When your vehicle is having electrical issues, the alternator is one of the first items that you need to look at. Getting a free alternator test could help you to isolate the problem and fix it. However, if you are like a lot of people, you may not know how to go about testing this component. In fact, you may not even know exactly what it does.
What is an Alternator?
The alternator in your car is a system that charges the battery and provides electrical power from the engine. It is essentially just an electrical generator that is powered by the engine’s rotational movement. It is connected via a belt (usually a serpentine belt) to the engine and produces electricity. It is one of the main components that provide power to your accessory systems and other electrical features.
How Do You Check if Your Alternator is Bad?
An alternator can be tested with an electrical meter. This will check whether the alternator is producing a sufficient current when the engine is running.
You can get this service for free at some battery stores and auto parts retailers. If you are concerned that you may need to replace your alternator, bring it in to be tested before you purchase the new item. Even if you plan on bringing your vehicle to a mechanic, it is a good idea to gather some information first. This will help you cut down on the amount of time the mechanic needs to spend troubleshooting.
It turns out store associates can often help with a lot more than helping your find the right wiper blade size. Auto parts stores often have great services like battery testing, charging and replacement.
How Can I Test My Alternator At Home?
You can also test your alternator at home using a multimeter. There are some special tools for quickly testing the charging system. However, you can also just check the voltage with a normal meter. You will need to check the battery voltage when the car is off. Then, check it when the car is running.
If the alternator is working properly, you should see a clear increase in voltage with the engine (and alternator) running. No increase or a very minimal one indicates that your charging system is not working properly. This may not be a problem with the alternator specifically. However, you can start digging deeper and check the current coming from the alternator also.
Keep Your Vehicle in Good Working Order
Working on your car or truck can be a fun and rewarding experience. Many people are wary to even change their own windshield wiper blades. However, most repairs and maintenance are much simpler than they appear.
Using a few tools and parts from your local auto store, you can take care of your vehicle in your garage. Some stores also offer services like tool loans and testing. You can get a lot done without ever having to step foot in a mechanic’s shop. Get started today and see what you can achieve with a little learning and patience.