The two components that keep the car running are the alternator and the battery. It is a shared power system, the battery starts up the car, the alternator then charges the battery, and the battery keeps on the power for the internals of the car. If one of them fails, the car starts to malfunction.
So how do you tell when the alternator is faulty? Or is it the battery? There are a few clear signs for each of their problems.
Signs Of A Bad Alternator
A bad alternator is a bad future for the car’s good battery. These are the symptoms that indicate you have a bad alternator.
Bright but Dimming Interior Lights
Your car starts fine. Your interior lights are bright. But after some time, they start to dim. It is a sign that the alternator isn’t charging up the battery. And the battery is trying to keep up everything functioning. But without the alternator’s charge, everything is slowly dying.
Overly Bright Headlights That Slowly Dims
If the headlight is brighter than usual and keeps holding on like that for some time and then dims, it means you have a bad alternator. The battery tries and gives all its power, hence the bright effect of the headlights. It is time to check with the mechanic to talk about your alternator.
Weird Noise or Smell From the Engine Section
As the alternator grows old and fails, it makes a squeaking sound when the car starts. Even if you turn on the radio, the sound interrupts the stations. It comes from the engine and there is a weird smell of something burning.
Signs Of A Bad Battery
The battery is your first resource to start your car. It gives the power to the starter to start the car. And it keeps running all the components in the car. When the battery fails, these things start to happen.
Car won’t Start
The very first sign is when you put in your keys and start your car. It just won’t start. Meaning your battery doesn’t have the juice to power up the starter. Try to jump start and if that keeps the car running, it means the battery is faulty.
When you jump-start the car, turn on all the interior lights. If the interior lights are dim and keep shifting from dim to dimmer, then your alternator is fine and working. But your battery isn’t receiving any power. It is time to check with the mechanic to have a look at the battery.
Window, Wiper won’t Work Properly When The Car Is on Idle
Without starting the car, on power-on mode, just turn on the wiper and auto windows. If they hang on mid-way, it means the battery isn’t supplying enough power. Even when the engine is turned on, the components like the window and wiper won’t work properly.
What to Do When the Alternator Is Bad?
Take your car to the workshop. Tell all the symptoms to the mechanic and he will help you with changing the alternator. A bad alternator can do a lot of damage. If your alternator isn’t working properly, it won’t supply power to the battery. And if your battery doesn’t get enough power, it will just overwork and burn itself. If your car is equipped with lots of after-market accessories like interior lights, a sound system, and so on, you might need a powerful alternator.
What to Do When the Battery Is Bad?
If the battery is bad, you can first check it yourself. Jumpstart your car with another battery and keep it running for some time. Try to start again on itself. If it fails, then your battery needs to be looked at. Sometimes your car runs fine, but the internals and headlights turn off on their own. And the battery gets corroded with time. Usually, a battery lasts from 4-5 years. So take it to the car doctor when these signs arise. Or you will end up stranded in the middle of the road sometime soon.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What might happen if I don’t change my alternator in time?
A. The other components of your car won’t get the power it needs. Your sound system, air conditioner, lights all will work but won’t be insufficient. With time they will fail to work and your battery will suffer the worst.
Q. There is a bad noise from the engine, is it the alternator? Or something else?
A. Check with the mechanic. It might be the alternator if you have symptoms like dimming or bright lights. If that is not the case, maybe there’s something else wrong with your car.
Q. My battery looks swollen. Is it bad?
A. Yes. Visit the car repair soon as possible. A bad battery will leave you with no power and worse your car might catch fire.
Q. My car is new, how can my battery fail?
A. Check the acid level in your battery. It needs constant checkups for liquids, otherwise, the battery will heat up and die fast.
Q. How to tell without checking my alternator or battery is faulty?
A. Your engine lights will turn on. Your battery indicator is also a sign to check on your battery’s liquid levels.
An alternator and a battery relays on each other. If one of them turns out dead, your car won’t work properly. So always keep them in check. Check your battery fluid levels. And pay close attention to the battery indicator in your dash for any sign of the alternator giving up.