Warning Signs Of Alternator Failure

Warning Signs Of Alternator Failure

An alternator is a fundamental component of a vehicle and without this piece of machinery a vehicle will be not be operational. An alternator functions by recycling the power used from the car battery while driving to generate energy to feed the electrical systems. A vehicle’s electrical system primarily relies on an optimally functioning alternator. Vehicles are equipped with several alert systems and warning signs that are meant to help an owner and/ or driver know when something may not be working properly and when to get it serviced. Do not ignore the warning signs provided by a vehicle. Below are several warning signs that are specific to an inadequately functioning, and/ or failing alternator:

  1. Warning light: when the service engine light (depending on the vehicle appearing as a battery icon indicator, the words “Check Engine” or “ALT”) is illuminated on the dashboard it is a sign that vehicle’s alternator may be malfunctioning, and/ or that the vehicle is in need of maintenance related to the engine. 
  2. Weak and/or dead battery: when an alternator does not function properly, the vehicle is forced to rely solely on the car battery, which can leave it significantly drained.
  3. Dim lights: due to the fact that an alternator provides the needed energy for the electrical systems to function in a vehicle, when the alternator begins to malfunction it can manifest as dim headlights, and/ or dim dashboard lights. It can also lead to flickering lights. Dim headlights are easily noticeable when illuminated during nighttime hours. Another indicator of a failing alternator occurs when the lights in a vehicle brighten as the RPMs increase, and dim as the RPMs decrease. 
  4. Slower functioning electronic accessories/ electrical issues: power windows, power seats, power sunroof all may begin to lag or work more slowly than usual when an alternator begins to die. Another example of this would be the radio spontaneously turning off.
  5. Unusual Sounds: grinding, squealing, growling and/ or whining noises can manifest as a result of a malfunctioning alternator.
  6. Weird smell: a dying alternator can produce a burning rubber smell.
  7. Engine stalling: if the engine unexpectedly cuts out while driving it could mean an alternator issue.

It is important to take note and be aware of the several warning signs related to adequately servicing a vehicle, especially as they relate to a properly functioning alternator. Noticing any combination of the above signs may be indicative of needing an alternator replacement. In situations where only one of the above warning signs is noticed, but a failing alternator is suspected, there may be another area of the vehicle that needs attention. Vehicles are complicated machines that have several different components that are working simultaneously to enable it to run and function. As time has progressed the safety measures integrated into vehicles have drastically improved. The multilevel alert systems both intentional and organic (i.e. dashboard alert lights, weird smells, reduced electrical responses…etc.) provide vehicle drivers and/ or vehicle owners with ample warnings to avoid unnecessary danger.  

Alternator Replacement Cost

Replacing an alternator is not a repair that should be done by an individual without significant auto mechanical knowledge, as it is a relatively complicated process. Unfortunately, alternator replacements can be rather expensive. Although it may be costly, hiring a mechanic for this repair will ensure the process is properly executed. The exact cost for replacing an alternator will vary depending on the replacement alternator as well as the cost for labor. Using a remanufactured alternator can costs around $300 to $500, including parts and labor. While the price of a new alternator ranges $500 to $1,000, excluding the cost of labor. In order to assure safety and a fully functioning vehicle it is best to listen to the warning signs related to the alternator. In situations where it is deemed best for an alternator be replaced, although it can be a pricey repair, it is unavoidable. 

Further Information

As an automotive parts and supply shop with decades of experience we have access to extensive inventory. Northstar Automotive is staffed with incredibly knowledgeable professionals, dedicated to provide topnotch service to all its customers. Let us help you make sure you are equipped with everything you need to ensure all of your vehicles are in excellent shape. Please feel free to contact one of our sales associates for more information. We can be reached through our website’s contact us page. We look forward to connecting and providing you with outstanding assistance.



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