A-1 Auto Tech, Inc.
89 Pioneer Way
Mountain View, CA 94041
(650) 487-2240

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What Is A Vehicle’s Starter And Alternator?

A-1 Auto Tech, Inc. 89 Pioneer Way Mountain View, CA 94041 (650) 487-2240A-1 Auto Tech, Inc. is the best Starters & Alternators Auto Repair Shop in the Mountain View, CA area. In the image on the left you can see a shiny new alternator one a restored automobile. A car’s alternator is basically an electrical generator. Once your vehicle is running the rotating motion of the engine’s crankshaft is connected to the alternating by a belt. This turns the inside of the alternator and the alternator turns that motion into electricity.

If it were not for your car having an alternator, your battery would quickly run out of power and your car’s engine would stop. The alternator produces enough electricity to power the spark going to each spark plug in each cylinder. And it has enough electricity left over to recharge your car battery from being drained during the engine starting process.

A-1 Auto Tech, Inc. 89 Pioneer Way Mountain View, CA 94041 (650) 487-2240The image to the right is a picture of an automobile starter. The little component sitting on top of the starter is called the solenoid. To make a vehicle’s engine start, the engine must be turned fast enough so that it sucks air and fuel into the cylinders and compresses it.

Turning over the engine is the job of a starter. It is a powerful electric motor with enough strength to turn over the engine. A starter’s shaft carries a small gear wheel (pinion), which engages with a large gear ring around the rim of the engine flywheel.

What Cause A Car’s Alternator To Fail?

One of the most common causes of alternator failure is when the bearings inside the alternator go bad. Needle bearings allow the rotor to spin freely inside the starter. These can break down from dirt and heat. Whenever an alternator’s needle bearings fail, the rotor will not spin efficiently like it is supposed to. It can eventually seize up. When the bearings of an alternator fail the alternator will often make a loud grinding noise.

An alternator can also just wear out with time. Bad electrical wiring within the vehicle can also cause an alternator to go bad. Good auto electrical diagnostics by an auto shop with experience will save you a lot of headache and hassle.

What Causes A Car Or Truck’s Starter To Go Bad?

The following things can cause a vehicle’s starter to fail:

  • Fluid/Oil Soaked: Signs of grease, corrosion or oil are all signs of a leak in the vehicle’s engine. Fluids from the engine can ruin your alternator. If you alternator went bad due to a leak, the leak needs to be fixed or it will ruin the next alternator as well.
  • Loose Mounting: Whenever a starting motor is making excessive noise you should visually inspect the mounting holes. If the mounting holes are “out-of-round”, whomever mounted the alternator may have done it incorrectly.
  • A Broken Gear: When you see damage to the teeth of the pinion gear of a vehicle (all the way around), it is normally caused by poor contact with the starter ring gear. This can be caused by a faulty ignition switch as well as by attempting to crank the engine when it is already running.
  • Poor Grounding: There should be a shiny “metal-to-metal” contact between the transmission or engine and starter mounting base, as well as between the nose cone and block.
  • Loose Electrical Connection: If the electrical connection from the battery to the starter motor is not tight, it can cause arcing and burning.