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Symptoms of a Failing Alternator

When you hear "click, click, click".

This happens when you turn on the engine, trying to ignite your vehicle to start. The next thing in your head must be: ” Oh no! My battery is dead!” Well… Often it may be the case that your battery is the cause of the problem. However, for older vehicles it may be something more severe… which is your alternator! 

In this article, we will discuss some of the symptoms that can help you detect a faulty alternator. (Don’t worry if you got it wrong, because even some professionals diagnose it wrongly too!)

About your Alternator

The alternator is the main component that provides your vehicle with endless supply of electricity. It will take a lot of varying components to start the engine and meet the electrical requirements of the vehicle. While batteries comes in huge capacities, over time, the battery will be drained off by the headlights, heater, stereo systems, navigation systems and many mre.

The purpose of the alternator now comes in handy. It charges the battery while the vehicle is running by turning mechanical energy to a current. Over time, the internal components of the alternator will wear of, therefore forcing a need for it to be replaced over time.

Symptoms of a failing alternator

Dim lights

One of the most prominent symptoms of a failing alternator will be the dimness of the headlights or rear lights. These lights can also be seen flickering at times, indicating that the alternator is due for change. Most importantly, if the RPM picks up and the light brightens, that is an even more indicative sign of a failing alternator

Service Engine Light

Another obvious indicator is the sign on the vehicle dashboard. This varies according to the model, but when the alternator starts to wear off, it will cause the “Check Engine” , “Battery Indicator” sign to go on. This is where you need immediate attention

Weird Noises

The serpentine belt, or V-ribbed belt can cause the noises to be prominent if its working too hard to spin the alternator pulley effectively. This will usually end with a squealing noise. 

Electrical Outage/ Slow

If you notice that the power window switches, power seat adjusters start to operate slower than usual, it can also indicate an alternator issue. It can also cause sudden outage of GPS systems, radios, etc


Engine Stalling

If you notice that the engine is suddenly cut off while driving, the alternator may be the likely cause. The fuel injector need alot of electric energy, so without energy it will stall

Dead Battery 

Without the alternator functioning, the vehicle will start using large proportion of energy from the battery. Therefore, you will ultimately end up with a dead battery. 

Lifespan of an Alternator

The average lifespan of most alternators will last about 5-7 years. This will also depend on the quality of the alternator manufactured and the usage of the vehicle.

For every vehicle component, there tend to be a lifespan for each parts. Therefore, it is generally recommended to change them when its due, rather than to wait for it to give up on you.

Cost of An Alternator

The average Japanese/Korean alternator will be approximately in the $300-$500 range. This will heavily depend on the type of vehicle/the size of the vehicle and varying factors.

At Drivewise Autoparts we strongly recommend that owners keep to the original genuine alternators. However, if you are looking for a cheaper alternative, we do offer an array of OEM brands available in our stores.


Regular checks on your vehicle alternator is extremely important. Your trusted vehicle repair workshop should check for the charging rate of your alternator and should advice you on time if its due for change.

However, it is also important to look out for the signs mentioned above to determine if your alternator is about to fail. Remember, just like any component, the alternator does have its own lifespan and it should be replaced to prevent you stranded on the streets.

See you in the next article!

About Drivewise Autoparts

Drivewise Autoparts is the leading online  platform bringing you automotive parts directly to your doorstep. We aim to enable everyone to take ownership of their vehicle through direct auto-parts purchase.

Be aware of what is being replaced in your vehicle, and not leave everything solely to your workshop to handle!

Besides offering an array of automotive parts, we have a strong database of professional partner workshops that can offer you professional installation works at reasonable rates. 

Purchasing direct autoparts is seamless and easy with Drivewise Autoparts. 

Contact us for your requirements today!

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