It’s Monday morning. You wake up late and realize your alarm clock didn’t wake you. You’re in a hurry and don’t want to be late for work. You jump in your car and try to start it, but it doesn’t start. All it does is crank slowly or not at all. Now what? Call AAA? Call the neighborhood car tinkerer? You definitely have to call work and let them know you will be late because your car doesn’t start. So, you call AAA and they tow it to the neighborhood garage, or you call the neighbor car tinkerer, hoping he is even at home to look at your car. In either situation, your car is diagnosed that it has a bad alternator and needs to be replaced. “A bad alternator? How can that cause my car not to start?” you think to yourself. You know you need your car to get back and forth to work, so you have the alternator replaced, but still don’t understand how an alternator can cause a car not to start.
As mentioned earlier, the alternator has a very important job. It supplies all the electrical needs of the vehicle while the engine is operating, including recharging the battery. So, how can a faulty alternator cause a car not to start? If the alternator is not charging completely or not at all, the source of electrical energy falls back to the battery. The battery is a limited electrical energy storage unit which cannot provide a continuous source of electricity unless it is recharged by the alternator. If the battery is not being recharged, it will become depleted, or discharged, of all electrical energy and will cause the car to run poorly, quit running, or not start after stopping.
The alternator is part of the charging system, which is a very important subsystem of the electrical system of the car. The components of the charging system are the battery, alternator, regulator, and wiring. The battery provides exciter electrical energy to the alternator during engine startup. The alternator provides all the electrical demands of the vehicle while the engine is running. The regulator controls the amount of electrical energy produced by the alternator. The wiring connects these components to each other.
As always, if any procedure in this series of articles appears to be beyond the capabilities of the vehicle owner or driver, then testing and servicing the alternator should be performed by a professional or ASE Master Certified mechanic. The vehicle would have to be taken to a repair shop that employs these types of mechanics such as A & M Alternator Services located at 2419 E. Jackson St. in Phoenix, Auto Electric Specialists located at 5216 W. Lamar Rd. in Glendale, Village Auto Electric Service located at 19 N. Miller St. in Mesa, All Start Electric located at 13501 E. Chandler Blvd. in Chandler, Jordan’s Automotive Specialists located at 8718 E. McDowell Rd. #3 in Scottsdale, Rob’s Quality Automotive located at 11801 N. Cave Creek Rd. in Phoenix, Scottsdale Pro Tech located at 8245 E. Butheruand Dr. #111 in Scottsdale, and Art’s Family Auto Repair located at 915 W. Hatcher Rd. in Phoenix.