Alternators are a very important part of car engines. They convert energy from fuel into electrical energy for running headlights, air conditioning, and other electrical components. They serve the same function that generators did in older cars. Keeping an alternator in good repair is very important for keeping a car running. Knowing terminology related to alternators or generators can assist in coordinating repairs with an auto repair shop.
Load Test - A means of testing whether an alternator is having problems by measuring the electrical output. Output will be measured from the battery while the car is idling, as well as after revving the engine. A mechanic may perform this as a diagnostic test.
Cooling Fan - A component inside an alternator to prevent overheating.
Diodes - The part for converting AC alternating current energy into DC direct current power. DC power is what the battery runs on, which is why it must be converted into that form.
Voltage Regulator - The component in an alternator which manages power that is generated.
Needle Bearings - Small bearings in the alternator. These may become damaged over time, and can eventually fail. A grinding noise coming from the engine may indicate that it is time for a visit to an auto repair shop.
Starter Motor - Often simply called a starter. This is the component that starts the motor. If the alternator is no longer charging a battery, the starter will stop working.
High-Output Alternator - An alternator which generates more power than standard models. These are appropriate for luxury vehicles, cars with very high-end sound systems, or other vehicles which have unusually high power demands.
Automotive alternators and generators can cost quite a bit to replace, so many people choose to visit a mechanic that can repair their car's exhausted equipment. Many of the auto repair shops in your area should have experience diagnosing problems with your car's generators, alternators, and other parts, so they can provide accurate repair services. Not all of them, however, can give you the same levels of service.
Some mechanics choose to focus on certain types of vehicles. They might prefer foreign cars and trucks over domestic models, or they might only work on supped-up engines. It is, therefore, important for you to choose a shop that can work on your type of SUV, car, or truck.
Sometimes alternators and generators that are not outputting enough voltage to charge your battery can masquerade as other types of equipment failure, so it is important to hire a mechanic with plenty of diagnostic experience. This will help you choose a shop that knows how to differentiate between electrical malfunctions in the lights, starters, air conditioning water pumps, and motors.
Just because a mechanic knows how to diagnose alternator and generator problems does not necessarily mean that he or she has the right tools and supplies on hand. Try choosing a shop that keeps a variety of starter kits and parts on hand. That way they can make repairs and reinstall the item quickly.
Few car repair shops that maintain alternators and generators will include information about their price estimates on their web sites, but you might be able to use the Internet to find customer reviews that will help you choose a reliable option.