Car Alternators: What You Need to Know
What is an Alternator?
It's the primary part of the charging system in your Subaru vehicle. Without one, that car or SUV you love wouldn't be able to run at all.
What Does One Do?
It turns mechanical energy, produced by moving parts, into electrical energy, or electricity (AC current). That charge gets converted into DC current, managed subsequently by a voltage regulator. Your vehicle can then use this power to run its many systems.
How Do Alternators Work?
The process starts with your Subaru engine. It runs serpentine and drive belts, which turn a pulley. The pulley then spins a rotor shaft, and the shaft rotates a set of magnetic coils.
The movement generates a magnetic field. A rectifier captures its energy, charging your car battery, running the radio, and activating the lights and digital displays on the dash. The electricity also powers things like the windows, steering, windshield wipers, and more -- even options like heated seats.
When an alternator goes bad, however, it often happens without any warning, and for one or more reasons.
So, What Causes Them to Fail?
Generally, worn or damaged alternator parts, or an overtightened alternator belt. Other primary causes include jump-starting your vehicle wrong and installing incompatible accessories in it. If you do get any warning, though, symptoms are usually many.
What are the Signs My Alternator is Going Bad, Then?
The most obvious is a battery indicator light or an alternator warning light. Another lighting and car electronics problems, if not a dead battery. One of the more telling symptoms, though, is a burning smell under your hood, near your battery or alternator. Others yet are leaking alternator fluid and a squeaky engine.
When Should I Replace it?
Your owner's manual should have a maintenance schedule you can refer to. Usually, it's every 7 years or every 80,000 to 150,000 miles, whichever comes first. Otherwise, to figure out the answer, do a thorough inspection, followed by a charging system test. If their results call for replacement, take care of it ASAP.
Your Best Bet for Maintaining Your Charging System: Install a Genuine Subaru Alternator
Looking to order one online? You're in luck: you can, right here at our auto parts store. It'll be OEM, too -- made for your Subaru model and guaranteed to fit it. Buy one now, and we'll ship it right to your address -- you'll be taking care of repairs in no time.
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