What Does an Alternator Do?

Alternator with flat drive belt at modern truck engine

Many drivers have had a problem with their vehicle’s electrical system at one point or another, and if the problem isn’t the car battery, it’s almost always the alternator. But what does an alternator do, anyway?

The alternator is a generator which powers your vehicle’s electrical components as you drive around Phoenix and Peoria. While the battery helps to start the engine, the alternator keeps things going once you’re in motion.

Failing Alternator vs. Battery

As we noted above, the alternator and the car battery are closely connected. In many cases, it’s easy to mistake a dying car battery for a failing alternator, or vice versa. However, there’s an easy to assess the damage and figure out which component is giving you trouble.

  • If you jump start your car, and it stalls again shortly after you disconnect the cables, the alternator is failing. The battery might still be fine, but if the alternator isn’t keeping it charged, it’s going to keep letting you down.
  • If your car drives fine after a jump start, but fails to start again the next time you get behind the wheel, the problem is most likely with your battery, not your alternator.

What Are Some Common Alternator Problems?

If you’ve gotten to the point where your vehicle keeps stalling out, you might need to spend a pretty penny in order to tow your vehicle down to the closest service center.

Look for these signs to identify a failing alternator before it leaves you stranded:

  • Dim headlights or dim interior lights
  • Burning rubber smell under the hood
  • Issues with your radio or audio systems
  • Devices failing to charge while plugged in
  • Whining or screeching when you start the vehicle
  • Multiple jump starts required during a short time span
  • Car unable to start
  • Battery warning light

How Long Does an Alternator Last?

Alternators can be expensive, but at least they’re built to last! Some will expire after 80,000 miles, while others will last for up to 150,000 miles!

Of course, in addition to the quality of your alternator, there are several key factors can have a major impact on its lifespan. Extreme driving or extreme weather can absolutely affect your electrical systems, and frequent jump starts or other major power drains can cause it to wear out prematurely.

How Much is An Alternator?

No two vehicles are exactly alike, and if you’ve ever had to shop for a new alternator, you already know that they can vary significantly in terms of cost. So, how much is an alternator for a Jaguar? Once again, it depends on the model, but your costs may range between $600 and $1,000.

However, you should know that it’s easy to save at Jaguar North Scottsdale. We offer a wide variety of rotating parts specials, and because we only employ trained and certified technicians, we can get the work done right the first time.

Get Your Alternator Service at Jaguar North Scottsdale!

When you follow your Jaguar maintenance schedule at Jaguar North Scottsdale, we can take a look at your alternator and make sure that you never get stranded on the streets near Scottsdale. Already having problems? Still not sure how to answer the question, “What does an alternator do?” Schedule alternator service in Phoenix or contact our service team today.

Interested in learning more about Jaguar car care? Find out how often to rotate your tires.

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