Attack of the Bad Alternator

May 21st, 2013 by

Car TroubleYou’re driving in your trusted Honda from the city back to Newburgh. You decided to take the kids out for a day of site seeing, or your partner for an afternoon on the town. Or maybe you were just catching up with an old friend. Whatever the reason, you’re feeling good, and the last thing you’re thinking about is a sudden breakdown.

But then it happens. Your radio begins to cut out and the lights on your dashboard slowly dim. Luckily you have time to pull over just in time for your car to die. You’re still a good part of the trip away from Newburgh, and in need of car service. Sure, the Palisades are pretty, but you’re not really too concerned with the scenery right now.

And if things heat up like they did last summer, and Murphy’s Law is in effect, you’re most likely to have a breakdown on the hottest day of the year. The last place you want to be is stranded on the highway during this kind of weather.

So what happened? Why did all of your car’s systems suddenly die? A good culprit is your vehicle’s alternator, the gizmo that helps to replenish your battery while driving. Most systems in your car, from the spark plugs to headlights, run off of electrical power. With the alternator functioning normally, it’s like drinking from a bottomless well of battery power, but when it dies, the battery quickly drains.

Finding the Problem Before it Starts

There are ways to catch an alternator issue before it leads to a roadside breakdown. Here are a few common signs:

  • Watch the dashboard: your car should have a light that’s shaped like a battery, or possibly the words “ALT” or “GEN,” meaning alternator and generator. Like your “Check Engine” light, these warning signs should not be ignored if they appear. Get to your mechanic ASAP.
  • Dim lights: if your headlights and the lights in your vehicle appear dimmer than usual, this may warrant a visit a trip to the shop, especially if they’re getting worse.
  • A whining sound: noises akin to a small, angry mammal in your engine compartment, meaning high pitched growling and whining, usually means the alternator is on its way out. This is the sound of the bearings and other mechanical parts of the mechanism giving way.

Got Engine Problems? Middletown Honda Can Help

Middletown Honda has a certified Honda service department in the Newburgh area.. And because we’re just a thirty minute drive west of Newburgh, we might be the best choice for you. Feel free to schedule a service appointment online if you’re having problems or it’s time for a checkup.