Testing the alternator with a screwdriver is an easy way to find out if the alternator in your car is working properly or not.
This method doesn’t require any special tools, and it can be done anywhere you have access to your car’s battery terminal. You should perform this test at least once per month, or if you notice any of the following issues.
How Alternator of vehicle works
The alternator is responsible for converting energy into electricity, which will charge your battery and power your vehicle’s electrical components.
The alternator uses a belt, pulley, or gear to connect to your engine’s crankshaft. For an alternator to work properly, there needs to be a complete circuit between it and your car battery.
If there is no current flow in that circuit, then you may have a problem with your alternator. Here are some ways you can test if your alternator has failed.
A visual inspection of your car battery and alternator should tell you whether they are working correctly.
Your battery should be fully charged when you start your car. If it isn’t, then there is a problem with either your charging system or another component of your vehicle’s electrical system (such as an open fuse).
A low-battery light on your dashboard might also indicate a charging issue; however, not all vehicles have such lights.
You can also test your alternator using a multimeter.
Turn on your car and rev your engine slightly. If you have a voltmeter, set it to measure voltage in direct current (DC) mode and then connect one lead of your meter’s probe to your car battery’s positive terminal post while holding down its other lead.
Next, touch the other probe against one of your alternator’s terminals while keeping that probe firmly planted.
What happens If Alternator is not working
The battery might not be receiving any power at all.
So you have a few choices here: You can have it replaced, but that’s going to cost a lot of money and cut into your paycheck.
You can leave it alone, but then you run a high risk of breaking down in an area without cell service and waiting hours on end for help, costing even more time and money.
A much cheaper and more reliable option is to simply test your alternator. You can easily do that by just using a screwdriver! This simple step will let you know if it’s time for a new alternator, or if you can get by with some parts of your old one. It’s fast, easy, and best of all, inexpensive!
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How to test Alternator with Screwdriver
To test an alternator with a screwdriver do follow the listed steps below:
- Start by inserting your ignition key without turning it on
- To access your alternator, open up the hood of your car
- Locate the alternator of your car and put the screwdriver close to it to teat it
- Hold the screwdriver close enough to touch the alternator, touch the screwdriver to the alternator but
- If your alternator is working, you will feel a magnetic pull but if you don’t feel any strong magnetic pull then you have got an issue at hand.
How to Test the Alternator with a Voltmeter
For those who want to get a little more technical, testing your alternator can also be done using a voltmeter.
The easiest way is by taking off one of your car’s terminals, connecting it to one end of your meter, and then touching that same terminal against one of your battery’s terminals.
A reading below 12 volts means you have a problem and will need to replace your alternator or voltage regulator for that specific part of your vehicle’s electrical system to work properly again.
It’s also possible to test your alternator using a multimeter.
This can be done by attaching one of your multimeter’s black leads and red leads to either end of your car battery. If you then read an output over 13.5 volts, then you know your alternator is working well and just needs a good cleaning or replacement before it starts functioning properly again.
If you’re more of a visual learner, there are also plenty of videos on YouTube that can show you how to test your alternator. These clips can give you an idea of whether or not your alternator needs servicing or if it’s in perfect working order.
How Can You Diagnose A Bad Alternator?
A bad alternator, like a bad battery, will cause your car to misfire. But it can happen in a few different ways.
If you have voltage across both terminals of your battery and they’re not glowing red hot, then it’s not likely that your alternator is at fault.
Your headlights might dim when turning on extra accessories, but they won’t completely dim while driving down an open road.
Another sign of a bad alternator is that it doesn’t kick in when you rev your engine, or if it does, it dies as soon as you let it off.
If your voltage reading hovers between 10 and 14.5 volts while driving down an open road, but drops below 10 volts when accelerating quickly or driving at higher speeds, then you might have a bad alternator.
You can also test your alternator by turning on all of your accessories lights, stereo, and AC and seeing how long they last before dimming.
If they don’t dim at all, or if they dim only slightly and then come back up to full brightness when you turn them off again, then you likely have a good alternator.
But if everything turns off immediately after turning them on (or stays on for only a few seconds), then there’s something wrong with your charging system.
How to Keep the Alternator Safe Common Signs of Alternator Malfunctioning
You need to know that your car’s alternator works for your engine to run smoothly. If there is something wrong with it, it will show up by signs like these:
- Flickering Lights – When you have flickering lights, it’s a clear sign that your alternator needs service or replacement.
- Battery Draining Too Fast – The battery of your car may be drained too fast because of malfunctions in the alternator system
- No Power at All – Your vehicle might not start if your alternator isn’t working properly. 4. Engine Overheating- This happens when you are driving on long trips and the cooling fan stops working due to an issue with your car’s electrical system and it can cause serious damage to other parts of your vehicle as well.
Now that we’ve talked about some of its common problems, let us talk about how we can test our alternators using just a screwdriver and some basic knowledge about cars.
Testing With A Screwdriver To check whether your alternator is functioning properly, first check out whether your headlights are working or not.
You should also see if all of your dashboard gauges are working normally. Once you turn off all of your vehicle’s accessories (like power windows), turn on only one small light bulb inside your car to see if it turns off after running for about 5 minutes.
Will a Car Run With a Bad Alternator?
Yes, it will. So long as it has a good battery and a functioning ignition system, your car will be able to start and run.
This is because some of an alternator’s functions are present in other parts of your car namely your battery and ignition system.
As long as you have a good battery and a functioning ignition system, your engine should start when you turn on your key.
If your battery is dead or your ignition system isn’t working, a car with a bad alternator may need some help getting started.
In most cases, all you need to get going again is a jump-start from another vehicle. If you have a particularly old vehicle or one that doesn’t have power steering or power brakes, though, you may need to find someone who can push-start it for you.
How to Maintain a Car Alternator?
An alternator is an important part of a car’s electrical system, converting mechanical energy into electricity for various systems.
The alternator belt turns a pulley and spins a magnetic rotor inside to produce a voltage that keeps your battery charged. A malfunctioning alternator can cause serious issues, so check yours periodically by following these steps
This is typically done by testing your alternator. The best way to do so is to use a multimeter and test for electrical current.
The multimeter must be capable of measuring DC voltage, so older models may not be able to handle it.
To start, you’ll need a working car battery and a multimeter capable of reading DC voltage. You can use a digital or analog model. Once you have these things, follow these steps:
1) Turn off all accessories in your vehicle.
2) Start your engine and let it idle.
3) Check that there are no lights on inside or outside of your vehicle.
4) Disconnect one end of your positive battery cable from its post.
5) Connect one end of your multimeter to its positive (+) terminal and connect the other end to an unpainted metal surface under your hood.
6) Connect one end of another multimeter lead (or a wire from another source if you don’t have a second meter) to an unpainted metal surface under your hood.