What is an Alternator and Why You Should Care

In the 1950s automobiles were demanding more electrical power, but the generator charging systems weren't able to keep up. Because there was nothing more automakers could do to the generator to make it work harder, the alternator was born. By the mid-60s, alternators were the charging system of choice. These new systems were lighter and seemed to have no end to their performance capabilities. Even today, modern automobiles still use alternators. 

Why everyone should care about their alternator:

If your alternator isn't charging properly, your car is not going to get the amperage it needs. The computers, electronics, and everything that runs your car needs a certain amount of amperage to operate. Without it, you don't go anywhere -- yes, without an operating alternator, you will be left stranded.

How will I know my alternator is going bad?

Sometimes your alternator can go out so quickly that it seems like it quit overnight. But in reality, your car was warning you and you didn't notice. The five most common signs your alternator is failing are:

  1. Warning light on your dashboard
  3. Unusual interior light occurrences (lights coming on or off without your doing, lights dimming, etc.)
  5. Anything on the dash slowing down or stopping when you press the breaks or come to a stop. (this could be your radio, air conditioning, dashboard lights, etc.)
  7. Testing of your dead battery shows the battery is still good.
  9. Burning rubber smell.

If you are experiencing any of the signs listed above, you need to contact your service technician immediately. Alternators never go out at the "right time." It is usually on that Monday morning when you are running late, on your way to your child's doctor appointment, at the grocery store, or when you're out of town. Don't wait until you are stranded at the worst moment to have your alternator replaced.  Doing so may result in costly towing fees, and extra down time if your alternator needs to be rebuilt or your replacement needs to be ordered in.

Why car guys and girls should care about their alternator:

If you compete in (legal) car racing, upgrading your alternator is a must! But there are other reasons you may want to upgrade too. If you have after-market electrical accessories on your car (ground lights, car stereo, off-road lights and cranks, etc.), upgrading to a high performance alternator is necessary to keep up with the demand of all of your add-ons.  

Visit Griffis Dodge Chrysler Jeep to discuss your alternator with a service technician.

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