Alternator Problems

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Symptoms of Possible Alternator Problems

When it comes to automotive vehicles, serious alternator problems can render it completely disabled. This is one of the reasons why it is important for every car owner and driver to understand the functions and symptoms so that immediate solutions can be achieved. Basically, the automotive alternator is primarily responsible for creating electricity using the fundamental electromagnetism law – changing magnetic field results in an electric field.

When dealing with alternator problems it is important to know that the stator and the rotor are the two main parts. Essentially the rotor is composed of three pairs of electromagnets with opposite poles facing one another.

These are contained in a cylindrical disc and conduct 120 degrees out of phase. The stator on the other hand is contained in the center of the rotor disc and serves as the stationary portion of the alternator.

Kathryn J.

My car broke down in Vail, CO. The two mechanics in town seemed untrustworthy. TalkToMyMechanic helped me make sure they didn't take advantage of my situation.


Diagnostic Audit

There are dozens of things that could have led to your blown head gasket and dozens of other problems that could have occurred. This checks your car's diagnostic report with our database of 500,000 faulty repairs and our panel of 10 ASE Certified Master Mechanics, so you know that the mechanic is fixing the right thing. (3 of 10 car repairs attempt to fix the wrong thing).


Price Audit

Want to know whether you need to pay $300 or $3,000? This checks the price of parts for your repair AND labor rates against our database of nationally accepted wage rates, so you'll know that you are getting a fair price. (6 of 10 repair customers are overcharged).


Service Audit

If you drove your car after you blew out your head gasket, there's a 50/50 chance you ruined something else in your car. But would you like to know if that is really true or if it is just a greedy mechanic trying to charge extra? This checks additional repairs and suggested maintenance to find out if the repairs are necessary...or not.



Once you've received your final bill, we will negotiate with the shop on your behalf to see if they have any VIP special customer discounts. About 60% of auto shops are willing to drop the price if approached the right way. Once you know you've gotten a fair price AND THEN it gets negotiated down even further, you know that you've received the best possible price you could.


Repair Warranty

If you purchase before you take your car in, we can direct you to an auto shop in your area that offers a 24,000/24 month warranty on any repair they do (about 20% of shops in the US offer this protection).


I hate feeling like the mechanic is screwing me over when he hands me the bill. Just to never have that feeling again is totally worth the price.

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How the Alternator Rotor Works

In a vehicle, the rotor is normally installed onto the engine crankshaft using an alternator belt. The alternator belt is responsible for transferring engine torque to the rotor. In this context it can be one source of alternator problems.

When the engine is running the crankshaft rotation spins the rotor. The spinning rotor is responsible for the changing magnetic field which induces the 3-phase current in the stator. With 120 degrees out of phase current generated works together with the output terminals of the stator.

The output current though is Alternating Current (AC) which does not conform to the Direct Current (DC) requirements of the vehicle accessories. The conversion from AC to DC is handled by the output current coming from the stator creating a voltage output of about 14 volts.

The output of the rectifier goes to the battery for charging and storing purposes. The battery supplies voltage to the alternator to create an exciter voltage to kick off the electromagnets. This is another potential source of alternator problems.

Role of the Alternator

On the outside the alternator looks like a relatively simple component made of few vital parts. However, behind this simplicity it plays a vital role in the operation of the vehicle.

Normally, it is responsible for turning on the mechanical energy and powering on the accessories of the vehicle including the headlights as well as the electrohydraulic lifts in the case of a snow plow. This component is likewise responsible for keeping the battery charged which is important in restarting the vehicle.

Because the alternator is critical for the function of any other system, any alternator problems can have direct effect on the operation of these systems as well as how vehicle problems are diagnosed. The wide range of problems can begin with slow starts and end up to a completely dead vehicle. Sometimes the flickering gauges and blinking lights can be likened to a vehicle possession.

Symptoms of Possible Alternator Problems

The design of modern vehicles undoubtedly has made it easier for drivers and car owners to identify potential problems that can happen during operation. The instrument panel of vehicles has undoubtedly become their best friend and gives all the necessary information they need to ensure that the vehicle is running smoothly. Some telltale signs to lookout for include:

  1. Warning lights – majority of instrument panels have a dedicated warning light for signaling potential alternator problems. Normally it looks like a battery while some instrument panels would show the words GEN or ALT. Some drivers and car owners mistakenly identify the warning lights as a sign of battery problems rather than connected to the alternator.

