A battery starts a car, but a factory alternator makes starting one possible in the first place.
Alternators do two things: they charge car batteries and they run electrical systems. Not just a dash display, headlights, or power windows, either. They also power windshield wipers, car radios, and power steering systems. They even help warm heated seats.
How does an alternator work, then? Put simply, it turns mechanical energy into electrical energy (electricity). In your vehicle's case, your engine uses serpentine and drive belts to run a pulley that turns a rotor shaft. That shaft spins a set of magnetic coils, generating AC power. A rectifier captures that power and converts it to DC power. Your vehicle's many electrical systems start, and they stay running.
Unfortunately, though, even a top-quality original alternator can go bad eventually. Other than age, causes of a bad one can range from broken-down parts to a bad jump-start or installing incompatible accessories. You usually don't get any warning, either.
Luckily, you can spot the signs of alternator failure easily. They include headlight flickers, a car radio that doesn't work right, burning smells, a dead battery, and engine whining. Electrical system shutdown is the worst symptom. If you suspect your vehicle has alternator problems, do an inspection, and run a charging system test to be sure.
When do you change your alternator otherwise? Usually every 80,000 to 150,000 miles, or about every 7 years, but check your owner's manual for a schedule. A genuine OEM alternator will fit your make and model best.
Maintain Your Vehicle with a Genuine Mopar Alternator
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