Where Is The Alternator Clicking Noise From? Some Fixes

Even the most inexperienced driver must have heard of alternators – a critical vehicle compartment that supplies electricity and converts mechanical energy into running power.

That’s all the more reason not to ignore any unusual signals from it – especially an alternator clicking noise!

This article will discuss the source of these annoying sounds, what they imply, and all possible fix tips. Keep scrolling! 

What Are The Common Causes Behind An Alternator Clicking Noise?

alternator clicking noise
Reasons Of Alternator Clicking Noise

A bad alternator clicking sound usually comes from a bad alternator (Quite obvious, isn’t it?) Still, at times, these sounds are not necessarily caused by the alternator – but rather by other compartments that link closely to it, such as the engines, belts, batteries, connection wires, etc.

Faulty Alternator Units (The Direct, Most Common Reason)

A faulty unit might result from a severe loss in charge capacity – or worn output wires caused by mechanical strain or vibration.

Hence, your engine compartment will produce loud clicking when you switch the ignition to “On.” Worse, it might even ruin your battery and cause transmission issues

Double-check the engine carefully. Is there any loose-fitting screw or bolt? Or do you spot cracks, damage, and wear? Noting them down will help you navigate the problem sources much faster.

Dead or Weak Batteries

Sometimes, the noises from your alternators might not come from the alternator itself. Other vehicle parts might be at fault – such as the batteries!

Bad batteries are one of the most popular causes behind your car’s rapid clicking noises and inability to kick-start.

More specifically, its energy is enough to turn the solenoid on, yet still not enough for power starters. 

Sure, other electrical accessories (ex: wipers, headlights, etc.) can still function normally.

However, starter motors demand much more current than average, and they certainly cannot find enough power from underperforming batteries with barely any electrical signals! 

Faulty Starter Motor

We have just discussed how dead batteries fail to supply your starter motor with enough power and keep it from running properly.

But sometimes, the problem might start from the motor itself – which is why you still struggle to start the car despite well-performing and fully-charged batteries! 

As the ignition switch fails to spark the engine’s operation, it will generate incessant, non-stop clicking sounds.

Stop the car and inspect your bad starter motor more thoroughly – or have someone more experienced do that for you! 

Rust or Corrosion in The Battery Terminals

What if your battery charge is full and the starter motor is running well – yet clicking noises still run?

More serious issues are on the scene – particularly a lack of current flow due to frayed wires, loose connections, or terminal battery corrosion! 

These issues are especially common in old, worn-out batteries – a combination of metal terminals reacting with battery acid that swallows all electric contacts and current flows.

Once you spot them, use sandpaper to clean the terminal and connector, then check its voltage rating and resistance with a multimeter.

Recommended measurements:

  • Resistance: 0 ohms or about that level
  • Battery voltage: Not lower than 12 volts

Any other readings other than these two signify real problems! 

Deteriorating Connector Wires

A wiring harness delivers the required currents to every car component. Its power connector – made from solid copper – is wrapped tightly in rubber boots to function like an insulated sleeve.

Sadly, despite its seemingly sturdy construction, the device may still deteriorate as time passes, stripping your alternator pulley of its electrical current! 

To confirm, double-check the car’s charge and ignition condition.

Does it fail to ignite/charge after extended parking periods? Yes? Time to have the connectors (usually installed on engine blocks and batteries) diagnosed at auto shops right away.

Engine Failures

Seized engines lead to zero cranking and rapid clicking sounds – which you mistakenly assumed come from the alternators.

Reasons for this engine failure are abundant, but here are the three most prevalent:

  • Hydro lock
  • Lack of maintenance
  • No lubrication

The simplest thing to do is to lubricate your engine and try to restart it. If the issue persists, other fixes are needed (we will return to this topic later in the article).

Other Causes (Rarer): 

  • Insufficient oil in the engine: More heat and friction are generated in the engine compartment, which welds several parts of the motor together and causes noises. Worse, the fuel may vaporize, paving the way for engine stalling and low-pump pressure.
  • Little to no engine use: Rust and grime will be built up in the engine, causing it to become stuck and produce clicking noises when you try to start the vehicle.
  • Loosened belts and faulty bearings: Since these devices have a tight connection with the alternators, their malfunctions heavily affect your alternator as well – and hinder it from optimal performance.

How to Fix Alternator Clicking While Running

bad alternator clicking sound
To Repair For Alternator Clicking Noise

Changing Your Alternator Unit

Step 1. Save previous car memory on the preset electronics.

Step 2. Disconnect the negative cables of your batteries before loosening the belt tensioners.

Step 3. Loosen and extract:

  • Serpentine belts
  • Connectors/wiring harness
  • Alternators 

Step 4. Install your newly-bought alternator. Ensure it aligns and fits the bolt hole. Once done, put on the replacement belt; confirm that its tension is set properly.

Step 5. Reconnect your battery cable.

And when this method doesn’t work (meaning the noises do not come from the alternator unit), ask yourself whether the car produces only one alternator click or multiple clicks.

Then choose one of the following solutions accordingly: 

Single-Click Solution

Step 1. Find your starter relay (usually installed near the engine’s bottom, connecting the transmission and the engine).

Step 2. Examine its condition. Does the pinion gear get stuck? You only need to untangle them – or have a mechanic do so. But if the issue is more serious, it would be best to replace the motor entirely.

Step 3. Test the vehicle after you have finished to confirm that there is no car clicking sound.

Multiple-Click Solution

Step 1. Jumpstart your car. If it fails, assess the wiring connections and cables to see whether they have been positioned correctly. Fix them if they haven’t.

Step 2. Clean the battery terminals (you’d better have a manufacturer manual for this step). Tighten loose connectors (if there are any).

Step 3. Replace the battery if its voltage is below 12.6 V (when the car’s off) and 13.7 V (when on). You can check that using multimeters.

Can You Safely Drive With An Alternator Ticking Noise and Not Fix It?

alternator clicking while running
Can Safely If Alternator Ticking Noise and Not Fix It

No. Clicking in car might mean a lot of things: engine failure, lack of oil and lubrication, failing battery, and so much more – which all have big roles in a car’s performance and control.

Neglecting them will only put you and your vehicle at severe risk of accidents! 


Our article has investigated all potential culprits behind a car’s alternator clicking noise to provide you with corresponding fix tips.

Unless there are some hidden problems not yet detected, applying one of the three methods above should do the trick. Ask us for more help on alternator issues if needed!

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