ease so they think it was an isolated fluke. They don't want to worry about the little things because it starts working again afterwards like normal.

Usually, it's no big deal until they wake up and try to go to work and their vehicle won't start. Then it's too late. Or worse, driving down the road when it goes out making it incredibly hard to pull over and get out of harms way.

The Many Ways To Tell If It's Your Alternator Or Battery Going Bad

Pay attention to the many signs your vehicle gives you that your alternator is possibly going out. You can take it to an auto shop to have it tested if your unsure.

Just remember if your alternator is not charging or keeping the battery charged anymore than you can find out by trying to give your vehicle a jump. If it doesn't work than it's your alternator that is going bad. If charging the battery or giving your car a jump does work, than you know you need to replace the battery.


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