An alternator is part of a vehicle’s charging system, and is an essential component in keeping a vehicle operable.
The alternator works with the battery and voltage regulator to keep electrical components running. Usually located near the front of a vehicle’s engine, an alternator can be identified by its aluminum body, vents, and an internal or external cooling fan.
Depending on the vehicle, the alternator pulley is driven by either a serpentine belt or v-belt. This mechanical energy is then converted into electrical energy as internal parts operate to create a magnetic field used to produce the alternating current output. The alternator can reach high temperatures fast, so an operative cooling fan is important.
Although the battery can keep the vehicle running for a little while, it will not be able to keep it running for an extended period of time if the alternator malfunctions. In fact, the alternator serves as the charger for the battery as well. Because a bad alternator will eventually render the vehicle inoperable, it is imperative that a driver have this component repaired or replaced as soon as possible.