Questions about alternators vs. batteries often come up when our Dow Autoplex service team suggests a replacement for either. What exactly does the alternator do, people wonder. Here's your brief rundown.

Keeping the Party Going

You car's battery supplies the initial jolt that wakes it up. You car's alternator keeps the party going. It continuously recharges the battery and supplies electricity to all electrical components in your vehicle:

  • Radio
  • Dashboard instruments
  • Digital clusters
  • Heated seats
  • Windshield wipers
  • Power windows
  • Electric steering
  • Headlights

How Does the Alternator Work?

The alternator essentially captures mechanical energy gleaned from your engine's spinning crankshaft and transforms it into electricity. When your engine is on, it spins a drive belt resting on a pulley attached to the alternator. The pulley spins the alternators rotor shaft, and the shaft spins several magnets around a coil.

The spinning magnets create alternating current (AC), which then travels to the alternator's rectifier. The rectifier turns the AC into direct current (DC), the kind of electrical current that juices your vehicle's electrical components, including the battery.


Categories: Service