How Can You Tell If You Need to Replace Your Alternator?

Cash for Cars with Mechanical Issues

The need to replace your alternator is sadly, not always an obvious one. Because when you start having any kind of electrical problems with your vehicle, you tend to think it’s something to do with faulty wiring. And moreover, it could just be time to replace your battery. However, if you’ve started experiencing more than one kind of electrical related issue with your vehicle, your alternator could be to blame.


It’s never a joyous experience when you have to deal with car repairs. Needing to replace an alternator is no different. Not only can they be quite costly, the issues a bad alternator creates while on its way out is annoying. It can be hard to miss though when you aren’t sure what signs and symptoms to look for.

Signs Your Alternator Needs Replacing

Dimming or Excessively Bright Lights

One of the biggest giveaways that your alternator is on its way out, is a noticeable change in your headlights, dashboard lights, and interior lights. When an alternator is faulty, the voltage is inconsistent and starts to affect your electronic accessories, like lights. If you notice your lights are dimmer or brighter than normal, you could be due for a new alternator.

Additionally, if you notice that your lights are switching from brighter to darker, or vice versa, same reason. If any of your lights are completely flickering, then you definitely need a new alternator.

Dead Battery

Depending on the age of the battery, and the amount of drivetime on it, it may not be your alternator. However, if your vehicle’s battery isn’t that old, and you find that it needs replacing, it could be your alternator causing it. Particularly if you notice any kind of electrical issues along with it, then you can almost bet money on it being a faulty alternator.

junk car recycling and towing

Check with a licensed and professional mechanic like our friends at Art’s Automotive in Vancouver to find out if your dead battery is more than just a dead battery.

Hard Starts or Random Stalling

When a vehicle dies on us, it always seems to happen at the worst times. Like when you’re turning left at a busy intersection and the light just turns yellow. Or when you’re in a rush to get across the Lion’s Gate Bridge before counter-flow happens in rush hour. Whatever the case, it sucks.

Not only do we think the situation is awful, we think something catastrophic has happened. If your car dies on the side of the road, we instantly think “dead engine, blown tranny”, which equals a big repair bill. Depending on the type of vehicle you drive, an alternator can become a big repair bill. Get your car in for a checkup right away if you begin to find it hard to start or encounter stalling.

Malfunctioning Technology or Electronic Accessories

Another tell-tale sign that your alternator is no good is when your accessories fail. By fail, we mean that they start to malfunction. If you notice the volume on your Bluetooth connected device is much lower than it used to be, that could be a sign. If it’s taking longer than usual to roll up or down your windows, it might be your alternator.


Newer vehicles have pre-programmed equipment to tell them where they should be cutting power from first, when there are signs of a power supply problem. That way, if you’re driving and your vehicle starts losing power, the first thing to go would be something like your radio. A non-essential accessory having issues is a dead giveaway.

A Burning Rubber or Plastic Smell Inside the Vehicle

When an alternator needs replacing, its own components can often indicate the need for a new one. The alternator’s drive belt starts to break-down and because it is beside a hot engine, it starts to smell like burning. This is because the belt is under constant friction and tension and over time, it wears down.

Alternatively, if your alternator has needed replacing for a long time, it could have damaged wires. This, in turn, causes a burning smell because wires are actually burning, but aren’t quite a full-on electrical fire. If you get a whiff of any kind of burning smell coming from your vehicle, get it in to a mechanic to have it checked out.

Dashboard Indicator Battery Warning Light

This is a virtually fool-proof way to tell if your vehicle needs a new alternator. When the indicator light comes up on your dash with the battery symbol, you need a new one. When voltage drops from its usual 13 – 14.5 volts, the battery light will appear.

Similarly, the light will illuminate if the alternator is exceeding its typical voltage. It all depends on what accessories you’re running at the time.


Depending on the overall electrical load that’s being used from your car, you may even see the battery indicator light flicker. This is because when more accessories you are using, the more of a draw comes from the battery. And when your alternator is dying, you’re drawing power straight from the battery. In turn, you’ll be killing your battery at an alarming rate.

Get Your Alternator Checked by a Local Mechanic

If you’ve noticed any of the above symptoms on your vehicle lately, it might be time to get it looked at. Many of these issues can be caused by other mechanical failures too, so it’s important to go to a professional.

The first thing a mechanic will usually do is check the voltage with a voltage meter. Upon viewing the results, as well as comparing the vehicle’s symptoms, he’ll make a diagnosis. If your alternator needs replacing, they’ll usually offer you an estimate. That’s where sometimes More Cash For Scrap is a better alternative to the repairs…

Sell Your Car to More Cash For Scrap

Free Towing Services Vancouver

An alternator replacement isn’t always a big expense. However, it is an expense. And when it is a big expense, it may be more practical to scrap your car rather than fix it. Some replacements will only cost around $400-$500 including labour. While others can be upwards of $1500. When you start pushing beyond $1000, sometimes the repairs aren’t warranted. Especially if it’s on a vehicle with a lot of years under its belt, or high kilometres.

That’s why there’s More Cash For Scrap. The Lower Mainland’s top cash paying scrap car buyer since 2005. We pay MORE cash for scrap cars than any other scrap car buyer in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. We also offer free towing and same day vehicle pickup. When scrap car removal is this quick and easy, you’ve got no reason not to sell your car to us!

Contact Our Team of Scrap Car Buyers Today

All we need are a few basic details about the vehicle you want to sell. Let our team know the make, model, year, condition, and location of your vehicle. Then, they’ll provide you with an instant cash offer.

If you accept the offer, they’ll arrange a day and time for our free towing service to come collect your vehicle. Our tow truck driver will pay you in cash right there on the spot. So, contact our scrap car removal specialists today to find out how much cash your car can get you!

Have a question, comment or feedback? Just ask or let us know your thoughts here:

Share This Article, Choose Your Platform!

About the Author: scrapcar

Since 2005, we've specialized in turning our customer's scrap cars into quick cash. We buy vehicles in ANY condition and with ANY issues. We pay MORE cash for scrap cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans than any other scrap car removal company in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, and Vancouver Island. If you want MORE cash, same day free junk car towing, and a reliable scrap car buying service, you want More Cash For Scrap.