Your vehicle’s charging system consists of a battery, an alternator, a regulator, and all the interconnecting wiring. The purpose of the charging system is to maintain the charge in your battery and to provide the main source of electrical energy to your vehicle while the engine is running.
If your charging system stops working, the battery’s charge will soon be depleted, leaving the car with a “dead battery.” If the battery is weak and the alternator is not working, the engine may not have enough electrical current to fire the spark plugs, so the engine might stop running.
If the battery is “dead”, it does not necessarily mean there is anything wrong with it. It might just be depleted of its charge. It can be brought back to life by recharging it with a battery charger, or by running the engine so that the alternator can charge it.
The main component in the charging system is the alternator. The alternator is a generator that produces Alternating Current (AC) similar to the electrical current in your home. This current is immediately converted to Direct Current (DC) inside the alternator. All modern automobiles have a 12 volt, DC electrical system.
The voltage regulator controls the charging voltage that the alternator produces, keeping it between 13.5 and 14.5 volts to protect the electrical components throughout the vehicle.
There is also a system to warn you if something is not right with the charging system. This could be a dash mounted voltmeter, an ammeter, or more commonly, a warning light. This light is variously labeled “Gen” Bat” and “Alt”. If this warning lamp lights up while the engine is running, it means that there is a problem in the charging system, usually an alternator that has stopped working. The most common cause is a broken alternator drive belt.
If your vehicle’s charging system is experiencing problems either while starting your engine or while the engine is running, bring it by TAG Automotive for a complete charging system check up.
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