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Thom's Four Wheel Drive

What Are the Top Signs of a Failing Alternator?

Your alternator is the car component that constantly recharges your battery. This car component allows you to turn on your car and use electronic accessories such as your headlights, power windows, and radio. If you're experiencing problems with your alternator, you may find that your car won't start or stay on for more than several minutes. Here are some other symptoms of a failing alternator that you should be on the lookout for:


  1. Dim Lights - When an alternator starts to fail, it'll provide varying voltage to your electronic accessories. As a result, you might find that your headlights are too dim (or in some cases, excessively bright). You may also encounter blinking lights or lights that interchangeably go from bright to dark.
  2. Slow or Malfunctioning Accessory Features - Your electrical features include your power windows, power seats, radio, and seat warmers. Without sufficient power, these accessories may stop working entirely. 
  3. Engine Stalls or Fails to Start -  If the alternator is not functional, your car may drain your battery. Jump starting your car may not cut it if you also have a damaged alternator. 
  4. The Smell of Rubber - In critical cases, a damaged alternator can produce a distinguishable burning smell. If you smell burning rubber, you should stop driving your vehicle promptly and get help.
  5. Unusual Noises -  If the parts in the alternator are misfunctioning, you may hear grinding or growling sounds. 
  6. Battery Light on Dashboard - Just like any other warning light on your dashboard, you should not ignore a battery warning light. The battery warning light indicates a potential problem within the broader electrical system, including the alternator.

If you encounter any of these symptoms, our certified technicians at Thom's Four Wheel Drive and Auto Service would be happy to assist you. Our expert team can do a full inspection to diagnose your problem correctly. Feel free to give us a call or stop by our shop in Chicago, IL, today!

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