What Does An Alternator Do For My Car?

Many of the convenient and important features and functions of your vehicle require electrical power. Your car’s alternator serves as a kind of generator or charging system that provides that power. While the vehicle’s battery supplies some power, the majority of its devices draw electricity from a continuous supply from the alternator. 

BMW Dashboard and Steering Wheel

How The Alternator Works

Your car’s alternator is a mechanical device that is energized by the crankshaft of the engine. When the engine is running, the alternator transforms the motion of the crankshaft into electric energy. This is the electricity that powers devices such as the cooling fan, the stereo, the headlights, the windshield wipers, the air conditioning system, and the defogger.

What Are Signs That Your Alternator Is Having Issues?

If your alternator is creating a considerable amount of noise, this could be a sign that something is wrong with it. As the bearings inside the alternator become worn, you will often hear strange and excessive sounds when the hood is open. Other signs of trouble include:

  • Dead battery
  • Dim headlights
  • Starter problems
  • Burning smell
  • The “GEN” or battery service light may appear

What Service Does An Alternator Need?

During maintenance service your tire and auto service technician test how your battery, starter, and alternator perform at idle, during high RPMs, and under high voltage loads. Check your vehicle owner’s manual to find out how often your alternator should be inspected to avoid problems.

What Can I Do to Protect My Tires?

Tires are one of the most important safety features of your car. Taking care of your tires and tread will assure they remain safe and keep performing at their best.

Close Up Image of Tire Tread

Keep An Eye On Your Tire Tread

Tire tread is a key performance feature of your tires. Regularly checking the condition of the tread on your tires is important to the preservation of your tires. Drivers don’t usually think about looking at their tread unless they suspect a leak or have had an encounter with glass or other road debris. Regularly looking at your tire tread means you’ll be more likely to notice wear trends before excessive damage can occur. Issues can be identified by visual inspection or by running your hand over the tread and feeling for problematic areas. These might include distortion in the tread, feathering or cupping. If caught early enough, improper wear patterns can be corrected to extend tire service life.

Make Sure Your Tires Are Properly Inflated

Keeping your tires inflated to the correct level is another extremely important part of tire maintenance that will prolong tire life. If tire inflation drops to a level that is below the recommended pressure, an additional load is placed on the shoulder of the tire. This will cause that area to wear prematurely. Under-inflation also causes heat to build up within the tire, which in turn increases rolling resistance and reduces fuel economy.

What Services Do I Need to Preserve My Tires and Tread?

Wheel alignment is an essential regular maintenance service you need. This service has a direct effect on your tires because improper vehicle alignment is a very common cause of unusual tread wear. When tires are unable to run straight ahead, accelerated tread wear occurs on some areas of the tire. Consistent alignment service will prevent your vehicle from experiencing a variety of alignment related problems, including uneven and premature tread wear.

Tire rotation should also be performed on a regular basis. A consistent and documented schedule of tire rotation will promote even tread wear and extend tire service life.Close Up Image of Tire Tread

Compromised wheel and suspension components can also negatively impact tire service life. For instance, a wheel bearing that has been incorrectly torqued can cause irregular tire wear, or worn shock absorbers can create depression wear on treads. Replace shock absorbers and other suspension components as part of overall maintenance.