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What causes failure in alternators?

Dear Neto,

What is wrong with my 1996 Honda Civic? It has burnt two alternators in two months. The first one was changed together with a dead battery and the other just suddenly stopped working when I was driving home from work.

What could be eating them up?


Dear Kali,

One of the main causes of alternator death is installation of heavy sound amplifiers and speakers. Your alternator will try to keep up with a power demand that will only render it desolate.

A poor battery can also overwork your alternator every time you start in the morning. It will try to charge a bad battery but the current demand will end up frying its parts slowly to its demise.

Poor grounding and contacts similarly cause alternator problems. Get a good auto-electrician to recommend a power amplifier your alternator can handle if you have one installed in your car.

When you decide to install a new alternator, you should preferably fix it with a new battery to avoid overworking it. Using other systems like air conditioning and phone charging on a weak battery makes you alternator work overtime causing it to fail.

Modern alternators have a built-in power regulator which can be replaced when it fails. Check mechanical factors like belt tension and pulley alignment as other probable causes.