An alternator is the part of a car's charging system that turns mechanical energy into electrical energy. In other words, it generates current. How it does so is straightforward.
First, the engine runs the serpentine belt, drive belts, a pulley, a rotor shaft, and some magnetic coils; their movement produces a magnetic field. Then, a rectifier captures the field's energy as AC power and turns it into DC power that a voltage regulator manages. As a result, the alternator can charge the car battery and help run many other electrical systems, including the dashboard lights and displays, the entertainment system, power windows, power steering, windshield wipers, and more -- even options like heated seats.
Unfortunately, alternators can go bad periodically. The causes of alternator failure can range from worn or damaged parts to installing the wrong accessories and jump-starting the car the wrong way. Luckily, the signs of alternator problems are pretty easy to spot. They include everything from alternator and battery warning lights on the dashboard, car lighting issues, and car radio trouble to a dead battery, a burning smell under the hood, and alternator fluid leaks. These aren't to mention a squealing engine and electrical system failure. Even an overtightened alternator belt can be telling.
If you see these symptoms, plug in a code reader and inspect and test your vehicle's charging system. If the results call for a change, get the job done right away. Otherwise, replace your alternator about every 7 years or every 80,000 to 150,000 miles. Check the maintenance schedule in your owner's manual for more details.
Repair Your Alternator with Genuine GM Parts
Your OEM designs its alternators to work with its models from the start, guaranteed. So, you shouldn't trust anything less than the genuine article. You're in luck: you can buy one from GM directly, right here at our auto parts store. We'll ship it out to you ASAP, so you can get fixed up and back behind the wheel in no time.
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