6 Important Signs Your Alternator Is Failing

Your alternator is the device that keeps your car battery charged. It powers many systems your vehicle needs to drive down the road. Alternators can last for thousands of miles, but they do eventually get worn down. Your alternator will generally give you a few warning signs before it stops working.

1. Indicator Light

Depending on your vehicle, there are a few different indicator lights that could turn on when your alternator fails. A light on your dashboard that says either "ALT" or "GEN" may turn on. These lights mean there is an issue with your alternator or that your vehicle is experiencing a general power issue. You may also get a battery symbol light that turns on as your alternator powers your battery; a battery symbol light can be a sign that your alternator is not working properly.

2. Dim Headlights

Your battery powers your headlights. When your alternator is not recharging your battery at the proper rate, your headlights will not have the power they need to light up as bright as they should. As a result, they may either flicker or dim as your alternator struggles to do its job.

3. Power Systems Not Working

There are various systems in your vehicle powered by your battery, and thus the alternator. For example, power windows, power locks, air conditioning, dashboard lights, and the radio are all items that are powered by your battery. If these systems are not working correctly or are taking longer to respond than they should, that can be a sign that your alternator is starting to go bad.

4. Strange Rattling Noise

Next, when your alternator starts to fail, you may hear a strange rattling noise while you drive. When your alternator fails, sometimes bearings fail along with it, resulting in a strange rattling noise when you are driving.

5. Difficulty Starting

Your alternator is essential when it comes to getting your vehicle to start properly. It provides power that helps to spark the gasoline in your engine. It also provides power to the spark plugs that your engine needs to run. In addition, it powers your battery, which is essential to have in a running vehicle.

6. Dead Battery

Your alternator charges your battery. If your battery is dead, it could be that the alternator is failing and not an issue with the battery itself. This is particularly true if the battery is newer.

If you have noticed any of the warning signs above, you will want to take your vehicle to your local service center. They will verify that your alternator is failing and install a new one for you. Contact a company such as a Ford service center for more information.