Signs of a bad alternator

The car’s alternator is used to charge the battery and support your vehicle’s electrical system while you’re driving. The alternator turns mechanical energy into electrical energy which gets directed to the battery and goes on to power all your car’s electrical systems. The alternator is a crucial component of your car’s charging system. Therefore, it is important for you to know the signs of a bad alternator before you face any more problems.


1. Dim or overly bright lights

signs of a bad alternator

A dim or overly bright light headlight is due to the inconsistent voltage transmitted by a failing alternator. Some may also experience flickering lights or lights that erratically go from bright to dim and vice-versa.


2. Slow or malfunctioning accessories

Slow or malfunctioning accessories are often signs of a bad alternator that isn’t supplying enough power. If you notice your windows taking longer than usual to roll up or down, or even if your speedometer and other instruments start going haywire, you may have an alternator problem.


3. Trouble starting or frequent stalling

We will notice that the car is struggling to start or stalls frequently when the alternator is failing. This is because when the alternator does not charge the battery properly, then the battery doesn’t have enough power to smoothly start the car. While frequent stalling can be a result of the spark plugs not getting enough power from the alternator to keep the engine going.


4. Unpleasant smell

signs of a bad alternator

An unpleasant smell under the bonnet can often mean the alternator has gone bad.

If you smell a hot wire or electrical fire smell, it is usually a result of an overheated alternator. However, if you smell burnt rubber, then it indicates the rubber belt which keeps the alternator going may not be turning freely, causing excess friction. This friction can cause the belt to heat up, producing a distinctive burning rubber smell.


5. Odd noises

Another sensory sign of an alternator system failure is odd noises. Odd noises can be caused by numerous car problems and can be difficult to detect where the sound is coming from. However, if you hear strange sounds and have any of the other bad alternator symptoms mentioned it strongly indicates alternator failure.


6. Battery warning light

Cars are equipped with dashboard warning indicators on the driver’s instrument cluster. If you see a battery like an indicator lighting up, you should not ignore it. Ignoring this light could result in expensive repairs or even a breakdown. This is why you should take your car to a workshop as soon as possible so that they can diagnose the problem. In the early stages of alternator failure, this may be a simple fix, so it is always best to act when the warning light comes on.


These are the signs of a bad alternator, should you be encountering any of these mentioned symptoms, you can download the UDRIVERS app to look for workshops for your alternator!

Get It Now for Free