Many people do not realize that problems with your alternator are common. At some point, you are likely to have a problem with this part of your car.
How An Alternator Works
The primary purpose of your alternator is to maintain your car battery. The alternator will use the power from the engine to create electricity which it pumps into the battery to keep it charged. The engine drive belt is what sends the power to the alternator. This is why you need to have this belt tightened and replaced at times.
When you have your headlights on or use your wipers while driving, a lot of electrical power. If you only had a battery, all of the power in the battery would be drained in a few minutes. Of course, this would depend on how good your battery is. To prevent your battery from being drained, you need to have an alternator that is in good working condition.
Signs Of An Alternator Problem
If you do not have any tools, it can be hard to diagnose an alternator problem. A problem with the battery can often appear to be a problem with the alternator and vice versa. One of the most common issues is that your car will not start, your battery dies and there is a squealing noise from the drive belt. These are the most common issues you can have, but they are not the only ones.
How To Check The Alternator Voltage
If you want to check if your alternator is the problem, you need to have a digital volt-ohmmeter or CVOM. This will tell you the output voltage of your alternator.
When checking, you need to first turn your engine off. You are going to start the car later for the test, but it is better to leave it off at this point. You should then take your voltmeter and put the red lead on the red positive battery terminal. The black lead will need to be placed on the negative terminal. At this point, you need to ensure that the voltmeter is set to DC volts.
The reading you get from the meter should be above 12.65 volts. This is a sign that your battery is fully charged. If you do not get this reading, you either have a faulty battery or a problem with the alternator.
You should now remove the leads from the battery and start the car. Once the car is on, carefully place the leads back onto the battery. You need to be careful as they could get caught in the drive belt or another part of the engine.
You should now read the meter and the reading should be between 13.5 and 14.5 volts. If you have this reading range, the alternator is fine. However, it is important to note that some alternators have intermittent problems and it could still have issues when you have this reading. If your alternator is completely fine, the problem is the battery and you will need to have it tested.
Repairing A Defective Alternator
It is possible to repair the alternator yourself. However, you could also take it to a repair shop to have this done for you.