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What Causes An Alternator To Go Bad and How To Avoid It?

You might be questioning what causes an alternator to go bad if you notice when the automobile is having trouble igniting. An essential part of any automobile would be the alternator. Its main job is to charge batteries in vehicle motor and other electronic systems like the audio system and lamps. One would save a deal of time and resources by being aware of the potential problems and knowing what to check for.

What Is The Purpose Of An Alternator?

When driving, an alternator charges your batteries and operates several additional elements utilizing direct current (DC). Whenever the engine is used, it receives power through a driving shaft and pulley, which rotates the alternator’s propeller shaft.

Several magnets are made to revolve around the circuit due to such an activity. The alternate energy is supplied by the rotating electromagnet (AC). This AC electricity is subsequently transformed into DC energy by the converter inside the alternator, providing power throughout the car’s electronic wiring.

A battery, together with the electricity supply and processors, is continually charged thanks to an alternator mounted atop the motor. Although the alternator maintains the automobile going, the battery powers it. How well an alternator is built, how well the car is handled, and how many technologies are utilized within the vehicle all impact how things are progressing.

To commence the motor, the batteries in every automobile also power the fuel system and the spark. However, the generator then began to run and began supplying electricity.

You may frequently jump-start a vehicle with such a dead battery before taking it all to the service shop to have a new battery. Your battery has little to do because the engine is operating, and the alternator is producing electricity.

While the starting system, which would be made up of the alternator, launch, and automobile batteries, was created to withstand continuous usage in a range of harsh weather circumstances, even routine deformation, severe events, and insufficient maintenance can lead to issues.

What Causes An Alternator To Go Bad?

Each alternator has a lifetime of approximately seven years and can travel around 100,000 to 150,000 kilometers. Alternators typically fail due to their age, which results from how long they usually last.

An alternator may malfunction for some reasons, including improper jump-starting or even the installation of equipment that overwhelms it. Alternator component failure, which results in early degradation, could also be brought on by a leaky fluid reservoir or a constrictive belt.


The good news is that you can usually detect an undercharging alternator in its initial phases, allowing you the considerable opportunity to fix the issue before it becomes irreversible. The alternator may be underpowered if you observe that the headlights fade whenever the engine is at rest and then brighten while it’s running. 


Your voltage regulator would be at fault in this situation rather than the alternator directly. The battery could be killed, and its contents boiled over by an overcharging alternator.

There is absolutely no charge

This could mimic an undercharge situation; however, accelerating the engine has no effect.

Mechanic Problems

In many instances, this type of failure entails the joints aging, screaming, or, in severe circumstances, cramping up.

What Leads to the Failure of an Alternator?

Aging would be the primary factor that causes alternators to break down. Despite this, an alternator occasionally fails significantly earlier than anticipated for unrelated causes.

A Belt That Slid

An alternator’s belt may come away when it is broken in some other way, which would result in the alternator producing lower electricity. Harsh screeching noise is frequently audible, though it can be pretty weak.

A faulty fuse

An alternator would be unable to recharge the battery whenever a fuse blows. Short circuits and excessive current flow are both causes of blown fuses.

Computer problem

New automobile models frequently include a system that controls the alternator and all other electronic parts. Even if none of the alternator’s features are broken, a technical issue might still lead its alternator to fail.


A faulty diode or pair of defective diodes would be a typical cause of alternator failure. Within the alternator’s converter, diodes help transform AC supply to DC electricity. Burning up or overcrowding are two factors that might cause a diode to wear down. 

Liquid leaks

An alternator might occasionally fail due to leaks of power steering lubricant or motor oil. Leakage oil or lubricant often indicates broken, worn out, or not fitted properly. Broken seals can cause fluid leakage.

Why is it Vital to Understand What Causes an Alternator to go Bad?

Various components may be worn out if the alternator continues breaking down. You may anticipate that the remainder of the parts will wear out if one is overly worn. Alternators may also frequently fail due to leakage, dirt, and other particles.

Alternatively, the car’s electronics might be malfunctioning. These circuits attempt to use the batteries for all their energy whenever the alternator fails; this eventually results in the batteries dying. For this reason, you must examine the alternator, although if users think the batteries or the auto starter could be the issue.

How To Avoid An Alternator From Failing?

What could you do after determining what causes an alternator to go bad? An alternator’s components have a finite lifespan and will ultimately fail, along with all other spinning machinery.

By maintaining a functional pulley and driving belt, one could choose to reduce the likelihood of the joint failing early. Maintaining the alternator’s cleanliness and dryness is the most acceptable action you could be doing to keep it functioning correctly. 

The alternator may become clogged with dust, resulting in flashes or damage to the bristles. Stop placing solvents like carburetor cleaning or petrol on alternator’s wiring coils since they have a thin coating covering them and won’t create a magnetism if it malfunctions.

The alternator’s lifespan could also be shortened by heat and grease; thus, underneath the hood, leakage should be fixed as quickly as feasible.

Can alternators ever fail unexpectedly?

Your automobile may have various electrical issues whenever the alternator starts to malfunction, but it may finally break completely. Alternators could break down quickly or gradually over age.

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