Automotive Q&A

Learn about your Alternator Replacement

What is an alternator?

Alternators are a part of your vehicle’s charging system. Your charging system has three main components: the battery, voltage regulator, and the alternator. The alternator works in conjunction with the battery and generates the electrical currents to power everything electrical in the car, such as the headlights, dashboard lights, and even the cigarette lighter. Alternators are located towards the front of your engine and are powered by the engine’s serpentine belt. Alternators use the power from the crankshaft and serpentine belt to move magnets over a special surface of wires and cables called the conductor. This movement creates the necessary electrical current to power everything in your vehicle. Alternators are built out of a lightweight aluminum, which helps dissipate the large amounts of heat it produces. They also contain vents on both sides and an interior-cooling fan that help with heat dissipation. As you can see, keeping the alternator cool is very important for it to run efficiently. Another part of the alternator is the voltage regulator. The voltage regulator distributes and controls the voltage of the electrical currents the alternator creates.