The warning light is linked to an onboard computer system responsible for monitoring the voltage output of the alternator. A preset limit determines when the indicator light goes on. One sign of alternator problems that is commonly missed is when the indicator light begins to flicker and turns off again. When this is not given the proper attention it can lead to other potentially serious problems. Any voltage output above or below the preset limit turns on the indicator light of the alternator.

  1. Erratic headlights – another potential symptom of alternator problems is that the operation of the headlights becomes erratic by turning either too dim or too bright. Since the alternator is primarily responsible for delivering a consistent level of electricity to the vehicle, this symptom may mean that the alternator is already losing its potentials. Speedometers, tachometers, and dashboard lights also seem to fail with no particular reason.

There are a number of factors that can actually affect how this symptom manifests. One of the most common factors for this symptom on alternator problems is the actual condition of this component. The programming of the vehicle also plays a part on how the determination of the problem. It is important to remember that sometimes manufacturers implement a safety plan when there are alternator problems by automatically rerouting electricity to more important components when there is lack of supply.

  1. Be observant – one of the most common causes of vehicle problems that lead to costly repairs is that the car owner or driver simply ignores telltale signs of problems. Undoubtedly, if you remain observant, these signs will tip you off of potential alternator problems.
  • Visual indicators are often ignored as in the case of loose, missing, or cracked alternator belt. Many mechanics share the experience that when they lift up the hood the alternator belt shows all the signs of alternator problems but has been neglected.
  • Sound indicators of alternator problems would normally include a whining or growling noise. This usually happens when the alternator reaches its dead cycle. This noise is mostly attributed to the wearing out of the bushing and bearings of the alternator.
  • You can smell it but you ignore it. One potential symptom of alternator problems is a burnt rubber smell or wires burning. Usually an overheated alternator is responsible for the burnt wire smell while the burning rubber scent can be caused by a misaligned pulley.

As you can see dealing with potential alternator problems is not that easy despite the seemingly simple design of the component. In order to avoid further expenses and possible damage to other components of your vehicles, have your alternator problems checked by a qualified technician.

Why TalkToMyMechanic Pro is Risk-Free for you to try

  • Have the luxury of your own person mechanic
  • Sit back and relax as our mechanic does all the talking for you. (You just give us the name of the autoshop you've walked into and then we go to work.)
  • Save hundreds of dollars on your repair

BUT if at the end of your repair you aren't absolutely thrilled... if you don't enjoy the low prices, safety of an expert's opinion, and experience the most hands off, laid-back car repair of your life, then you're protected by our

100% NO-Risk Double Guarantee

You are fully protected by our 100% No-Risk Double Guarantee. If you are unhappy in any way over the next 30 days, just let us know and we'll send you a prompt refund. No questions asked.

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Is this just a scare tactic? Is mechanic dishonesty really as bad as you say it is?

Short answer - Yes, it really is that bad.

Sources* say that if we have 10 mechanics

That 6 of them will try to overcharge us

And the remaining 2/3rds won’t be certified

Meaning that you have an 87% chance of dealing with
an overcharging or under-qualified mechanic

Fact - Sources say that 60% of all auto repairs are overcharged.

Fact - Government records show that only 1 in 3 mechanics are actually certified.

Fact - The average repair amount that is overcharged is well over $100.

Fact - All this put together means that the average person has only a 13% chance of getting a fair price from a REAL mechanic. But that's just the average person.

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Discover How Some Other People Have Used TalkToMyMechanic

  • Men and Women who "don't speak Mechanic" to understand what their auto shop is talking about.
  • Women, College Students, and Older Drivers to protect themselves from getting scammed (these groups are the groups that are most frequently targeted by dubious mechanics)
  • Business Professionals who just don't have the time to sit around with a mechanic at the shop.
  • Parents who want to make sure that their children's cars are fixed correctly the first time.
  • When We Asked Our Customers What They Like About TalkToMyMechanic Pro Here is What They Said.

