It's easy to blame the weather when our vehicles won't start on the coldest of winter mornings. Yes, car parts do get cold and often take longer to warm up after resting in the cold all night. We're well advised to blame one of three culprits when the car doesn't start -- the battery, the starter, or the alternator.
But, what we may not realize is that the one part our vehicles rely on most is the alternator. It is the alternator that sends an electrical current to the battery and helps to power all the electrical parts in our vehicles today. So, without the alternator, your vehicle will not run. And sometimes, not knowing its purpose, we neglect or abuse the alternator. Understanding how hard the alternator works might help us think about how to care for the alternator and ultimately our vehicles more efficiently.
- Listen to your vehicle
When there is something wrong, especially with the alternator, your vehicle tries to tell you. It may be dimming lights, a clicking noise, or a funny rattling sound. Don't leave it to chance. A weakened alternator only makes its mechanical parts work harder to send electrical signals.
- Consider how you treat your car battery
The battery relies on the constant work of the alternator. The alternator charges the battery, which powers your ignition, windows, lights, radio, dashboard, and other electrical systems in the car. But without the alternator, the battery cannot hold a charge so that the car stays on and running. The harder the battery works, the harder the alternator works, shortening its lifespan. Paying attention to any wear and tear of the battery and loose cables seasonally allows your alternator to work better.
- Schedule an annual check-up
With a voltmeter, your trusted service center can check your vehicle's charging system and alternator's long term health.