Having an alternator crisis can be aggravating, especially when it’s not been long since you replaced the previous alternator. For starters, what went wrong is either the new alternator is fake and wears out quickly, has factory defects, or engine fluids got to it.
When dust and dirt get into the alternator, it causes damage to the brushes in no time.
Also an inexperienced mechanic may have made a mess of your car’s electrical system. It will be a miracle if the vehicle doesn’t break down as soon as you fix it.
Getting bad service for vehicle repairs such as fixing the alternator is annoying because the car can stop suddenly in a remote area, requiring you to tow the vehicle. An additional cost you’re not prepared for. So, do not make the mistake of repairing your car with unvetted auto shops.
This article covers what causes brand new alternators to go bad and ways to fix the issue.
What Keeps Killing My Alternator?
People often think of their car’s electrical fault as a battery issue, focusing on fixing it to get the car running. Alternators work with the car’s electrical system, and they put out alternating current, which the battery needs to charge. Also, it powers electrical components like headlights and windscreen wipers.
Furthermore, your driving habits determine the lifespan of your alternator. Using the car’s accessories while idling for an extended period increases the stress on the alternator.
It leads to wear and tear, which damages the alternator. The battery and alternator work together to ensure a car’s system works smoothly, especially for newer and computerized car systems.
However, we should note that different things could have suddenly caused your brand new alternator to fail.
Here are six reasons why your new alternator keeps going bad.
The computer-based system in vehicles manages every car component and alerts the driver when something isn’t working right. When the computer system is bad, its duties are neglected, resulting in some of the car’s components developing faults unnoticed, like the alternator. A glitch with the car’s computer system could stop the alternator from charging the battery regardless of the quality of the alternator. Sadly, you may only notice this fault when your car stops suddenly or during routine checks.
We all hope never to buy car spare parts with factory issues. Sadly, it happens sometimes, and you cannot entirely blame the mechanic. Your brand new alternator may suddenly stop functioning if there is a factory fault. Most times, when a mechanic detects the factory problem, you may get a replacement or buy a new one.
If the wires that send current to the alternator go bad, it will affect its performance. Also, faulty wires will affect the battery charging process, which will result in the car stopping suddenly or refusing to start after being idle for a while. So, check the wires if the other problems listed above aren’t detected in your vehicle.
A bad fuse will alter the functions of the alternator. The fuse could blow out due to bridged wires or other electrical faults, making the alternator fail. So, find the fuse box and check the alternator’s fuse to know if it’s damaged. Replacing a burnt fuse is easy.
A Broken Belt or Pulley
Alternators generate electrical energy for cars when the belts and pulleys rotate fast. However, these belts or pulleys often break easily due to the intensity of their functions. They are not too durable though pulleys last longer than belts. If either of these two parts breaks or damages, it will affect the brand new alternator’s energy generation capacity, causing it to fail.
Can a New Alternator Go Bad Right Away?
A new alternator can get damaged right away if dust and dirt get into it. Also, fluids like engine oil leaking into the car alternator can cause it to spoil immediately. In addition to that, if the location of the alternator is near the bottom of the engine, water and salt might get into it and cause damage.
If you misdiagnose why the alternator stopped working before replacement, you will face the same issue, and the brand new alternator will go bad as well.
For example, fixing a new alternator will not get the battery to charge if the problem is a burnt fuse.
Instead, repair the fuse before replacing or fixing the alternator. Further, fake alternators will go bad instantaneously, so you must ensure you buy a new alternator from verified auto shops.
Can a Bad Alternator Kill a Brand New Battery?
A bad alternator can kill a brand new battery by overcharging the battery, causing damage. Alternators generate power by converting mechanical energy into electrical energy. If the alternator is malfunctioning, the battery will still support the vehicle’s electrical components but not for long.
The battery is not strong enough to provide the required electricity the car needs to run smoothly. Also, carrying the electric load without proper charging will wear out the battery causing it to fail.
Symptoms of a Bad Alternator
Alternators are crucial components of a car’s electrical system. It turns energy the crankshaft emanates into electricity used in powering the car’s electrical system. An alternator can go bad suddenly with no sign or indication. Regardless there are some signs to look out for.
