A client phones with a story so common we recognize it immediately. It was a cold morning, late for work, and their car’s engine turned over slowly, reluctantly, eventually giving way and firing up. A few minutes into the drive, with the defrosters blazing and the morning news blaring, the car’s interior lights started to dim. Soon after the radio was cutting out and the defroster eventually quit entirely. As they drove on, the headlights began to dim and the early morning drive started to become dangerous with the sun still rising. Just a few minutes from work the engine started to misfire leaving no option but to pull over. The cell phone that was charging in the cigarette lighter is dead, and what seemed at first like a flat battery appears to be something more.
The alternator plays a vital role in your vehicle’s charging system. A belt powered by the engines crankshaft generates power that is sent to the battery to keep it charged. It is similar to using your cell phone while it is plugged in. The battery is being charged by the wall socket while the battery is being drained by you watching cat videos. When the alternator stops functioning all of the vehicles electrical systems are being run off the battery alone and the battery ends up completely drained and systems start to shut down one by one.
This is a very difficult question to answer as it will be different for many vehicles. It could last for as long as 10-15 years or as little as 5 years depending on its use and manufacturing. As new cars are built with more complex electrical systems that include onboard GPS, touch screens, advanced lighting, and navigation systems, the stress on the charging system increases and has a tangible effect on the longevity of its parts.
When the red battery light comes on in the dashboard it is a sign that something is wrong with the charging system. That light could mean a variety of things, and a faulty alternator is one of them. When you see the battery light illuminated it is time to bring the car in for diagnostics so we can get the job done before you suffer complete vehicle failure.
Well, yes and no. They are expensive in the sense that they are laborious to change and costly to purchase, but we do have a good system in place for saving you some cash while getting you a better than new alternator. We work with an alternator rebuilding company that acts as a sort of alternator-swap-shop. They have a steady stream of parts coming in and they rebuild them using the highest quality locally sourced parts. By hand picking the parts and then rebuilding them by hand, you end up with an alternator that will perform even better than new for a fraction of the cost. We sort this all out behind the scenes and you come pick up your vehicle with a clean bill of health.
The only thing you can do to give your alternator a long life is to keep your battery in top notch shape. If you drive with a battery that is weak for an extended period, the alternator has to work overtime to keep the electrical system functioning which will wear it out more quickly.