How can you tell if your alternator is going out?
Losing power to your stereo for no reason? Are your lights noticeably dimmer after you come to a stop? All of your car's electrical problems could point to a failure of one of a few components. Specific electrical failures could be the result of a failed component or relay, starting problems could mean a dead battery or bad starter, and general low performance of all components system-wide probably means your alternator needs to be replaced. Since your alternator is the central, power-generating part of the engine, virtually any problem with the alternator or its components can result in a poor distribution of current through the car and its electronics. That means your exterior and interior lighting, car stereo, gauges, power windows, climate control, safety systems, and others could not be working the way they should. At the very least, this is an inconvenience. However extended periods of malfunction could result in serious consequences if a faulty alternator is not attended to promptly.
What is an alternator for?Alternators
use the rotation from a pulley (driven by a belt connected to the crankshaft) to spin a set of polarized claws inside the alternator, creating alternating magnetic fields around a central coil that is agitated by carbon brushes to generate current. That alternating current is then converted into direct current and sent to the voltage regulator or vehicle's engine control module. From there, the appropriate amount of direct current is sent to the battery and the rest of your car or truck's electronic accessories. Before the 1960's, cars used generators to produce the power consumed by the vehicle. Direct current generators were larger, more expensive, and much more complex than alternators. Additionally, alternators are easy to keep cool and maintain making them the favored choice for power creation for over 50 years.
D.I.Y. alternator replacement.
While the alternator is one of the most important part of your vehicle's electrical system, replacing it doesn't have to be a difficult task. Though we always recommend professional installation for electronic components, this can be done if you follow some simple safety precautions and know what you're doing.
- First and foremost, make sure your engine is cool (usually if the car is parked for 2-3 hours). Once you can touch the top end components, disconnect and remove the battery.
- Most of the time, your alternator will be located near the top and front of your engine. However, every vehicle is different, so make sure you take great care when noting what ancillary components you have to remove in order to get to it. For some vehicles, removing the bumper cover or even working on it from below may be easier.
- Now you can unplug and disconnect the alternator. There are usually several wire harness connectors in the back, so disconnecting each one may not be possible before removing the alternator. If so, you can unbolt the alternator from its mounting points, slide it towards the crank to relieve the tension in the belt, and remove it completely.
- Finally, install the new alternator by following the same steps in reverse. Make sure you have the correct amount of tension on the belt and everything is in place before starting your car again.
Great selection, great prices.
Not all car parts are created equal. If you have been shopping for an alternator online, you have probably found used, refurbished, or new parts. Obviously, a used part is the least desirable choice. So you are probably faced with the decision to buy a refurbished original or new reproduction alternator. At Car Parts Discount, we can usually offer both options. We carry quality alternators and components from top brands at the lowest prices possible. Not only that, but we can typically offer same or next day shipping for whatever your choice is. If it's time to replace your alternator, don't delay - do it today.