Though each of your vehicle’s components serves a unique purpose, certain parts are absolutely critical for continued operation — the alternator is one of those parts. Your vehicle’s alternator is responsible for recycling the power that the battery uses during operation because the battery cannot produce enough power on its own to sustain operation. But if it cannot perform its function properly, whether due to age-related deterioration or damage, your vehicle will cease functioning. Below, the experts at AA Auto Tech discuss telltale warning signs that can help you avoid alternator failure.


Dash Warning Light

This one is a given — if your dash warning light comes on (you’ll see a battery-shaped icon or the letters ALT or GEN) you’ve got a problem with your alternator. Generally, the light only illuminates when several electrical components are in use, which means it may not always alert you to the fact that your alternator is nearing the end of its life. If you see the light come on, even for a brief moment, take your vehicle to a licensed auto mechanic for diagnostic testing.


Dim Headlights or Interior Lights

When your alternator starts to die, you may notice that your vehicle’s headlights, dashboard lights, or interior lights begin to dim. Besides a glaringly obvious dashboard warning icon, dimming lights is usually the most noticeable sign that your alternator performance is beginning to wane. In addition to dim lights, you may also notice that other electronic components within your vehicle, such as power windows or seats, function slower than normal.


Poor Battery Performance

A weakened or dead battery typically stems from one of two issues: normal wear and tear (every battery has a finite lifespan) or alternator problems. Because the alternator recycles and replenishes the battery’s power, when the alternator fails, the battery won’t be able to maintain a charge. But, if the battery is dying and cannot accept a charge from the alternator, your vehicle won’t start regardless of the condition of the alternator. If it appears that the battery is weak or dead, here’s how to troubleshoot whether the battery or the alternator is causing the problem:


1.      Charge the battery completely.

2.      Attempt to restart your vehicle.

3.      If the vehicle fails to start or has trouble starting, there’s a problem with the charging system, which indicates an alternator issue.

4.      If the vehicle runs but the lights become dim after a short period, the battery is nearing the end of its life.


Not sure what might be causing your poor battery performance? Take your vehicle to a licensed auto repair specialist for a full diagnostic and advice on your best course of action.


Contact AA Auto Tech for Comprehensive Diagnostic Testing & Auto Repair

If you believe your vehicle has an alternator problem, it’s time to get in touch with our team at AA Auto Tech. For over 40 years, we’ve proudly served Hastings, MN, and the surrounding Twin Cities metro with comprehensive diagnostic testing, auto repair, and vehicle maintenance, and we’re ready to help you, too. To learn more or schedule a service appointment, give our team a call today at 651-437-2218 or send us a message on our contact page and we’ll get back to you promptly.