Why Is Your Alternator Not Charging? Here Are 4 Main Causes

Your car's alternator is responsible for restoring the charge to your car battery. If it is failing or not working at all, you could find yourself without any useful electrical system. As you can imagine, this can lead to a lot of problems, from a hard-starting car to traveling without lights, air conditioning and--gasp--music.

Before you start replacing your alternator, you must first identify what's preventing it from charging. Often, you can diagnose and fix the problem on your own with a little bit of know-how. Below are the top four causes of an alternator not charging.

1. Fuse

Some manufacturers build their cars with a specific fuse for the alternator. Inspect your alternator's fuse if your car has one. Fuses are cheap to replace, so head immediately to your car parts store for a substitute.

2. Wiring

Numerous wiring components help the alternator do its job. Unfortunately, even if one of these wires gets disconnected or cut, that's enough for the alternator not to charge the battery. Do an ocular on the wires connected to your alternator and see if there's damage. If you're handy with an electrical tester, use one if there are no visible signs of a problem. Replace the faulty wire if you can.

3. Pulley and belt

The pulley and belt system helps the alternator generate the power that charges the car battery. If any of these parts are worn, broken, or damaged, the battery will not charge. Squealing, hissing, and grinding noises from the engine are symptoms that these parts are failing. Leave the replacement of these parts to a professional

4. Engine control unit

Modern cars have engine control units (ECUs) managing and operating the vehicle's different systems. If your car's ECU is not functioning properly, it can be the one keeping your alternator from charging. Have a certified mechanic check your ECU to be sure.

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