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What is an Alternator?

An alternator works with your battery to supply power to a vehicle’s electrical system by converting mechanical energy to electrical energy while the engine is running. Alternators may wear down over time and a failing alternator can impact your car in many ways.

How Do Alternators Work?

Since alternators convert mechanical energy to electric energy, you need to understand how they work.

The alternator of your car is mounted on the block with either a bracket or with bolts. To create the required levels of electric energy, the alternator must be rotated. A rubber belt connects the alternator to the engine crank pulley.

As the engine rotates, the belt turns the rotor found in the stator. The rotor and stator are made from copper and electric steel. The rotor also has an electric current flowing through it, which induces a magnetic field.

The magnetic field results in an electric current in the stator that winds the alternator. The current, in the form of AC, needs to be changed into DC. Diodes are used to create the DC voltage.

Signs of a Bad Alternator

If the alternator of your car is bad, you will notice a reduction in your car's performance.

Signs of a bad alternator include dim or flickering headlights or interior dash lights, the check engine light, a dead battery, or other electrical issues. The engine can even stall while driving. If you’re experiencing any of these issues, you can open the hood to visually inspect the alternator for common problems or bring it in to AutoZone for testing.

Importance of Replacing Worn Alternators

Without an alternator, your vehicle has no way to charge the battery. In addition to starting trouble, a worn alternator can impair the overall driving experience. Without enough current from the alternator, the battery can die even while you are driving.

The alternator is an essential part of your vehicle's electrical system. You need to check the components of this critical part for any damage. If you suspect the alternator is worn out, do not hesitate to visit an AutoZone to test your alternator.