7 Signs You Have a Bad Car Alternator

7 Signs You Have a Bad Car Alternator

Every car needs electric current to start and regulate basic features like power windows, headlights and even air conditioning. We all know that batteries supply this current. Like all batteries, a car battery also needs to get charged. 

Do you remember the last time you’ve to charge the battery of your car? 

A car’s battery gets charged as you drive it, thanks to the alternator. Problems in your car’s alternator can stop the battery from getting charged. As a result, electric components and self-start of your car may not run properly. 

In this blog we will discuss the seven early signs of a bad car alternator. 

What Does a Car Alternator Do?

Your car alternator recycles energy and keeps the battery alive when your car is running. Along with this, it also powers most of the electronic components of your car whether you are driving or idling. These components include headlights, power windows, electric steering, heated seats, windshield wipers, radio, dashboard instruments, etc. 


There are a few signs that your car displays when your alternator starts acting up. Some of these signs are mentioned below. 

1. Too Bright or Dim Lights

One of the signs that indicate an alternator problem is that it starts supplying inconsistent voltage to your car’s electronic accessories. For example, you may experience too bright or extremely dim headlights. Some car users may also experience flickering lights. 


2. Malfunctioning or Slow Accessories

An alternator that is not working at its full capacity is unable to supply power to your car’s electronics which results in either slow or non-working accessories. If you notice your speedometer acting up or if your windows take longer to roll up or down or if your seat warmers feel off, know that a car alternator requires attention.

Many modern vehicles come with a priority list of equipment programmed in the car. This list tells the computer which component should be supplied power if the alternator is not working. This is why your radio stops working first if your car alternator is not working properly. 

3. Smell of Burning Wires or Rubber

An odor of burning wires or rubber could also be a sign of a bad car alternator. Since the alternator is close to the engine and its drive belt is under tension and friction constantly, it may wear out overtime and emit a foul, burning smell.

bad-smell-in car

Along with this, you may also smell a burning odor if your alternator is being overworked or if it has damaged wires. 

4. Car Battery Issues

Do you feel like your battery is in a good condition but is unnecessarily giving you trouble when you try to start your car?

Instead of the purr of the engine, you hear a clicking sound when you start your engine?


This could be a sign that your car alternator may not be working properly, hence it is not charging the battery. 

Along with this, some people may also face constant stalling of the car which means that your spark plugs may not be getting enough supply of power. 

5. Harmful Noises

Cars make a ton of noises. While some of them are not harmful, others are. If you hear whining or growling noises coming from under the hood, they may be bad alternator noises.


Read More: 12 Car Noises That Are Not to Be Ignored 

6. A Dead Battery or Bad Alternator?

Sometimes a dead battery may be just a battery – it may have completed its life and may either need repairing or replacement. But other times, it may be a sign of a car alternator issue. 


To test if the battery is dead or if there is an issue with the alternator, jumpstart the car. If you jumpstart your car and it starts running, it is a sign that your battery may need to be replaced soon. However, if you jumpstart the car and it dies again shortly, know that there is an issue with your car’s alternator. 

7. Warning Light Gets Activated

To cut out the guessing work, here is a foolproof sign.  Your car has a separate light for the alternator which gets activated whenever there is an issue with the alternator. The light is shaped like a battery and may have ALT or GEN written underneath it. 


Activated warning lights may also signify that your car needs maintenance. 

When you are buying an old or used car, make sure you know what you’re buying. While some issues can be identified easily, others aren’t that easy to identify, a bad alternator is one of them. So, it is strongly advised that you get the car inspected from a professional, for that check out OLX Pakistan Car Inspection Service.

We hope that these signs will help you identify a bad car alternator.

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