Auto Mechanics 101: Is My Car Battery or Alternator Bad?
Starting their vehicle is something Arizona auto owners take for granted until there is a problem necessitating car repair. The electrical system in a vehicle is more complex than most people realize. The initial power comes from the battery which provides some heavy electric current which travels through thick wires to the starter. Once the engine is started, the alternator takes over the job of providing constant voltage and amperage to the vehicle and keeps the battery continually charged. The battery also provides power to the electrical system when your vehicle is not running, so that you can turn the ignition to the on position and have the power to open and close the windows, etc.
How to know if your battery is dead?
When you try to start the vehicle if it makes either a low whining sound or no sound at all, it may be the battery.
When you use jumper cables to start your vehicle it may start, but after you shut it off it will not start again. That probably means that the alternator is working and charging the battery after it has been jumpstarted, but the battery is too weak to hold the charge.
When a car won’t start, Scottsdale, Arizona auto mechanics report the battery is the most common culprit. The battery provides the charge to start your vehicle. Without a battery you can’t go anywhere. When you take your vehicle in for routine car maintenance, ask how the battery is doing. Cleaning the battery terminal connections and posts of any green or white powdery deposits is important to prevent corrosion. Unless the battery terminal connections are in good condition, the current cannot flow through them properly.
Various things can cause your battery to fail, and many of them can be gradual and easy to miss, so you should have your battery checked regularly. Most automobile manufacturers recommend having your battery tested at least twice a year, and having it replaced every 4 to 5 years.
Hot weather causes battery acid to evaporate slowly, which eventually lowers the amount of acid in the battery, which causes it to stop taking a full charge and keeps it from producing as much power as it should. It can also cause battery corrosion on your posts and cables.
A car battery is not meant to last forever. Since your battery contains acid, eventually the internal metal parts become corroded, which reduces its ability to hold a charge. The Arizona heat is known to shorten battery life by slowly evaporating the battery acid, causing corrosion, and preventing it from charging fully.
How to know if the alternator is failing?
The alternator is an important component in the electrical system of your vehicle. Its job is to provide power to the electrical systems in your vehicle. It does this by recycling the power your battery uses and recharging your battery as you drive. Signs that your alternator is failing may begin with warning lights on your dash. It may be a symbol shaped like a battery, or in older cars it may spell out ALT or GEN. You may also have a voltage gauge on your dash to show whether or not your battery is charging. In a 12 volt system 12-14 is the proper range.
If the battery is not charging, your alternator may be failing. If so you may notice that your headlights or interior lights begin to dim. Other electronics, such as power seats and power windows, may also malfunction.
A problem with the alternator may also produce a weird smell, like burning rubber. That’s because an alternator uses a system of belt, and if one of them is slipping or cannot turn freely the friction can produce that smell. A slipping belt will cause poor alternator function. This is another problem that can be caught by an auto mechanic during car maintenance and inspection. Tightening the belt may prevent more costly car repair in Scottsdale later on.
Inside your vehicle’s alternator there are numerous moving parts that create the electrical current. If one of these parts is broken it may cause various noises, such as whining, grinding, or clattering.
Scottsdale Muffler & Automotive Can Help
Figuring out whether the problem lies with your battery or your alternator used to be an exacerbating task before modern testing equipment. At Scottsdale Muffler & Automotive we use the most up to date diagnostic equipment in order to save you time and money. Our auto mechanics are highly trained and we employ specialists in all areas of Scottsdale car repair.
We are a family owned and operated business that has spent over 20 years making a name for ourselves. We are well known for our honesty, high quality work, and fair prices. You may start out as a customer, but we hope you will end up as a friend.
Published By Fred McCurdy
Scottsdale Muffler & Automotive
1710 E Curry Rd
Tempe, AZ 85281
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Tuesday: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Thursday: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Friday: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.