Alternators: An Overview

Your vehicle is likely one of the biggest investments you’ll make. If that isn’t motivation to take care of it, we don’t know what is. If you have ever tried to learn more about your vehicle, you may have felt overwhelmed at how much sheer information there is. Since we do auto repair in Fort Collins, and knowing your vehicle can help you take care of it better, we thought we would go over one of your car’s more important parts here: the alternator. Here is a quick overview of how it works.

The Principle

While you might think your battery is what charges your car’s electronics, that is actually not the case. Your battery barely has enough juice to start your car, much less run its electrical systems for any amount of time. That is where your alternator comes in. You see, once you turn on your car, the engine and alternator start running. Once your alternator begins running, it creates an alternator current to not only power your vehicle, but recharge your battery as well.

Alternators function on principles of electromagnetism. In an alternator, a magnetic field is rotated around a coil. As electricity and magnetism are just manifestations (according to the theory) of the same phenomenon, the magnetic field rotating around the coil creates an electric current.

The Parts

The two main parts of the alternator are the rotor and armature coils. The rotor spins around the metal coil, which produces the magnetic field from a direct current fed into it. This magnetic field, like all magnets, has a north and south pole. The pull from the poles coupled with the alternator pulley makes the rotor rotate, producing an alternating current.

Around the rotor is the stationary stator, which does not turn and has three stator windings. These stator windings are what takes the electricity produced from the rotor’s turning and outputs it to your vehicle. From your alternator, the electrical current travels to output diodes and bridge rectifier, which convert the alternating current into direct current, which is what your automobile uses.

Your alternator is one of the more expensive parts of your car, and should be maintained regularly to prevent damage. Without it, your car can’t run, and it is likely thousands of dollars to replace. If there is an issue with your alternator, it is best to get it dealt with immediately, rather than risk costly repairs or replacement. Off roaders should be careful to protect their alternator from mud and water, which can also cause costly damage if they clog it up.

Here at Fort Collins Foreign Car Service, we provide auto repair for residents in Fort Collins and the surrounding areas. You can trust our talented and knowledgeable auto technicians to get your vehicle running up to its best. If you have any questions about our automotive services, please don’t hesitate to give us a call today. One of our friendly and knowledgeable representatives will be happy to answer any questions that you may have. Feel free to drop by the shop and see our work first hand as well.