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Kwik Kar of Richardson


Alternators and Starters

The starter in your vehicle is what you rely on each time you enter the car with the intention of driving. Power from the battery is used by the starter to spin a part called the flywheel. This gives your engine a push that is needed to turn it on. As far as the alternator goes, it is the component of your vehicle that provides the battery with power by continually recharging the system over time.

What Are Symptoms of Starters and Alternators Problems?

There are a few things you should look for to determine if you have a starter or alternator problem. These are some of the things that might happen if one of these parts is not working correctly:

  • Your vehicle simply will not start.
  • Your dashboard lights and headlights are dim.
  • Your check engine light comes on and does not go off.
  • When starting your car, you hear a grinding or clicking noise.
  • The battery is dead or weak.
  • Strange smells are present, sometimes like an electrical fire.

You can also sometimes visually determine that a belt on the alternator is not in good shape. It might appear to be too tight or loose. It may even look overly worn or cracked, which means that the belt needs to be replaced. If any of these symptoms are occurring with your vehicle, it may be a good time to stop at Kwik Kar in Richardson to check it out.

When Should I Have My Starter and Alternator Checked?

Unlike some other components of your car, you likely only need to have the starters and alternators checked when you determine your vehicle is having trouble starting or keeping powered. In many cases, when this occurs, it is also an excellent time to schedule a battery, headlight, and check engine light check, just to cover all your bases. 

What Does Starter Repair Entail?

If the starter on your vehicle is not working correctly, your car isn’t going to start so you won’t be able to drive it. In many cases, starter repair will involve a replacement as repairs can be tricky. In addition, a repair can actually be more expensive than the price of a starter, so a replacement will both save you money and provide you with a brand new, working part. 

When you bring in the car to have a starter replaced, the first thing a technician will do is perform an inspection of the vehicle to be certain what the problem actually is. It’s possible that something has become disconnected that should not be and it’s an easy fix. It’s also possible that some part of the starter has just stopped operating and a replacement will be required.

The technician will do a thorough cleaning of the parts of the starter, along with the battery. Sometimes this is enough to solve the entire problem. Even if it doesn’t fix the problem, it means that the new starter will likely work better once it has been installed. 

After this, the technician will likely move to disconnecting the starter from the vehicle’s battery. In many cases, the part that is faulty is the starter solenoid. Whatever the problem part, this will be removed. After replacements have been made, the mechanic will then reconnect everything correctly and then test the car again. At this point, the vehicle will either start, or further adjustments will need to be made.

How Are Alternator Problems Diagnosed?

Because the alternator is part of a number of components that work together to charge and start your vehicle, when it fails, the system has to be tested to be sure the right component is replaced. Most auto shops will use professional charging system test equipment that can test each part of the starting and charging system all at once. However, before this is done, they will need to do a visual inspection to determine any damage.

How Is the Alternator Replaced?

If it turns out that you need a replacement alternator, the technician will first remove all battery cables to avoid any chance of electric shock. After that, they will remove the serpentine or accessory drive belts from the alternator. Also, several bolts and any electrical components will be removed. When replacing these things, they will go back in the opposite order that they were removed, while using proper torque to avoid any damage. At this point, the technician at Kwik Kar in Richardson will retest the starter and charging system to ensure that all repairs are complete.

How Often Do Alternators Require Replacing?

While a failing alternator is hardly rare, in most cases, it will not have problems until after 100,000 or even 150,000 miles. However, if you drive in harsh conditions or use some aftermarket accessories that are electrically powered, it can decrease the life of the alternator to some extent.

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