Alternator Warning signs
The alternator is part of the electrical system of your vehicle. Its key role is to provide power to operate the starter, ignition and all of the electronic accessories in your car. If the alternator starts to die, you might notice your headlights and / or dash lights beginning to dim. Once the dash lights or headlights dim, it is a clear indication of potential alternator malfunction, this may cause other electronic accessories such as electric windows and / or electric seats to operate at a slower pace than usual.
Most modern cars have a dashboard warning light that alerts you when there is an issue with your vehicles alternator. Usually, the light will be shaped like a battery. This light may only trigger if you are using multiple electrical components. It is generally contingent on how much life your vehicle's alternator has left and how much electricity your vehicle is using.
An alternator works in conjunction with a system of belts. If a belt is not turning freely, the excess friction will cause the belt to heat up, which produces a burning rubber smell. If you can smell something similar to that of an electrical fire, this could indicate that the belt is slipping on the alternator pulley, causing poor alternator output.
There are many different parts that spin inside your vehicle's alternator to produce electrical current. If one of these parts becomes worn or breaks, this could cause a grinding or whining noise. Specifically, worn out bearings inside the alternator have been known to cause this type of noise. If the bushings that the alternator is mounted on have gone bad, a noise will be produced. Alternators are normally replaced as an assembly.
If you are experiencing problems with the electrical system, the alternator itself might be fine because the problem could be with one of the belts connected to the alternator. By doing a visual inspection of the engine compartment, you can determine if a belt is too loose or too tight. If a belt is cracked or worn, you should be able to spot that as well.
Starter motors are used to rotate an engine to begin the starting process. For a engine to start; many things need to happen simultaneously and in rapid succession.
For the engine to fire; one of the most important factors is turning of the flywheel. When the ignition key is turned, a low amperage electrical signal is sent to the Immobiliser and ECU.
Common Symptoms You May Notice When Trying To Start Your Engine
Engine Will Not Turn Over
The most common problem with a starting motor is; when you turn your key and nothing happens. A solenoid or motor that has burned out or electrical issues may cause this as well. Furthermore, a dead battery can cause the same problem. It may appear that you have power to your starting system; but the engine will not turn over.
Starter Motor Engages But Doesn’t Spin The Engine
There are times when you’ll turn the key and hear the starter activate; but it will not crank over. Issues with starting motors are sometimes mechanical in nature. The gears that connect to the flywheel and make it turn may be the problem. Either the gear has stripped or has become dislodged against the flywheel.
Grinding Noise When Trying To Start The Engine
A worn starter drive gear not making proper contact with the flywheel could make this noise. This is similar to the one that is heard if you start your engine and then accidentally restart it.
Teeth Damaged On Ring Gear
However, grinding may also happen inside the starting motor. In either case, it’s something that can’t be fixed on the engine. Damage to your flywheel will happen if not repaired quickly.
Smell Or Smoke When Starting The Engine
Electricity powers all starter motors, sometimes it will overheat. If this occurs, you’ll most likely see or smell smoke coming from underneath the engine. A short circuit or failing ignition switch may cause this.
Starter Soaked With Oil
The starter is often located around the bottom of the engine; and is vulnerable to soaking from leaks. An oil-soaked starter likely has a short life remaining. Consider getting the leak fixed and replace the starter motor before a malfunction occurs.
Malfunctioning Starter Solenoid
The solenoid transmits electrical current from the battery to the starting motor. When you turn the key in your vehicle’s ignition it pushes the starter drive into the flywheel to allow cranking. Without the solenoid; the starter will not work.
If you turn the key to the crank position and nothing happens; try jiggling the transmission gear shift lever first. If the engine still will not crank; there might be something wrong with the solenoid.
Freewheeling occurs when you crank the engine and simply hear a whining noise without the engine cranking. When this occurs; it means the starter is not engaging with the flywheel. This is a worrying situation which could result in having to replace the whole component.
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