How Do I Know if My Alternator Is Going Out?

A car’s alternator charges the battery while driving. If your alternator goes out while you’re driving, it means that you’ll be driving for only a few miles before your car completely dies. It can be scary if you’re on the freeway when it happens. A bad alternator doesn’t have to be an unpleasant surprise. Your car will let you know that your alternator is going out with a these six signs:Checking Engine Electronic

1. A Warning Light

Most modern cars have dashboard warning lights — usually shaped like a battery, but some will say ALT or GEN — that let you know when the alternator is on the fritz. Do not ignore the light. Take your car to a professional for diagnostic service.

2. Dim or Flickering Headlights

The alternator provides power to the headlights, and the flickering or dimming means that the alternator isn’t performing like it should.

3. Electrical Failures

When the alternator goes bad, it takes all the electrical systems with it. That means your power windows, locks, dashboard lights, radio and air conditioner won’t work.

4. The Car Has a Tough Time Starting or it Stalls

Cars do not run on gas alone. It also runs on electricity — even if it’s not a hybrid. The alternator powers the spark plugs that ignite your engine’s gasoline. If the alternator is expiring, it can’t keep the engine alive, and eventually it won’t start at all.

5. Weird Noises

The alternator can cause some of the engine’s bearings to fail. If you hear weird noises, especially coupled with the other listed symptoms, your alternator may be going bad.

6. The Battery Dies

While batteries die on their own, a bad alternator can also be the culprit. A bad alternator can actually drain the battery because it fails to recharge it. If your battery completely dies — especially if it hasn’t been very long since you last replaced it — have your alternator checked.

Your car’s alternator provides your car with the charge it needs to get you where you need to go. If you experience any of the above signs, take your car to Performance Truck and Auto Repair. We’ll be happy to diagnose and repair the issue to keep you on the road. To learn more, call us at (334) 245-6600 today.



  1. I thought that it was unusual when my headlights started flickering, so I was wondering if it was the alternator. The warning light on my dashboard didn’t light up, even after my lights have been flickering, and now my car is starting to experience electrical failures. My battery hasn’t died yet, so taking my car to a technician seems like the best way to find out if my alternator needs to be fixed. Thanks for the tips!

  2. This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that difficulty starting your car could indicate an expiring alternator. My car has been having some problems starting the past few days, and it has taken me several tries each morning to get it to go. I’ll definitely look into having the alternator inspected to see if that’s where the problem lies. Thanks for the great post!

  3. I’m a new car owner and have never had anything like this happen to me before. Now that I know it can happen, I’m trying to get an idea of what to do how what to look for when it begins to go out. This helped a ton and I’ll make sure that I’m paying attention to the warning light and any weird noises that my car may make.

  4. Great post! I learned a lot about my alternator by reading this article. Thank you for saying that “While batteries die on their own, a bad alternator can also be the culprit. A bad alternator can actually drain the battery because it fails to recharge it.” I have never broken down before while driving so thank you for helping me understand that having a good, functioning alternator will help me to prevent any problems from occurring while driving.

  5. Mary Wentworth says

    “I have never broken down before”…
    “I have never had this happen before”…

    Some blessed people.

  6. Crystal Whitehead says

    Hello my car won’t start up. I was out for 2/12 hours yesterday as it was idled the whole time. Then I tried to start the car back up but it wouldn’t start. In brief, I replaced the starter, ignition switch; and the battery is a year old,with interior and exterior lights still existing. Do you know what may be the problem?

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