What happens when your vehicle’s alternator goes bad?

The alternator is the power plant of your vehicle. When your engine is running, the alternator generates electricity and charges your battery. Besides the lights and radio, modern cars are loaded with all kinds of electronics that need a constant supply of electricity. When your alternator goes bad, you will quickly have a dead battery and a dead car. From lights to GPS, the alternator powers everything.

If an alternator starts to fail, most everything in your car will stop working.
The alternator is responsible for charging the battery and is driven by a belt that runs off power from the engine. Electricity produced by the alternator is stored in the battery. Together, the alternator and battery provide power to all of the electrical systems in the vehicle.

When the car is running, the alternator should be able to recharge the battery. The battery is responsible to cover any differences in power between what the alternator produces and what is needed by the car. If the alternator dies, the whatever power is drained from the battery will no longer be recharged, and soon, the battery and car will die. Think of all of the things in your car that run on electricity:

  • GPS
  • Radio
  • DVD player
  • Cell phone chargers
  • All of the lights, inside and out
  • Speakers
  • Bluetooth
  • A/C
  • Heater

Cold weather, sitting in traffic, snow, rain, stop and go traffic – they can all increase the load on the alternator. If you really stop to think about it, the alternator has a really tough job.


If you realize that your alternator is is not working, then it will likely need to be replaced. Alternator replacement is a difficult and dangerous task. Let the ASE certified professionals at Wilson’s Auto Repair safely and quickly complete the task for you. Some common signs of a failing alternator are:

  • Dimming/flickering lights
  • Slowing electrical system
  • Battery or check engine light
  • Dead battery
  • Strange noises
  • Strange smells

Remember, if your alternator fails you and your family will be stranded and your car isn’t going anywhere. Don’t ignore the warning signs, contact Wilson’s Auto Repair today!