What's an alternator? Problem shooting the mysterious car part

February 22, 2011 12:00 AM

Imagine yourself driving down the road and all of a sudden, a light flashes on. You have no idea what it is, but lights on cars are never good. Perhaps its the alternator, the electric generator that carries a current through the car from the battery.

When this light turns on, it's probably best to stop driving soon, according to Yahoo! Autos.

"A warning light should not be ignored. It usually means something has failed and needs to be fixed - the sooner the better in this case," says the website.

However, sometimes the light can go on when nothing is really wrong with the battery. The best way to check is to flip on the headlights and check the light's intensity. If you rev the engine and the light brightens, then there's a problem.

Several problems can make the alternator warning light turn on. For example, if the alternator drive belt is slipping or is broken or the regulator that controls the electrical output fails.

The best way to have the alternator checked out is at your local auto repair shop. 

Back to news