Cash for Clunkers

Tara Hornor
Written byTara HornorUpdated - August 26, 2021
Tara Hornor
Tara Hornor

Tara Hornor is an experienced writer and entrepreneur with over two decades of experien... | See full bio

John Rush
Edited and Fact-Checked byJohn RushEditor
John Rush
John Rush
Automotive Content Accuracy Auditor|||

With over four decades of experience, John Rush is a highly accomplished business owner... | See full bio

Complete Guide to Diagnosing a Bad Alternator

A lot of car owners would certainly agree that car breakdowns are very stressful. For those who do not have the idea whether it is the car’s alternator or battery that is going berserk, this unprecedented situation is quite terrifying. Just imagine happening it to you in the middle of nowhere without any help in sight. Furthermore, if you are planning to put your car on sale, you have to make sure every at least the basics work and are functional. Some repairs are pretty expensive and may not be worth the expense. Regardless, it is safe to say that checking on your car parts like the alternator is a worthwhile idea. 5 Tips On How To Detect A Bad Alternator on Your Used Cars For Sale

What is a car alternator?

It is important for a driver to know the most basic components of a vehicle. These might include battery, engine, alternator and the transmission. The engine is the one which creates the propulsion to get the car moving. The transmission is the one which keeps the car moving and the battery helps the engine to start. On the other hand, what does the alternator do?

What Does an Alternator Do?

Before we delve deeper to the different ways of detecting a bad alternator is wreaking havoc in your car, we need to understand and know how an alternator function. Please read through the article completely. Generally, the alternator is the main character in generating power in your car. The battery is the one which starts the car, however, once the cycle has been completed, it is job of the alternator to start the engine and keep it running. It is the job of the alternator to create and sustain the supply power to the battery and supply power to the various electrical components of the car. 5 Tips On How To Detect A Bad Alternator on Your Used Cars For Sale In order to charge the electrical system of your car, you need a functional alternator that will work with your battery. You see, when your alternator malfunctions, can really affect the car in various ways. There are several tell-tale signs that implies an alternator is malfunctioning.
  1. Check on your headlights. If the headlights are flickering, then it should be alternator that is malfunctioning. When you have dimming headlights, it is the first sign of a bad alternator. It is one of the earliest signs of alternator failure in your vehicle. Pay attention as you decrease and increase the engine speed and how your headlights behave. A working alternator will keep the headlights bright despite the speed the car might travel. Once, the headlight dims as you drive along, you have to stop and check on the alternator once and for all.
Another thing to check are the dimming lights across the dashboard area. If the lights in the dashboard go weak or dim, this will mean an alternator problem. Keep in mind that the dimming and the flickering of the lights are strong indicators of alternator breakdown. This would certainly mean that the alternator is incapable of generating adequate power to the various parts of the cars.
  1. Verify the status of your car battery. Basically, the alternator can provide help in replenishing the weakening battery. However, it can never keep it going over the long haul. This would simply mean that the driver is able to determine a malfunctioning alternator or a battery. As mentioned on the blog post at Nationwide , there are few different indicators to find out that your battery is dead or the alternator is not doing so well. You can do it by checking on the battery gauge on the dashboard. You do not have to start the car engine to do this. If it is sending out a strong charge, the battery is most likely not the main concern. It is important to note that once the alternator goes bad, the car’s electrical components and devices will attempt to get power from the battery which will cause the quick emptying of the battery.
5 Tips On How To Detect A Bad Alternator on Your Used Cars For Sale
  1. Be very observant and take note of those strange sounds when the car is moving. When the car is moving, the different moving parts of the alternator works smoothly.  If one part of the alternator is not working well or begins to breakdown, the driver will surely notice unusual or strange sounds. If you are hearing those crazy grinding sound, this could be a sign that the alternator is not doing so well. The worn-out bearing could have caused the grinding sound. Additionally, the whining sound may be attributed to the voltage regulator that the alternator is charging frequently than it should. Thus, keep in mind that any grinding and whining sound will indicate that you need to check the status of your alternator.
5 Tips On How To Detect A Bad Alternator on Your Used Cars For Sale
  1. Check on how you start your car engine. Experienced drivers say that if the car has difficulty starting up, then the alternator must be failing. If you have addressed the dying battery already and still the problem remains, then you must try to check on your alternator.
  2. Observe if you have frequent and persistent electrical failures in your car. Basically, the alternator is the main source of electricity in the car, once it goes dysfunctional, it will show signs of insufficient and failing electricity in the car. You may have failing power windows, slow power locks and crazy windshield wipers. All of which are key indicators that the alternator needs some attention and work.
5 Tips On How To Detect A Bad Alternator on Your Used Cars For Sale Whether you are trying to fix your car alternator before putting it up on sale or for your personal use, you should know when to ask a trained mechanic for help. If you are not comfortable doing it yourself, then by all means, ask a mechanic to do the job for you! You should definitely have the alternator trouble sorted out before you drive your car. Furthermore, when you are looking into putting your car on sale for some cold cash, you should make sure everything works well. At, we will help you making the most out of your used car. Please contact Cash for Clunkers for all the inquiries you might have into converting your used car into cash hassle-free even if it is not running well!






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