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Alternator facts (alternator diagnosis and repair)

Simple Answers from Protech Auto Service

When your vehicle doesn't start, the first thing you think of might be the battery. That may be the culprit, but it also might be that your alternator has gone bad.

An alternator sends power to your vehicle's electrical systems and accessories like your entertainment system, charging ports, and so on. Any extra electricity goes to re-charge the battery. So, your battery is what gets your engine started, but once the engine's running, your alternator is what's turning out the power. A failing alternator may not be able to keep the battery charged.

One of the most common causes of an alternator's demise is the bearings fail and seize up. That can happen from dirt and liquid getting into the bearings combined with the heat of the engine. You might hear a grinding sound, an early warning that something's wrong.

Other signs your alternator may be failing? A squealing noise in your engine, or your headlights dimming when engine RPMs drop. You may notice an electrical smell coming from the engine. If any of these are happening, you'll want to have your vehicle checked at ProTech Auto Service.

Many modern alternators have a decoupler pulley that allows the alternator to rest when it isn't needed. This extends alternator life and helps with fuel economy. A bad decouple pulley could cause your battery to go dead.

If your alternator needs to be replaced, you should also replace the serpentine belt that turns it, and the belt tensioner as well. As you can imagine, if the alternator isn't rotating as it should, the belt that turns it won't freely move, and that can cause excessive belt wear.

The service advisor at ProTech Auto Service will recommend the right replacement parts based on your vehicle's needs and your driving habits. And remember, if you notice any of those warning signs that the alternator might be going bad, it's always better to have it checked out, so you don't find yourself stranded on the road.

ProTech Auto Service is dedicated to keeping your vehicle safe and at peak performance. They are located at 410 W. J St., Ste. G and their phone number is (661) 822-1100.