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What Are The Bad Signs Of A Bad Alternator You Should Look For?

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If you have heard the word “alternator” before, you probably know that it is an important part of your car. But what is the use of an alternator exactly? In simple words, it keeps your car battery charged, allowing you to turn on your car and use electronic accessories. 

If you are experiencing car alternator issues, you may find that your car won’t start or stay on for more than a few minutes. This issue can be fixed during the Car Servicing Rugby process. You may also face battery, light and accessory irregularities. Before any of these happen, though, you will likely encounter one or more of these seven signs of a failing car alternator.

7 Signs of A Failing Alternator

Your car battery gives the electrical punch required to start the engine. While, the engine rotates the alternator pulley, which keeps the battery powered when the car is still running,. The alternator is the medium between these two parts.

Since the battery can not keep the engine and the electrical accessories powered forever, it needs the alternator to convert the engine’s rotational power into electrical energy. If there is any problem with the charging system, you will notice at least one of the following bad alternator symptoms:. 

Battery Warning Light on Dashboard

When the battery warning light appears on the dashboard, it is commonly mistaken to be a battery-specific issue. However, the battery warning light may indicate that there could be a problem within the wider electrical charging system of your car, including the alternator. 

Your car alternators work at a specific voltage, between 13 and 14.5 volts. If your alternator fails, its voltage may drop below capacity, causing the battery warning light to appear on your dashboard. The battery light may also light up if the alternator is higher than its voltage limit, depending on how much stress it is under. 

Dim or Overly Bright Lights

When an alternator or the alternator’s voltage regulator starts to fail, it may provide inconsistent voltage to your electronic accessories. In general, it takes the form of underperforming or over-performing equipment, such as headlights that are either extremely bright or too dim. 

You might experience flickering lights or lights that suddenly go from bright to dim and vice versa. Overloaded light have higher chances of prematurely failing, especially if the problem isn’t resolved quickly. 

Dead Battery

In some cases, a dead battery reached the end of its life after a few years of use or maybe you forgot to turn off the headlights and left them on all night. However, a dead battery could be a sign that your alternator has some issues.

A bad alternator won’t sufficiently charge the battery while the engine is running, causing the charge to lose speed faster than normal. One way to test whether you have a bad alternator or battery is to jumpstart your car.

Slow or Malfunctioning Accessories

Sometimes the alternator isn’t supplying enough power to your car’s electronics, which results in slow or non-working accessories. Nowadays, many modern cars also have a priority list of equipment programmed into the car that tells the onboard computer where to cut power first if the alternator isn’t supplying enough power. 

So if you are driving your car with a damaged alternator, your nonessential accessories may lose power, such as your radio before it starts to lose power in your headlights.

Starting or Frequent Stalling

If you face difficulty in starting your engine, it might mean that your alternator is failing to charge the car battery. So when you turn the key in the ignition, all you will hear is just a clicking sound instead of the engine sound. 

On the other hand, if your car is frequently stalling out while driving and you notice your battery lights turning on, it may be a sign that the control modules aren’t getting enough power from the alternator to keep the engine running. 

Growling or Whining Noises

Oftentimes, your car makes odd sounds that are harmless, but others can indicate serious mechanical problems. If you ever hear growling or whining noises coming from under the hood, you could have alternator problems or other drive belt problems. Which should be checked out by a professional as soon as possible.

You will hear a growling or whining sound when the belt that turns the alternator’s pulley becomes misaligned or rubs against the side of the pulley. In another case, you may hear this sound when the bearings that spin the rotor shaft are going bad.

The Smell of Burning Wires or Rubber

A burning rubber or wire could indicate the parts of your alternator are starting to wear out. The alternator’s drive belt is under constant friction. It is close to the hot engine; it may wear out over time and release an unpleasant burning rubber smell. 


If your car’s electrical system is giving you a tough time, it may be time to check the alternator. If your alternator causes problems during the MOT Rugby it can affect your MOT results negatively. So get it fixed before going for MOT testing.