What is it?
Today’s vehicles are made up of several systems working together in harmony. The battery is perhaps the first thing you think of when you hear about electricity in automotive applications, but batteries are far from alone in running the system. When batteries discharge they emit a constant DC power in one direction, supplying electricity through the positive terminal to the negative. Most automotive components require this DC charge to work properly, but it is limited because batteries will eventually discharge completely, with no remaining power to give.
To address this problem, cars also have alternators. Alternators are actually small generators capable of turning mechanical into electrical energy. Driven by the engine belt, alternators use a small signal from the battery to energize a field current that turns a rotor inside a set of stators. Since this energy is driven by the polarity of magnetic fields, the current produced as a result changes direction as the rotor turns, producing current in opposite or alternating directions (hence AC). Alternators produce significantly higher currents than initially supplied by the battery, so they are used to recharge the battery itself and power other electrical components.
How can I tell if I need a battery or electrical system check?
The most obvious sign you need service is if your car is hard starting or does not start. There are smaller signs including:
- Battery or charging system light on your dashboard illuminated
- Your headlights and/or dash lights are dimmer than normal
- Your power windows move slower than normal
- Your wipers move slower than normal
We’re here to help.
Our trained technicians will first check your battery for corrosion and to ensure connections are clean and tight. If necessary, they’ll run an electrical system check to determine if the alternator and battery are old or defective.