Car Voltage Regular

What does your Car’s Charging System do?

The charging system provides the main source of electrical power while the engine is running by maintaining the charge of the vehicle’s battery. The battery’s main role is to crank the engine to start the car. Once the charging system gets damaged, the battery’s charge will be depleted which results in a dead battery. Due to insufficient electrical power to ignite the spark plugs, the engine will then stop running if the battery is weak and the alternator is damaged. The car’s charging system consists of the alternator, car voltage regulator and the interconnecting wiring.

Components of the Charging System

The alternator is the main component of the car’s charging system. It is like a generator and its main role is to produce alternating current just similar to our source of electricity at home. The principle of electromagnetism is used to produce current here. The alternating current is then converted to a direct current in the alternator. The rotor and the stator are the two main components of the alternator. Also, the alternator has another circuit that controls the charging system warning lamp on the dashboard.

Next is the car voltage regulator. Its main purpose is to regulate the amount of current produced by the alternator. The regulator is the one who applies current for the alternator to start charging when the voltage drops below 13.5 volts. When it exceeded 14.5 volts, the regulator will stop applying voltage and the alternator will stop charging.

There’s also a gauge or indicator that gives a warning if there’s something wrong with your charging system. If the warning lamp lights up, it might mean that the charging system is not working anymore.

How to Detect Problems on the Charging System

Problems in your car voltage regulator and alternator will definitely affect your car in several ways. Here are initial indications that there could be something wrong with your car’s charging system:

  1. The warning light on your dashboard turns on. This could be an indication that the alternator has stopped and you’re running using the battery’s power.
  2. The alternator produces noise. Grinding or any kind of noise once you start the engine is a sign that one of the alternator’s components has an issue.
  3. Overheating battery is caused by overcharging.
  4. Headlights not as bright as usual can be caused by damaged car voltage regulator
  5. You’ll have a hard time starting the engine or it simply doesn’t start at all.

Common Problems and their Causes

  1. Overcharged charging system
    Force starting or improper starting of your vehicle sends a flow through the battery, destroys one or more cells in it and disrupts alternator wiring, causing it to be overcharged.
  1. Battery not being charged
    It may be caused either by leaving the lights on, bad alternator or old battery and it’s time for you to replace it.
  1. Dim headlights
    There could be an issue with some of the wiring or car voltage regulator.
  1. Noisy Engine
    If one of the bearings supporting the rotor fails, grinding noise will be produced from the alternator.

Repairing Charging System Problems

It really depends on how big the damage is but to ensure overall safety, the most common repair suggestion is to replace the battery or the alternator. It also saves you more time and effort. If some of the issues are short circuits, warning light remains on due to internal alternator problems, overcharging and low voltage outputs, you can have the alternator replaced or overhauled. If the issue was detected to be a bad car voltage regulator, it is possible to replace just the regulator itself. However, you will be charged for extra labour for disassembling the alternator.

How to Prevent Charging System Failure

The best way to prevent failure is maintenance. Plan and schedule your preventive maintenance regularly. Here are some reminders on system maintenance.

Ensure that the alternator is always in good shape. You can check this by choosing the right belt. It is made of rubber so it may crack and get brittle over time. Replace it right away once you notice signs of ageing to avoid damage, same with the car voltage regulator. Make sure to clear any dirt, dust or debris on to avoid blocking the air from entering the alternator. You need to make sure that the alternator and crankshaft pulley is properly aligned for it to work accurately. There’s a device that you can use to check the electrical charge in the batteries and the alternator’s output. A visual check can easily find loose wires and defects on your alternator.

In keeping the battery in good condition, make sure that it maintains a good level of charge by not leaving any lights on when not in use. The car voltage regulator should also be checked frequently.

Batteries are very important and need additional care. You can check the electrolyte level and specific gravity. The lead plates in each cell should be covered by electrolytes as exposing them to air can cause issues over time. A low specific gravity in a cell is a sign that the battery has internal problems. To avoid all these hassles, effort, and costly labour fees, replacing the batteries regularly is the best form of maintenance. Do not wait for it to show signs of near-damage or you’ll risk damaging your entire car’s charging system.

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