Your car's alternator is an integral part of your vehicle. It works to keep your battery charged while the car's engine is running, and if it is not working properly, the entire electrical system of your vehicle will suffer as a result. Thankfully, there are a number of warning signs that you can look out for to determine when you should have a mechanic take a look at your alternator.
A failing alternator will naturally cause your battery to begin to fail as well, as the battery's charge will not be able to be replenished. If you are able to jump start or charge your battery, but the lights and electrical systems within your vehicle start to malfunction after your vehicle has been running for a while, there is likely an issue with your alternator. If you have trouble charging or jumping your battery in the first place, the issue most likely lies with your battery instead, and you should have the battery replaced. Either way, you should contact a mechanic as soon as you can to ensure that your vehicle can continue operating normally.
Alternators work with a series of belts and wheels to generate power for your car's battery. A jammed or slipped belt will not turn smoothly, causing the rubber of the belt to heat up due to friction. This can result in a burnt rubber smell entering the interior of your car. Whether the burning smell is caused by your alternator or another mechanical problem, it is usually indicative of a serious problem somewhere within your vehicle, so you should see a mechanic immediately to diagnose the problem.
An older or failing alternator can sometimes manifest itself through the poor performance of your car's lights. This is usually most noticeable with your headlights, which may begin to flicker or provide very little light, but it can sometimes be noticed in your dashboard lights and any other lit up parts of your vehicle. A failing alternator can also cause other electrical accessories within your vehicle to stop working as they should, such as your power windows or the automatic door locks. If you notice any of these symptoms occurring, you should see a mechanic straight away to look at your battery and alternator before an electrical system fails.
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