Alternator Warning Light
Your vehicle’s dashboard is designed to alert you when things are not right in your car. A warning light starts flashing continuously on the dashboard and goes off after you’ve fixed the issue. The same goes for bad alternators.
When the alternator fails, the “check engine light” comes on for some cars. So, monitor your dashboard and investigate any light signal displayed. If you observe the alt or gen indicator flashing on your dashboard, please visit a mechanic quickly.
Dim or Very Bright Lights
Failing lights is one of the electrical problems you notice when the alternator starts going bad. You will observe the headlight flickering, and the interior lights become brighter or dimmer. The alternator generates power that keeps the headlights on, and the flickering is to notify you of the struggle the alternator is going through to perform its functions.
Other Electrical Issues
It’s not just the car’s headlights that get affected by failing alternators. The car windows will stop functioning normally. Also, the power locks and air conditioning will be affected. In addition, the speedometer may also start malfunctioning, giving inaccurate details.
Most carmakers program modern cars to cut off power when the alternator stops providing enough electrical current. The alternator failure affects the dashboard light and car stereo system. So, you are likely to notice that your radio stops functioning normally before the headlights go out.
Alternators support car batteries by charging and keeping them boosted. However, they can’t revive a weak or dead battery. So, when your car battery dies out of the blues, check the alternator to ensure it’s working correctly. You will likely notice a worn-out alternator in need of replacement.
Strange Engine Noises
Cars make a lot of noise, some attributed to the environment, while some noises signal that the vehicle needs a qualified mechanic’s evaluation. Have them check your alternator when you start hearing strange noises like whining and growling sounds from the engine area.
Unpleasant Burning Smell
Suppose you perceive a strange burning smell while driving; it’s possible your alternator is overheating or working extra hard. The alternator belt’s location is near the car’s engine, and it’s in constant motion while you drive the vehicle. Furthermore, its proximity to the engine increases the rate of wear, producing an odor similar to burning rubber.
Trouble Starting the Car
A bad alternator will contribute to frequent stalling or troubles while starting the vehicle. If the alternator has started malfunctioning, it will not generate enough power to turn the car on.
Before concluding on the alternator as the reason your car engine isn’t coming on, check the fuel pump to ensure it’s not damaged. Further, see if the fuel pump is securely connected and pumping fuel to the car engine. Also, check the battery to ensure it’s not dead and needs a jumpstart.
Read Also: Jumping Starter Solenoid Does Nothing
Is It Safe To Drive With a Bad Alternator?
Your car will move with a bad alternator. However, we do not advise you to drive with a bad alternator because your vehicle at that moment is at a high risk of stopping anywhere, and you may not be able to turn the engine back on. Also, it depends on the model of the car in question. Some older cars drive further than anticipated because they have fewer electrical accessories.
Newer car models, on the other hand, have more electrical accessories. As such, if the alternator goes bad, the car won’t get far before shutting down or displaying other electrical issues. Your best bet is to replace or fix the alternator when you begin to notice it’s going bad.
What’s the Best Thing to Do When Experiencing Alternator Failure?
You shouldn’t drive with a failed alternator to prevent the battery from dying totally. Note that driving with a bad alternator does not have adverse consequences like driving with a failed brake.
Navigate the car to a stop and seek professional help from auto repair shops. Or call a mechanic to come to fix the car in your driveaway. If you’re stranded in a remote area and no repair shop is available, arrange for the towing of the car with tow services.
Ensure the mechanic is professional, offering a service warranty. Also, check if the mechanic installs quality parts. That way, if the replacement fails, you can call them to lay a complaint and get it fixed without charge.
Alternators generate an electrical current that powers a car’s electrical system. It also charges the battery, maintaining its voltage level. Furthermore, when an alternator goes bad, a light indicator on your dashboard will signify the problem.
The indicators alert you to fix the alternator quickly so the vehicle doesn’t lose power while you’re driving. In addition, a new alternator can go bad if fluids leak on it or dust and dirt get into it. And, when getting a replacement, buy from trusted sources to reduce the chances of getting an alternator with factory defects.