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Car Alternator – Everything You Need to Know About

Do you know what a car alternator is? Well, some of you must have heard about it. Today, we are going to discuss everything about alternators. Keep Reading, if you want to gain some knowledge about this important auto part. 

Come on! Everyone owns a car and every car has an alternator! So, I think you must have some knowledge about alternators.

What is A Car Alternator in a Vehicle?

This component in your vehicle is one of the pivotal parts in the electrical system. One came to know about this auto part only after getting a problem in the electrical system. Well, the alternator mainly comprises of two portion i.e. 

  1. Magnetic Coil 
  2. Rod
car alternator

By operating together, these parts ensure the efficient working of your vehicle. To start a vehicle, electrical energy is required which is being supplied by the electric system of your vehicle. When you ignite your car, the rod moves with a belt. We all know, we have a battery in our cars that is being charged by these alternators even when we drive it. So, that means it is the alternators that supply power to the whole electrical system.

Types of Car Alternators 

  • Fixed Voltage – As the name suggests, it delivers a fixed amount of voltage constantly. The current is given at a higher level when the car is being started whereas it minimizes the current while you drive your car. This type of alternator is mounted in old version vehicles. 
  • Smart Alternators – These are found in modern vehicles that can set the voltage as per the electrical system’s requirement. A smart alternator often diminishes the voltage output to reduce the pressure on the engine. This type of alternator maintains the level of charge in the electrical system and also keeps a balance between the regular emission and engine management. It sends a certain amount of voltage only after observing the charge level of the car’s battery. As while starting a car, it requires more charge while driving your car needs less voltage. 

What Are the Main Components of A Car Alternator?

car alternator

As we discussed above, the car alternator maintains the battery. A battery is responsible for the smooth and flawless working of the heater, light, and other car accessories. You can not think of a car without an alternator because in that case, you need to charge the battery manually before providing an ignition to your car. If we talk about the count of main components of the alternator then it is four in number. Every component plays an important role in charging a car’s battery. 

Rotor and Stator 

A stator is made-up of wire coils around an iron rod. The stator is round in shape that surrounds a rotor. The rotor and stator are joined with a belt and copper wire coils that generate magnetic fields. The rotor spins at very high speed & produces a current which is passed on further to the iron housing. The electricity generated is an AC i.e. Alternate Current.

Diode Assembly

The diode is responsible to convert AC (Alternate Current) to DC (Direct Current). DC is the type of current used in vehicle batteries. It is a two-terminal system that operates by letting the current generated in the stator run in one direction. 

Voltage Regulator

car alternator

It is similar to the surge protector that creates current when there’s a need. After monitoring the voltage of the battery and alternator, the voltage regulator regulates the current.

Cooling Fan 

The whole process of generating current, regulating the voltage produces a lot of heat. A fan inside the alternator protects the system by helping dissipate that heat.

What are the Signs of Car Alternator Failure 

Just like other auto parts, car alternators can fail at any time. But the good thing is that you can judge or analyse it earlier before your vehicle completely gets off. So, change it when you feel like changing. For prior notice, just read the following points once. 

Alert Light 

The dashboard always indicates warnings in advance. All you need to do is to check them before they become too problematic to handle. The car alternator-related alerts can be noticed easily as they are displayed on your vehicle’s dashboard. You must have seen a battery-like icon liting that shows the battery-related issues. So, if you notice them, just turn off the electrical components such as air-condition, blower, stereo, or extra lights, etc. Don’t switch off your car’s ignition until you reach the mechanic’s place or a place where you can get help easily.

Dimming Lights

car alternator

Dim headlights or dashboard is another warning sign of alternator’s failure. Another common symptom is an alert in lowering the energy to heated seats that eventually reduce the alternator’s operation.

Grinding Noise

Oh Yes! It is something you can notice quickly- unusual sounds. An alternator works with various other components that keep it in a working position. If there is any problem even in one part or component then it may produce grinding sounds that are an obvious sign of a failing alternator. 

