Tips to Prevent Alternator Problems in Winter

Winter is notoriously taxing for your vehicle’s charging system. Perhaps you’ve noticed the telltale signs of a problem: dimming headlights, a difficult start, or that “click, click, click” with no start at all. Batteries receive the most attention of the charging components, but what about the less talked about parts of the system? What cold weather alternator issues should you be aware of this winter?

It takes battery power to start your car, but once you’re moving, the engine drives the alternator via a belt and pulley system. The alternator, in turn, keeps the battery charged by supplying it with regulated current. Alternators are mini generators that produce an alternating current (AC) current that must be converted to direct current (DC) by a rectifier or it will damage onboard electrical components and the battery itself. You won’t get very far without an alternator, so pay attention to warning signs of failure such as dimming lights (especially when running other components), a dashboard warning, or a weak or dead battery.

The resistance of cold, thick oil causes problems for your battery in cold weather, requiring it to provide more juice to overcome the internal resistance. On a normal day, the alternator requires about 20 minutes of driving to fully recharge the battery; however, on a cold day, it may require more time to compensate for the initial high energy draw. One thing to keep in mind here is that when you’re warming up your car, give it a little rev, as some alternators require this extra jolt to start the charging process.

How do you know if you have a battery or alternator problem? Because there is a large margin of error when disconnecting wires on your own, the only surefire way is to give us a call at Chamberlains! If the alternator failure is due to a slipping belt, it is simple to tighten; however, if your problem is more than just a winter problem, bring your car to our workshop — or risk having to pay to have it towed there later. At Chamberlains Auto Electrics, we offer free battery and alternator checks with the latest diagnostic tools to quickly assess your vehicle. We are experts in the field of car alternators! We supply and install units to suit most vehicles and take great pride in rebuilding alternators. Give us a call today or book in a service!