Because every car is different, difficulty starting your car or keeping it running is likely to crop up as one of the first symptoms of alternator trouble. However, there are a lot of other mechanical issues that can cause stalling or hard starts. It's important to look at everything else going on with your car to pinpoint the problem.
If your hard starts are, in fact, caused by alternator trouble, the reason for this is because the car starts from juice stored in the battery. As we've already discussed, if the alternator is not recharging the battery properly, the battery won't be strong enough to confidently and smoothly turn on the car. If you're stalling even after the car has been running, the spark plugs might not be getting enough power from the alternator to keep the engine going. In other words, your battery isn't dead yet, but it's well on the way.
Sharp-eyed readers might remember that a dead battery was mentioned much earlier in this list as a separate symptom, even though the mechanical factors are similar. Is it really worth bringing this up separately, you might ask? The answer is yes — because it is much easier to ignore or overlook a dying battery than a dead one, and if you're aware of what this symptom means, then you have a chance to get your alternator checked out before you actually get stranded.
For more information about alternators and other related topics, follow the links below.
Last editorial update on Apr 6, 2018 12:31:19 pm.
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- Belliveau, Norman. Owner, Ace Armature Co. Personal interview. Conducted on Oct. 14, 2009.
- Carabello, Joe. Owner, Hub Automotive Rebuilders. Personal interview. Conducted on Oct. 14, 2009.
- Chapman, Norman. "Principles of Electricity and Electronics for the Automotive Technician." Delmar Publishers. 2000.
- Lloyd's Automotive and Transmission Specialists, Inc. "6 Symptoms of a Failing Alternator." (Mar. 17, 2018) http://www.automotiveolympia.com/blog/failing-alternator-symptoms.html
- Nationwide Insurance. "Is it Your Battery or Your Alternator?." Jan. 3, 2017. (Mar. 17, 2018) https://blog.nationwide.com/dead-car-battery-or-alternator/
- Owen, Clifton E. "Basic Automotive Service and Systems - 3rd Edition." Thomson Delmar Learning. 2007.
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- Ruelas, Ed. "Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Alternator." YourMechanic. Jan. 5, 2016. (Mar. 17, 2018) https://blog.nationwide.com/dead-car-battery-or-alternator/
- SaveOnEnergy. "How Does An Electric Motor Work?" (Mar. 18, 2018) https://www.saveonenergy.com/how-does-electric-car-motor-work/
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