Car Battery Starter Troubleshooting: Common Alternator Problems Car Battery Starter Troubleshooting: Common Alternator Problems
Solving car battery, starter or alternator problems can be tricky. These are all part of the ignition system, and a part with a problem may affect all the other parts. Here are some of the most common alternator problems for your car.
Slow or not cranking
If you hear a clicking sound when you turn on your car, and it won't start, it may be due to the starter. Sometimes the starter may crank, but very slowly. This is a symptom of a weak or dead battery. Check if the alternator is providing a higher than battery voltage, usually more than 13 volts.
Squealing or Grinding Sound
The alternator is driven by a belt connected to the engine. If the belt is loose, it will produce a squealing sound. A cracked, chipped or broken belt will also squeal. Tighten the loose belt by adjusting the tensioner or the alternator mount. A misaligned belt may also produce this squealing sound. Be careful because an overly-tightened belt will cause stress to the bearing and wear your car faster.
Headlights, dome lights and taillights will be noticeably dimmer. Wiper arms may move slower and your radio may not be audible. Check if your car horn is still honking the same sound and volume. These symptoms are a sign of a weak battery, which is caused by an alternator failing to give correct electrical charge.