Odd Smell

Whenever you find there is a smell like burning rubber, that means your car’s alternator needs an expert’s hand. It often happens when misalignment produces friction that causes belt heating up. 

How to Change an Alternator? 

If you have a faulty alternator then you can either change it or refurbish it. People often choose a budget-friendly option i.e. refurbishing alternator. But whether your alternator can stand for long or it will again trouble you can only be explained by an expert mechanic. Though refurbishing is the most affordable option. 

Buying a new car alternator ensures the uninterrupted working of your car. All you need to care about is to ensure the sellers of auto parts. Check all the parts before buying them. Don’t go for the cheap options because you may end up in an expensive one. You may go for a cost-effective car alternator. 

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Signs That Indicate The Need To Change The Oil

In addition to regularly scheduled maintenance, you can notice some signs that tell you the need to change the oil in your vehicle. These symptoms will let you know that you have a problem with the oil and should be changed sooner rather than later. 

Noise from the engine

change the oil

Because oil helps lubricate all the moving parts of your engine, as well as cooling it.  If your engine is low in oil or the quality is no longer adequate, your engine won’t work correctly.  It will increase the noise from your engine in the form of tapping and growling.  This is not the noise you want to hear, and if they are allowed to continue, it means that your engine is crashing.  Check your oil instantly and replace it if necessary.

Dirty oil

Determining the quality of oil at a glance is not an easier task.  The brand new oil looks like a pure golden-amber, as well as slightly translucent.  The older and dirtier it gets, the darker it gets, and it can also be filled with particles and debris that are not easily recognizable.  

change the oil

You need to check your oil with a dipstick and wipe it to see the color and quality.  Checking the oil once a month is an excellent way to keep track of how things are going, and you can determine if you need to change it or not.  A little darkness will be natural the longer you use while you keep on using the oil, but if it burns black in appearance and is cloudy, you need an oil to change the oil.

Exhaust fumes

change the oil

Under no circumstances should your car emit smoke from the rear. A little moisture vapor is normal, but if you have gray or blue smoke coming out of your vehicle’s back, this is a problem and indicates that you are burning oil somewhere inside your car.

The smell of oil

When you’re behind the wheel, you shouldn’t smell anything related to your car.  If you notice the smell of oil, then probably somewhere the oil is leaking.  If you can also smell exhaust fumes or gases, it indicates that your car is probably overheated. If you need any auto part, you can visit The Auto Parts Shop online.

Extreme driving

If you’ve pushed your car a lot harder than usual in the last month, especially if you’ve been driving a lot more, such as shipping or driving Uber or something, then there’s every reason to believe that the oil will need to be changed much earlier than usual.  

If you press on the engine much harder than usual, check the oil more often so that you can monitor the oil changes when they should occur.

Issues in Engine parts

change the oil

Engine oil is the lifeblood of your car, which ensures the vehicle’s smooth operation at the right temperature.  If you do not follow the oil change, your engine will suffer as a result.  Not only will you have poor performance, but the engine will overheat and wear out, resulting in severe damage.  

The cost of replacing parts of your engine, such as pistons, cylinder block components, etc., can cost you thousands of dollars.  It’s best to spend just a few dollars to change the oil so you can avoid expensive repair bills.

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Learn everything about power steering system

Imagine that you are entirely enjoying your drive with your favorite song, and suddenly, you feel weird resistance in your steering wheel. You have to work harder to direct your car, and you start asking yourself: “Why is it hard to turn my steering wheel?”

Problems in the steering wheel are indeed scary! 

If you ever find yourself having difficulty moving or turning the steering wheel, chances are your power steering has failed.

What happens when the power steering is lost?

There are many possible causes of the loss of power steering systems. Furthermore, what may go wrong depends on whether your car has hydraulic, electric, or hydroelectric power steering.

Power steering system

Below is a detailed explanation of what can happen during a power steering failure, depending on the system type.

Types of power steering systems

Depending on which car you drive, power steering can be of any of three types:

Power steering system
  • Hydraulic power steering:

Hydraulic systems use hydraulic pressure from the power steering pump. This pump, powered by an engine drive belt, carries the pressurized power steering fluid to the steering gear.

