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Troubleshooting Your Alternator


Are your headlights dimming? If so, this may be the first sign of alternator troubles. Another sign is trouble or slow to crank your engine.

The charging system keeps the battery charged and supplies voltage for the electrical system. If the alternator, voltage regulator or wiring that connects the charging system to the battery and electrical system goes bad, it can create serious problems.

Charging problems can be caused by electrical faults in the charging system itself, by poor wiring connections at the battery or elsewhere, or by a slipping or broken drive belt. If there is no charging output, the battery will quickly discharge. You may have 20 minutes to an hour of driving time before everything goes dead and the vehicle shuts down.

Once battery voltage drops below a certain threshold, the onboard electronics, ignition and fuel systems may stop working normally and cause the engine to stall. The battery will not have enough reserve power to restart the engine, so the vehicle will be stranded until the problem can be diagnosed and repaired.

Recharging the battery or jump starting the battery with booster cables from another battery or vehicle may get the engine running again, but it will not be for long if the charging system is not producing normal voltage.

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