How Does an Alternator Work?

Most drivers only know what their battery looks like and how it works. However, a vehicle battery isn't the only aspect of your vehicle's charging system you should know about. The alternator plays just as crucial of a role in starting your car, if not more than your battery.


The alternator is a device strapped to the engine that runs off your engine belt. The alternator rotates while the engine is running. It transforms that mechanical energy into electrical energy to power all of your car's significant electric features, including its lights, the radio, power windows, and more.


All vehicle batteries have a total charge capacity of approximately 12 volts, which is more than enough to start your engine. But while your motor is working, your alternator is putting out additional voltage (occasionally up to 15 volts) to meet the demands of your other electronic-powered accessories. When an alternator stops working, not only will these functions stop working, such as power windows and radio, malfunction, but your vehicle lights will suffer also.


How does the alternator malfunction? There are several reasons why your alternator might stop working, but bearing failure is the most prevalent cause of a dead alternator. A bearing loss is what happens when the rotor stops spinning inside the alternator. Whenever this movement comes to a halt, your vehicle will stop converting the mechanical to electrical energy. This can occur for a number of reasons, but it usually happens when dirt and other contaminants build up and clog the inside of the alternator. You can diagnose this problem by giving your alternator a listen; the jam will cause a grinding sound.


If your alternator is experiencing problems, please do not hesitate to reach out to Luke's Auto Service as soon as you can. At our repair shop, we have all the tools and necessary skills to check, diagnose, and replace your alternator in a timely fashion. We invite you to our shop in Columbus, OH, today!