The alternator is a part of a vehicle's charging system. Its job is to turn mechanical energy, or motion, into electrical energy, or electricity. Put simply, alternators generate current. How they do it is a straightforward process.
It starts with the engine, which runs the serpentine belt and drive belts. As those belts move pulleys, so do they move a pulley that turns a rotor shaft. The shaft then turns some magnetic coils. The movement of the coils creates a magnetic field. A rectifier captures its energy as AC power and turns it into DC power -- a charge that a voltage regulator manages.
As a result, an alternator can charge a car battery as well as help run the vehicle's many other electrical systems. That means everything from the dashboard lights and displays and car radio to the power windows and power steering, windshield wipers, and more -- even options like heated seats.
Unfortunately, alternators can go bad at times. Causes of alternator failure include installing incompatible accessories, jump-starting the car the wrong way, and worn or damaged alternator parts. Even an overtightened alternator belt can have consequences. Luckily, alternator problems are easy to spot. Signs of them include:
- Dashboard warning lights (for the alternator and battery specifically)
- Lighting malfunctions
- A car entertainment system that works intermittently
- A dead battery
- A burning smell under the hood
- Leaking alternator fluid
- Engine squeals
- Electrical system failure
If you see symptoms like these, run an inspection and test your vehicle's charging system. If the results demand alternator replacement, take care of it ASAP. Otherwise, change the alternator either every 7 years or every 80,000 to 150,000 miles. Take a look at your owner's manual for more details.
Repair Your OEM Charging System with a Genuine Mopar Alternator
Mopar designs its alternators to work with your brand and model from the start, guaranteed. So, you shouldn't trust anything less than genuine OEM. You're in luck: you can order the real thing right here online at our auto parts store. We'll ship it out to you right away, so you can get repairs done in no time.
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