A friend of mine was recently having some electrical issues with her car and when she went to take her vehicle to get diagnosed she was told that she needed a new alternator. However, she was also told that if she had brought the car in sooner she might have been able to have the alternator repaired rather than replaced.
This got me thinking: What if this had happened to me? I drive a used vehicle as well and don’t have enough money saved at the moment to completely replace an alternator if it were to fail in my vehicle. After all, I’ve heard that part can cost about $500!
But I wanted to make sure I didn’t make the same mistake as my friend and could know if my alternator is starting to fail so I can take my car in for repair at the first sign of trouble. So I looked online for some signs of a failing alternator, and here’s what I found.
Dashboard Light: Not every vehicle has one, but many do have an indicator light on the dashboard that is supposed to signal “ALT” or “GEN” when your alternator is failing. If you see this light, take your vehicle to an automotive specialist for some diagnostics right away.
Dim/Flickering Headlights: Headlights that are dim or flickering are one of the tell-tale signs of a failing alternator. The alternator is what provides your headlights with power, so if they’re acting up, it’s most likely do to an alternator issue.
Electrical Failures: When your alternator is failing, you’ll notice several electrical features in your car such as power locks, power windows, air conditioning, dashboard lights, and radio act up. It’s not always the alternator in this case, but it very well could be so it’s best to have it checked if you’re experiencing these issues.
Slow Starting or Stalling: The alternator of your vehicle provides the spark plugs with power so that they can ignite the gasoline in your engine. If you notice your car is taking a long time to start or is stalling unexpectedly, don’t ignore these symptoms because it is likely due to a failing alternator.
Dead Battery: Batteries have a lifespan and can die on their own, but a failing alternator can actually make them drain quicker and prevent them from charging correctly. It is wise to have your alternator checked when changing your battery.
Now that I know the symptoms of a failing alternator, it’s time for me to start thinking about the cost. I continued my research and found that you can purchase vehicle service contracts like the ones offered from GWC Warranty that will cover the cost of unexpected repairs such as a faulty alternator.
By simply paying an affordable monthly premium to GWC Warranty or another vehicle service provider, you can have many of your vehicle’s components like its alternator covered under warranty. Working with vehicle service providers like GWC Warranty seems like a great way to extend the life of a vehicle and is something I am definitely going to look into further.