The alternator has a major responsibility to bear in your vehicle's mechanical operation, and sometimes, these parts go out completely without showing prior signs of issues. However, in some cases, the alternator will grow weak and give you a few signals that something is wrong before the unit dies completely and your vehicle can no longer function. When you know how to spot the signs, you can have the part replaced before it completely fails and leaves you stranded. Check out these often-missed signs of a weak alternator every driver should know about.
1. Your instrument panel is blinking on and off.
The instrument panel in a lot of newer vehicles is almost completely electronic. You may suddenly notice that the lights that illuminate the instrument panel are dim, but they may even flicker on and off at certain times. For example, when the car is idling, you may see the instrument panel go off because there is not enough power to keep it illuminated. This is often blamed on bad wiring, but because the instrument panel is one thing a car can function without, the power to this area may go first in an effort to relay available power to the engine.
2. Your engine is dying when at an idle and is slow to start.
You stop at a stop sign or pull up to a stop light, and you may have to wait a bit before you get to apply gas and move beyond an idle. Unfortunately, if you have a weak alternator in your vehicle, not having your RPMs up will mean less power is being pushed through the alternator to the battery. Therefore, your car may die abruptly when you are sitting still. A lot of times, this kind of issue is blamed on problems with the motor, but the alternator is one of the most likely culprits.
3. Your interior lights are dimmer than they should be.
When the alternator is not doing its job to push charge to the battery, it will show when the car has sat without running for a bit longer before the alternator completely quits. You may notice when you get inside of your vehicle in the morning that the interior lights have a dimmer look than they normally do. In some cases, your lights may even look dim after just sitting without running for a little while, like when you make a quick trip into the store.
If you notice any of these signs, it's important to follow up with a mechanic and schedule auto repair services before the costs increase exponentially when the alternator dies.