What Does the ALT Light on My Dashboard Mean?

The ALT light on your car, truck, or utility vehicle’s dashboard stands for the alternator and it means your vehicle has a problem with the alternator or electrical system. Many vehicles are not equipped with an ALT light. Older automobiles might have a GEN light. Your vehicle may also have a battery-shaped light that will illuminate if there is a problem with the electrical system. Aside from an illuminated ALT light on your dashboard, Village Autoworks lists the other signs of alternator trouble.

Accessory Malfunction

If any of your vehicle’s accessories are malfunctioning, it’s possible the alternator is not generating enough power to power them. You may have issues with your entertainment system, your GPS, or power accessories such as the seats or windows.

Burning Wires

The smell of burning wires can indicate that the alternator is dying. When the alternator starts to malfunction, it often generates too much electricity in an effort to do its job. Consequently, it overheats your vehicle’s electrical system including the wires and the wire insulation.

Dead Battery/Hard Starts

The alternator is responsible for keeping your car battery charged. If it is unable to do so, you will have difficulty starting your automobile. In severe cases, the battery may die and it will not hold a charge even after you jump-start it because of the faulty alternator.

Dim Lights

Dim or flickering lights also point to an issue with the alternator. In rare cases, your lights may get overly bright before they lose their illumination. All of your vehicle’s lights will have a problem if the alternator cannot power them. This includes the interior lights and the taillights.

Frequent Stalling

In some cases, a dying alternator can cause your vehicle to stall frequently because the alternator cannot power the spark plugs the way it needs to. You will also experience frequent misfiring in the engine if the spark plugs are not receiving the power that they need to generate the spark for engine combustion.

Growling Noises

Finally, your alternator may give you a warning before any of the above happens. If you hear growling noises coming from your vehicle’s engine, it could be the internal mechanisms of the alternator grinding against each other. It’s important to understand, however, that you may not hear these noises before your vehicle experiences any of the other symptoms.

If you believe your alternator is dying, call Village Autoworks in Roseville or Woodbury, MN, today to schedule an appointment for your automobile.

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