March 21, 2013 - No, I’m not saying if you alternator dies that your whole car is going to go kerplunk. I am saying, however, if your alternator goes completely out on you, you are likely to wind up stranded.
In case you’re not that familiar with car parts, this is one part that you might want to get to know. If you take your car in for regular maintenance, just make sure they are checking your alternator for you. The alternator and battery are two of the most common parts to go bad on most vehicles. Frequent maintenance checkups will generally catch something, if one is going bad. Now what do I mean by frequent? Well, when you take your car to the shop for those regularly scheduled visits that are recommended by manufacturers and many mechanics; that should do it. That’s on average once a year.
Just to help you get a little more familiar and comfortable…let me explain what the alternator is all about.
The alternator is a component of your engine’s electrical system. It has a few very important jobs.
- It converts mechanical energy into electrical energy via alternating current
- It keeps your battery charged
- It keeps your car’s electrical systems functioning
If you’ve ever run a battery until its last life as ebbed from its cells and it wasn’t that old or maybe you ran down more than one battery, guess what? Yep, you probably had a bad alternator.
The alternator is one of the car parts that many homegrown mechanics may not mind changing. It can be a bit complicated depending on your engine complexity, but it’s also a fairly straightforward job to accomplish. Whether or not you can do it depends on your level of mechanic expertise.
A word of caution though, it is an extremely important part of your vehicle. As newer vehicles become increasingly dependent on electronics and therefore electricity, the fewer things will work if the alternator goes down or if you don’t get it back on correctly. Don’t be afraid of it, just be wise. If you’re not ready to roll up your sleeves for this kind of auto repair, just be sure to use a reputable mechanic to get your alternator taken care of.