Issue:

  • Lack of fluid supply due to leakage of power steering fluid
  • Hydraulic pump failure
  • Steering gear failed
  • Electric power hydraulic steering:

Electric power steering systems use motors instead of hydraulic pumps. In electronic power steering systems, the electronic control unit controls the steering dynamics.

Issues:

  • Bad wiring
  • The electric motor is failing
  • Power steering fluid leak
  • Steering gear failed
  • Fully electric power steering

Fully electric power steering uses electric hydraulic pumps instead of engine-driven hydraulic pumps on traditional hydraulic systems.

Issues:

The loss of fluid pressure in the hydraulic power steering system will turn your system to manual operation (meaning all your muscles are working). As a result, it won’t be easy to turn the steering wheel.

In short, handling your 2000 car will be as heavy and tiring as a 1960s car, especially at low speeds.

Reasons for power steering failure

The common culprits of failed hydraulic or electric power steering systems are:

  • Loss of power steering fluid
Power steering system

If you notice a fall in your power steering fluid level, it indicates a leak somewhere in the system. Check the hose, seal, and hydraulic pump for any signs of leakage.

  • Bad hydraulic pump

Lack of power steering fluid can damage the hydraulic pump and cause trouble in your steering. Very recent damage can make noticeable noises, and if the power fails, you will have zero steering support.

Power steering system

An electric steering pump leaking will cause it to run out faster, resulting in noise and, ultimately, reducing steering assist.

  • Snap serpentine belt

An engine-driven hydraulic pump relies on the rotation of the crankshaft to operate. The two are connected by serpentine belts that spin the pulley on the pump when the crankshaft begins to turn.

If snapped, the pump becomes powerless, therefore, will not supply the system with hydraulic fluid.

  • Electronic components worn
Power steering system

As mentioned earlier, electric power steering systems use a combination of sensors, computers, and motors. Failure of any component makes your vehicle experience a lack of steering support.

What to do when power steering fails

You can easily recognize when the power steering starts failing because it will be tough to turn the steering wheel. In some cases, power steering failure occurs slowly, while, in other cases, failure occurs abruptly. It can happen while driving and can catch drivers by surprise.

Most of the safety tips described below are clear, but not all drivers know the best way to react in such a situation.

Check out a list of what you should be doing when your power steering system fails while on the road.

  • Signal to other drivers using your lights
Power steering system

Turn your hazard lights on! It would alert other people on the road that there is something wrong with your car. It will allow them to pass you while taking extra precautions.

  • Drive carefully to the shoulder of the road

Observe the road for approaching vehicles and carefully turn your steering wheel towards the shoulder. You will need to use extra power depending on the damage to your power steering system.

Take your time to change lanes, and don’t rush. Keep in mind that you will not be able to respond immediately to threatening situations.

  • Slow down until you reach the full stop

When you go up the side of the road, step lightly on the brake pedal. Make sure there are no high-speed vehicles before you slow down.

Once you reach the shoulder lane, apply the brakes slowly until you reach the full stop.

  • Estimate the severity of the problem

After parking your vehicle safely, turn the wheel left and right to assess the severity of the problem – check how difficult it is. It is where you choose whether you can still drive the car to the mechanic or tow it.

If you feel that the steering wheel’s weight is manageable, you can drive it yourself to the nearest mechanic. Be sure to go slowly and stay in the lane.

  • If in doubt, call for a towing truck
Power steering system

If you think you are unable to drive properly, call for a towing truck. Ensure your vehicle is safely positioned in the shoulder lane as it may take some time for the tow trucks to arrive.

These days, most of the cars are equipped with a power steering system. The new and young drivers do not recognize this feature’s benefits unless they have experienced driving older vehicles that lack power steering.

This feature helps the driver drive easily as there is minimal resistance between the wheels and the ground either with the hydraulic or electrical system’s help. If you’re looking for various auto parts, you can visit The Auto Parts Shop online.