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What You Need To Know About Alternator

What is an Alternator and Why Is It Important?

Every time you use your vehicle's electrical systems, your battery loses power. This is where your car’s alternator comes in. Located in the engine compartment, an alternator converts mechanical energy into electrical energy, recharging your battery and replenishing any lost battery power.

If your alternator breaks down, your car will only run off the battery power stored. Therefore, once your battery loses power, your vehicle will come to a complete stop and not restart. You will usually be altered to a broken-down alternator by your battery light and/or a low volt gauge reading.

An alternator is a vital vehicle component. In fact, bad alternators are the #1 cause of a dead car battery. Therefore, if damaged, it needs replacing or repair ASAP.

What Do We Offer?

Our mobile mechanics come to your home or office to replace your damaged alternator.

They change your battery’s alternator, perform a complimentary vehicle inspection, & then schedule your next replacement - all from the comfort of your own home.

How We Do It?

Our ASE-Certified mobile mechanics are based throughout Michigan and Texas.

Once you get an alternator repair quote from us, we will send a qualified battery technician for your vehicle based on the time & day you selected. You get a fixed upfront quote, book an appointment & get your alternator replaced outside your home or office - it really is that simple!

What We Recommend

Alternators are an integral part of your car battery. You need to regularly check and - on occasion - replace your battery and its components. This will help ensure the long-term health of your vehicle and the safety of yourself and your passengers. For our members, we offer automated battery inspection reminders depending on your vehicle manufacturer’s service intervals.

With a Fixmycar membership, you get a 10% discount on all your battery services along with free oil changes.

How to Tell If You Have a Failing Alternator?

Here are some common symptoms that can indicate your vehicle has a failed alternator:

  • A dead battery or a battery that won't hold a charge

  • Your dash's battery light is on

  • A low volt gauge reading on your battery

  • Dim lights

  • Electrical components are failing

  • Trouble starting your car

  • Engine light is on

  • Ignition problems

  • Odd noises

How to book an alternator replacement with us?

Booking an alternator replacement with FixMyCar is extremely simple. Just follow these 3 easy steps.

  • Request a fixed upfront quote

  • Book an appointment

  • Pay after your oil change

How It Works

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Mechanic comes to you
Pay after service
FixMyCar mechanic

Manuel

176 reviews

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I have all the skills and the tools for mobile repair jobs. Quality and customer service are my biggest assets.

  • 8 years of experience

  • Background checked

  • Passed FixMyCar's rigorous test


by Kennetria, DFW

Great

  • Car

    2014 Dodge Avenger

  • Amount Paid

    $150.48

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FAQs

As mentioned, alternators provide power for most car's electronic components while you're driving around or idling, including:

  • Headlights

  • Electric steering

  • Spark plugs

  • Power windows

  • Windshield wipers

  • Heated seats

  • Dashboard instruments

  • Radio

The alternator supplies all of them with direct current (DC) power. It's also responsible for a car charging system while driving.

The alternator works by turning mechanical energy into electrical energy. When your engine is on, it powers a drive belt that rests on a pulley attached to the alternator. The pulley turns the alternator's rotor shaft, which spins a set of magnets around a coil.

These spinning magnets generate alternating current (AC) around the coil, which is then channeled to the alternator's rectifier. This converts that AC power into DC power, which activates your car's electrical systems.

The average longevity of an alternator is seven years or about 150,000 miles. There are several factors that can impact the lifespan of your alternator, these include:

  • The quality of your alternator

  • Overall condition of your vehicle

  • How often the electrical components in your car is used

If you have an old alternator -  in other words, one that falls into the range above - it's a good idea to have a trusted mechanic take a look and see if you need a repair.

Furthermore, the range provided here is a basic rule of thumb for modern vehicles. However, it differs by model. To be sure, read your owner's manual for more information.

Every vehicle's electrical system consists of 3 very important internal parts:

  • The battery - A vehicle's battery powers all necessary electrical current to a vehicle before it starts. This includes providing energy to the ignition, fuel systems, and the starter itself.

  • The starter - The starter is the component that is directly responsible for starting the engine. To It rotates a vehicle's flywheel and activates the crankshaft - this sets the engine’s pistons into motion.

  • The alternator - Once the engine is powered on, the alternator takes over. It also provides the charge to the battery that keeps the vehicle running.

All these systems have a symbiotic relationship. Therefore, if an electrical problem starts in any one of these components, it will affect the other parts of the system.

Having some knowledge of the common symptoms associated with a faulty alternator (such as dim headlights) and learning a few easy tests can be the difference between a peaceful journey and being stranded on the side of the road.

So, to test your alternator, follow these simple steps:

  • Gather what you need - You'll need a Rubber hose (of approximately 3 ft.), Safety glasses, a Voltage meter or digital multimeter, and Wheel Chocks.

  • Park on level ground - Make sure your vehicle is parked on a flat and level surface - if possible - and then switch off your engine.

  • Pop the hood

  • Locate the alternator - On most cars, the alternator is located near the top, front of the engine. On other cars, it can be buried towards the bottom of your engine. (This makes it difficult to locate, and it's then perhaps a better idea to get it inspected by a mechanic)

  • Check the serpentine belt - Inspect the engine drive belt for tightness.

  • Listen for noises - Start the engine and listen for any odd noises, e.g. squeaking or grinding.

  • Check your alternator's bearings - Similar to a stethoscope, place one end of the rubber hose on the alternator case and the other end to your ear and listen for any strange sounds.

  • Begin testing the alternator - You're ready to begin testing. First, turn off your engine.

  • Connect your voltage meter - Turn your meter on and set it to DC volts. Then, grab the multimeter probes, and place the positive lead to the positive (+) terminal on your battery and the negative (-) lead to the negative terminal on your car's battery. The battery voltage should read 12.5-12.65 volts.

  • Read the voltage on the meter - Now, start the engine and observe the voltage on the meter. The voltage should read a minimum of 13 volts. A good alternator should put out between **13.5-14.5 volts.

  • Stress test the alternator - Place a load on the alternator by turning on the headlights, the radio, and the air conditioning. The voltage should remain high with these circuits on. If it does not change when the engine is started, if it does not get above 13 volts, or if it charges above 15 volts then the alternator may be faulty.

The main reason you'd consider an alternator that's been rebuilt is the cost. You could save up to about half on a rebuilt alternator.  However, you may end up spending more on alternator repair if you go with this option.

A remanufactured alternator has all parts re-machined or replaced in accordance with the ones that didn't work. It's is an affordable alternative to a new system, but more expensive than a rebuilt system and often a stop-gap before eventually getting a new alternator.

A new alternator provides you with a working alternator where all parts are at the same stage of wear and tear. Furthermore, while more expensive than the other options, it will save you money in the long run.

The difference between replacing or repairing an alternator is usually down to how quickly you identify and deal with issues you're having.

If ignored, you will be calling a tow truck before you know it. If in doubt, book an alternator repair with a trusted mobile mechanic.

A car's alternator belt - otherwise known as a serpentine belt - is an integral part of a working alternator.

You can replace the belt yourself. However, like with any repair, we recommend a belt repair or replacement is only attempted if you're confident in your own abilities and have consulted your vehicle service manual.

However, if you have any doubts, contact an expert. Furthermore, if you decide to replace an alternator with Fixmycar, we will also replace your belt too.

We offer a 2 year | 24,000 two-year service warranty and guarantee on all of our services, including alternator repair.

Furthermore, our Members receive a lifetime warranty on all services, including belt, battery, alternator, or starter repair or replacement services.