    "TalkToMyMechanic Pro helps me feel like every time the mechanics smile when they hand me the bill it isn't because they are about to screw me over."

    "They targeted my mom because she is older but luckily I was able to get her to sign up [for TalkToMyMechanic] right before she almost handed over the credit card"

    See How Our Customers Get the Best Out of The Diagnostic Audit.

    "I had no idea how often mechanics just try to guess what is wrong with the car. The shop almost fixed the wrong thing!"

    See How Our Customers Get the Most Out of Our Pricing Audit.

    "He said the new wheels for my mother's car were going to be $3,200. When the guy at TalkToMyMechanic told him that she could get the wheels for $1,700 online, he immediately dropped the price.

    Why Our Customers Love The Service Audit.

    "I researched online for the price of my repair and it seemed right, but I had no idea how to check whether I really needed the extra 4 repairs he suggested or whether he was trying to fix something that wasn't broken."

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So How Does This All Actually Work?

Step 1

When you buy, you receive your own personal phone number to your master mechanic. Call that line and tell us briefly about what is happening with your car.

Step 2

We find every shop within 20 miles of you that has the 24,000mile/24 month warranty. Then you decide if you want to select one of those shops or pick your own.

Step 3

Once we know what shop you're going to, we take care of the rest. You just bring in your car and the relax.

(PS - while you're relaxing - we call the shop ahead of time, tell them you'll be arriving shortly, introduce ourselves as your automotive repair team, clarify things with the mechanics, check diagnostics, check pricing, check extra suggested service repairs, and negotiate lower prices. All while you don't have to lift a finger.)

Step 4

Once we're finished, we'll give you a call or text summary of everything we uncovered, stopped, and negotiated before you pay. Then you leave happy knowing you got the right repair for the right price.

TalkToMyMechanic vs. JustAnswer vs. AutoMD

  • Auto Shop Locator
  • Auto Shops with 24/24 warranty Locator
  • Get Answers To Auto Questions
  • Get Answers To Auto Questions By Professional Mechanics
  • Get Answers To Auto Questions on the Phone
  • Diagnostic Audit
  • Price Audit
  • Service Audit

Why is TalkToMyMechanic Pro Different From Just Answer

Just Answer doesn't have the ability to talk to a mechanic on the phone, or the ability to call in to an auto shop to do the hard work for you.

Just Answer just has a box where you can type your question, and a box where you get an answer.

But here is the biggest problem with Just Answer - you only one answer per purchase! And it is geared more towards Do It Yourselfers who are stuck on a repair question, not on a regular joe who needs help knowing whether he needs to take his car in at all, or needs to know if he is being lied to.

This is one of the main reasons people use TalkToMyMechanic, because the other answer websites are only for people who are trying to really fix things for themselves!

Why is TalkToMyMechanic Pro Different From AutoMD

AutoMD misses the big picture entirely. They have a diagnostic tool…but think for a few moments: Do you really think it is possible to know what is wrong with your car with a 5 question quiz? Now, the tool can definitely guide you in the right direction, but there are over 10,000 parts in a car. And every mechanic we've interviewed says that it is foolish to try and figure out what is wrong with a car without first running diagnostics.

Interesting Fact: AutoMD is free…Because YOU are the product they are selling.

AutoMD makes money by sending YOUR customer information to high paying shops. Think about it, if AutoMD has to pick between taking care of you or the shop, who are they going to pick? The anonymous website visitor? Or the auto shops paying them thousands of dollars for customer information?

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There is a 87% chance you get the wrong repair or get overcharged. And of the times you don't get overcharged, there is a 60% chance to still negotiate the price lower. So basically, 19 times out of 20, we save people hundreds of dollars.

Colleen (Tanner's Grandma)

I think this product is so great, I signed my grandma up for it! (True Story!) - Tanner, from TalkToMyMechanic Customer Research.

"So I basically forced my grandma into buying TalkToMyMechanic (come on, don't judge, I really think its a good product). Anyways, her car broke down literally a week later on her way up to the airport. She left her car, caught her flight, called TalkToMyMechanic and they got her car towed to a shop for free, saved her $400 off her original bill and had the car all arranged for when she flew back."

Start Using TalkToMyMechanic Pro Now!

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