The alternator is deemed as the heart of a car, as it charges the battery, which powers the whole automobile.
But why does my alternator keep going bad? It is a nagging question. If you are completely in the dark about the answer, our article will offer a helping hand. Let’s get started!
What Is An Alternator?
An alternator is responsible for turning mechanical energy into electrical power with the assistance of a rotating magnetic field.
It is also fitted with a stationary armature or engine winding, which helps carry alternating current.
More specifically, the primary operation of an alternator is rotating to produce power under the direct current form for your vehicle to run.
If something is wrong with this device, the power supply will likely be cut off. Your car may stall all of a sudden.
Why Does My Alternator Keep Going Bad?
My alternator keeps going bad. Why? Here are some triggers of a defective alternator:
- Dead battery
- Battery short
- Open circuit problem
- Battery ground issue
- Insulation failure
- Corroded wiring
- The reversing polarity of a jumper cable
- The clogged issue
- Oil and coolant leakage
- Damaged alternator components
Let’s dive deeper into each cause.
Most alternators are manufactured to reach the highest rated power for a short time, nearly charging the battery to the full for about a couple of minutes.
Suppose that the battery is not working properly; the alternator is placed under more strain.
Its rectifier and stator coil would likely be damaged as a result. And the electrical system might shut off while you are driving.
What could be causing my alternator to go bad? The short circuit renders your battery to become hot and probably combust.
If the issue persists for a period, the battery will be ruined, and your car cannot start the engine.
Once you try to disengage the clutch in this terrible condition, your alternator has to rotate at full capacity to charge the weak battery, which is not good for its health in the long run.
Open Circuit Problem
The open circuit causes your alternator to become corroded or loosened due to the accumulation of acid in each battery terminal.
Under this circumstance, your alternator would be on the fritz soon by stopping to charge or intermittently bouncing between the low and high battery voltage.
Battery Ground Issue
A ground strap is located between the car body and the engine. Its main function is to connect the negative end of a battery to your vehicle’s frame.
Normally, heat will be generated at the negative terminal or the attaching bolt when it works. Once the ground problem arises, excessive heat is apt to be produced, wreaking havoc on the nearby alternator.
How does a car alternator go bad? If the insulation of your alternator fails, a short circuit might be induced, mainly boiled down to the melted wiring system or overcapacity fuse.
Consequently, damage to an alternator may follow.
An effective method you could use to detect is checking your fuse. Once it continues blowing out, some parts of your alternator are really bad at insulating.
There are two different sets of wires associated with an alternator. An internal set is intertwined with rotors in the magnetic field that generate electricity by spinning.
External wires also contribute to the voltage output.
Over time, they are susceptible to corrosion and gradually become brittle or loose. The original function of an alternator cannot be fulfilled, and the current output is also disrupted.
The Reversing Polarity Of A Jumper Cable
Reversing the polarity of a jumper cable or jump-starting your car are two practices inducing great harm for an alternator.
The reason is that computer-controlled diodes and regulators are the most vulnerable victims in this case.
Hence, an electrical current of strong surges will likely be rendered, causing your alternator to be more prone to excessive wear or even badly damaged.
Watch the video below for more details:
The Clogged Issue
What causes bad alternators? When your alternator leaves unattended, its components are clogged up with dirt, debris and other contaminants.
If you don’t clean or maintain it properly, the shorts and brushes inside an alternator may wear out, which is primarily conducive to bearing failure.
Oil And Coolant Leakage
Oil or coolant leaks from the valve cover gasket are bad for your alternator, as it is not initially designed to resist these liquids.
Although no statistics indicate how small an amount will cause your alternator to fail, it would be best to avoid.
Damaged Alternator Components
When an alternator keeps going out, the problem lies in faulty components:
- The malfunction of engine bearings, commonly arising with age, corrosion or poor servicing, may result in the electrical failure.
- When the rotor brushes get worn after a long time of usage, the flow of electricity can be hindered, leading to a reduction in an alternator output.
- Defective diodes stem from a power spike, disrupting the charging capacity of an alternator or allowing AC power steering fluid into the alternator’s components.
- Bad wire windings might be brought about by constant tension and vibration.
- The misalignment of a serpentine belt or drive belt is often caused due to excess friction force.
How To Solve This Mechanical Issue?
Here are viable remedies to the problem with a faulty alternator for you to consider:
- It is strongly recommended that you tow your car to reliable auto stores and have professional mechanics check the overall state of your vehicle. Avoid performing this practice at home, which is quite dangerous.
- Replace the battery instantly when you detect something abnormal to avert worse scenarios, like bad connection or loose belt.
- Maintain your alternator functions frequently, especially the insulating capacity to protect it from extreme heat.
- Clean your alternator regularly to remove its components from dirt, debris or chemical substances by using a Cataclean product.
- Undertake the battery inspections in case they are loosely wired and filled with rusting buildups.
- Repair your valve cover gaskets or replace them immediately after you spot common signs of oil or coolant leakage.
- Make a replacement of some essential electrical devices, such as power locks, jumper cables, alternator pulleys or diodes if they are out of order.
The Bottom Line
After our article, you will find a satisfying answer to the question: Why does my alternator keep going bad? Hopefully, you also learn more about some suggested solutions to this problem.
Thank you for being so supportive, and have a good day!