What Does an Alternator Do?


You don’t have to be an expert to answer the question, “What does an alternator do?” This complex piece of automotive equipment has a pretty simple job: it sends power to your car’s electrical system when the car’s running and functions as a generator using the gas engine as a source of energy. It’s not uncommon to think that the battery powers the car, but it’s only used to start the engine. Learn more about what does an alternator do, and how much does an alternator cost, so you can be prepared on the road. The service department at Thompson Cadillac in Springfield, Missouri, is here to help.

How Long Does an Alternator Last?

While Cadillac parts are made to last as long as possible, most alternators do have an expected life span of 80,000 – 150,000 miles. That comes out to roughly seven years. Factors like alternator quality, driving conditions, and things that are a power drain on the alternator can shorten its life. Here are the signs that your alternator might be on its last legs after years on Springfield roads:

  • Battery warning light appearing on the dashboard
  • Dim headlights or interior lights
  • Burning rubber smell under the hood
  • Devices not charging
  • Whining or screeching sound after the vehicle has started
  • Unable to start

How to Tell the Difference Between Battery and Alternator Problems

Since the alternator and battery are at the core of your car’s electrical system, it can be difficult to tell if a problem is from a bad alternator or battery unless you know what to look for. The best way to identify the cause of the problem is to wait until the vehicle is unable to start and needs a jump. Jump-start the engine, then remove the jumper cables after it starts. If it dies immediately, the problem is likely your alternator. To have a certified technician take a look, schedule a service appointment at Thompson Cadillac in Springfield.

How Much is an Alternator? Contact Thompson Cadillac to Find Out

Again, this depends on the car you’re driving, because different models require different alternators. Contact Thompson Cadillac for a free quote. We carry alternators made exclusively for the lineup of Cadillac vehicles that are guaranteed to fit your car and work perfectly. If you prefer DIY projects, order an alternator through our parts department. Whatever level you need with your new alternator, Thompson Cadillac is here to help.

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Thompson Cadillac 37.1429, -93.2683.