How to Identify Alternator Issues in San Bernardino, California


Your vehicle’s alternator performs a vital role in your vehicle’s electrical system to keep your vehicle running. Car Pros Volkswagen of San Bernardino in California wants to help you travel with confidence. That’s why we want to provide you with some tips on how to identify issues with your alternator. A great deal of battery power is required to start your vehicle and keep it running. Alternators serve to recycle the power your car battery uses while driving, restoring the power that is lost while supplying the engine management, climate, entertainment, and a host of other systems with the power they need to run properly. Their key role is to provide power to operate the starter, ignition, and all of the electronic accessories in your vehicle. When an alternator malfunctions or stops functioning, it can lead to expensive repairs, break downs, and a great deal of inconvenience.


Car Pros Volkswagen of San Bernardino wants to help our California customers avoid alternator failure. Some of the waning signs to look for include:


  • Visual Indicators

    • Experiencing issues with the electrical system might not indicate alternator trouble because the problem could be with one of the belts connected to your alternator. By visually inspecting the engine compartment, you can determine if a belt is too loose or too tight. If a belt is cracked or worn, you should be able to spot that as well.

  • Strange Sounds

    • Many different parts spin inside your vehicle’s alternator to produce electrical current. If one of these elements becomes worn or broken, this could lead to a grinding or whining noise. More specifically, worn out bearings inside the alternator has been known to cause this type of noise. If the bushings on which the alternator is mounted, or have gone bad, a noise will be produced. An alternator is normally replaces as an assembly.

  • Unusual Smell

    • Alternators work in conjunction with a system of belts. If a belt is not turning freely, the excess friction will cause the belt to heat up, producing a burning rubber smell. If you notice a smell similar to that of an electrical fire, this could indicate that the belt is slipping on the alternator pulley, causing poor alternator output. Often, tightening the belt does the trick. However, if the situation arises when tightening your belt does not fix the strange smell and alternator output, it is best to have your alternator evaluated by a professional.

  • Weak or Dead Battery

    • Car batteries have a finite lifespan and will not last forever. No matter how well your alternator functions to replenish your battery, it can only charge the battery to the extent that it has a decent amount of life left in the battery and is able to accept a charge. If a battery is very weak or dead, the alternator cannot bring it back to life. To troubleshoot whether the issue is due to the battery or the alternator, simply charge the battery and restart your vehicle. If the battery is weak or dead, the vehicle will continue to run but the lights will again become dim after a short time, indicating a problem with the charging system. If the vehicle has difficulty starting after the battery is fully charged, the problem likely lies with the alternator.

  • Warning Lights

    • Modern cars often have a dashboard warning light that alerts drivers when the alternator is malfunctioning. usually , the light will be shaped like a battery, ALT (for alternator), or GEN (for generator). This light may only be triggered if you are using multiple electrical components. It is generally contingent on how much lift your vehicle’s alternator has left and how much electricity your vehicles is using.

  • Dimmed Lights

  • If your alternator begins to die, you might notice your dashboard lights or headlights starting to dim. Once this occurs, it is a clear indication of potential alternator malfunctions. A failing alternator may cause other electronic accessories, such as power windows or power seats to function more slowly than is typical


Do you need your vehicle’s alternator evaluated by a professional? Contact your local Volkswagen dealership at (909) 326-7735 or visit us at 1600 S Camino Real, San Bernardino, CA 92408. Our service hours are Monday-Friday 7 AM-6 PM and Saturdays 8 AM-5 PM. You can also schedule your service appointment online anytime. Our service team is proud to serve our Pomona, Riverside, and Moreno Valley, California area neighbors.
Categories: Parts, Body Shop, Service, Fleet